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As far as surfing goes in Indonesia, the Bay of Sorake and Lagundri Beach on Nias island is THE ultimate destination. Nias’ Sorake Bay is an internationally renowned surfing spot, and has become one of surfing’s most exotic wave-searching destinations. Every year, surfers flock from across the globe for a chance at its legendary point break. International surfing competitions have been held in Nias since 1993, and even the World Championship Surfing competition in 2000. Touted as the second best surfing spot in the world after Hawaii, the bay is located in the district of Teluk Dalam on the Southern tip of Nias Island.
Nias is the name of the archipelago off the west coast of North Sumatra consisting of 131 islands. Nias Island is the largest, covering an area of about 5,000 square kilometers—slightly smaller than Bali. Of the 27 islands immediately surrounding Pulau Nias, only 11 are inhabited. Pulau Nias itself is approximately 125 km west of Sumatra.
Before the island’s discovery by three wandering surfers in 1975, Nias was known only by a few hard-core travellers—the island’s main visitors being archaeologists who went there to study its ancient culture and megalithic traditions. The “tourism boom” brought about by the surfers caused a rapid growth in eateries, accommodations and attractions, but much of the culture and tradition have survived and maintained their authenticity despite outside influences.
Sorake Bay is enclosed by the beaches of Lagundri and Sorake, giving it both left and right hand breaks. Unaffected by winds and tides, the constant flow of waves is perfect for novice and professional alike to practice, play and perform! Waves are typically 3 to 5 meters, but have been said to reach as high as 15 meters. Some start from as far as 200 meters from the beach, can have up to 5 levels, and even rolls unbroken all the way to shore. The catch-phrase “All time Nias,” comes with the understanding that unlike most parts of the world, Sorake Bay delivers non-stop waves throughout the entire year, making any time of year the best time for surfing. The highest waves are between May and September, with most competitions being held from June till July.
On December 26, 2004, an earthquake of enormous proportions struck just a few kilometres north of Pulau Nias. Measuring 9.2 on the Richter scale, it was one of the deadliest recorded natural disasters in history. The tsunami that followed the earthquake changed the island’s coastline remarkably, with the coast moving 50 meters inland in some areas, and as much as 100 meters of new land exposed in others. Hundreds were killed and much of Nias was destroyed. The number of tourists declined dramatically after that, but now they are slowly beginning to filter back in.
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Like most places worth going, Nias Island is not easy to reach. To go by sea, start at the Sibolga Port in Sibolga city on the Northwest coast of Sumatra. Take the ferry to the port of Gunung Sitoli on Nias Island. The trip takes between 8 and 13 hours, depending on the weather.
By air, start at the Polonia Airport in Medan, North Sumatra and catch a flight to Binaka Airport,Gunung Sitoli. Daily flights are available from Medan to Gunung Sitoli on Merpati Nusantara Airlines and Wings Air.
International flights to Medan are from Singapore, Bangkok in Thailand, and Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Ipoh, Malacca and Subang in Malaysia. Domestic flights are available from all major cities in Indonesia including but not limited to Jakarta, Surabaya, Aceh, Bandung, Padang and Pekanbaru.
Once in GunungSitoli, continue by land to Sorake Beach via minibus. Sorake Bay is about 60 kilometers from Gunung Sitoli. Tourists are advised to bring enough cash, as ATMs are few and far between. Malaria has also been reported, so be sure to take the proper precautions.