When we talk about surfing, the places that quickly come into our minds are Hawaii, California, Australia, France, and South Africa. But nowadays, Asia is one of the hottest and most popular destinations in the world. Either you are coming all the way from Latin America or Europe, Asia is now just a flight away.
A very affordable destination, the fresh Asian cuisine, the land where the culture in different countries is so different from one another. If you are an expert surfer or someone who just starting their journey in learning how to do it and wondering where to surf in Asia, this article about best-surfing destinations in Asia will be a good place to start.
I’m a beginner myself, thus, I decided to a call-out for help from my fellow travel bloggers who are an avid surfer to help me list the best places to go surfing in Asia. We also included the cost, surfing level, and some tips about travelling there.
NOTE: All prices are in US dollars
WHAT TO REMEMBER WHEN DECIDING WHERE TO SURF IN ASIA
Now that you have decided to go surfing for your next holiday, remember these things before booking your flight to avoid any hassle or disappointment during your holiday.
RELATED POSTS: Visas for Southeast Asia
Ask yourself, how good are you when it comes to surfing? Are you a beginner? If yes, look for a place that has small waves, sandy sea bottom, and a destination where you can find a surfing teacher/instruction or school.
This section is mostly helpful for beginners. As a beginner myself and someone who sometimes freak out in the water, it is important for me to check out what kind of surfing spot the place is. The questions you want to ask are:
- what is the sea bottom like – when the current gets very strong, you want to know if you will hit the sand or coral reefs or rocks under the water
- are the waves too big or too hard
- Is there good medical assistance around the area or do you have travel insurance which can cover in case of possible accidents?
Some surfer I’ve met are concern with the affordability of the destination. The water is free but if you are not travelling with your surfboard, you may want to look hard how much renting a surfboard will cost.
In Asia, it varies very much. It ranges between US$5-$20. The price for a board with an instructor/teacher cost more, about US$7-$30. You should also check if the price is per hour.
Ease of reaching
If you only have a week of holiday, you probably don’t want to spend three days travelling on a bus or train. Make sure you read how to get to that place before buying your flight ticket.
Is it touristy
Perhaps one of the most important thing on the list when doing your research if to find out if it’s a touristy destination. It can be a good thing or bad.
For example, many first time travellers to Asia feel like a place is much safer when they see a lot of tourists in every corner. While this can also be a problem for beginners because learning to surf in a crowded place can be very tricky.
While for experts, surfing in a tourist-packed beach can be too hard to enjoy or too frustrating because you have to watch out not to hit anyone with your board or your game can be ruined if there are ten other people trying to catch the waves with you.
When is the best time to go
The most important thing to find out is when is the best time to go. Surfing season is a real thing, some beaches get jellyfish season (which you should really avoid), while other beaches get typhoon season where surfing is forbidden for safety reasons.
Now that we went through the important things to look out for when searching for the best surfing places in Asia, it’s time to find out which one fits your skill, budget, and expectations.
BEST SURFING SPOTS IN ASIA ACCORDING TO TRAVEL SURFERS
Remember, these are recommendation from travel bloggers who surfed in these places. For your own safety and satisfaction, I highly recommend you do intensive research about each place if you decided to go.
Every traveller and surfer have different expectations and preference, these surfers might enjoy something that doesn’t suit your cup of tea.
We’ve heard surf spots and good surfing trainers in Bali, Lombok, Siargao, Tel Aviv, and Kovalam. But do you know that you can surf in Weligama, Baler, Canggu, and other places in Asia? This post will help you know about them.
NOTE: All prices are in US dollars
Baler, Aurora, Philippines
Recommended by Ryan of Three Week Traveller
Also known as the surfing capital of Luzon (the North Island of the Philippines), Baler is a quiet and small surfing town just six hours from Manila. If you are looking to learn to surf with fewer tourists or simply enjoy Baler’s waves, this is a perfect place. 95% of the tourists in Baler are locals, making it one of the cheapest destinations in the Philippines.
