Sumbawa surfing is pretty cracking, with two coastlines that offer up hollow reef breaks and one amazing A-frame.
An introduction to Sumbawa surfing
An island of two halves that offers up some of the best surf breaks in Indonesia – no joke – Sumbawa is unsurprisingly entering the radar of boarders from all over. It spreads west from Lombok is a weird mass of volcanic ridges and deep jungles, opening up perfectly onto the SW swell channels that power Bali’s Bukit and Desert Point.
That means consistency, but it also means adventure. This isle is nowhere near as explored as its compadres to the west. Line ups are almost always just a handful of people and there are days when you’ll score barrels and A-frames entirely to yourself.
As we said, this is an isle of two halves: East and west. The first bunch of breaks faces Lombok across the strait. They are predominantly upper-intermediate+ stuff, forming tight barrels and air-giving wedges over jagged reef and coral shelves. The west is probably a touch more forgiving but still makes the headlines for Lakey Peak, a big, frothing A wave that has rights and lefts for rippers.
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Sumbawa surfing at a glance
- Great for experts
- Quality breaks without the line ups
- Almost everything is hollow!
- Not great on wet season SE swells
- Dangerously shallow reefs
What’s in this guide to Sumbawa?
Where is Sumbawa?
Sumbawa is the next island over from much-visited Lombok. It’s longer and more strangely shaped than its neighbor, running for over 100 miles to connect up with the East Nusa Tenggara. Getting here isn’t the easiest thing to do, but it’s hardly impossible. There are regular ferries that come in from the east side of Lombok. And you have short-haul flight links from Bali on Garuda Indonesia and Lion Air.
A guide to the Sumbawa surf spots
The best way to talk about the Sumbawa surfing is to divide them into east and west. It’s not that both sides of the island are overly different. They aren’t. Both are actually mainly upper intermediate to expert waves and have similar swell windows. It’s more that each surf area is quite far from each other to the point that going from one to the other would be like going from one island to the next.
Western Sumbawa surfing
Probably the least forgiving wave on the whole island and not really worth it in our opinion, Northern Rights opens in a wide bay more than half the way up the western shoreline. It’s a decent wave when there’s a dead-on SW pushing through and not a blink of wind. Any compromises on that and the wave will pray havoc, get super strange, and be very eager to dump on the reef shelf.
Downtowns is one of the swell hoovers on this side of the island. It gets action when some of the other breaks – Scar Reef, Super Suck – that are probably slightly better quality struggle to work. There are one or two take off points but the best puts you on a fat right shoulder that quickly forms into something a little more hollow. Intermediates often love it but it can be too big during the peak of the dry season.
Goofies come here to finesse the art of the backdoor entry at this hollow reef break on the western side of Sumbawa. It’s a world-class wave but pretty dangerous on account of how fast it closes the door and how shallow the underlying reefs are. The best days are over 5 foot but below 12 without a touch of wind and with swells lining up in the SW channel.
Super Suck is as hollow as they come. A lippy, narrow barrel forms at the wave, that – just as the name implies – sucks strong off a very shallow reef. Shortboarders with a penchant for finding the pocket will really like it, but it’s nothing more than a grab the rail and hope sometimes. Nonetheless, vids of pilgrims scoring tubes of 100 meters plus on this break keep the line up strong and it really is pumping when a big SW swell runs into a light E offshore. It’s like the Skeleton Bay of Indo, only not solely for death wishers.
In front of the white-sand beach and the low dunes along the western shore of Sumbawa, Tropical forms on the reefs about 100 meters or so from the land. It’s mainly a left hander that does well on medium-sized SW swells in the dry season. Can feel a bit sloppy at times and handles like a beach break when it’s brushed by anything onshore. But the ride can also be long and fast. Best for decent intermediates.
