Another "Indo" post.... Critique my itinerary (3 month trip).

Chumbucket's picture
Chumbucket started the topic in Thursday, 19 Jan 2017 at 6:48am

Hey all - I have been reading this forum for a while now and have appreciated all the inside knowledge and advice you guys have been dishing out!

26 year old from NZ here... finished uni three years ago and have been working a desk job since. After a breakup 4 months ago, decided it was time to go and explore.

I am trying as hard as possible to stick to a budget of $10K while seeing lots of different spots and scoring epic waves. This budget needs to include buying surfboards, domestic flights, food, everything basically.

I am a natural footed surfer with 15 years overall experience I guess. I don't rip, but I am comfortable taking late drops, surfing slightly bigger waves etc. However I don't have experience surfing coral reefs. I am also wanting to work a lot more on my turns/snaps/cutbacks and improve my technique (and score a shit load of barrels of course).

I booked my flight to Bali 2 months ago, and have been frothing / investigating since then (driving myself crazy pretty much). I've been trying to suss out exactly what spots are worth visiting, and fitting it into my trip.

So far my itinerary is as follows (but still not set in stone):

Arrive Bali April 17

1) 1 week Bali, guided surf camp for experienced surfers with 2 surfs a day taken to the best breaks for the conditions (up before sunrise kinda shit to beat the crowds).

I then have one month to burn, before having to return to Bali for 10 days to meet my mum and older brother. I'm thinking:

2) 1 month Lakey Peak Sumbawa.

From what I've been reading, Lombok isn't really worth stopping off at surf wise? (other than the fickle "secret" break). But on the flipside I've also heard that Sumbawa is quite barren and maybe would get bored after that long.... but if the surf is pumping maybe not. I'm planning to stay at Lakey Peak Homestay which is about $30 a night.

Is it worth maybe splitting this time up and also spending some time in West Sumbawa? I guess the logistics / saving money is the only concern here.. Staying at Lakeys is closer to the airport to fly back out of.

Would anyone recommend doing an overland trip from Bali to Sumbawa since I have a month? or is it more efficient to just fly for Bali to East Sumbawa?

Alternatively I could maybe change this to 3 weeks Sumbawa, 1 week G-Land. But that would cost more money and things would be tight.

3) Bali for 10 days. (late may - early june)

Have bought my mum and brother return tickets so we can have a family holiday. Will get some semi decent AirBNB and chill for this time, maybe get up early for some sunrise surf sessions before they are awake.

4) Mentawais for 11 days. (early june)

As soon as I see my bro and mum off at the airport I will be flying to Padang, to arrive on the Monday night before the Tuesday fast ferry to Siberut.

Mentawais seems to be the jewel in the crown..... and the prices seem to reflect this. It's quite scary to watch 25% of my 3 month budget go in 11 days... but I think it really needs to be done otherwise I will always regret it.

I am looking at staying at Beng Bengs surf camp on Nyang Nyang island.... this will cost roughly $2300 (NZD) excluding the flight to Padang.

This part of the trip is one that I have really spent a lot of time umming and aahing over.... mainly around whether I should risk roughing it with one of the basic Losmens instead.

I really want some more opinions on this: Beng Bengs is on Nyang Nyang Island. But there are also a group of cheaper, more basic accomodations on this same Island, for example:

From what I have seen, there are over 10 websites / names / facebook pages / trip advisor pages for what is actually the same group of surf camps on Nyang Nyang.

I have been quoted about $1100 for an all inclusive 11 day trip (but no boat trips to surf spots) as compared to Beng Bengs $2300 (but this includes 2x daily boat surf trips).

I'm just keen to hear other peoples input on this. What would you guys be doing/choosing? How hard would it be to link up with other surfers on Nyang Nyang to rent a boat for the day? It seems like there are a lot of breaks within walking distance to these camps, and I would be pretty annoyed to pay an extra grand to just end up surfing the same breaks I could surf at the cheaper option.
However, maybe it is better to bite the bullet, pay the extra money and get a full Mentawai surf trip experience.

5) I have a month to burn (Mid june - Mid July) . I was thinking either:

a) Nias for 1 month.


b) South Sumatra for two weeks AND Nias for two weeks.

I am thinking option b) is obviously superior. But this is obviously going to be more expensive with the extra travel. I would fly Padang => Badar Lampung and then after Badar Lampung => Nias (there are flights apparently).

So... If I took the cheaper Mentawai option and/or stayed in one place in Sumbawa., that would free up cash to hit up South Sumatra as well as Nias.