Since it’s a six-hour bus ride and it’s on the way north, many foreign travellers don’t have to time to explore Baler. Which is a real shame because it’s a town where you can start from learning to surf with a guide to actually catching by yourself in no time. It is also facing the Pacific Ocean openly, making it less warm than most places in the Philippines.
- Recommended for: beginners to intermediate
- Best time to surf: middle of October to end of April (off-season June to October)
- Average wave height: 2-4 feet (.6-1.2 m)
- Cost: $5-$6/hour (250 PHP) for board. $7-$8 (350 PHP) per hour for a board with an instructor
- Cons: the crowd can be too much during April-May, a six-hour bus ride from the airport
- Best place/Area to stay: Sabang area (right on the beach) or Poblacion (main town, about 15-minute walk or 5-minutes on a tricycle) – The Circle Hostel and Go Surfari Hostel are the two most popular
Lagundri Bay, Nias, Indonesia
Recommended by Alejandra of Universo Viajero
Lagundri Bay is known as “the best right in the world”. Every year multiple competitions take place in this wave, that every year congregates hundreds of surfers from all around the world. Is located on the island of Nias in Indonesia, a beautiful island near Sumatra, perfect to escape from the crows of other more touristy places in Indonesia.
It’s relatively hard to get here compared to other islands like Bali or Java, so not too many people. On high season a maximum 20 to 30 surfers can be found in the water, never more than that.
The wave has two breakpoints (because it’s in a bay) the main one comes from the west and is known as “The Point”. It works every day of the year, so the locals have the saying “all time Nias”.
- Recommended for: all levels, it depends on the wave size, which can be as high as 10 feet. From 4 to 5 feet is recommended for beginners.
- Best time to surf: May to September
- Average wave height: 6 feet through the year (about 2 m)
- Cost: renting a board + teacher/instructor: It’s cheap, but the surfboards are not so nice and have a lot of dings. Is preferable to bring your own. You can get a surf lesson for $20-$30 (280.000-430.00 IDR) per hour and rent a board for $10-$20 (140.00-280.00 IDR) per day
- Cons: it can be hard to get here as the island is not so touristy, but nothing that can’t be fixed. The sea bottom is a reef, so be aware of falling too hard.
Best place/Area to stay: There are some surf camps and hotels on the same beach. A good one would be Nias Keyhole Surf Camp, where you can be with other surfers and get recommendations and help about surf from the staff
Jialeshui Beach, Taiwan
Recommended by Pashmina of The Gone Goat
Surfing in Taiwan – is that possible? When thousands of people usually head to Bali, Taiwan comes across as an unlikely surfing spot. It is often described as the Hawaii of the east, thanks to its seasonal typhoons.
However, the surf of the world-class has one of the best waves to ride onset against a backdrop of green lush mountains and at the southernmost part of Taiwan. On a 10-day adventure itinerary to Taiwan, you can head to Jialeshui Beach in Kenting in Manzhou Township on the eastern side of the Hengchun Peninsula.
- Recommended for: intermediate to expert
- Best time to surf: June to August
- Average wave height: 3-5 ft depending on wind conditions(1-1.5 m)
- Cost: $10-$17 (315-536 NTS) per day for board rental and $50 (1577 NTS) for surfing lessons
- Cons: due to a rocky bottom, the beach is not great for swimming and little jellyfishes that you can occasionally see every now and then
- Best place/Area to stay: The Winson House
Mirissa Beach, Sri Lanka
Recommended by Bailey of Destinationless Travel
When it comes to surf beaches in Sri Lanka few are as popular a Mirissa Beach. This popular tourist town is famous for surfing and it’s one of the best things to do in Mirissa. There is fierce competition on the beach with board rentals and this competition keeps rentals at very affordable prices. The beach itself is huge and that room means it can easily cater to the many surfers who visit the beach in its peak season.
Mirissa Beach is easily accessible and in the area, there are many great hotels and restaurants. This makes it the perfect destination for great waves and great times.
