Recent trip to Indonesia – Surfing in Sumbawa
One of the best places in the world to go for a surf trip has to be Indonesia. If you head there in the right season (normally between April to October) great waves and sunshine is pretty much guaranteed. There are so many different types of waves there, whether its a more gentle reef break or something more gnarly. The water is really warm and the waves are much easier to surf than your average beach break. Like most places there are of course a few things you need to watch out for; the waves are often quite powerful, crowded and your skin can end up being quite pink after your first few days of surfing if it isn’t that used to the sun. Other than waves, Indonesia is culture rich, has beautiful people and the most incredible food which is enough to satisfy anyone’s palette.
Up until my most recent trip to Sumbawa, I had previously visited Bali and Lombok in Indonesia. Bali is a playground for any surfer and there is so much to see and do there. Lombok felt like it was more off the beaten track, where we explored deserted beaches and uncrowded surf breaks. This is also the first place I experienced surfing from a boat, which has to be one of the best things I have ever done. After these trips it felt natural to plan a visit to Sumbawa to surf the famous Lakey Peak.
To get to Sumbawa we took a one hour flight from Denpensar, Bali. The flight was incredible because you are only about 16,000 feet high so you get to take in the breathtaking views as you fly over Lombok and Sumbawa. As the plane descends you fly past fields and rice paddies and it feels like you are landing in the middle of nowhere. The airport in Bima is so basic and immediately you get a sense of feeling that you are about to start a new adventure. From Bima we took a three hour taxi to Lakey Peak which is on the south coast. The journey varied between rice paddies, fields and small villages. The villages also appeared to be fairly basic in comparison to what you see in Bali.
Upon arrival at Lakey Peak I have to admit it was even more basic than what I expected. A mile out to the Ocean you recognised the three main surf breaks; to the left Lakey Pipe, straight out in front Lakey Peak itself and Nunngas to the right. In land from there is a strip of basic accommodation resorts and hut type snack shops. Again all the locals are really friendly, we even had groups of school children fussing around us to take photos and ask questions.
Surfing in Sumbawa is incredible. The waves delivered what was promised; sizeable, punchy sections and long hollow barrels. Unfortunately you had to be in the water by 6am to get the offshore winds because by lunch it turned onshore and the wind picked up a fair bit, a bunch of kite surfers were loving it. Interestingly we heard that Lakey Peak can sometimes work better out of season and the offshore winds last all day.
I have to admit I didn’t get to surf that much due to the size. I managed to get in at Nunngas one day, which is a really fun, long, left point break. On one of the smaller days I also got up at 6am and paddled out to Lakey peak. I pretty much just sat on the shoulder the whole time. Had it been at home I would have been fine with the size, I just could’t get over how hollow it was and was afraid of not being able to make the drop. It has to be the most perfect looking wave I have ever seen though and would love to go back and give it another go one day.
Other things to do in Sumbawa:
After a week of nothing but surfing in Sumbawa, eating and sleeping we decided to hire a motorbike to explore and we also got a guide to take us to a waterfall that was about 30 minutes away from Lakey Peak. We had to drive through a steep village to get to the start of the walk to the waterfall. It was so nice climbing through fields and rainforests before finally arriving at a beautiful waterfall. We did this thing quite a lot in Lombok. After our walk we got back on our bikes and started our decent through the village. We were totally amazed because at this point loads of the locals had lined streets to wave to us as we left. It was an incredible experience and made you realise how far away you were from your daily everyday life.
I absolutely loved Sumbawa. I do often wonder to myself though whether people would go there if it wasn’t for surfing. As much as it is beautiful and more off the beaten track, it also felt like it took a long time to get there. I believe there are also “resorts” in West Sumbawa where you can get a ferry from East Lombok, so I would be interested to find out more about that area. I wouldn’t recommend Lakey Peak if you are a surfing novice or if you are looking for a luxurious holiday. If you are however after an adventure and would like to witness world class waves then I would start planning your trip now!