Sorry for the wall of text. Also most of you now will turn around and say "stop stressing/planning, get to Bali and take it from there" but my main concern with that has been I am going in the busy season and would hate to get there and realise the majority of spots are booked out (especially Ments trip).

Also in terms of visas.. I will try get the 60 day one before I head over, and then somehow try and extend for another 30 days once I am there.

Feel free to give any input/comments/suggestions on any of the above. Cheers!

mick63's picture
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mick63 Thursday, 19 Jan 2017 at 7:09am

??? Just buy a Swellnet subscription, win the trip to P Pass, catch a boat to PNG A Frame with Mr Peel and wing it from there, simple

carpetman's picture
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carpetman Thursday, 19 Jan 2017 at 9:23am

A few points;
- Don't book anything. Be flexible.
- You've got plenty of cash for that amount of time.
- There are cheaper places than the prices you've listed above. If you rock up you can bargain and the cheaper places aren't listed online anyway.
- The more you move around, the more you spend. Try fly garuda, lion and wings will charge you 200,000IDR/board. If you're travelling with 3 boards and need to take 3 flights to get where you wanna go, flight costs might be 600,000IDR but board cost is going to be 1,800,000IDR.

mk1's picture
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mk1 Thursday, 19 Jan 2017 at 11:19am

Choose 5b over 5a (IMO).
A cheap return flight to KL from Sumatra can be easier/quicker than visa extension.

indo-dreaming's picture
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indo-dreaming Thursday, 19 Jan 2017 at 4:54pm

Not to much to say after the points Carpertman has made, agree 100%

Especially never book in or pay in advance or online for budget to mid range, nothing worse than doing that then rocking up and finding out other guys are paying half what you are paying for the same deal because they just rocked up, or that next door is a heaps better place that's cheaper, or you met some crew that you get along with and they are heading to another Island where the forecast looks good for and its semi secret spot and they don't mind if you come, but you don't want to waste the money you have paid on where you are staying because they wont give a refund.

If you don't feel comfortable with just turning up, only book in for a night or two, then you can suss things out and find out the quality and prices of other places.

On your prices quoted for Nyang Nyang, no one should pay those prices if boat trips to surf are not included.

It's been a few years since I've been to Nyang Nyang but it can be hard to hook up with guys for boat rides, because sometimes they don't want the extra people in the water, don't know what its like now but there never use to be many boats either.

If you want a cheap surf camp in the area try these guys

Little bit further from the waves, but their price is much more fair and these guys are the real deal, Mentawai local surfers been involved with taking surfers to waves for a long time now.

goofyfoot's picture
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goofyfoot Thursday, 19 Jan 2017 at 6:04pm

Indo Dreaming is the man for these posts...
But, I will just say that make sure you go to the Ments. If you think it might be the one and only time in your life you will visit the Mentawais, then pay the extra cash for the luxuries and mod cons. You'll absolutely love it.
$10,000 is heaps for 10 weeks in indo.
If you think you might end up going to the ments in the future as well, well you probably don't need to go all out on accom there.
And if you enjoy going left, go to Gland

indo-dreaming's picture
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indo-dreaming Thursday, 19 Jan 2017 at 6:40pm

Regarding the Mentawai option, you could also leave it until your last month see how much money you have left then shop around for the best last minute deal for a surf resort or charter boat, don't go through a surf travel agent who take a min of 10% commission, hit a whole heap of resorts/charter up direct when you are in Sumatra and let them know you are in Sumatra and let them know you are shopping around to find the best last minute deal.

Many resorts or charters would rather get a spot filled and make less than they normally would then not make anything at all.

dandandan's picture
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dandandan Thursday, 19 Jan 2017 at 8:06pm

My advice: take a phrasebook, wear shoes on motorbikes, pack at least 4000 fin keys and be prepared to lose them all.

3 months in Indo.. You'll have the time of your life.

Blowin's picture
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Blowin Thursday, 19 Jan 2017 at 8:10pm

Great advice guys.

Struggled for a fin key this morning.

Chumbucket's picture
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Chumbucket Friday, 20 Jan 2017 at 11:45am

Really really appreciate the feedback guys thanks for putting the time and effort into the replies. I think what I'm going to do is lay off pre booking stuff as much, apart from the Mentawais, I think I will lock in Beng Bengs but freestyle everything else.

I have ordered the Indo surf and lingo guidebook and will try learn some of the basics before I head over.

Any more feedback more than welcome, I think these posts act as a really valuable reference years into the future for other travellers with the same questions in future.

