Simeulue

Surf Spots
Secluded and serene, Simeulue Island has been proclaimed as one of Indonesia’s last surfing frontiers — and for good reason. The remote tropical island, perched just off the western coast of far North Sumatra, boasts waves that are not only new to surfers, but to the world itself. An earthquake in 2005 lifted the island’s west coast by almost two metres, creating new waves literally overnight. In addition to a wealth of waves, Simeulue is blessed by its geographical location in the Doldrums, an equatorial region where near-windless waters are the norm. Simeulue’s isolation makes for minimal crowds and relaxed lineups, and it’s easily the kind of place where you and your mates could score a dream session all to yourselves. Simeulue Island is a year-round surfing destination with the main season running from April-October.

WHERE TO SURF IN SIMEULUE 

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Goldmines waiting to be discovered
Mick Lammers

SURFING IN SIMEULUE

Scooters (with board racks) are readily available from most resorts and are a great way to explore the island. If you’ve experienced the chaos of Bali’s roads, Simeulue will come as a welcome change — traffic on the island is almost non-existent. Police checkpoints are set up sporadically around the island’s capital, Sinabang, so avoid the area if you haven’t got an international license. Fortunately, there’s no real need to visit the city, and anything you might want (e.g. sim cards) can be arranged through your accommodation.
A well-kept road hugs Simeulue’s coast, making most of the island’s waves easily accessible. Finding particular breaks may prove a little more complicated, so staying somewhere with a designated surf guide, or at least someone who can provide directions, is recommended.

A boat is needed to access some of Simeulue’s best waves which lie off the coasts of small islands nearby. Some resorts have their own watercraft; if yours doesn’t, speak to your hosts and they’ll be able to hook you up with a ride.

BEST BEGINNER SPOTS

BEST INTERMEDIATE SPOTS

BEST ADVANCED SPOTS

pulau simeulue-teabags

Teabags

Teabags surf spot barrels hard and fast over sharp coral reef, an equal parts frightening and dreamy righthander that’s not averse to taking some skin. Pick the right one, and you’ll be rewarded with multiple tubes on the same wave; pick the wrong one, and you or your board will pop up worse for wear. Become a member and get full access to find out much more.

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FAQ

Are there ATM’s in Simeulue?
There are ATMs available in Sinabang which are between 20 and 50 minutes drive away from most surf camps in Simeulue.
What is the food like in Simeulue?
If you’re heading to Simeulue for surfing, you’ll most likely be eating at wherever you’re staying; many resorts include three meals daily as part of an all-inclusive package, which typically features both Indonesian and Western options. Beachside warungs, like those found in Bali, are virtually non-existent, owing to Simeulue Island being well off surfing’s beaten track. You’ll have to venture into Sinabang for something that resembles a restaurant. Likewise, small stalls scattered along the coastal road sell only the most basic of goods, so be sure to bring stuff from home if you’re the type that craves snacks.
Are tsunamis a threat?
Like the rest of Indonesia, Simeulue is prone to earthquakes and, rarely, tsunamis. Remarkably, when the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami devastated the nearby Sumatran region of Aceh and much of Asia, only six casualties occurred on Simeulue Island, owing to local knowledge that holds that higher ground must be sought in the event of an earthquake. Today, Simeulue’s many mosques are equipped with sirens, and there’s easy access to nearby hills should a quake occur.
What else is there to do on Simeulue Island other than surfing?
There’s a bunch of things to do on Simeulue if the surf’s not up to par, most of which are, unsurprisingly, water-based. Among them are snorkelling, diving and fishing. These activities are best experienced through short boat trips to Simeulue’s picture-perfect outer islands, which can be arranged through your accommodation. Alternatively, hop on a scooter and explore
Where is Simeulue Island?
Technically part of Aceh, Simeulue Island sits just off the north-west coastline of Sumatra and directly north of Nias, forming part of the wave-rich island chain that runs parallel to Sumatra’s west coast. Exposed to groomed long-period swells, Simeulue gives surfers a variety of uncrowded, world-class waves.
What is the local religion?
Simeulue is part of the deeply religious and conservative region of Aceh, meaning Sharia Law applies in full. As part of this Islamic Law, alcohol is prohibited, and modesty of dress is expected — men should wear a shirt and footwear, and women should cover up their legs and shoulders. In the surf, men can get away with just a pair of boardshorts, but women must remain covered by wearing either board shorts or tights and a rash vest. The rules tend to be laxer within the confines of a resort, and women are free to wear what they like at some of Simeulue’s more remote breaks.
How to get to Simeulue?

While reaching Simeulue Island isn’t a journey of epic proportions, it’s not quite as simple as a direct flight to Denpasar either.

Step 1: Fly to Medan, Sumatra’s largest city. If you’re outside of Indonesia you can fly to Medan via Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) or Singapore.

Step 2: Fly to Simeulue from Medan, Sumatra (50-munites). Note that there’s only one arriving and departing flight per day, flown by Wings Air. Depending on where you’re coming from, a night in Medan — before and/or after your stay on Simeulue — may be necessary. 

The most popular option for travelling surfers is to book your flight (overnight) from wherever you may be and secure arrival to Medan for the morning. If you line up your times right, you can catch the daily flight before lunchtime via Lion Air Wings to Simeulue and be surfing in the late afternoon.

Similarly, for your flights on the journey home, it’s your best bet to book an overnight flight out of Medan. The Lion Air Wings flight out of Simeulue typically arrives in Medan late afternoon (no guarantees! This flight has been known to arrive 2-3 hours delayed).

Your best bet? Try booking a hotel for one night on your departure back home via Medan. Conveniently, there are cheap and clean accommodation options within a 20-minute taxi ride of Medan’s airport. Typically, Medan hotels run between AUD $50-$130 for two beds and airport transfers typically run about AUD $40 per person. 

Step 3: Once your flight has arrived in Simeulue, it’s a short 30-minute or less drive to the vast majority of the island’s surf-oriented accommodation, the bulk of which are concentrated along Simeulue’s southeast coast. Airport pickup is organised with your hosts during the booking process.

Hot tip: A man calling himself Charlie lurks around the entrance to Medan’s airport. Claiming to be affiliated with surf camps on Simeulue and Nias, he scares onward-travelling surfers by telling them that there’s only a finite number of board bags allowed on each flight — the only way to guarantee your boards get on the flight, he says, is to go through check-in and security with him as your chaperone. While certainly misleading, Charlie’s operation is actually quite helpful; with a few strategic words to the relevant officials, he manages to streamline what’s usually a tiresome affair. The inevitable request for payment comes at the end of the whole process — if you’re a group of three, 100,000 Rp will do.