Recently Asia Options caught up with Jake Wundersitz, who was able to combine his passions for surfing and Indonesian whilst studying on exchange in Indonesia. From Lombok to Bali and to Java, Jake has explored a wide range of breaks across Indonesia and has kindly shared some of his favourite spots with us.
In my 8 months studying in Yogyakarta, I tried to utilise my weekends and holidays to my best advantage. If I wasn’t exploring the land, I would seek out the best spots to surf and enjoy the beach life in Indonesia. Not only did I get to surf some of the nicest breaks in Indonesia, but I was also able to practice my Indonesian with the locals at Warungs and Homestays by the beach. I managed to get to Java, Bali and Lombok while on exchange, here is a summary of my favourite spots.
In terms of swell and quality of waves, Lombok, Bali and East Java are quite similar. They all face the Indian Ocean, which provide plenty of quality swell throughout the year. The main difference lies in the setup: the way the reefs and headlands are formed. The Bukit Peninsula sits at an ideal angle to the ocean, allowing the swell to peel off from the reef around it. Lombok and East Java have a lot of smaller headlands, which create many hidden coves and secret waves, perfect for getting away from the crowds in Bali.
I’m no stranger to Bali, having visited many times over the years. I’ve surfed all over the East coast and in the Bukit Peninsula. My two favourite waves in Bali are Uluwatu and Bingin, both of which are located on the Bukit Peninsula. Both are situated on a live reef, which at low tide can be your best friend and worst enemy – I literally have the scars to prove it.
In the mid semester break I decided to venture to the island of Lombok, east of Bali. I based myself in Kuta, Lombok, and quickly got to know other surfers who showed me some secret spots off the beaten track. Although, going to the secret spots also meant tackling some of the worst roads in Indonesia and dodging the local buffalos. I also took the opportunity to do some scuba diving, where we had some great spots all to ourselves.
Although I love Bali and Lombok, there was something about Java that always drew me back. The remote, undeveloped coastline covered with rainforests and rice fields, as well as the small but friendly surf scene in Java kept me hanging for more. There was a break in East Java I would go almost every weekend near a small town called Pacitan. There is a cool surf vibe in this small town which surprised me; I didn’t know many people surfed in Java before going to Pacitan. People came from all over the world to surf this break, and it was just in my backyard!
See what all the fuss is about on Jake’s Pacitan Video.
In Bali and some parts of Lombok, locals have geared themselves for tourism and can speak English quite well. Java is the complete opposite. Apart from concentrated tourist areas, you will struggle to communicate without a basic grasp of Bahasa Indonesia, or a strong aptitude for charades. I found getting away to rural spots in Java very good for improving my conversation skills in Indonesian, as I had no option but to speak. It was also great because unlike the bigger cities like Yogyakarta, where you can be left alone to some extent, in these rural areas, people are curious and interested in talking to you. Having done trips alone as well as with friends, I can definitely say that travelling alone helps improve your language skills by forcing you to interact with people. Travelling with friends is fun, but it’s easy to fall into the trap of keeping to yourself. So for the budding Indonesian scholars, head out of the city and get chatting to experience that famous Indonesian hospitality!
For those interested in learning about surf related projects in Indonesia, the two organisations highlighted below are worth looking at:
With the increase of surf tourism in Bali, there has also been rapid development, often at the expense of the environment. Project Clean Uluwatu is an NGO committed to this issue, focusing on waste management in the Uluwatu community.
Some of the best breaks in Indonesia lie in the most remote corners of the country. Struck by the health issues facing these communities, a group of surfers started Surf Aid, which raises funds from the surf community to assist communities in the Mantawai Islands, Nias Islands and Sumbawa and Sumba.
For more info on surfing in Indonesia, including forecasts, news, pictures and videos, visit the indosurflife website;
Latest posts by Jake Wundersitz (see all)
- Jake Wundersitz ~ Top 3 Surf Locations in Indonesia - November 28, 2015