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ask an asian: where's the best place to surf?

Serious surfers may not think of Southeast Asia as the surfing destination of choice because of the general lack of decent-sized waves along the coastlines. Indonesia, though, is one exception. Unlike other beach destinations in SE Asia that have somewhat unreliable wave formations, this country of many islands boasts over a hundred plus excellent breaks, and is ranked in the top ten of the best surf sites in the world.

Professional and elite surfers flock to this popular destination, especially to the holiday islands of Kuta, Bali and the Mentawai Islands, to experience some of the best waves around. These areas, especially Bali, often see consistent waves up to four meters high from April to November.

For the more advanced, G-land (Grajagan) in East Java is an internationally-famed surf spot and an excellent stomping ground for those wanting to ride the world’s longest and fastest reef-breaks. Wave-hunters seeking awesome left-waves (waves breaking from right to left) will not be disappointed here.  Padang is another recommended site, with waves coming in from almost every direction, making it an attractive venue to find breaks with offshore conditions. The best time to visit is from March to October, while those looking for the biggest swells should head out there from June to September.

Within the past decade, SE Asia sees increasingly bigger crowds of serious surfers as well as surfing enthusiasts at many up-and-coming surf spots in the Philippines and Sri Lanka. Also, Bardic Island on the northwest of Luzon, where seasonal typhoons often bring waves up to three meters high between October and March.

Sri Lanka’s prime surf coastline stretches 1,000 plus kilometers and offers a whole lot of great spots to surf. Matara (Secret Point) set on the southern coast is one great venue, boasting a left and right beach break over sand, and is a great surfing spot for intermediate level surfers. Arugam Bay on the southeast coast with its good swells in the early hours of the morning is another beach to try. The Arugam Surf Point has very long and consistent right hand break and an overall excellent wave that will surely make the nine-hour trip from the nearest airport worth it.

Novice and beginner surfers should consider riding the waves in Thailand and Malaysia during the monsoon season between April and September. Thailand’s popular beach destinations, Kata Yai, Kata Noi, and Patong Beach in Phuket, in particular have thriving surfing communities that are working together to make Thailand the next surf destination in SE Asia. Around these areas the breaks can go as high as two meters.

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