Hinako IslandsSurf Spots
The Hinako Islands are situated just off the west coast of Nias. This small region is a swell magnet and one of the most remote surfing regions in Indonesia. Meaning it has some of the least crowded waves in Indonesia too. Surprisingly enough the Hinakos remain relatively unheard of even though the waves here have been surfed here since the late 1970s. The Hinakos consists of eight small islands; however, you’ll only find accommodation on Asu Island, where you’ll find a super consistent, world-class, left-hander – also known as ‘Asu.’ The other equally well-known wave in the area is a right-hander – ‘Bawa’ located on Bawa Island and you’ll also be able to access at least seven other waves in the region.
WHERE TO SURF IN THE HINAKO ISLANDS
SURFING IN THE HINAKOS
Although the Hinako Island regions had been first surfed in the late 1970s it wasn’t until Tom Curren’s infamous session at Bawa in 1994 that the Hinako Islands were really put on the map. It was in this session that Tom Curren and Frankie Oberholzer rode some of the biggest waves ever seen in Indonesia at that time. Ted Grambeau (photographer) and Sonny Miller (videographer) were along for the ride to catch the moment.
Yet the Hinakos remain an uncrowded region for surf due to its remote location requiring days of travel. At each end of the cluster of islands, you find the two most famous waves in the area. Bawa in the south which favours winds from the northwest and waves at Asu in the north which favours southerly winds. In between the two well-known waves you find several other world-class waves among the cluster of islands which covers a distance of approximately 45-minutes by speedboat.
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BEST INTERMEDIATE SPOTS
Mini Bawa, also known as Hamutala Right, is a little more forgiving than some of the other waves you’re likely to find in the Hinako Islands. It is also a bit of a swell magnet that can provide fun surf when your options are limited by the swell and winds. Often referred to as Hamutala Right the wave breaks for up to 50 metres and generally consists of rippable walls, however, as it gets bigger it is likely to show some teeth with thick lips ripe for a few on the head. However, the deepwater can be forgiving in comparison to the shallow reefs you’ll find at the other spots.
Barrel Machine, also known as Tiger Claw, is a punchy left-hander with a manageable barrel section from the peak and breaks best under the near-perfect planetary alignment-like swell and wind directions. While not for the faint of heart but nowhere near as consequential as the likes of Bawa or Asu either, when glassy or off-shore expect a few seconds in the barrel. Barrel Machine is a fun, high-performance wave that is a fun size when everywhere else is solid. Perfection is in the range of three to six foot but in the rare event, when it gets bigger, it’s a deep and hollow barrel likely to swallow you whole. It does run close along the rocky reef shore so booties are a very good idea. Especially considering that if you don’t make a wave you’ll be washed inside on shallow reef.
BEST ADVANCED SPOTS
Asu is a long left-hander with multiple barrel sections and big bowls for top to bottom carves. Ultra-consistent it rarely gets any smaller than head high while handling 10 foot plus providing chargers with the opportunity to drop into some big waves if they have the skillset to do so. It works on all tides and can provide easier take-offs and long rippable walls in bigger surf. Not for the faint of heart on some days, keep up your speed and kick out well ahead of the shallow end section to avoid squeezing some lime on a fresh one.
Bawa is a thick hollow reef break which quite literally barrels over a slab of solid dead coral reef. A general swell magnet, Bawa is likely to be bigger than other breaks you might find in the surrounding Hinakos islands and has a faint resemblance to what you might be accustomed to surf at somewhere like Sunset Beach in Hawaii. Think of a big open face that runs into an inside section bowling out to produce epic thick barrels with speed to burn. And in the biggest of south swells, you find big wave surfers (like Jorge Pacelli captured in this image by Chico Muniz) towing into some all might Bawa beasts. All in all, a very remote and dangerous wave with an incredible amount of power that requires an advanced and committed skill set of surfing.
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What is the best time of year for waves?
The Hinako islands main surfing season is from April-October, although it has a variety of waves that provide great challenges in the off-season as well. During the main season, the trade winds blow offshore up the left of ‘Asu’ and in the off-season, the trade winds blow offshore to the right of ‘Bawa’. During the off-season, you’ll still benefit from consistent overhead conditions.
Is there accommodation in the Hinako Islands?
You won’t find any homestays or hotels in the Hinako Islands, and with only a tiny number of surf camps available, it won’t take you long to decide where to rest your head. If you want beachfront and interrupted views of the spectacular ‘Asu,’ check out Sozinhos Surf Lodge.
Did the 2005 earthquake affect the waves in the Hinakos?
Although there’s some truth to the rumour that the breaking patterns of the waves at ‘Asu’ and ‘Bawa’ have been affected by the earthquake in 2005, more than anything though, this story has just kept the crowds away. You’ll find these rumours are primarily fuelled by Nias locals, with the intention of keeping surfers on their shores at Lagundri Bay. What most don’t know though, is that the lifting of the reefs has actually created some new secret spots.
How to get to the Hinako Islands?
Being one of the more remote areas of Indonesia has its perks for surfers willing to travel the distance, however, with Nias being more accessible the journey to the Hinako’s isn’t as time-consuming as it once was.
Step 1. From Bali, you’ll fly to Jakarta (CGK) in Java (1 hour 55 mins) then Medan (KNO) in Sumatra (2 hours 50 mins).
Step 2. From Medan, you’ll fly to Binaka Airport (GNS) in Nias (1 hour) and take a taxi to Sirombu Port on the west coast of Nias (taxi 2 hours).
Step 3. From Sirombu a quick 30-minute trip by speed boat will get you to the Hinako Islands.
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