Best places to surf in Indonesia
Bali & Lombok
Bali may be small in size – you can drive around the entire coast in one long day – but its prominence as a destination is huge, and rightfully so. Ask travellers what Bali means to them and you’ll get as many answers as there are flowers on a frangipani tree.
Of all the 17,000 islands that make up Indonesia, Java is king. It may not have the beaches of Bali, the jungles of Kalimantan, or the remoteness of Papua, but it’s the heart of the country, a heart with more drive and energy than any other island in this vast archipelago. With 120 million people crammed into an area half the size of Great Britain, Java is one populated place.
Fertile valleys, smoking craters and muddy jungle paths dot this tribal heartland.
Deep, dark and exotic, the very notion of Borneo rouses something in the subconscious. Summoning visions of mythical people and ancient forests, it tugs at the adventurer within. It’s a romantic notion, but the world’s third-largest island has managed to keep some of her secrets and most of them lie in the impenetrable interior of Kalimantan.
Jakarta may be the nation’s capital, but the Javan identity is at its strongest here, in the island’s historic heartland. As the seat of Java’s first major Indianised civilisation, as well as the great Islamic sultanates centred on the kraton of Yogyakarta and Solo, Central Java (Jawa Tengah) remains the province in which the island’s cultural pulse beats loudest.
Kuta & Seminyak
Ubud & Around
Lombok is the most popular destination in Nusa Tenggara, with the fabled Gili Islands drawing visitors for action both in and out of the water, mighty Gunung Rinjani luring trekkers, and the big breaks on the south coast a magnet for surfers.
Indonesia’s dazzling arc of eastern islands that stretches towards northern Australia is perhaps the most varied and rewarding part of the nation to explore.
Perched on the gentle slopes leading up towards the central mountains, Ubud is the other half of Bali’s tourism duopoly. Unlike South Bali, however, Ubud’s focus remains on the remarkable Balinese culture in its myriad forms. It’s not surprising that many people come to Ubud for a day or two and end up staying longer, drawn in by the rich culture and many activities.
South Bali & the Islands
Many tourists only experience the lush, volcanic panoramas of West Java (Jawa Barat) through the murky window of a speeding bus or train but this dramatic, diverse region has plenty to detain the inquisitive traveller. Historically it's known as Sunda and its people and language are Sundanese.
Indonesia's sprawling capital of steamy streets and thumping nightlife.
The least densely populated of Java’s provinces, East Java (Jawa Timur) is a wild, rolling region with dizzying peaks, smoking volcanoes and unspoilt panoramas. While the regional capital Surabaya has all the accoutrements of a booming Indonesian city, including freeways, multiplexes and a trademark traffic problem, there are far more attractive bases.
The first thing everyone notices about Sulawesi is its strange shape. There must have been some serious tectonic action in this region to produce an island so bizarre. But bizarre is beautiful and in its contortions are its character, with an incredible diversity of people, cultures and landscapes spread across its length and breadth.
Papua’s mystique piques the imagination of the explorer, naturalist, anthropologist, politician and traveller in you. What about Papua (formerly known as Irian Jaya) would not intrigue? The diversity in lifestyle and culture of the indigenous people, who speak more than 250 languages, is matched only by Papua’s biodiversity and geography.