- Recommended for: Intermediate
- Best time to surf: September to April
- Average wave height: 2to 5 ft (0.6 to 1.5m)
- Cost: $1.7 per hour or $6 per day (300 LKR or 1000 LKR)
- Cons: very touristic during the surf season
- Best place/Area to stay: Hangover Hostel
Canggu, Bali, Indonesia
Recommended by Rai of A Rai Of Light
One of the most popular spots for surfing not only in Indonesia but Asia too, Canggu is packed with amazing people, hipster vibes, Balinese temples and of course great waves. Once a small fishing village, the area has transformed into a bohemian centre, attracting travellers and surfers across the globe.
The surf can get a little crowded, but a little patience is all that is needed to catch a break. Don’t expect white sand beaches and turquoise water like some other parts of the island, but what is guaranteed is good food, chilled vibes, and one of the best surfing spots.
- Recommended for: beginners to experts
- Best time to surf: May to October is the best time of year
- Average wave height: 5.5 ft (1.7 m)
- Cost: $3.50 (50.000 IDR) for a board for 2 hours,1 single lesson costs $21 (300.000 IDR) for an instructor and board rentals.
- Cons: it can get crowded in the summer season (May-Sept)
- Best place/Area to stay: stay around Jl. Munduk Catu, it’s one of the main streets in Canggu with many accommodation options and leads right to the beach
Blue Beach, Sri Lanka
Blue Beach is a beautiful, long, white sand beach ringed with a thick forest of palm trees, located in southern Sri Lanka, close to Nilwella and Dikwella, a small town located between Tangalle and the more famous Mirissa. It’s a lovely fishing community, quite different from other famous surfing destinations in Sri Lanka for it doesn’t have a huge influx of tourists.
- Recommended for: beginners to intermediate
- Best time to surf: October to April
- Average wave height: 3-4 ft (1-1.2m)
- Cost: rent a surfboard from a little kiosk right on the beach for around $2 (350 LKR) per hour, or up to $7 (1.200 LKR) per day
- Cons: coral sea bottom
- Best place/Area to stay: Tharurashami Holiday resort is a great budget-friendly option, with comfortable clean rooms all facing a garden, and where you can also get meals. Alternatively, close to the beach, you will find a good selection of places to stay.
Recommended by Chris of Backpacker Banter
The island of Thulusdhoo in The Maldives is famed for its waves and is arguably home the most famous wave in the area – Cokes. This reeling right-hander breaks fast and hollow across a shallow reef, so it’s not the spot to head if you’re a beginner!
High-end intermediates and advanced surfers though will absolutely love it – the combination of tropical waters, a fast barrel section and cartable wall will leave you with full noodle arms after a session here.
Across the channels from Cokes is one of my personal favourites – Chickens. This left-hander (goofy footers rejoice!) is certainly a much more friendly wave than Cokes but don’t let the long reeling walls fool you when Chickens is firing it packs a solid punch!
- Recommended for: intermediate to advanced surfers
- Best time to surf: February to November (but best waves are March to May and September to November
- Average wave height: solid head high
- Cost: $35 to rent a boar
- Cons: not the cheapest destination in Asia
- Best place/Area to stay: I recommend Season Paradise for high-end accommodation or Palm Lodge for budget stays
Arugam Bay, Sri Lanka
Recommended by Bradley of Dream Big, Travel Far
If you plan on going surfing in Sri Lanka, then the spot you will hear most about is Arugam Bay. This is the surfing capital of Sri Lanka, and the whole town has a very chilled out, surfer vibe to it. You can pick up cheap board rentals all throughout town, and they also have plenty of late-night parties to really make the experience of staying there epic.
You’ll find a number of surf spots in Arugam Bay, each one suited to different skill levels. For me, as a beginner, I was a big fan of Peanut Farm and Whiskey Point. However, if you are looking for some bigger and more challenging waves, then good spots include Okanda and Pottuvil Point.
