A short boat ride from Bali, mythical Lombok houses what is arguably the best lefthand barrel in the world. But there is more to Bali’s rugged neighbor than Desert Point, as the island’s southern coast is holding a number of user-friendly waves with minimal crowds—particularly when compared with the circus that is Bali. For something off the beaten path—or to battle the crowds at Deserts for the wave of your life—Lombok is a fun alternative to the prototypical Indonesian surf trip.
The Surf: Desert Point is one of the heaviest waves in Indo and the reason most surfers bother to visit Lombok. The rest of the island’s well-known waves, however, are actually quite pedestrian. Thus, while Desert Point is an advanced to expert wave, Lombok in general is an intermediate destination.
Five Waves Worth Surfing:
- Desert Point: Although Namibia’s Skeleton Bay might be longer, it isn’t as consistently perfect down the line as Desert Point, which grows as it progresses along the reef and has produced some of the longest barrel rides in history. Although pundits will argue the “top spot” debate until they are blue in the face, no one will deny the fact that Desert Point is one of the best lefthand barrels in the world.
- Kuta: The center of surf tourism on Lombok, Kuta has decent reef breaks in the vicinity, both lefts and rights, and has good access to the island’s other waves.
- Ekas: Ekas has an outer reef wave and a number of inner reforms, both lefts and rights, all of which are playful and user-friendly.
- Belongas Bay: Offshore during the wet season, Belongas has two waves, a left and a right on either side of the bay. Neither comes close to matching Deserts, but then again no wave does. A good option for a fun, uncrowded surf.
- Grupuk: Grupuk Bay is a popular stop with charter boats and has a number of separate breaks, three of which are fun righthanders.
The Water: As with practically everywhere in Indo, the water on Lombok is about as pristine as it gets. Surface temps hover right around 82 F (28 C) year round.
The Season: Desert Point needs a large SW swell to break and is located on the west coast, which means it’s offshore in the winter trades. Thus, Lombok’s marquee wave shares the same season as the Bukit Peninsula on Bali—May through September. Spring and fall (October through December and March through May respectively) can be a touch inconsistent, but can see waves at most of Lombok’s spots, whereas summer (December through February) is best during cyclone swells and at eastern facing reefs, which are offshore during the wet season.
The Vibe: Desert Point is one of the best—and best-known—waves in the world, and when it fires, it is extremely crowded. If you are looking for a cruisy holiday experience, this is the wrong place to go. If you are keen to battle 100 other bloodthirsty surf-rats for what will probably be the best ride of your life, then you’ll feel right at home. Everywhere else on Lombok is relatively uncrowded and peaceful.
Things To Do: Not much. Most people stay on Bali and wait for Deserts to break, then race over to Lombok for the swell. Kuta has a bit of a tourist scene and is a decent place to base if you are looking for more than just surf. In general, you’ll find your entertainment on nearby Bali.
Where To Stay: If you want a hotel or a comfortable hostel/homestay, Kuta is the place to be. If you are coming specifically for a Desert Point swell, you’ll probably end up staying in one of the local rental huts.
What To Bring: If you are going to Lombok, you are probably going for Deserts. With that in mind, bring multiple barrel-friendly shortboards and step-ups, heavy-duty leashes, booties and a helmet if you prefer and possibly even a spring suit (for reef protection). DO NOT BRING any illicit substances, as drug trafficking in Indonesia carries strict penalties of life imprisonment and sometimes death.
Getting There: Lombok is accessible through Bali, so Denpasar will be your gateway into the country. From Bali, you’ll take the ferry (or hire a private boat) to Lombok. Tourist visas are available upon arrival in Bali. Airport code: DPS.