Can I learn to surf in South Sumatra?

The simple answer is yes. But in order to truly answer the question we need to delve a little deeper into a beginners options in Indonesia.

Anyone wanting to learn to surf in Indonesia (South Sumatra included) will always be confined to its beaches. As famed for its world class reef breaks as Indonesia is, as a rule, such waves are far too dangerous for beginners and attempting to surf them would almost certainly result in serious injury. Of course, some beaches are more ideal than others but most can provide a good starting point for those new to the sport.

Kuta Beach, Bali

The most popular beach to learn to surf in Indonesia would have to be Kuta beach in Bali. It seems to have a nice amount of power thanks to the beach being relatively flat, offering plenty of user friendly white water waves to practice on. Surfers can find 101 reputable surf schools to sign up with and there's no question it’s a good option. However it means spending your holiday in Kuta! Although it does have a certain charm, most would agree it’s only good fun for a day or two.

Learn to surf Bali
Learning to surf at Kuta Beach, Bali

For those happy to sign up, most beginners will usually take a handful of lessons and progress no further than standing up in the white water. For the few that progress "out back", the reality is that the waves close out most of the time and further improvement is limited and slow. The waves are very crowded with locals and it can be hard to catch a few waves even if you're a good surfer.

The point is, even the most popular beach in Indonesia has some draw backs. It is possible for beginners to continue progressing to other spots (towards Canggu) but many of the waves are getting so busy now that they're becoming dangerous. Where some will revel in the experience, others will be looking for a new sport to try.

Learning to surf in Krui, South Sumatra

For those looking for a quieter & more unique experience in Indonesia away from the Bali masses, it’s actually pretty hard to find many camps that offer surf lessons. Lombok is perhaps next on the list but again, it’s often described as the new Bali (being so close and quickly becoming developed) and it’s certainly not crowd free. It’s not hard to see why many are choosing to escape to more remote destinations like Sumatra.

Learn to surf Kuta
Sumatra Surf Resort, South Sumatra

Like Bali, the Southern part of Sumatra is also famed for its reef breaks and is regularly visited by die hard surfer’s each year. And for any "learners" willing to take the long journey, they will also have the opportunity to experience something a little more real than those heading to Bali. Of course, there isn’t the choice of surf schools and there isn’t a beach quite as good as kuta beach (to learn to surf) but there is plenty of opportunity to catch some white water, have some fun with some experienced instructors and to learn the fundamentals of riding a wave. As fun as surfing can be, in the early days at least, it’s as much hard work as it is fun. Progress is made but in short bursts. That’s simply what learning to surf is like. The time of year is certainly a factor & beginners are urged to visit earlier or later in the main surf season (March/April or October/November). 

Spending time in a legitimate surf destination (Like Krui, South Sumatra) where more "advanced surfers" come for their surf trips, you're bound to get some varying opinions. And for an experienced surfer, its a paradise for them. They’ll quite happily point out that it’s not a place for beginners but this is true only in the same way that going to Chamonix to learn to snowboard would be a bad choice. Would a beginner be maximising the surfing opportunities, of course not. It all depends what you’re looking to get out of your vacation.

So where is the best destination to surf? Places like Morocco have many flat beaches that produce gentle waves, they enjoy nice weather and good winds. But with that comes a wetsuit, less friendly locals and a country that’s not comparable to Sumatra/Indonesia (in my opinion). Sumatra isn’t a bad place to learn all things considered. You have a beautiful beach in Mandiri, uncrowded waves in hot tropical waters. Lessons are private and affordable. You're on a real adventure, away from the masses. It’s a real and unique experience.

Some pre-surf drills before heading out at Mandiri Beach, South Sumatra

But wherever you learn, you’ll soon realise that surfing is hard. We all know it looks easy! I believe it’s one of the hardest sports to master and even if you're fit & dedicated it still takes years of practice to get the "basics" down. And if you start to learn after your teenage years, it also becomes even harder. Any advanced surfer you see in the ocean will have been surfing all their lives, practicing day after day, year after year. If its your first time surfing, then surfing is always a challenge in every sense. Many will struggle but most will enjoy the reward of a hard days surfing no matter your ability.

Sumatra Surf Resort is the only camp in South Sumatra to offer affordable and professional surf lessons. 

5 - 7 day beginner packages are available and are recommend between March & April or October & November.

Lessons are USD 30 per person for a 1.5 hr lesson.

Each lesson includes:

* Qualified Instructor
* Surfboard rental
* Rash vest & leash
* Lesson theory & practical lesson
* Transport to/from the beach
* 8 guests maximum

Surf School Krui
Sumatra Surf Resort focus on small groups of 1-4 guests

Guests will be taken to one of the local beaches (usually Mandiri Beach) for each lesson. About 15 minutes from the camp, standard lesson times will usually be early morning as well as a second mid afternoon session. Lessons will include surf theory such as water safety, how to read the surf, surf etiquette all before paddling out to the surf. Beginners will also learn techniques such as duck diving, taking off and of course standing up. Groups are usually small (1-4 guests) so you get plenty of individual attention.

For those interested in surfing in South Sumatra then drop us message and we'll be happy to answer your questions and of course confirm your booking with you.

For more details check out Sumatra Surf Resort:

For those looking at learning to surf elsewhere in Sumatra, then the Mentawai Islands remain as the ultimate option (although more remote and more expensive!). For more information, check out Learn to Surf Holidays page