Surfing in Nias – “Ronny! Coconut!”

After a short trip to Krakatau, I went to Nias for a week of surfing. What better way to celebrate my 30th year around the sun?

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Nias is an island located west of North Sumatra. If you’re not a dedicated traveling surfer, chances are you have never heard about this place, and you will most likely never go there.

Doing business in Nias

The local businesses come to you, whether it’s for coconuts, oleh-oleh (souvenirs), ding repairs or massage. All meals were also delivered to our hangout area on the second floor. For that reason I didn’t leave the house, unless for surfing, for the first four days in Nias. The locals are friendly and polite, and they were very grateful every time we bought something. They never gave up selling us things, some of them hung out outside our place for hours, even after the deal was sealed. Seems like time has a different value here.

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Aloha Surf Camp, our home for the week. It’s located on the southern end of the island. Coconuts were never far away.
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Countless times every day I would hear “Ronny! Ronny! Coconut! Coconut bread!”
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Jalan-jalan with the coconut saleskids to an abandoned resort.
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Mr Ding-fix was never far away. Maybe he thought we looked like someone who would need his services regularly. He was right.
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After I bought his surfboard I just had to get a picture.

Giving back to the reef

I would not recommend this place for beginner surfers. It’s not impossible for beginners to surf here, but there’s a lot of places more beginner friendly and easier to get to. First of all it takes a long time to get here, even starting from Jakarta. We had to fly up to Medan, change to a small Garuda Explore flight over to Gunung Sitoli, then drive for three hours down to Lagundri Bay. To get to the ocean you need to do a painful walk across the exposed reef, but then the paddle out from the “key hole” in the reef is actually very pleasant. The water is completely see-through, so you’ll get a good look at the reef while waiting for the waves to roll in. Expect to get close contact with the reef at some point…

These are some of the sacrifices we made for the reef during the week: A couple of fins fell off, a lot of fiberglass (surfboard material), and some skin and blood. What we got back was a lot of fun waves. A fair trade after all.

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You have to walk across the exposed reef to get to the water. Hana and Christian were smart enough to bring their reef boots. Good for them!
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Indonesian party wave. Christian took off on the outside peak and was joined by four more surfer when he reached the inside takeoff zone.
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The last year and a half I’ve been collecting dings and just fixing them with glue and surf wax myself. This was a good time to get them properly fixed. Luckily I didn’t get any new ones in Nias. Except one of fins is a bit shorter now… The red rental board got some new white spots after Jørgen parked it on the reef.
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Hana needed a quick fix after getting close contact with the reef. Bring a first aid kit, and clean your reef cuts! My brother ended up spending some days in the hospital after the trip. Infections are no joke, and you’re far away from a proper hospital!
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A lot of exciting nasi and mie goreng on the menu during the week… Can’t complain about the location though.

A perfect wave

The Point in Lagundri Bay has been voted the best right hander wave in the world. When it’s on, which is often during high season, you can get epic barrel-rides here. This is the low season, so we found waves more suitable for kook level surfers like us. The swell rolling in was about 2 ft during the whole week, resulting in some of the best waist to head high waves I’ve ever surfed. Some of us got the longest/best waves of our lives. At times it was more crowded than expected considering how long it takes to get here, and the lack of other things to do in the area.

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This is a beginner having a lot of fun on one of the highest rated spots in the world. It turned out Jørgen was born to do this.
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At times we were dominating the lineup…
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Christian racing down a fun-sized wave on the blue Biscuit. (Local photographer Fredy)
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Lars setting up for a gnarly top turn… (Local photographer Fredy)
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Before it starts barreling (at least under 3 ft swell it seems), the wave is good for practicing whatever kook-move you’re trying to learn. (Local photographer Fredy)
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Hana on the wave of the week! (Local photographer Fredy)

Surfing in Nias was an important item on my Indo bucket list, and I think this was the perfect timing for checking it off. Super excited I got to share this surfing experience with such an awesome crew! Spending the last week of my twenties there, I was kind of hoping to get properly barreled for the first time too. It didn’t happen, so I guess I have to come back. I still have some exciting surfing adventures left on the list, and also some reruns.

Terima kasih, Nias.


Sumatra Surf trip Uncategorized

1 Comment Leave a comment

  1. Been looking up to your feeds for my personal holiday recommendations, and it helps a lot! But Sumba and Papua is still the winner of my mind and heart. Your blog captured so many beautiful moments and it really did opens my mind that I’ve been blessing with this beautiful country. Hope one day I can meet you in person

    Can’t wait for your next story 🙂

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