What surfer doesn’t dream of inviting warm waters, good waves and even cheap post-surf food? The reality is that we all do—but how many of your favourite spots offer even two of these essentials? Not many, right? However, right here in Southeast Asia—from the Mentawai Islands to Siargao Island—there exists an abundance of such places; some chilled and dependable, and others perfect for veterans in search of their next challenge.
Read on for seven of the best surf spots in Southeast Asia.
The Mentawai Islands make up what is easily one of the most talked about surf destinations in all of Southeast Asia. It’s said to be one of the most consistent surf spots in the world, with the biggest swells occurring between June and September. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro, the Mentawai Islands are simply perfect for surfing while in Indonesia. You’ll need to plan your break well though as the islands are only accessible by ferries and charters. The top waves to seek out include Bankvaults, Lance’s Left and Lance’s Right, while absolute beginners should try the Gilligan’s.
2. Bali, Indonesia
You’re undoubtedly already familiar with the deep paradisiacal waters and stunning white sandy beaches of Bali. As heavenly for surfing as it is for luxuriating under the sun, Bali has some of the best beaches for surfing in Southeast Asia—many of which you’ll find on the western side of the island. When the antarctic starts to melt, Bali gets the full force of ocean swells, so expect consistent, extraordinary surfing for all skill levels. Beginners and intermediates should head to Canggu while experts will love the challenge of the huge hollow wave at Padang-Padang.
3. Kata Beach, Phuket, Thailand
One of the reasons that Thailand hasn’t seen such a steep rise in surfing, like Indonesia for example, is because the surf simply isn’t as consistent. However, the folks at Kata Beach are doing their all to change that by creating regular competitions alongside rental shacks and good quality restaurants. If you’re a seasoned pro then this isn’t for you—the waves are nothing to write home about and they aren’t too consistent either—but this is a great, easy and accessible option for beginner surfers.
4. Cloud 9, Siargao Island, Philippines
There are plenty of quality waves on Siargao Island in the Philippines, but Cloud 9 deserves special mention for its intense waves and global recognition. The beach has high and thick, turquoise-coloured hollow tubes and is the site of the annual Siargao Cup, which sees both local and international surfers competing for recognition each year. It’s not for beginners, but rather for those with at least moderate experience and who want to experience a dramatic and powerful reef break right over the vibrant coral. Better still, the setting, like most beaches here in Southeast Asia is incredibly beautiful, with a mossy emerald cliff poking up from one side of the surf. If you’re a beginner and you’re intent on surfing in the Philippines, then try Paradise or Guyam Island, both of which are good for beginners.
5. God’s Left, Sumba Island, Indonesia
This one should frequently crop up when talking about Southeast Asia’s best surf spots...for the select few. The reason lies in its status as an exclusive retreat. Nihiwatu Lodge on Sumba Island has full control over the surf allowing just nine surfers at a time the privilege. But it’s definitely worth it because once you’re in, you can enjoy vast left breaking waves which continue to reel for over 300 metres over Nihiwatu’s outstretched reef. All this ensconced in 438 acres of tropical forest, rice terraces and grasslands—this is luxury surfing at its best.
6. Bai Dai Beach, Nha Trang, Viet Nam
Everyone from Vietnamese celebrities to Scottish backpackers can be found spending lazy days in Nha Trang. The city is a favourite because of its excellent waterside location, cosmopolitan feel and incredible nightlife, second only to the perfect white sandy beaches that run the length of the coast. The best surf spot is at Bai Dai Beach, which is 20km south of the city. There’s a surf shack that rents plenty of board types and gives lessons, but other than that the beach is underdeveloped—meaning it’s easy to find secluded spots to surf.
7. Lombok Islands, Indonesia
Lombok is known for having less crowds, mellower surf and more remote locations than those in Bali. There are plenty of options all around the coastline, though many flock here for its secret surf point—The Desert Point, or Bangko-Bangko as it’s known locally. This is a crazily long walled break which grows in size from take off to end. It’s shallow, fast, and exceptionally hollow, and for strictly skilled surfers only—some rides here can extend as far as 300 metres! A word of advice: Beware the sharp rocky reef below when kicking out.