Padang Padang, Bali, Indonesia
Padang Padang has a very shallow left-hand reef break known as the “Balinese Pipeline” due to the large barrels that allow surfers to have excellent tube rides. Due to the powerful waves and shallow reed, it’s regarded as the most dangerous wave in Bali and is probably one of the most dangerous breaks in the world. The Balinese Pipeline is a favourite surfing spot among top-notch surfers around the world and is only for expert surfers.
Beginners and intermediates can head to the mellow wave nearby called Padang Padang rights. The waves break both left and right over the reef in front of a beautiful white sandy beach, which is safe for novices at high tide.
When to go: The left-hand waves only break neatly on a large swell, which is usually from April to October. But the rights are consistent all year round save for July and August when waves might get too big for beginners.
Good to know: The entrance to Padang Padang beach is cut through solid rock so getting there is an experience in itself. Usually, there’s a relaxed mix of locals and tourists hanging out at the beach, sunbathing and swimming during the day, and enjoying a sunset beer later in the evening.
Trivia: Padang Padang beach was the location for the movie Eat Pray Love starring Julia Roberts – but don’t let that put you off!
The scoop from: Wayan Tina, Padang Padang Surf Camp (+62 819 9928 3549)
G-Land, East Java, Indonesia
Grajagan, or G-Land as most people know it, is located on the eastern fringe of Grajagan Bay, in East Java, Indonesia. It’s part of Plengkung National Forest, one of the last wild pieces of jungle left on the densely inhabited island. Most surfers head here in search of a very long, world-class, barrelling left-hand reef/point break that’s been touted as one of the world’s best left-hand waves. On regular days the waves are between four and six foot but on good days they can reach up to 12 or 15 foot.
Less experienced surfers looking to have some fun can go surfing down at Tigertracks and 20/20s for a less intimidating wave.
When to go: G-Land is good for surfing from mid-March to October but the best months are June to August. It can get crowded in the peak time with up to 100 people trying to catch the waves.
Good to know: In the 80s and 90s, G-Land was considered a true hardcore surfer destination and taking a female partner, let alone kids, was not commonplace. But thanks to a decade worth of improvements to accessibility and the facilities, it’s perfect for families and couples too.
The scoop from: Laurenz Sunyoto, G-Land Joyo’s Surf Camp (+62 3 6176 3166)
The Majestics, The Philippines
The Majestics, a right-hand reef break off Catanduanes Island, earned the name from its cream coloured sand, clear waves and bright coral reefs. Even though it’s a bit of a mission to get to (you have to take a domestic flight from Manila and then drive for two and a half hours to Puraran), the journey is worth it. You’ll be rewarded with long barrel waves that are comparable in power and quality to those in Hawaii. The Majestics are generally for advanced surfers but further down the beach there are also waves suitable for beginners.
When to go: Beginner surfers should go between April and August because the waves are around two to five foot. The best period for professional surfers is August to October where the waves can get up to seven foot high, usually with a minimum wave height of four foot.
Good to know: The Majestics are just off a stunning beach but the wave is formed by a shallow reef ledge that can be very dangerous.
The scoop from: Patricia S Maliksi, Majestic Puraran Beach Resort (+63 2 785 1014)
Mentawai Islands, West Sumatra, Indonesia
Often touted as “Surf Disneyland” and “The best waves in the world”, these remote islands, 60 miles off the Sumatran mainland, actually live up to the hyperbole. A few years back, adventurous surfers could have had this paradise almost to themselves. Today a micro industry of surf boat charters and land-based surf camps have sprung up to cater for the increasing number of surfers willing to travel and bear the cost of finding the perfect wave in surf mecca.
To get the most out of these breaks, you’ll have to be an intermediate or advanced surfer. To get there, take a flight to Padang and either hop on a surf boat charter or a boat transfer to a surf camp. Most surf camps should have speedboat access to nearby breaks.
As for the breaks, where to start? Rifles, Hollow Trees (HT’s), Telescopes, No-Kandui, Macaronis – the list is endless.
When to go: There are great waves in this area all year round, though the ideal time to surf in the Mentawais is during the dry season, late March to early November, the southern hemisphere’s winter.
The scoop from: Matthew Tennant, Bali Surf Travel Company
Good to know: Mentawai Islands are clustered just below the equator. They’re known as the doldrums because of light and variable winds and rip-roaring squalls. So when winter storms in the southern hemisphere start to boil the ocean surface, surfers flock from all over the globe to experience doldrums conditions and perfect storm swells.
The scoop from: Christie Carter, Wavepark Mentawai (+62 81 2660 7764)
Read EX magazine (Issue June/July) for the full feature.