I will potentially try and keep a simple blog keeping track of my adventures as well.

mk1's picture
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mk1 Friday, 20 Jan 2017 at 1:05pm

The guys here obviously know a lot more than me on this but my favourites are

Satu lagi/dua lagi
Lain Kali
Adoo, Mahal!
Tidak apa apa

You can have some fun with those once the basic greetings are wired.

dandandan's picture
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dandandan Friday, 20 Jan 2017 at 3:19pm

If anyone is interested in self-study, here's a link to material that I use to teach Indonesian at the tertiary level. Lots of effort has gone in to making the material accessible and useful to those self-teaching online.

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lomah Friday, 20 Jan 2017 at 3:55pm

10k multi month indo trip
1 avoid bali as it will rapidly and relentlessly eat into your budget
2 a great way to get into the rhythm of indo is to island hop using local ferries and buses. head east of bali. there are loads of less publicized waves especially if you are willing to rough it. you will find regions/waves that you like more than others. just plonk yourself down and get into the swing of the swells and flat spells.
3 pull together a decent first aid kit. including general broad spectrum antibiotics, peroxcide, tweezers, betadene, sutures and needles (practice suturing on an orange before you go) etc. get up to date malaria info.
4 sew together 2 double sheets to act as a tropical sleeping bag.
5 take some booties and trainers
6 at some spots that have "resorts" there will be other cheaper options esp if you willing to forego creature comforts
6 take a normal short board and any other boards you are taking add a couple of inches to what you are thinking as unless you are super fit or surf at semi pro level you wont regret the paddling help at many indo reefs when a 6ft+ swell is running.
7 learn as much indo as possible
8 get a good mozzie net and treat it before you go.
9 after a couple of months wandering east of bali do a visa run pick an area of northern or western indo open to sw swell and repeat. you may be a little knackered and find yourself staying longer in spots so as to avoid travelling as much
10 almost all the info you are exposed to in surf mags etc re travel options is squarely aimed at the person looking to score on a 1-2 week holiday and not rough it. if you have a spirit of adventure and are patient indo will deliver in spades
11 you will meet loads of other people doing your type of trip many of whom will be happy to share very specific info while on the road
12 the lonely planet guide is worth carrying around if you are island hopping
13 you should be able to pack everything into a large day pack or small back pack plus board bag. be ruthless packing.
14 dont sweat the small stuff
you are about to have the time of your life.

indo-dreaming's picture
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indo-dreaming Friday, 20 Jan 2017 at 4:37pm

100% agree

Ha ha..i use to travel with a double bed cotton sheet sewn in half (leave the bottom open) but lazy these days just sleep under a sarong.

Indonesia lonely planet guide, is gold it's a little big, but there is some really good info on accommodation and buses etc if I'm going to an area of Indo I'm not familiar with especially a city etc, i always take it or a photo copy the info for the area, the prices do get out of date quickly though as Indonesia has high inflation.

Another good book is "Wave-Finder Indonesia" its pocket size and has the majority of waves in Indo in it.

jedbanger's picture
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jedbanger Sunday, 5 Feb 2017 at 7:37am

I can vouch for indo-dreaming regarding the shadow surf camp. Been there last year (off season, late feb-early march) and had the time of my life. Dodi and his family are super nice people.

groundswell's picture
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groundswell Friday, 10 Feb 2017 at 12:29pm

Do you need a super big swell for those reefs hidden in those islands back there Jed?

Booka78's picture
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Booka78 Tuesday, 14 Feb 2017 at 1:51pm

Hi Chumbucket, If you have the time forget the resorts in the Ment's just take a tent & stay in some of the local villages. You can pay a friendly local to stay at theirs & for food budget for this would be about $10 a day.....hope you don't like showers

Gaz1799's picture
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Gaz1799 Tuesday, 14 Feb 2017 at 2:33pm

Loads of mint right handers in North Sumatra if you're inclined but plenty of lefts too. If you have access to a boat or a charter you could reach the Banyaks from Nias and then you'd be smiling. Was there a couple of years ago and on day 1 we had the break all to ourselves on super fast grinding 6-8 foot barrels and then again everyday for almost a week. There's really bugger all to spend your money on outside of Bali so $10k will last you ages.