As with most surf locations, the quality of waves can vary quite a bit from day-to-day, and this was definitely the case for Arugam Bay when we visited in October.
- Recommended for: beginner to intermediate
- Best time to surf: April to October
- Average wave height: 3 ft (1 m)
- Cost: $5 (880 LKR) renting a board and $15 (2645 LKR) for board + teacher/instructor
- Cons: you need transport to get to most spots, as they aren’t within walking distance from town
- Best place/Area to stay: Lazy Bay
Recommended by Jules & Christine of Don’t Forget To Move
Forget the crowded line ups of neighboring Bali, if you want world class waves without the holidayers, head to southern Lombok for a diverse range of waves. From beginner, beach breaks at Pantai Selong Belanak to the peeling reefs off the coast of Mawi or Mawun.
Whether you’re looking to rent a board and learn how to surf for the first time, or you want to charter a private boat to some hidden breaks, southern Lombok is the spot to go for surfing enthusiasts in Indonesia. And when the swell is small, take advantage of all the other amazing things to do in Lombok. The island offers excellent hiking and stunning waterfalls to explore.
- Recommended for: beginner to expert
- Best time to surf: June to November brings the biggest ground swells, with the most favourable wind conditions. But you can find a wave year-round in southern Lombok
- Average wave height: 3-5 ft (1-1.5 m) on a good day with the right winds. Big swells bring in much bigger waves.
- Cost: daily board rental is between $5-$10 (70.000 IDR) depending on who you go through. Two hours, with a board and instructor, can cost between $15-$25 (215.000-360.00 IDR). If you book ahead it’ll cost you more, but if you arrive at the beach and book it on the spot it’s a lot cheaper and you can haggle the price.
- Cons: nothing, these surf spots are way less crowded than Bali, it’s cheaper and there is a range of different breaks to suit your skill level
- Best place/Area to stay: Krisna or Dedy’s Homestay in Kuta Lombok, where a private room costs you about $10 (140.000 rupiah) a night if you just show up and book.
Recommended by Katherine by Tara Let’s Anywhere
Siargao is a surfing paradise in the Philippines. With over 20 surf breaks and great waves, it’s considered the country’s surfing destination. It attracts surfers from all over the world — from casual hobbyists to professionals.
The most popular surf break in Siargao is General Luna, which is also considered one of the top 10 waves worldwide. It’s used by those who’re taking surfing lessons and learned surfers. From thereon you can visit more spots, including lesser-known ones.
The best months to visit here are from September to November. September is also the month for Siargao’s annual surfing cup competition. Aside from its surfing locations, Siargao has other attractions to offer, including beaches, lagoons and fields of coconut trees.
- Recommended for: beginners to experts
- Best time to surf: September to November
- Average wave height: 4-5 ft (1.2-1.5 m)
- Cost: $10 (500 PHP) for 1-hour surfing lesson (including use of board), $8-$12 (450-600 PHP) rent for surfboard
- Cons: it’s currently on its way to being a top tourist attraction in the country, so expect the crowd to grow.
- Best place/Area to stay: stay in the area of General Luna so you’re close to the surfing areas and other attractions in the island
Recommended by Asher from AsherFergusson.com
Kovalam is a picturesque beginners beach located in the state of Kerala right near the southern tip of India and it’s one of the best in the country. For more advanced surfers, there is an artificial reef at the lighthouse side of the beach that can occasionally provide quite good sucky left-hand barrels if the tide is right and there is 5 ft+ swell.
The best part about surfing in India is that it’s extremely cheap and you can find accommodation just a minute from the beach for $7/night and the food is incredible. Additionally, the locals are super chill and inviting to foreigners so you don’t have to worry about territorial surfers.
