Banyak Islands, Sumatra

The “manyislands, lie north of the island of Nias and south east of Simeulue, off the coast of west Sumatra. They are made up of 99 sparsely inhabited islands many of which are home to world class waves including “Treasure Island” as well as a wave dense cluster of breaks, found in the “Bay of Plenty”.

Slightly closer to Sumatra’s west coast than much of the other island chains – this less frequented surf region is still open to the majority of groundswell that travels up from the Indian Ocean. And much like its neighbouring archipelagos, waves arrive at its shores incredibly groomed with extreme frequency. Located in the “doldrums” - just above the equator, winds are usually light or glassy which shape the swells with perfect regularity over its numerous coral reef passes.

The best time of year to surf “The Banyaks” is during the dry season, which can be anytime from late March to early November, when the Indian Ocean produces its most consistent groundswells.

The surf season is divided by a high season (April until October/November) and a low season (November until March). From April onwards, consistent swells frequent the islands shores producing world class waves in the head high to double over head range. This is the busier part of the year regards crowds –with an average crowd of around 15 guys to be expected at most surf spots. It is also the dry season where you’d experience very little rain and so surfing during the mid day sun can be extremely punishing. Winds are light and variable most the year but from time to time a Southerly wind pattern will set in, limiting some of the surfing options.

During the low season the winds remain light and favourable with the exception of a passing storm. Rain is more common. The swell will also decrease in size but with so many waves on offer, there’s always somewhere with a good wave. The off season remains a great option for those wanting to beat the crowds.

With so many islands (99 to be exact) The Banyaks are best accessed by Surf Charter boats.

Only 1 or 2 camps are found in the Bay of Plenty but surfers are extremely limited to the waves on offer as well as being skunked when a southerly swell is running.

Your international flight should arrive into Jakarta, SoekarnoHatta International Airport (CGK) or Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KUL)

From Jakarta or KL, you will need to take a further flight to Medan Airport (KNO) - Kuala Namu International Airport

From Medan, when travelling to the Banyaks, you will then need a further flight to Nias (Gunungsitoli) or to the west coast (Sibolga), depending on the charter boat.

For more detailed information including airline information, airport transfers and hotels please check the charter boats tab above.

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.

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.

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 also something to be respectful of due it’s sharpness. It’s why we recommend only experienced riders venturing to some of the more dangerous surf spots.

All surfers visiting the Banyak Islands 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.

Whats 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, its 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 group! 

Wave Quality: World Class
Wave Direction: Right
Also Known As: Treasures
Experience: Intermediate+
Consistency: Inconsistent
Wave Type: Reef
Crowd: 5-35 surfers
Season: April until October

Treasure Island is well known to be one of Indonesia’s most celebrated right hand reef breaks. With lengthy rides of over 200 metres long with three consistent tube sections – it’s no wonder that this remote outpost of north west Sumatra lives up to the hype.  Treasures requires a large swell to work and is a relatively user friendly, very perfect, mechanical right hander, best surfed around head high and bigger.  The wave truly has it all, from soft almond-shaped faces, easy tubes, challenging sections, all set against a mouth watering backdrop to something similar to that of Jurassic Park. The Indicators further out from the point also turn on during larger swells, as does Minis & Gorillas found further inside the bay. 

Wave Quality: World Class
Wave Direction: Left
Also Known As: Cobras
Experience: Advanced
Consistency: Very
Wave Type: Reef
Crowd: 5-20 surfers
Season: Year round

Cobras, is another world class wave found in the region. A reeling left hander that breaks with flawless cylindrical consistency, this truly is a tube riders dream. One of the more consistent waves in the area – it’s a real swell magnet that breaks when the Indian Ocean remains relatively inactive. But it also comes alight in juicier pulses, displaying incredible images of salivating tropical perfection that every surfer dreams of. 

Wave Quality: Good fun
Wave Direction: Right
Also Known As: Warrens
Experience: Intermediate
Consistency: Average
Wave Type: Reef & Sand
Crowd: 5-10 surfers
Season: April until October

Somewhat reminiscent of Pitstops in the Mentawais, Warrens is also a fun right-hand peak that’s located close to the left hander, Cobra’s. A wedgey peak jacks up to deliver fun workable walls with the odd barrel section.  The wave breaks over a mix of reef and sand which can finish on a beautiful white sandy beach. It’s not the best wave in the area, but certainly worth a look.

Wave Quality: Good fun
Wave Direction: Left
Also Known As: Turtles
Experience: Intermediate
Consistency: Consistent
Wave Type: Reef & Sand
Crowd: 5-15 surfers
Season: April until October

Situated on the same stretch of coast as Cobras, this fun wedgey wave offers a playful option with occasional barrel sections when the surf is small. This consistent left hander peels over sand and reef before a final section that breaks into a white sandy beach. This stunning location is also positioned in the heart of a turtle nesting area on Bangkaru. 

