TRIP FINDER

Know before you go

Here's some useful information for you to help plan your trip!

What to Expect

Your surfing ability

As a rule, Sumatra is best explored as an intermediate or advanced surfer although there are some camps that cater for beginners in the Mentawais as well as South Sumatra. Please be aware of your level before booking:

Beginner surfer – can only surf the white water & often misses waves. Leaner’s will wipe out regularly on take-off and whilst riding a wave.
Beginner-intermediate surfer – can catch waves regularly, trimming left & right but without performing many manoeuvres.
Intermediate surfer – Will rarely miss catching a wave & will complete most waves from start to finish. Surfers will perform basic manoeuvres such as a cut-back, re-entry and floater.
Intermediate-advanced surfer - will perform most manoeuvres including getting tubed and sometimes aerial manoeuvres. These surfers are competent on point breaks and reef breaks.
Advanced surfer – are fast, stylish and will make surfing look easy. If they’re not performing aerials, then they will be getting tubed all day long or displaying an array of carves, hacks and flowing turns.

Surf Etiquette

All surfers visiting the West Sumatra need to respect the rules.

Surfers should wait a little while before paddling out
if there is a group already in the surf. Ideally 1 or 2 surfers at a time to paddle out.

Please take turns & don't snake. Everyone has the same right & being sat in the deepest spot doesn’t always mean you are next in line.

What’s also very important is that if you paddle for a wave and miss it, your turn has gone and you go back to the end of the queue. It can be frustrating to miss a wave but everyone will see you've missed the wave so please wait your turn again. If everyone does this, it’s not long until you'll have another go!

If it’s your turn and you realise you won’t catch the wave, raise your arms as soon as you can (or shout out) - to give someone enough time to paddle for the wave.

Never drop in on other surfers. An obvious rule but surfing over coral reef is a dangerous game.

Give away waves! Surfing is a pretty indulgent sport but it actually feels nicer when you share the waves amongst the pack or even make the effort to talk to surfers from outside of your group. They’ll probably even share some waves with you too!

Crowds

Of course, crowds are relative to where you’re from but surfing in Sumatra will usually offer a mixed bag of busy line-ups to surfing all day without a soul to be seen.

In the main season (April - October) it’s the busier period. But with so many waves on offer, it’s not hard to find waves for just you and your friends. But if the swell dips for a few days and the wind plays up - some spots can get busy.

On an average trip, you’d expect to have half a dozen surfs with just you and your mates. Some surfs will be interrupted by another group arriving at a spot (or vice versa) - and a few surfs might be a bit frustrating with a crowded line-up. It’ll be a mixed bag, but as a rule, you will get great waves most days - and you’ll be stoked every day!

There is of course exception to this rule and every surf zone has its more popular waves. The real crowd pullers like Macaronis, Ebay, Rifles, Treasure Island & Ujung Bocur to name but a few, will always have a few guys on them and depending on the recent surf can get crowded. Don’t expect empty line-ups at the main spots but put some time in at any of these waves and you’ll certainly get a fair share of waves.

And remember...
the great thing about being on a charter boat is that you’re at the right spot all day long and you’ll be ready to jump in whenever you choose to. And the great thing about staying at a surf camp is that you’ll know the local waves better than those on the charter boats (as they typically only stick around for a session or two). Both options have their positives and negatives but if you put your time in, respect the rules and most of all try & be friendly and sociable within the line-up, you’ll certainly score some of the best waves of your life (and have a great trip!)

For the least crowded waves - we’d suggest visiting Sumatra in the off season from November to March.

Hazards

Guests should be aware of the following hazards & natural disasters:

Malaria is something that exists but isn’t a problem if guests cover up at dawn & dusk and use plenty of anti-mosquito sprays when not in the surf. Anti-malarial medication can also be taken.

Earthquakes do occur throughout Sumatra on a regular basis. But most of them are non destructive. Most casualties are due to the poor state of its buildings, which 99% of the time, shouldn’t affect any of our guests.

Tsunami’s like the huge one in 2004 are rare. On average, once every five years or so, a large tsunami occurs in “Indonesia”. Generally, damage to the infrastructure exceeds the loss of lives. Most camps in the area have an evacuation plan as well as the charter boats. In fact being on a boat is probably the safest place to be.

