The Top 3 Places You Have To Surf In Indo Before You Die
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It's one of our closest and most popular international surf trip destinations, theArchipelagoo of Indonesia. The waves are many and so are the breaks and resort options. But sometimes it seems like there are too many options and you can get lost when choosing the right place for you and what time of year is best to visit.
Coastalwatch Chief Surf Forecaster Ben Macartney is a surf travel veteran and knows a thing or two about waves and surf conditions. (See the weekly Bali-Indo Surf Forecast). Ben has put together this insightful look at his top 3 Indo surf spots.
What was once a remote, mysterious region with untapped surf potential exploded into the forefront of prime surf-destinations during the 1990’s – and is now pretty much regarded as the best place on earth to go surfing.
SEE ALSO: Jim Banks On, The Ultimate Bali Quiver
The region, comprised of hundreds – perhaps thousands of islands of varying sizes, offers up such a proliferation of perfect waves that I could fill a book the length of War and Peace detailing them all – so instead I’ll outline a few of the better-known regions. These days, you now have the choice of accessing the region by boat or by land-camp – and given you also have to choose which area to head target, this truly presents a first-world problem of epic proportions:
Playgrounds: Hosts world class-breaks like Rifles and No-Kanduis, not to mention close access to other incredible waves like Bankvaults, Hideaways and Ebay, with the epic lefts Telescopes and Scarecrows just a boat-ride away.
A little further south you can find Lances Right and Lances Left; two of the most well known – and most consistent breaks in the region.
The Pagi Islands: These two, house a couple of the most prized, frothed over surf breaks – not just in Indonesia, but in the entire world – perhaps even the universe.
Macaronis: Possibly the quintessential Mentawaii wave, Macaronis is the original perfect left discovered in early exploration of the archipelago in the 1990’s; offering up the ultimate canvas for high-performance surfing.
Green Bush: A heavy, A-frame left that offers up one of the roundest most perfect double-tube rides found this side of Mars.
Thunders: A big, jacking left that’s usually twice the size of everywhere else.
Rags: Has an epic left and right that I have never surfed.
The Hole: Another heavy left that’s also regarded as a world class left-hand tube.
These are just some of the two-dozen or more world-class waves found in the region – and that’s without mentioning the multitude of lesser-known breaks – not to mention still semi-secret waves that abound throughout the region.
A small town called Hu’u on the island of Sumbawa features one of the most consistent land based surf breaks in the Archipelago, known as Lakey Peak, aka “Lakeys”. Discovered in the early 1980’s, Lakey Peak is comprised of several breaks all within walking distance of each other.
Lakey Peak is situated on an exposed, west-facing coast that offers limited protection from the prevailing south-easterly tradewinds during the winter months – and hence it’s necessary to surf early to capitalise on early light offshore land-breezes before conditions become blown out from mid-morning onwards. This is also reason Lakey Peak a popular early/ late season destination when a weaker tradewind regime can provide longer windows of favourable winds.
Lakey Peak: Is a world-class left/ right peak breaking over shallow coral reef. The left is the pick, offering up a steep drop into fast tubes and rippable walls depending on tide and swell. Lakey Peak is a magnet, pulling in all available swell and can hold anything from 2 to 10ft, but is blown out from mid-morning during the winter season. A fairly hardcore option, Lakey Peak has hosted WQS contests and it’s also the break where Jeremy Flores suffered a severe concussion attempting an air on the end section.
Lakey Pipe: A left found just across the channel from Lakey Peak, this is a fun option in comparison to the more demanding sister break, offering up a more user-friendly, back-door tube section and inside run – and often a mellower crowd.
Nungas: A longer lefthander situated just north of Lakey Peak. This is the only break that’s offshore in the SE tradewind. Nugas offers up fast, but sometimes fat sections and often long paddles against a relentless current running down the reef. The upside of the current is usually thinner crowds.
Periscopes: A high-quality right-hander located a couple of kilometres north of Lakey Peak. It’s a long wave that only works on higher tides, offering up tubes and rippable sections alike. Also, best early before the tradewind arrives mid-morning.
(Video below, Lakey Peak Turns On For the Rip Curl GromSearch)
This vast, left-hand reef setup situated inside the south-eastern corner of Java and is known for pulling in more swell than just about any other break in the archipelago. Historically, G-Land is the original Indonesian Surf Camp, pioneered by Mike Boyum and Paul King in the late 70’s and early 80’s. Over three decades later, G-Land is still a premier Indonesian surf-destination – not just owing to its swell-magnetizing characteristics – but also its phenomenal scale and the variety of breaks found within the break itself. These include the three main sections of G-Land.
Kongs: Starting at the top and most exposed part of the reef, Kongs is a more forgiving wave usually surfed on smaller swells in the 2 to 4ft range. Kongs can work on all tides and usually offers up shifting peaks that run down the reef in fast, rippable walls, but it can also produce barrels on good days. Kongs can also be surfed in larger 4 to 8ft conditions if you’re game, but you need to be on the ball. At size, a reverse current can pull you off the reef into deeper water and clean up sets are an ever-present feature. If you can jag a set wave at size its possible to traverse huge sections until you link up with the top of the part of the reef, called Money Trees.
Money Trees: The most popular, or most surfed section, Money Trees sits plumb in the middle of the reef and consistently produces long, perfect lefts on a wide variety of swells and tides. On big days, the take-off starts at The Ledge; a protruding slab of reef offering a steep drop straight into a long, barreling first section. Although it has many moods depending on tide, swell direction, wave period and wave height, Money Trees is the G-Land staple; consistently producing challenging, down the line barrels and even the odd workable wall. Money Trees works from 2 to 10ft, but is probably best in the 6ft range on mid to high tides. Finally, on bigger days a good wave at Money Trees can carry you into the first part of the last section of the reef, called Speedies.
Speedies: This part of the reef is the reason why many a seasoned Indo veteran return to G-Land, year after year. Probably the most fickle section, Speedies only comes to life on particular combinations of swell and tide. When it does turn on, it offers up a steep A-frame drop off a take-off section called Launching Pads that sling-shots you into a fast, shallow, down-the-line tube. While Speedies is undoubtedly the most mind-blowing part of the G-Land reef, it’s also the shallowest and most treacherous; regularly claiming boards and skin, and occasionally inflicting more serious injuries.
Other Breaks inside the Bay.
While it’s fair to say the main sections of G-Land are not particularly user-friendly, there are several breaks located deeper in the Bay that do offer up smaller, fun surfing options. These are a variety of shorter left and right handers, variously known as Chickens, 20/20’s and Tiger Tracks. These breaks are heavily sheltered from the swell and by-and-large only start to work when G-land is 6ft and over. Like most Indonesian waves, they all break over shallow coral reef and generally only work on higher tides, so coining them as user-friendly is still a matter of perspective.
(Video below, Mark Mathews, Dean Morrison, Eddie Blackwell and quite a lot of other people descend on Grajan to get a taste of Javanese Juice.)
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