Surfing In Lombok

Only 35km (22mi) east of Bali at its closest point, Lombok is inevitably compared to its famous westernized neighbour, although major physical, cultural, linguistic and religious differences exist. It also contrasts quite markedly for the visitor, with less widespread tourist facilities, sparser public transport and simpler accommodation. The deep strait separating Bali from Lombok marks part of the ‘Wallace Line’, an established physical division between Asia and Australia. Bali is green with lush, tropical vegetation, while equatorial Lombok is drier, more rugged, with completely different flora and fauna. While the mountainous north rises to 3726m (12,224ft) at the top of Mount Rinjani, the south is a range of low inland hills spread behind the sweeping bays and pure white sands of the southern beaches. In terms of location, most surf breaks are truly breathtaking, but are generally regarded as of lower quality or intensity than Bali’s, with the notable exception of Desert Point, elected Best Wave in the World by Tracks magazine’s readers.


Breaks in the middle of the bay, in front of the semi-submerged wooden fishing frames once the tide has moved in a few hours. Non-abrupt glide into predictable, easy walls that are a bit faster on the lefts. Like all the Grupuk spots, can get stupidly crowded with all skill levels in the water, so be wary and give the beginners room.


So protected from swell and dead onshore when the SE trades blow, mean this is a very unlikely score. Huge SSW swell, big, dropping, spring high tide and light W-NW wind cook up some short, sharp barrels that peel perfectly down the SE tip. Also some straight-hander lefts on the other side and a few more fickle corners over on Gili Meno.


Furthest west of the 3 small Gili islands where the shallow fringing reef of the southern tip can serve up fast, hollow, but generally flawed right lines. Tricky wave to ride and plenty of current so experience required. Needs hefty S-SW swells to clear the coral that is usually frequented by snorkeling tourists. More a party, couples, chill out destination so don’t expect many waves.


Generously covered reef peak marooned in another deep bay/estuary that needs a moderate SW swell to wake up. Sucky and swift, the shorter rights feather up nicely and open up occasionally, as the SE trades blow into the barrel. Meanwhile, the longer lefts wall and roll predictably, inviting big hits in a playful, safe and therefore crowded environment. Low to mid tide for the rights, high for the lefts and any flavour E wind.


Mainly rights, unless small and fairly similar to the other waves in the bay, namely rolling, simple drops and slopey walls ideal for improving turn combos and generally cruising. Just as crowded as the other waves; pick up a boat in the village for easy access.


Like it’s namesake on Bali, Kuta is the surfing hub of Lombok, where all mod cons can be found. It’s another wet-season-centric spot as the righthander on the western headland is offshore in NW winds and likes a SE-S swell. Like Mawun and Air Guling, the left across the channel is lower quality and often messy, but both are fun, no consequence waves for all abilities and a lazy session instead of driving off in search of better waves.


Decent left run when the SSW swell hits this isolated reef just right and winds are E or even NE. Racy lip line with some tuck sections that will suit average surfers just fine at mid tide. Across the large (apparently sharky) bay is a fun, often fast righthander that needs plenty of S to penetrate and wet season NW’ers to be any good. Deep inside the bay are more options and the deep reef cut at Meang might have slow lefts and rights in windless or N conditions.


Mawi is a quality, south coast, dry season break that works in all swell sizes, set in a beautiful west-facing bay. Consistent spot that attracts boats and land-based surfers from Kuta and Grupuk losmens when the SE blows strong. Small swells see a fun, peeling peak until the hollower right starts closing out at overhead size. The powerful left then rumbles on down the reef up to double overhead plus, offering a heavy drop/barrel section, hooking wall and final tube before shut down. Very strong currents in the channel and a nasty sharp reef mean intermediates need to be on their toes. Steep village parking fees.


Chaotic, powerful left that shifts and jumps around the line-up below steep cliffs at the eastern headland. Consistently drags in far more swell than Inside Ekas, the high speed walls and odd tuck section can get really long at size, when it becomes an advanced surfers break. Currents are strong and hold-downs are long, plus there’s sea-life. Ekas is on the Bali-Sumbawa charter route so can get a crowd, bolstered by local boat traffic from Awang or even Kuta.


Bombora-style, lumpy right that stretches to an impressive height, but flatters to deceive. Like the impressive twin peaks on the headland, this wave is more rolling hill than impressive cliff. Orderly drop and plenty of shoulder real estate make it accessible to improvers when small and intermediates when big. Breaks consistently on any S swell, but easily blown out by any southern hemi wind. Mid to high tides and often crowded.


2km (1.25mi) east of Kuta, out on the reef fringe in front of the Novotel, is a small swell, wind sensitive, fun righthander, plus occasional left. More peaks in either direction, but NE is offshore so early mornings or glassy, peaky off-season days will produce easy rides for the odd crowd.


A surprising amount of locals do surf this circular reef that is mainly a left plus a sectiony right, which needs rare N winds. Plenty of SW swell and tide will clear the coral and fire off some cylindrical lefts but it spends most days below the chest-high minimum required.


Out on the exposed SE tip of Lombok, a series of reef cuts and passes offer small swell options, including the lip-smacking performance ramps of Sereweh up the eastern channel. If there’s no sign of whitewash on these reefs, then Lombok is officially flat. Really a wet season option as a small SE swell and N winds are needed to make the long boat ride worth it. Hard to access by land, hard to scope by sea