Batu Karas surf is hailed as some of the best for beginners and longboarders on the island of Java
An introduction to Batu Karas surf
In a land where the barrel wave reigns supreme, Batu Karas is something of a breath of fresh air. At the far end of the same coal-black sand as Pangandaran, it’s a tucked-away point break that’s relieved from the head-on hit of the SW swell channels. That turns it into something altogether mellower than many of the other surf destinations in south Java.
And so it is that this place has come to be called the top learner destination of Indo, at least if you don’t count Kuta, Bali. The star of the show is a peeling right hander that comes off the main point, along with a reef that comes into its own in the wet season. But there are also peaky beach waves and plenty of whitewash to keep the surf schools going further down the bay to the west, each magnetizing its own varying level of swell.
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Batu Karas surf at a glance
- Arguably the best place to learn to surf in Java
- Lovely eco hotels
- Mellow waves and rare right handers
- Gets messy in the wet season
- Not great for expert surfers
What’s in this guide to Batu Karas surf?
Where is Batu Karas?
Batu Karas is one of the first coastal towns you reach after hopping over the border between West Java and Central Java. It’s on the south coast of the island, about 12 miles from the other main surf hub of the region: Pangandaran. Most people will come in from the airport in Jakarta, but usually not without at least one stop on the way over, since the drive there takes about 7.5 hours in all.
A guide to the Batu Karas surf spots
There aren’t all that many defined surf spots in Batu Karas. To be honest, that’s something we quite like. It lends the place a chilled and almost low-key air, a world apart from the surfing medley that goes on in other Javanese hotspots like G-Land. Here’s a look at the prime places to paddle out…
Batu Karas Point/BK Point
This is the spot that really gives the Batu Karas surf its rep as some of the most beginner friendly in all of Java. It really reminds us of a small day in Imsouane or a mellow QLD point. Waves on the SSW swell need to refract around a high headland but do manage to keep enough action to give a slow and pushy take-off point that all but does the hard work for you. There’s rarely a need to paddle like Arnie here, just do the basics right and the wave will take you along.
The mellowness continues as the wave leads into the bay. It’s not for complete beginners as you will need to turn the board down the line, but it’s super inviting stuff. Better surfers can start ripping and hotdogging at this point, as the whole face is pretty good at staying green for a nice long ride, sometimes of over 50 meters, especially if there’s a dry-season easterly helping it out.
The only downside? BK Point is starting to suffer more from crowds than it used to. Get in early for a dawnie to dodge that. Still, these aren’t rippers a la Uluwatu. It’s generally a nice vibe.
Batu Karas beach break
It’s possible to stay further down the line from the point and pick up the scraps from the line up as the waves curl into the inside of the bay. It’s generally for total beginners or groms, offering little wave lips to practice popping up on.
Roughly midway up the main black-sand beachfront of Batu Karas, there’s a small dash of reef that gets exposed at low tide. Wait for the push to see it disappear and start fleshing out nice A-frame walls to the left and the right. The right’s the better one, often barrelling over even in weaker wet-season swells and offering fast walls that invite more audacious turns. This is where the local crews will often ply their trade. Reef shoes might come in handy.
Whoever said this was a place just for the beginners. Nope, this is south-caost Java, remember? Ask one of the local fishermen for a ride out to Bulak Bendak (should cost little more than a couple of dollars) and you can get to one of the best breaks in the whole region. We’re talking a nice head-high reef break that runs hollow and right on medium swells, with good surfaces for ripping and even potential hollow sections.
The eastern terminus of the main bay that runs along from little Batu Karas is at Pangandaran. This side of the sand has a lot more exposure to the oncoming SW swells than its compadre. That means a lot more action in the water, but it’s rarely as clean because it’s all sandbank stuff. Basically, this is generally a mess of peaks by the multitude. A good option for beginners but with potential to shape up on occasion.
We have a complete guide to the surf breaks in Pangandaran
Where to stay when surfing in Batu Karas?
There are some fantastic hotels on offer near the Batu Karas surf, particularly if you like swimming to the sound of the Indian Ocean waves rolling in or listening to birds chirp in the jungles as you sleep…
RNV Family Guesthouse Eco Resort
Set between the towering palms and banana trees just back from the main surf break, RNV Family Guesthouse Eco Resort is a loveable stay run by a forever-happy group. There’s a small swimming pool and you’ll feel at one with nature thanks to the proximity of the wild Javanese jungles. There’s never more than a dozen people staying here, so the vibes are super relaxed.
The Beach House
The Beach House really is stunning. A raised infinity pool set in polished concrete pokes just above the beach between the coconut groves. The rooms exude chic minimalism with a touch of Scandi-cool. There are outdoor seating areas that gaze straight over the volcanic sands. Yes, it’s among the pricier options in town but it’s definitely worth the extra moolah!
Villa Monyet Java
We adore the traditional ship-shaped rooms of Villa Monyet Java, built in the age-old architectural style of ancient Java. Inside, they have high vaulted ceilings that really give the impression of space. Outside, they seem to meld seamlessly with the flower-filled gardens. Oh, and the whole place is real close to the paddle out point for the beach break and the point – we’re talking like a 30 second walk!
Step-by-step guide to planning your Batu Karas surf trip right now
Step one: Book flights to the Batu Karas surf…We use Skyscanner and only Skyscanner for this. The reason? We’ve always found it the best site for comparing deals from basically ALL airlines and somehow seems to offer deals that beat going direct.
Step two: Book your surf lodge. There’s Booking.com. That has consistently unbeatable rates for hotels and a nifty map feature that lets you check how close EXACTLY that hotel is to particular breaks. Or Book Surf Camps, which is the numero uno online booking platform for fully-fledged surf-stay packages.
Step three: Book surf lessons and other activities For advance booking, you can use GetYourGuide or Viator. To be fair, though, we usually just leave this until we’re there – it’s easy to book in person in most surf destinations.
When to surf in Batu Karas?
The season for surf in Batu Karas is essentially the same as the peak in all of Java. That runs from May to August, but also has some good times in September and the early spring. You’re waiting for the strong S-SW pulses of swell that come through the Indian Ocean then, along with the lighter trade winds from the east. There is swell in the wet season, but it’s not as clean and that’s really what surfing here is all about – clean, turn-inviting walls that hold their shape.