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ringmaster Saturday, 18 Feb 2017 at 5:01pm

Already been mentioned but if you're gunna spend time in the Mentawaiis be sure to have reliable boat access. On any given day different spots will be shithouse to excellent and you don't wanna be camped somewhere with no waves when somewhere 10 to 30 minutes away by boat is pumping. Different swell directions and winds are key there so the ability to be mobile is crucial. I've stayed at Pitstop Hill a couple of times and scored good to excellent waves 80 - 90% of days there due to that factor. Crew camped further up the island and stuck near E Bay or Beng Bengs without instant boat access for their whole trip not so........

geoffrey's picture
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geoffrey Saturday, 5 May 2018 at 5:33pm

for those of you that have been on the mentawai fast ferry,

i see it leaves siberut at 1pm and says it takes 3 hours, it it realistic to book a flight leaving padang at 7pm or is that cutting it too fine? 3 hours leeway seems fair, or is it often hours late? and how realistic is it to get from jakarta domestic terminal to an international flight within 3 hours? flying in at 850 flight leaves jakky at 1140? i know jakky is massive but 3 hours seems alright,

I focus's picture
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I focus Saturday, 5 May 2018 at 7:20pm

Usually catch it out of Tua Pejat but have gotten on at Seberut departure was 15.00hrs.

Usually late leaving 20 mins or more (got delayed for me to get a dead body off) can take up to 3.5hrs if the wind in blowing.

I would stay over night as I like to travel hassle free and dont mind some of the accommodation in Padang.

geoffrey's picture
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geoffrey Saturday, 5 May 2018 at 7:35pm

thanks mate. how hard is it to get to sikabaluan for the thursday boat? looks like its on the back of siberut island. trying to get a charter boat to drop us off to get the fast ferry back. is it hard to get any transport across the island?

I focus's picture
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I focus Saturday, 5 May 2018 at 10:23pm

Travel around Siberut is predominately by boat which can be arranged (basically anything can be arranged in Indo........if you have time) better to be dropped off at Sikabaluan/Siberut or Tua Pejat before the ferry leaves give yourself time to get a ticket (allow for 90% of the local Indos to jump the cue before you :-))

Avoid public holidays must of had 400 plus on the smaller fast ferry (1st ferry rated for 200 ) one trip blew a motor 10 mins out think that was 5 hrs getting to Padang cooked no aircon.

The service is very good crew friendly (being given breakfast one trip)

I would try to line up a day for Tua Pejat as more likely your boat would be passing that area heading south/north rather than Sikabaluan.

Good luck

indo-dreaming's picture
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indo-dreaming Sunday, 6 May 2018 at 9:58am

"allow for 90% of the local Indos to jump the cue before you"

Ha ha so true...It's weird how Indonesians love to push in front of you in lines, got to really hold your ground.

geoffrey's picture
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geoffrey Sunday, 6 May 2018 at 10:08am

haha nice. thinking we might get the overnight ferry it says you can get a plank to sleep on. i cant find any reliable looking schedules though. any experience with them? checked the public holiday list nothing for a week either side of when we want to get on.

indo-dreaming's picture
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indo-dreaming Sunday, 6 May 2018 at 10:36am

I focus might know more than me as i don't spend as much time in Ments these days.

But I've done countless trips on overnight ferries.

Normally two options , crappy wooden ferrys, some had cabins super basic, otherwise sleep were you can, often super hardcore and creaky, I've even woke up with ants crawling over me and seen rats running around.

Then the big metal ASDP ferrys if super lucky can pay for a A/C cabin very limited, or pay to use a soft mat and find the best spot you can.

If no rain outside areas are the go or downstairs where all the cars are.

If mats are sold out grab so cardboard :D

Always found a few Bintangs helped with either trip.

I focus's picture
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I focus Sunday, 6 May 2018 at 2:32pm

Don't know about the overnight ferries Amu Ambu / Gambolo if it was me I'd prefer to get dropped off at a camp stay a day or two and Fast Ferry out you still have to overnight in Padang.
Still if you want a cultural experience overnight ferry only way to go Indonesians are fantastic people typical chaos but it always works out and you get a story.

Just noticed your Jakarta question.

If you fly Garuda they have a brand new shiny terminal domestic/international all in one (really flash) easy as you won't have any problems this is what I do, get the morning Jakarta to Perth flight out.(you are probably starting to get a sense I can't be fu(ked stressing ).

If you have to change terminals there is a bus but I would get a cab (Blue Bird, not one that looks like a Blue Bird)
As long as you flight in isn't delayed you should make it.
Jakarta is big but not too difficult in daylight got some funny stories about coming in at night.

