• Liam's Surf Trip to Indo - Sumbawa
  • Laurie Hurley

Liam's Surf Trip to Indo - Sumbawa

It's that time of year again. We had a good busy summer in Wild Side and as always the autumn is when the Wild Side team disperses and gets away for our fix of travel and adventure! This year the chosen destination was Indonesia, a place I have spent time in before but it's a solid destination if you're looking for good surf and clear warm waters to freedive and scuba dive. This years travel team included my good mates Graham, Sean, Simon and yours truly. All the boys are keen watermen so we were all out looking for adventure and a healthy dose of adrenaline.

The trip began at Dublin airport at the start of October. I'd just been on a week-long surf trip to Portugal with my girlfriend Karina and had flown back in the previous day. Pumped from a good trip to Portugal I was in the zone for more travel and when I met the boys at the airport I could see they were too! 
We flew into Bali, arriving at night and headed straight up to Medewi in the north west of the island. As soon as you get off the plane that familiar smell and heat hits you immediately. I hadn't been here in 4 years but the sudden hecticness of Bali soon comes back to you as you step outside the airport. Bali is full on. For this reason I had chosen that we start in Medewi, a chilled out surf town 3 hours drive from the main tourist traps. We spent 2 days here surfing the main point break which was mellow but super clean the entire time we were there.
The line up was super friendly and there was good vibes in the water. This was a perfect place to warm ourselves up for the trip. Getting in and out of the break it was handy to wear our reef boots as there were lots of urchins and the water wasn't super clean meaning any cuts we took seriously, especially as we didn't want to start our trip off with any problems. Minor cuts can turn into major infection issues in countries such as Indo as it has the perfect storm of heat, water and humidity meaning infection spreads quick. After 2 days we headed back south for a night in Canguu before flying to Lombok.

Lombok Praya airport was the meeting point to pick up my friend Simon. Simon and myself meet once a year somewhere in the world for a surf trip, previous years has brought him to Ireland, me to Oz and this year we picked Indo. From Lombok praya we got a car to the eastern port of Labuhan, then a ferry to western Sumbawa. This was the main focus of the whole trip for me as this was the most remote I'd been in Indo. On the way over we were hearing horror stories about the recent increase in crime and even kidnappings on the island. This added to the excitement and we were pumped and nervous heading over. Western Sumbawa has been the focus of a gold mine rush for the last 2 decades so it has become an interesting mix of miners, surfers and the knock on effect of crime when money has been introduced to such a  remote area. We arrived at our accommodation by night so it was hard to get our bearings of the place. When we woke up it became apparent I had arrived at the most visually stunning place I've ever been to.
Sumbawa has the most amazing sunrise and sunsets and the landscape is dotted by gorgeous expansive open bays that hold crystal clear blue waters. The place is simply epic on a grand scale. 
We stayed here for a week and the surf pumped for the entire time. We surfed a left by yoyos,a well known spot the first morning which saw me get my first proper board ding of the trip. As we paddled out it was evident that the power in the water was so much more intense than anything I'd felt before. As the week progressed we surfed Supersucks, a heavy left hander that sucks onto sharp dry reef.
The wave was really fun to work out and learn where to sit on it. The first time we surfed it we had it to ourselves for the first hour which was amazing before a few guys started turning up to surf it with us. All in all,the vibe in the water for our whole trip was very chill and friendly, especially compared to other crowded Bali waves. This was something I was hoping for on the trip, to surf good uncrowded waves with good mates.
In Sumbawa we also surfed tropicals, the closest break to our accommodation which was another left (you can tell I'm goofy foot)! We spent a day spear fishing on the Island and that was a super experience.
Our guide Indra was a real legend and was a really good shot. In the space of 2 hours he caught 6 fish. I asked him what does he do with the fish and he told me whatever he doesn't give to his family he barters for things like bricks to extend his house or mosquito spray. I loved his approach on life and he had it sorted. Sumbawa, given it's remoteness is well suited for anyone looking for an off the beaten path adventure and we will definitely be back there soon.

Leaving Sumbawa we headed back on the boat to Lombok and towards more civilisation. We stayed a few days here and surfed in Kuta Lombok, mainly a spot called Segar. This was a solid wave and had a main right break 200 metres from shore and a left that rebounded off the rocks over reef. The wave here was good and produced us with some great surfs but the water was definitely not as clean as Sumbawa. We also went to Mawi on a day trip surf.
This was a good wave and we got to see the local surfers really put on a show of talent. The local guys would airdrop into heavy waves at critical sections with no fear knowing they would make it each time. This was awesome to see up close and learn from their skills. Lombok was super fun and here we said goodbye to Simon as he flew back to Sydney and we pushed on further west to the island of Nusa Lembongan.

Nusa Lembongan is a small Island just to the east of Bali. We stayed here for the bones of a week and everyday we either were surfing, freediving or diving or a combination of all so was a real action packed week. We surfed the closest break playgrounds pretty much every day, sometimes multiple times. This was as the name suggests a really fun A frame, producing a long workable left and a short snappy right hander that barrels when big. During our stay on the island we surfed this wave on a big size range from 2/3ft up to 6/8. When it got bigger the left tends to close out and the right comes alive. Definitely some of the most fun I've had on waves was had here. When the swell picks up the rips getting in and out become insane, literally like paddling in a fast moving river. Paddling home after a long session in this was a serious workout in itself! 
We set aside time for diving and freediving here. The drift diving on Nusa Lembongan is a must. The reefs here are super healthy so each dive we were seeing lots of fish, turtles and even a wobbegong shark which was awesome. In between dive days we went freediving and again using the current on one occasion we drifted well over 10km in a 3 hour freedive session, something I've never experienced before. Freediving down the weighted line here was beautiful, once we reached our desired depth we would hang off a weight at the bottom of a rope, just gliding above the reef in the current. The closest thing I have to this in my imagination is hanging off a balloon and flying. This moment is definitely one for the memory books. Our stay on Nusa Lembongan was a perfect mix of the outdoor sports we love and was a perfect way to end our trip before heading back to Bali and our flight home.

After previous trips to Indo mainly staying in more built up areas I had developed an image in my mind of the place. That it is always busy and hectic in the surf, always dirty water but this was a price I was willing to pay to get good waves. This trip, especially Sumbawa was a wake up to acknowledge that Indonesia's 17,000 islands have plenty of space to lose yourself in and score amazing uncrowded waves.
My advice is grab some good mates, pack your bags and get out there!
  • Laurie Hurley