Wave Quality: Very Good
Wave Direction: Left
Also Known As: Clarets
Experience: Intermediate
Consistency: Consistent
Wave Type: Reef
Crowd: 5-15 surfers
Season: April until October

Lolok Point is a very long barrelling wave found in the Bay of Plenty, that is set alight during medium to large swells. A phenomenal sight to behold when the swell, wind and tide combine together, the wave works from head high to triple over head – or bigger. Bring a big board for easy entry and you might just luck into the ride of your trip. It delivers high speed lengthy walls as well as a freight train barrel on the inside, with rides over 200m possible. This place holds serious size.

Wave Quality: Very Good
Wave Direction: Right
Also Known As: Joystick
Experience: Intermediate
Consistency: Consistent
Wave Type: Reef
Crowd: 5-20 surfers
Season: April until October

A very consistent right hander found in the heart of the Bay of Plenty. This super fun bowly wave produces a perfect tube on take-off before peeling mechanically along the reef for numerous top turn sections before linking up to the inside bowl for a second tube.  Perfect for intermediates on all but the biggest of days, this is a fantastic wave that everyone seems to enjoy.

Wave Quality: Good fun
Wave Direction: Right
Also Known As: Camel Backs
Experience: Advanced
Consistency: Consistent
Wave Type: Reef
Crowd: 0-10 surfers
Season: April until October

A stone’s throw away from Guntur’s is Camel Backs. A thick lipped double humped beast that is more suitable for tube thirsty riders and body boards alike. Two outside peaks rear up from the deep offering an intense back door tube before racing down the line. A quality wave that often goes un-ridden whilst most opt to surf Gunter’s.  

Wave Quality: Very Good
Wave Direction: Right
Also Known As: Shortys
Experience: Intermediate+
Consistency: Consistent
Wave Type: Reef
Crowd: 0-10 surfers
Season: April until October

Shorty’s is also found in the Bay of Plenty, just up from Camel Backs. Despite its inability to offer lengthy rides – it certainly makes up for in shear quality. This wave gets perfect. On its day, it’s a thing of beauty, with cylindrical perfection offering fast bowl tubes time and time again. It’s certainly a great option for intermediate and advanced riders when some of the more popular waves are lacking size.

Wave Quality: Very Good
Wave Direction: Left
Also Known As: Dindos
Experience: Intermediate+
Consistency: Inconsistent
Wave Type: Reef
Crowd: 10-25 surfers
Season: April until October

Toytown left is really fun and perfectly shaped left-hander found deep in the Bay of Plenty. This top turn machine rolls along the reef at a rhythmic pace delivering countless dreamy sections and even the occasional tube. Everyone simply loves this wave and is often compared to a softer version of Macaronis. Memorable sessions are guaranteed if the swell pulses enough, with unforgettable visions of this iridescent tropical playground & its mesmerising tapering walls. A regional classic for all abilities.

Wave Quality: Good fun
Wave Direction: Right
Also Known As: Babi
Experience: Intermediate+
Consistency: Consistent
Wave Type: Reef
Crowd: 5-15 surfers
Season: April until October

Somewhat of a swell magnet, The Pig is an extremely good option due to its consistency especially when Indian Ocean is resting in between swells. A deep water peak that is a little exposed to the wind, a bigger board is preferable for its Hawaiian style take-off and big open walls. Further on the inside is Migilas, another right hander that produces some quality tubes and fun workable walls.

Wave Quality: World Class
Wave Direction: Left
Also Known As: Lizards Nest
Experience: Advanced
Consistency: Inconsistent
Wave Type: Reef
Crowd: 0-15 surfers
Season: April until October

Lizards Nest is an uber hollow left that will dish up some of the best barrels available in Sumatra. If you’re lucky enough to score this fickle crown jewel, be sure to bring some bigger boards. Shallow, ferocious and extremely photogenic, it’s a perfect wave for those willing to charge. A jaw dropping sight to behold, when the swell, wind and tide unite, this wave will remain embedded in your mind for ever.

Charter Boats in Banyak Islands

Kuda Laut

Kuda LautMentawai, Telo & Banyaks

The Kuda Laut had a recent refit and is ideal for small groups looking to explore the Mentawai & Telos...

From: AUD 2800 per person
Max 7 / Min 6 guests

Bintang

BintangMentawai, Telo & Banyaks

The Bintang is one of the largest & longest serving charter boats in the West Sumatra region...

From: AUD 3500 per person
Max 14 / Min 10 guests

Seriti SPECIAL OFFER

SeritiBanyak Islands

Running since 2000, Seriti is an extremely reputable charter that only operates in the Banyaks...

From: USD 3095 2895 per person
Max 12 / Min 7 guests

The Dream SPECIAL OFFER

The DreamBanyak Islands

Built in 2009, The Dream is a spacious & modern boat that specialises in trips to the Banyaks...

From: USD 2600 1600 per person
Max 12 / Min 7 guests