Every surfer, no matter how amateur, dreams of warm water, good waves and cheap post-surf grub. Few places in the world offer even one of these fantasies, and surfers are usually forced to compromise. There is, however, a place where all three surfing essentials can be found in abundance–a place where your only obligation is to apply sunscreen–a place where surfers are not required to sacrifice surf dreams. This place is called South East Asia.
At a Glance
Surfers generally battle to explain the urge that drives them toward the ocean, but it is succinctly captured by the image of a person on a diet, who is surrounded by nothing but chocolate. When I say nothing but chocolate, I mean it in the literal sense–chocolate houses, chocolate keyboards, chocolate Blackberries, even chocolate puppies! The surfer’s craving is an unabated and ever-present itch, which is carried with the surfer like a heavy school bag on the shoulder of a reluctant elementary school student. To surfers, South East Asia is a destination that satiates this overpowering hunger. It is the wonder pill that gives surfers relief from their burdensome craving.
When surfers glance at the archipelagos strewn throughout the Indian Ocean, they witness an unrivaled expanse of surfing opportunity – and for good reason. Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia and even Thailand all feature surf spots that send a goosebump chill over the burnt, wrinkled skin of the average surfer.
The three most popular surfing destinations in South East Asia are Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand. Diverse is the best way to describe each of these areas, in that they feature a broad range of surfing opportunities for people of all skill levels. Each of these destinations has a reputable surfing scene and many locals make a living through the surf industry by offering lessons or selling surf brands.
Indonesia – Widely regarded as a surfing mecca, the quality and consistency of surf breaks in Indonesia are rivaled only by Hawaii. Every year, thousands of surfers make the pilgrimage to Indo to surf the perfect reef breaks on offer. From Sumatra to Bali, every surfer, no matter how picky, can find a perfect spot.
The Philippines – The surfing scene has mushroomed in the Philippines over the last few years. The Indonesian crowds have driven many surfers north and this has resulted in the “discovery” of various surf spots along the Eastern Samar coastline. Of these spots, Cloud 9, with its board-snapping barrels, is undoubtedly the most famous…or notorious.
Thailand – The Thai surfing scene has been slower to expand, because the waves aren’t as consistent as those in Indonesia and the Philippines. However, Kata Beach features an annual surfing competition and the local groms have been known to rip in the small conditions. If you’re a beginner, then you should definitely think about picking up a board on your next visit to Thailand.
Surfing in a new place comes with hazards and it is important to be aware of these before departing. If you are looking into tours in South East Asia, then it is important to research the area and take the necessary precautions to avoid harm. An adventure in Indonesia, Thailand or the Philippines isn’t about exposing yourself to danger–it’s about having a memorable experience, which is shared with friends and family once you return home.