I focus's picture
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I focus Sunday, 6 May 2018 at 2:39pm

I am currently agonizing over what to do this year Ments is getting busy thinking I'll do one last trip but further north for some reason keeps calling me 1st world problems oh the agony.

geoffrey's picture
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geoffrey Sunday, 6 May 2018 at 9:48pm

thanks again fellas.

geoffrey's picture
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geoffrey Monday, 7 May 2018 at 7:12am

One last question, is Ramadan likely to effect ferry timetables? I notice it starts on the 16th and they do love their holidays. Was gonna try get on the Friday 18th ferry. Have been caught out before on a holiday

I focus's picture
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I focus Monday, 7 May 2018 at 7:43pm

Ramadan should be fine

indo-dreaming's picture
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indo-dreaming Tuesday, 8 May 2018 at 7:45am

Despite the hassles of traveling at this time busy and higher prices, Ramadan can be a good time to visit the Mentawai's as some resorts and charter boats that hire a lot of muslim Padang staff run on either lower guest capacity or even close up during the main period, while staff go spend time with their family.

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Shrimpton Tuesday, 8 May 2018 at 9:51am

Hi guys, don't mean to hijack the thread but since we're on the topic of Indo itinerary..
I just booked 15 days in Sumatra with the girlfriend who is a beginner, and a mate who doesn't surf. Pretty dangerous, I know. I think we will divide our time between an island with surf and then somewhere else inland. They love the wild, beautiful places.. diving, hikes, and proper travelling
Wondering if anyone can recommend any islands or locations that would keep us all happy? So far Banyak has captured our imagination.. Bay of plenty + kayak camp trip seems legit. But seems like a little bit of a hassle to get there given our time restraints.

mk1's picture
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mk1 Tuesday, 8 May 2018 at 10:59am

Shrimpton, you might need to mix some north sumatra (mainland) activities with some island surf. Although I have heard some good stuff about simeulue, someone else will need to confirm that.

udo's picture
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udo Tuesday, 8 May 2018 at 11:04am

Lake Toba

carpetman's picture
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carpetman Tuesday, 8 May 2018 at 11:37am

Only beginner wave in the Bay of plenty is the inside, soft, left but even that gets very shallow on the inside. People still get hurt there.

Would be a good trip kayaking up there but you'd wanna do it for a few months, not weeks. Met some guys camping up there once. They only lasted three nights due to the sand flies and a number of other issues.

Shrimpton's picture
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Shrimpton Tuesday, 8 May 2018 at 1:19pm

Thanks guys,
Will most likely hit Lake Toba. Looks unreal.
They're pretty comfortable with not surfing, but if I pull this off there'd have to be 'more' on offer than surf otherwise we'd spend fewer days. Ideally, somewhere with accessible fun waves for a morning sesh for me, then fill out the day relaxing or exploring.
Seems simple at Banyak to grab a couple Kayak's and paddle over to a protected island, or just get a fisherman to drop us off somewhere. Based on the limited info on the interwebs, that is... mostly attempts by the various resorts to 'sell' a location.
Much appreciated.

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carpetman Tuesday, 8 May 2018 at 3:50pm

Not sure I'd consider the Banyaks simple. Don't forget you'll need to Kayak 40kms+ to get to the Bay, unless you get a fisherman to drop you.

Like I highlighted above the Bay is not a very good camping area. It's pretty much a mangrove swamp with lots of mosquitoes and little/no drinkable fresh water.

Definitely doable but if you wanna do Lake toba and then banyaks you're prob not gonna get many days of surfing in but maybe that doesn't matter?

If you do mainland sumatra you can surf, hike, do volcanos, orangutans etc.

Scott Elliff's picture
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Scott Elliff Friday, 19 Jul 2019 at 4:50pm

I thought about Nias Island, but then decided that it's probably not suitable for me at all. After the back surgery I can't travel much. However, my destination is Lake Toba for sure. Any tips from professionals? I was considering going to the Padang area, but the guys on Lonelyplanet forums say it's rather a long road. Also: searched quite a lot about Banyak Islands:

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boatie Friday, 19 Jul 2019 at 9:14pm

advantages for Simelue Island
- quick flight from Medan, which is close to Lake Toba
- more surf camps now which might make prices a bit more realistic
- plenty of uncrowded coastline to explore, hire a bike and tour around, just watch out for water buffalo landmines and suicidal roosters
- some good beaches for walking and offshore islands for snorkeling

- more surf camps means crowds and development at surf breaks with more surfers seeking the advertised 'uncrowded' waves
- limited eating options outside of the surf camps, but if you like simple fish meals and kelapa muda you should be fine
- waves generally don't suit beginners even on smaller swells