The Best Waves in Asia

With so many islands dotted between Asia’s mainland and Australia, it’s little wonder that the continent is able to boast so many of the world’s best waves. And as one of the few parts of the world in relative proximity to us, it’s also little surprise that so many Aussies head there to enjoy them. In this article we’re going to take a look at a few of the best of them to help you get acquainted. 

Uluwatu, Bali

If you saw pictures of Kuta and Uluwatu side by side having never been to either, you’d be forgiven for thinking they were on other sides of the planet. But just a one-hour drive to the south of overcrowded Kuta and its inexplicably brown water is one of the most picturesque and perfect surfing regions in the world. 

Uluwatu sits on Bali’s Bukit Peninsula on the southern side of the island. Unlike further north, the water here is crystal clear, and the reefs which form the five sections of the Uluwatu wave are clear to see. The spot reels off line after line off perfect lefts, and with an ability to handle swells of all sizes, this steep, hollow and fast wave can lay claim to being one of the best in Asia. The very beginning of the wave breaks perilously close to exposed reef at low tide and the current can be a nightmare, so this one is for experienced surfers only.

Keramas, Bali

Staying on Bali, we now head to a lesser-known break – though one which has boomed in popularity in recent years. Keramas is on the southeast side of the island, and aside from the wave there isn’t a whole lot there. That doesn’t dissuade many surfers from visiting though, and this world-class right is getting more and more crowded by the year. And that’s not likely to change any time soon, with the World Surf League’s return there in 2019 for the Corona Bali Protected reminding everyone of just what the wave has to offer.

The wave itself is a right which is created by a jagged and shallow lava reef. It produces steep, heavy drops, lots of barrels and big, stretched out walls, making it ideal for high-performance surfing. On its day this wave is as good as it gets, but even when those pesky onshores come in it can hold its shape and offer up decent sessions. Unsurprisingly, the combination of a shallow reef and a heavy wave means injuries aren’t uncommon, while the jostling for supremacy amongst the hordes of surfers – both local and travellers – is an added hazard.

Macaroni’s, Mentawais

Few outside of the surfing fraternity know much about the Mentawais, if they’ve heard of them at all. A group of islands off the west coast of Sumatra, they are, however, fabled among surfers. Macaroni’s is arguably the best wave in the area, but realistically this slot could have gone to many of the other quality waves the Mentawais have to offer.

Having said that, Macaroni’s is pretty damn good, and has in fact been listed as the best wave in Indonesia by Tracks magazine. The wave is a left, and begins with a fast and hollow (macaroni-like, you might say) section before leading into a longer wall more conducive to turns. Like all the waves on this list, you won’t exactly get this place to yourself and you’ll do plenty of jostling if you want to get a wave, but the effort is well and truly worth it. Referenced by Magic Seaweed as ‘apparently the funnest wave on the planet’, Macaroni’s might just be the best wave in one of the best surfing regions there is. 

Desert Point, Lombok

Just to the east of Bali is the significantly less crowded – particularly by tourists – island of Lombok. It doesn’t have anywhere near the reputation of Bali as a tourist destination, but unsurprisingly given the proximity of the two, it does still dish up some incredible waves – and they’re a lot less crowded. 

One of the best of them is Desert Point, located on the southwestern side of the island. It isn’t the most consistent wave in the world, but when it’s working it is certainly one of the best. Surfers go here, purely and simply, to get barrelled, and barrelled for a long time. The lefthander reels off on yet another shallow reef, and to make it through you need to gather speed ASAP. Once you do, you’ll find yourself setting up shop inside a seemingly endless pit which gets bigger and faster as you go. Once you’re in there there’s no getting out until you arrive on the shallow reef at the end, so if you’re not very well-versed in negotiating tricky left-hand barrels, this one is best to watch from the shore. 

Cloud 9, Philippines

Cloud 9 is presumably named as such to allow surfers there to use the double entendre ‘I’m on Cloud Nine!’ while deep within the cavernous barrels that it produces. Situated in the Siargao Islands in the Philippines, Cloud 9 creates both rights and lefts and is a great place to get shacked. As with most heavy barrels there is a reef not too far beneath the surface that you need to watch out for, but aside from that slightly intimidating prospect there’s nothing but fun to be had here.

Though it’s a popular spot, it doesn’t necessarily get the crowds that some other spots on this list attract, but on days where the masses do congregate there are also plenty of other high-quality waves in the vicinity. The same applies if you’re not up to the task of surfing what is a wave best reserved for advanced surfers – a raft of other options surround you, so it’s little surprise that so many flock to this region to get a wave.

A lot of islands, reef and swell from all directions makes Asia an ideal spot for plenty of world-class waves to form, and this list could easily have gone on for a whole lot longer. We’ve got some other continents to cover though, and next up we’ll be heading to Europe – or at least the west side of it.