The first surfers to ever stumble upon the wave call Nias at Lagundri Bay were Australian surfers Kevin Lovett, Peter Troy and John Giesel. Their journey to this dreamy destination must have been hellish, because 40 years after the discovery, it is still incredibly hard to get to.
The Route.
To get to Nias there are overland options, and there are flight options and both are sketchy. The overland consists of a start at Medan, on the east coast of Sumatra, then straight across Sumatra to a little village called Sibolga.
From there an overnight local ferry will get you to Nias, and depending on whether the ferry stopped at the north or the south of the island will determine how long the drive will take to get there. The flights are not much better, with airlines using dodgy planes and very little safety controls.
The Location.
A horseshoe bay, with an incredible wave in the middle of it. The wave breaks over a lava slab, is shallow and flat, and makes for a perfect, seven-second barrel. There are two other waves right there, The Indicator and The Machine, for people who are brave, and there are more waves just around the corner. There are other excellent locations just a short boat ride away, like Asu, Bawa and the Telos Island chains. At the bay there are numerous places to stay, with losmens (Indonesian houses) littering the shoreline. If you were to arrive there, you will find accommodation the least of your worries. Some people like to stay at the top of the bay, right opposite the paddle -out spot, while others like to stay further in the bay, where it is a bit quieter.
Another funky Indonesian surf location is Grajagan -
The Wave.
When it is a good eight foot, it is a perfect, barreling right-hander that throws some wide tubes and big thrills for visiting surfers. The wave comes out of deep water, and has a tight take-off spot.
A hard paddle, a quick drop and a set-up for the tube will see you inside the barrel for seven seconds. Thereafter, a softer wall runs through to the inside. On smaller days the wave breaks on a different section of reef and becomes fun and playful. When it is big it is a very serious wave. Surfers have died here. Other perfect waves -
The Situation.
There is still malaria in the area, and the medical facilities are not that good. Full protection is needed for the malaria, and a solid medical kit wouldn't go to waste here either. The reef became fairly shallow after the 2005 Tsunami, and some surfers choose to wear helmets on bigger days out there. The wave does have a tendency to break boards as well, and it would be good advice to take a few extra boards. There are also local charters that can be set up from Lagundri to take you to the other waves in the area, as previously mentioned. Nias can also provide some wipe-out hilarity -
Nias is less consistent than most waves in Indonesia because the wave sits right on the inside of the bay, and the swells have to travel that much further in order to get to the reef. Thus they lose energy and the waves are generally not as big as the more exposed spots like Asu and Bawa. Still, the very thing that makes it a bit smaller, also adds to the perfection, with the waves well-shaped and groomed by the time they eventually arrive. When you see how perfect it is you'll see that it is a game-changer.