18 of the Best Surfing Locations in South East Asia
Southeast Asia. The home of noisy, clattering cities with pungent markets. And the juxtaposition of paradisiac beaches and dreamlike backdrops. A world where old meets new, where cultures clash, and where temples meet skyscrapers. As much as it can be a young backpacker’s heaven, it can be a lifelong traveller’s second home, and amongst the other sub-regions of the vast continent, Southeast Asia is by far the most desirable of destinations.
For many travellers, most of Southeast Asia offers the perfect helping of both city and beach. From the clammy heat and bright lights of a bustling capital to the sight of fishing boats pulled up on a white sandy beach, Southeast Asia certainly contradicts – and the beautiful coastlines don’t disappoint. But what about those who are looking for sun and surf? Southeast Asia may not have the epic point breaks of the Gold Coast or the ocean swell of Waikiki, but it sure does have some surf spots worth checking out.
Don’t believe us? Here are 18 of the best surfing locations in Southeast Asia, categorised by country.
1| Kata Beach, Phuket
Surfing in Thailand is some of the best, and Kata Beach in Phuket is an ideal surfing spot for groups with mixed abilities. The rough swell can be challenging but the sea is also gentle enough to foster surfing beginners. Just a few miles south of the well-known Karon Beach, Kata Bay is an enticing sun-bathing spot with soft white sands and beautifully clear waters. Kata town centre is lively but the nightlife here is generally quite relaxed.
2| Pansea Beach, Phuket
If you’re looking for a bigger thrill during your stay in Thailand, why not head to the secreted Pansea Beach located just a short walk away from Surin Beach? This secluded little spot may be a surprising surf location but once you arrive, you’ll soon realise that it’s no place for a novice. With regular frequency, good wave quality and challenging point breaks, Pansea Beach is the perfect surf beach for experienced surfers. And with just a 250 metre stretch of sand but barely anyone else to share it with, it really is a little piece of paradise.
3| Klong Dao Beach, Koh Lanta
The most popular beach in Koh Lanta is Klong Dao Beach. It boasts a lively atmosphere, friendly people, and it’s also a great place for water sports. But if you’re chasing big waves, this probably isn’t the best place to be. Klong Dao Beach is well known for its low, approachable tides making the ideal surfing spot for beginners, intermediates and people who don’t take the sport too seriously. Newbie surfers can enjoy a consistent swell with both left and right hand rides, and the water is always gloriously warm. The surf season is usually from May to October.
4| Bang Tao Beach, Phuket
Quite possibly the most desirable surfing spot in Thailand, Bang Tao Beach is a luxury destination. Lined with luxury resorts and five star hotels, this 5 mile long beach has good wind direction and good quality beach-break with both left and ride rides, great movement in rising and falling tides, and some serious power behind waves.
5| Bai Dai Beach, Nha Trang
Rub shoulders with the rich and famous at Nha Trang’s finest beach resort, Bai Dai Beach. This is the playground of Vietnam’s most glamorous – so if you’re looking for a stylish destination with a young, hip crowd, this is the perfect place to be in Vietnam. You can rent a wide range of boards from The Shack Surf School, with prices starting at just $10 for 1 hour. Beginners can also get private surfing lessons with English-speaking instructors for $25 an hour. And if you’re a little surf-shy, don’t worry – Bai Dai is the longest stretch of beach in Vietnam so there will be plenty of quiet areas for you to practice.
6| Nam O Point, Da Nang
This exposed beach in the major port of Da Nang has a reliable surf with southwest winds. The wave quality is good and the level is most suited to experienced and confident surfers. The beach-break waves favour left rides and there’s always the menace of dangerous rips. For the ultimate surfing thrill, the best time to surf here is in the winter. Da Nang itself is an up and coming area and today, you will find the riverfront dotted with slick hotels, bars and restaurants. It’s definitely a must-visit area of Vietnam and a great base for exploring other parts of the country (such as China Beach or the Marble Mountains).
7| Vung Tau Beach Club, Vung Tau
If you’re looking for the party beach, Vung Tau Beach Club is where you want to be. Dedicated to two things (surfing and great parties), Vung Tau is a honeypot for the young and stylish. This is a serious surf destination and has long been the chosen surf beach for holiday-makers and backpackers alike. The beach-break waves are powerful and fun, and the water is suitable for all levels.
8| Bamboo Island, Sihanoukville
Cambodia isn’t recognised for its beaches as neighbouring Thailand or Vietnam; it’s famed more for its cities, temples and tragic political past. But if you’re looking for a little piece of Cambodian paradise, head to Bamboo Island where tropical views will greet you and soft white sands caress your feet. Just a 30 minute boat ride from the Sihanoukville coast is a rather secluded and laidback island which is perfect for surfing and water sports. Go in the rainy season between June and October to get the best waves from the monsoon swells. When you’re off the surf board, spend the rest of the time bathing and mingling with the island locals. This little island is the key to true Khmer culture and a window into what life is like for Cambodians.
