Located to the east of the more frequented island of Lombok, Sumbawa is a surfer’s paradise and so much more. A little further afield, the journey is a little longer, but the stunning surrounds witnessed aboard a private charter more than make up for it.
With great surf and spectacular reefs, the island is well known for diving, waves, sandy beaches and wild terrain, a thrill seekers paradise. However, it is equally suited to sun chasers looking to relax. A place of traditional living with fascinating sights such as water buffalo racing, deer-hunting and berempuk – a ritual boxing match. The island is a source of sappan wood used to make red dye, honey and sandalwood, while the savannah-like climate and grassland is used to breed horses and cattle.
A vast region with a plethora of discovery makes a charter the superior mode of exploration but it is not just the swell that makes this a surf trip extraordinaire.
Just off the northwest coast of Sumbawa, the Island of Moyo is an incredible place to visit with the main attraction being the magical Mata Jitu Waterfall with its cascading turquoise pools. The area is utterly charming and surreal, resembling more a dreamscape of a beautiful imagination. It is a hidden paradise still unknown to the majority of tourists so expect no influencers here, just simple serenity.
A visit to Moyo Island takes the traveller on an adventure of discovery and an escape from reality. Man and nature still live in harmony as Moyo is inhabited by just 1,000 people in six villages, living off the land and the ocean. The incredibly clear waters are packed with sponges and corals and a multitude of colourful reef fish, including pelagic and reef sharks.
Now back to surf!
The surf region can be divided into east and west and ranks among the best in, not just Indonesia, but the world. March to November are peak times, however there are waves throughout the year. It spreads west from Lombok, opening up perfectly onto the SW swell channels that power Bali’s Bukit and the fabled Desert Point.
That means consistency, but it also means adventure as this island is nowhere near as explored as its neighbours 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.
Both regions feature mainly intermediate to expert waves and have similar swell windows. All the famous spots are quite spread out, with hidden gems in between, making a yacht the ultimate mode of transport. Let’s start with the west…
Top 3 West Sumbawa Surf Highlights
Goofies come here to finesse the art of the backdoor barrel 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 and how shallow the underlying reefs are. The best days are over 5 foot but below 12 without a touch of wind and swells lining up in the SW channel.
Super Suck is as hollow as they come. A narrow barrel forms at the wave, that, 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, 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 east offshore.
Yo-yos isn’t just one but a couple of really powerful slabs that form where the heavy SW swells hit the western end of Sekongkang Bay. The Wedge is a fast forming rebound wave that gets steep and funnels good surfers into a right shoulder that’s fast enough to offer an epic ramp at the end. The Hook is probably the better wave sitting in 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 wind.
Top 3 Eastern Sumbawa Surf Highlights
The premier wave in Sumbawa, it’s an A-frame that barrels over into a neat tube. 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 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 it lacks 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. 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.
So that’s Sumbawa surf in a nutshell. It’s a lot to take in and with a fair distance in between waves it’s easy to see why a charter is the ultimate way to visit this extraordinary region.
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