Yo-yos isn’t just one but a couple of really powerful Indian Ocean slabs that form where the heavy SW swells hit the western end of Sekongkang Bay. The Wedge (not too much like it’s LA namesake, thank the lord), is a fast-forming rebound wave that gets steep and funnels good surfers into a right shoulder that’s fast enough to offer pretty high air games at the finish. The Hook is probably the better wave in our opinion. It comes into the middle of the beach and shapes over the reefs on a rising ride. The result is a hollowish right that’s great fun on shoulder- to head-high swells with a morning offshore or dead wind.
Eastern Sumbawa surfing
We’d say Lakey Peak is the premier wave on the Sumbawa surf line up. It’s an A-frame that barrels over into a neat pipe. Starting with a Supertubos-esque drop into a channel that’s almost identical to the left as it is to the right. But that quickly changes, as the left straightens and narrows to allow surfers to shoot through the backdoor section and onto a shoulder that allows for some top and bottom turns. The right is generally shorter and fast but still a cracking wave. This is expert stuff though, so don’t be tempted if you don’t know what you’re doing!
Nungas is often called a mini G-Land. It starts as if a point break on the reefs on the eastern end of the Sumbawa south coast, forming a very hollow and steep wave that can run for over 250 meters on the finest days. It’s the sort of place you’d expect to see the pros ripping it up and it really is a quality wave, but does lack some consistency, which is probably the only reason it’s not up there with the crème-de-la-crème of the region.
Periscopes is all about fun. This isn’t a make-the-entry-or-you-die sorta’ wave. It’s wedgy peak with a thin barrel that goes right over a rare deep reef and back out into an easy paddle stream. Works great on SW swells and is a fantastic entry point to more hollow waves for good intermediates looking to make the jump.
Where to stay when surfing in Sumbawa
Sumbawa isn’t Bali, so there’s no overload of hotels. The main places to stay for surfing are in the west, which means you’re more likely to be surfing Yo-Yos and those. Here are some of the best choices…
Castaway Surf Retreat 1
Castaway Surf Retreat 1 is a proper get-away-from-it-all surf experience. Right there between Super Suck and Yo-Yos, it offers prime access to the best breaks on the island’s western shore. Rooms are surprisingly modern but the grounds are Robinson Crusoe stuff, with an empty beach out front and banana trees leaning over the verandahs. It’s very highly rated and we can see why!
Naia Resort Beach Club Sumbawa
Naia Resort Beach Club Sumbawa is more of a full-frills hotel experience than a surf camp but it’s very comfortable. Access to most of the breaks on the west coast is easy from here. Then, you’ll return to a pool that has views of the inland mountains, and cabanas that have uninterrupted views of the ocean over the fields.
Step-by-step guide to planning your Sumbawa surfing trip right now
Step one: Book flights to the Sumbawa surfing…Lately, we like Omio for searching flights. It’s a nice interface and has lots of airline options. We also use Skyscanner because that sometimes offers deals that even beat going direct to the carrier!
Step two: Book your surf camp Book Surf Camps is the numero uno online booking platform for fully-fledged surf-stay packages on the internet right now. Then there’s Booking.com. That has consistently unbeatable rates for hotels and a nifty map feature that lets you check EXACTLY how close your hotel is to a surf break.
Step three: Get insuranceThis is kinda’ important. Not just for surf trips but for any trips. SafetyWing is great for nomad travelers. They offer rolling contracts that cover amateur surfing.
Step four (optional): Rent a car If you’re surf camping then you might not need wheels. If you’re not then we’ll just say this: We’ve never been on a surf trip that wasn’t improved by having our own car. Use RentalCars – they’re the best.
Step five: Enjoy!
When to surf in Sumbawa
You’ve probably seen us mention the dry season a lot here. That’s because it’s the peak time for surfing in Sumbawa. Unlike Bali and Lombok, this island is more reliant on clean SW swells to get its reefs and points fired up. That means there’s not so much action in the wet season, and you really should plan a trip for between June and August if you’re keen to see Sumbawa at its highest quality. Even more specifically, the best time to surf here is in the early summer, when the E trade winds aren’t so strong and morning sessions can be without a hint of wind at all.