9| Kuta Beach, Bali
The rest of Southeast Asia may not compare to Australia’s Gold Coast or Oahu in Hawaii but Indonesia sure can hold its own. In fact, its beaches are amongst the best surfing locations in the world, putting Southeast Asia on the map for serious surfers. Kuta Beach in Bali is one of the most popular destinations and the waves here rival some of the best beach breaks on the planet. Kuta Beach is a lively hotspot so it can get a little crowded at times but walk to the end of the beach and you should be able to find a quiet area. Surf schools are also abundant so Kuta is ideal for rookies in need of a lesson or two.
Another fantastic beach in Bali but this time it’s geared more towards the pro surfer. Uluwatu Beach is located deep under a cliff bank so you can expect fast, powerful surfs; barrel waves, long swell, beach breaks, left rides and right rides. If you visit this beach, you will be in the midst of other pro and experienced surfers, many of which are from the local area, making it the ideal place to mingle with the Indonesian beach bums. The best time to surf here is from April to August, and there’s a surf shop nearby in case you forget to pack anything vital.
Other than the great surf, Uluwatu Beach is a location for a stunning panoramic view, sunsets and photo opportunities, and a quiet retreat away from other busy tourist beaches. A lesser known area than the popular Kutu Beach, Uluwatu is a real treasure away from the rest of the holidaymakers.
11| Mentawai Islands
If Bali doesn’t tick all your boxes, why not take a boat trip out to the Mentawai islands. Here, you will find the perfect secluded beaches for surfing, snorkelling and scuba diving. The waters are crystal clear and the sands are soft, white and powdery. Find world class waves and enjoy the friendly, relaxed atmosphere.
12| Plengkung Beach, Grajagan bay
Plengkung Beach, otherwise known as “G-Land” is a renowned surf break in Grajagan bay, East Java. It’s truly one of the most incredible surfing spots in the world and one which should not be overlooked if you’re serious about water sports. The combination of raw natural landscapes and the large swells of the Indian Ocean makes G-Land one of the most magical surf locations on the planet. Challenge yourself to the world-class barrelling left rides along the eastern bay or go further down to ride the smaller waves (“Chickens”, “20/20” or “Tiger Tracks”) which have been famously named by the American surfers who discovered the bay back in 1972.
13| God’s Left, Sumba Island
For Asia’s sexiest swells, head to Nihiwatu Lodge on Sumba Island, an extremely exclusive retreat with fabled sky-high waves for serious surfers. A two-hour flight from Bali, Suma is a Spice Island first mentioned in the 16th Century by a travelling companion of Magellan. ‘God’s Left’ has left breaking waves which reel for over 300 meteres and crest off Nihiwatu’s outstretched reef, reserved for a maximum of nine surfers at a time.
14| Desert Point, Lombok Island
If you’re after an off-the-beaten path adventure, Lombok Island could be your dream surf hotspot. Known for having the ultimate secret surf point, this is no place for the timid. The Desert Point is notorious secret surf point (that can break up to 300 metres on a very low left hander) and may need to be reached by boat to get the wave’s point. If you’re staying at Kuta Beach Resort (as mentioned above), it would make the ideal base for the rest of the island group.
15| Cokes Surf, Thulusdhoo Island
Cokes Island (or Thulusdhoo Island) is one of the many islands within the island nation of Maldives. Consisting of a double chain of 26 atolls, the Maldives is a serious beach lover’s paradise. It’s long been cited as one of the most lavish and exclusive destinations for honeymooners, and it’s easy to see why. Very few places on earth get closer to the definition of ‘paradise’ and if you’re looking for both romance and surf, Cokes Island is the perfect resort. The breaker quality here is out of this world and reef-coral waves make it a tough challenge for intermediates. The best tidal positions are low to mid tide and you’ll get a good long wave (somewhere up to 500 metres).
16| Kuda Villingili Island
This is one of the uninhabited islands of the Maldives, which is along the eastern of the North Male Atoll. Surfing here requires speed and the conditions must be just right for the perfect wave. To get to Kuda Villingili, you must travel by boat; the island is currently on a 50 year lease to a hotel resort but other than that, there is very little else on the Kuda Villingili. It’s a great place to relax and the almost-untouched scenery is outstanding.
17| White Beach, Okinawa
With one of the only sandbars in the region, White Beach is a popular surf spot for adrenaline-loving locals and it’s a sure promise that it will be bustling with both surfers and sun-bathers at weekends. So if you’re looking for a lively atmosphere and somewhere that’s family friendly, head to White Beach for a day. For surfers, the waves at White Beach are fun and suitable for all levels, making it the ideal nursery surf for beginners. Many newbie surfers like to get their practice in here before making a move to the bigger reef breaks nearby.
18| Veedol Beach, Tohoku
Japan's Veedol Beach in the Tohoku region is a quirky surfing spot but it’s one that’s welcoming and friendly to all levels. Beginners will find it to be challenging whilst experienced surfers may find it to be a fun but comfortable ride. The waves are especially good just before or after a typhoon and once in a while when the waves are in your favour, you can really pick up some speed. Tohoku itself is a fantastic region to explore, one which has a lot of different attractions. Discover the nearby traditional Japanese architecture (such as Hirosaki Castle) or take a hike in the beautiful natural surroundings (the Akiu Otaki Waterfall trail).
If you would like to book a bespoke holiday to any of the destinations mentioned above, please contact our team at Ampersand Travel. We have a range of luxury travel options for Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Maldives, Japan and many other destinations in Southeast Asia.