Coral Reef – Although it helps shape the mechanical waves of the region, it is something to be respectful of due it’s sharpness. It’s also why we recommend only intermediate to experienced riders booking a trip to this remote corner of Indonesia.

travel essentials

emergency & insurance

When visiting any of the camps or charter boats, please be aware that all scratches & minor cuts should be treated by the guests themselves. Although most the staff will be able to help with minor injuries be aware that it’s not the responsibility of the camps or charter boats to treat injuries. Therefore, it’s extremely advisable to bring your own medical kit. Please note it’s also difficult to get hold of supplies in many parts of West Sumatra. More serious accidents & emergencies will require immediate transport to the mainland or overseas. Although highly unlikely, it’s the reason we require all guests to have suitable medical insurance prior to arrival. West Sumatra is an under developed part of the world and some islands are extremely remote with medical assistance being tricky at the best of times.

at a glance

Whatever you bring, make sure you to pack light & within the baggage restrictions of your airline that are becoming more stringent & can impose hefty charges for excess baggage. And don’t leave for your trip without any of the following:

Passport valid for at least 6 months from date of departure and must have at least 1 completely blank page (no stamps, nothing)

Tickets & itinerary
Travel insurance policy
Cash – change $500 minimum per two weeks stay into Indonesian Rupiah (IDR).
Valid Visa (for Australian, British & USA passport holders, visas can be issued on arrival (30 days max). Please check prior to purchasing your tickets.

what surf boards should i bring

Bring whatever boards you’re used to surfing. If you can bring another, bring something an inch or two bigger. If you have room for 3 boards bring something similar. If you’re not a charger already, chances are you won’t be on your trip so instead of packing a strange board that you’re not used to, it’s best to surf whatever you already feel comfortable with. If in doubt, go a few inches bigger though.Dings are common when you’re surfing all day long, especially for a few weeks, so be sure to pack a ding repair kit, or at least some sun cure resin to keep your boards water tight.

in the surf

The below list is a pretty thorough compilation of a suggested packing index but it’s by no means all essential. Pick and choose as you wish. Think of it more of a handy inventory to avoid forgetting the things you feel necessary to have with you during your trip.

2-3 surfboards
2-3 leashes (& strings)
3 x board shorts
2 x fin keys
3 x sets of fins
2 x snug fitting T-shirt (for sun protection) or rash guard
1 x pair of reef boots (recommended for several of the surf spots)
1 x surf hat (optional)
4 x Mr Zogs Quick Humps “tropical” wax)
Sun screen factor 45+ (200ml)
Sun block (zinc) for your face
Snorkel & mask

out of the surf

We’d recommend bringing pretty much all of this where possible; Airline tickets (printed)

Passport - valid for at least 6 months from date of departure
Passport – printed copy
Travel Insurance
Valid Visa (for Australian, British & USA passport holders, visas can be issued on arrival (30 days max). Please check prior to purchasing your tickets.
$500 minimum per two weeks stay - change into Indonesian Rupiah
Credit cards
Driver’s license
220 volt-110 volt electricity adapter (optional)
Ding repair kit / sun cure resin
Sunglasses
Long sleeve t-shirt
Light weight pants
Sandals
Sealable ziploc bags for cameras, etc on the surfing excursions
Shoes
2 x walking shorts
2 x socks
4 x boxer shorts
4 x t-shirts
Travel backpack
Lightweight waterproof jacket
Malaria medication (optional)
Moisturizer
Mosquito repellent
Surf board coffin travel bag
Basic first aid kit
Pain killers
Toothbrush
Toothpaste
Shaving kit
2-3 surfboards
2-3 leashes (& strings)
3 x board shorts
2 x fin keys
3 x sets of fins
2 x snug fitting T-shirt (for sun protection) or rash guard
1 x pair of reef boots (recommended for several of the surf spots)
1 x surf hat (optional)
4 x Mr Zogs Quick Humps “tropical” wax)
Sun screen factor 45+ (200ml)
Sun block (zinc) for your face
Snorkel & mask

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