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Indonesia Photos

Indonesia (or Indo as it is more often referred to) is considered to be the most wave-rich nation in the world, with superb surf breaking all year along the entire south and south-west facing coast.

Local children had long understood the fun of riding wooden belly boards by the time American-born Robert Koke first introduced stand-up surfing to Bali's Kuta Beach in the 1930s. But it was not until 1972, when footage of the long, long lefts of Uluwatu took the surfing world by storm in the film 'Mornings of the Earth', that Indonesia became a true global surfing Mecca. The long, thin, dependable reefs came to seem even more desirable than Hawaii's huge, powerful and comparatively erratic waves.

There have been negative side effects to Indonesia's rapid and sustained rise to surfing fame. Many of the more popular breaks are dangerously overcrowded while the more remote, such as the Mentawais, are under threat due to local power struggles and various forms of corruption. Travellers may also fall victim to random acts of terrorism perpetrated by those for whom life among these perfect reefs is a socio-political nightmare with both religious and ethnic tensions bubbling under the surface.

The islands can be grouped into six main surfing areas: Sumatra, the largest, is home to the perfect tubes of Nias and the wave-rich Mentawais.

Java boasts the dangerous tubes of Panaitan Island and the hugely popular, overcrowded Grajagan.

Bali counts the mythical left-hand tubes of Uluwatu and the open ocean right handers of Nusa Dua among its treasures, as well as the sand-bottomed peaks of Kuta Beach, which bustles with surf schools that cater to all abilities.

Laid-back Lombok, home to the fickle but impeccable Desert Point, which is rated by some as the World's best left, and Sumbawa is home to the consistent two direction Lakey Peak and the super fast lefts of Scar Reef.

Other islands such as Timor, Sumba and Sulawesi are sure to have waves but as yet lack the infrastructure to find them. Aceh, battered by the tsunami, welcomes those who wish to work on humanitarian projects but advises travelling surfers to go elsewhere.