- Recommended for: beginners
- Best time to surf: December to February
- Average wave height: 2-3 ft (.6-1 m)
- Cost: $2-$6 (140-420 INR) to rent a board and $14 (980 INR) for a lesson with Kovalam Surf Club
- Cons: water quality isn’t the best (especially after rain) and it’s a super touristy town but rarely crowded in the water
- Best place/Area to stay:
Weligama, Sri Lanka
Recommended by Greta of Greta’s Travels
Weligama in Sri Lanka is one of the easiest places to surf that I have ever visited. The main surf spot in Weligama is on a sand break, meaning you don’t have to be scared of hitting anything, with nice and long waves. The beach itself is also great, with numerous surf schools all along with it and shacks for food and drinks. Most schools also have sunbeds and cabanas that you can use for free if you rent boards from them.
The beach is very long and wide so even in the busy season, you’ll be able to find a quiet spot for yourself to relax and surf. As a beginner surfer I found it especially good since it’s so big you are never afraid of hitting other people, and I was actually able to stand up lots of times, unlike other places where I had tried surfing before. Weligama is, in my opinion, one of the best surfing spots in Asia.
- Recommended for: beginner to intermediate
- Best time to surf: January to April
- Average wave height: 5 ft (1.5 m)
- Cost: renting a board is $1.2 (200 LKR) per hour, classes range from $6-$17 (1,000 to 3,000 LKR) per hour
- Cons: can get very busy at sunset (best surfing time)
- Best place/Area to stay: Spindrift Hostel is a very sociable hostel very close to the beach, they even organise sunset surfing once a week, it’s a short 5-10 minute walk from the hostel to the surf spot. If you’re looking for something fancier there is a Marriott is right on the beach and right in front of the surf break.
Recommended by Chris of Stoked For Travel
The Mentawai Islands are one of the most famous surf destinations in South East Asia, if not the world and this tiny group of islands is home to more world-class waves than you can imagine!
Situated a 4-hour fast ferry from the West Coast of Sumatra you’ll need to fly into the city of Padang before heading out to a true surfers paradise. The tropical vibes here are off the scale – in 8 years of surf travel I’ve never seen so many palm trees!
And the waves? Oh, the waves! Surfer bucket list waves like Rifles, Bank Vaults, Kandui Lefts, EBays, NiPussi, Telescopes, Lances Right…the list goes on and on. Whether you want dredging barrels, long rail to rail walls, or cruisey longboard waves there’s something for everyone, although I will admit you’ll need to be high-end intermediate level and above to make the most of the spots here.
- Recommended for: intermediate to advanced surfers
- Best time to surf: June to Sept (but awesome waves year-round)
- Average wave height: solid head high to double overhead
- Cost: not possible to rent or hire an instructor, you must bring your own board
- Cons: there are so many waves, you’ll be exhausted
- Best place/Area to stay: I highly recommend Beng Bengs Surf Camp, I’m heading back there again next year I loved it so much
SURFING IN ASIA TIPS
Here are some tips to make sure you have the best, safest, and most fun times while surfing your way around Asia.
Remember to look up online the cost of renting a board and hiring an instructor, place a little wriggle room for this rate. And if you come across someone who charges you way more than it should be, walk away and find another person or surf school.
Get an instructor
For the first time surfers, get an instructor even if you know you can swim well. Often, you can’t predict how crazy the current can be or if other surfers can control their board. To make sure someone can look after you if accidents occur, get an instructor.
Download an app
If you will be surfing or travelling for a while, it’s best to have a forecasting app on your phone to see when is the best time to surf and also to know if the weather will be coordinating. I recommend “MSW” or also know as “magicseaweed”.
Pack rash guard
To avoid any unnecessary sunburn or cuts (especially in rocky sea bottom), use a rash guard when surfing instead of just swimsuit. It will also help avoid getting rashes from the board especially when using a foam board.
Don’t use the regular sunscreen on your face
Using a regular sunscreen on your face can irritate your eyes when it mixes with the water, get yourself the “surf sunscreen” (yes, they exists).
I hope that we helped you decide on where to surf in Asia for your next holiday or destination. If you think we have outdated information or if you have some questions, let me know in the comment section below.