How to Surf World Class Waves for $10 a Day

Written by Marco Morawec

Topics: Featured, Surfing, Travel Advice

Surfing world class waves doesn’t have to be expensive. Despite what all the surfing magazines try to tell you in their stories about all-inclusive surf camps, 5-star lodges and 3 warm meals a day, you can still surf world class waves on very little money. In fact, the country with the highest concentration of consistent world class waves – Indonesia – can be traveled on a real shoestring budget.

Here’s how you pull off your surf trip of a life-time in Indonesia.

Do your research the traditional way

Most locals who offer accommodation close to world class waves are not online. That’s mostly because internet is not easily available in those areas or very expensive. Which means that the only places you will find online are run by foreigners who charge you foreign prices while offering little authenticity and cultural knowledge. To give you an idea of what kind of price and quality differences we are talking about consider my example in Nias. I stayed two hotels down from the “all-inclusive foreigners run surf-camp”, had a much bigger room, a side view onto the waves from my bed and a local family who took me on tours around the island for free. Oh and yes, I only paid a third of what the surf-camp people were paying while directly supporting a local family with my dollars.

Check out every place when you arrive

When you arrive anywhere in Indo you will be offered plenty of places to stay. It starts with the bus drivers calling ahead asking the different hotel owners how much commission they will get when they move their “official” bus stop right in front of the highest paying hotel.  It continues  with hotel owners approaching you before you exited the bus and end with you seeing your first hotel room before you had a chance to check the surf. That’s normal business in Indo and something you will get used to pretty fast.

What you should do is invest about a half hour of sweat and time to walk up and down the beach locating not only the surf spot and the nicest looking room but also chatting with all the different hotel owners. Just talking about where you are from and how many kids are in the family is a great ice breaker before you have a look at any room. Be very polite, patient and smile a lot. Remember, when you’re walking up and down the beach talking to almost all of the people you see, everyone in the village will remember you. The more you smile, the more people will smile back at you and greet your when you go surfing the next day. In short you introduce yourself to the community, spread good vibes while bargaining for a good deal.

Get the best location at the best price

I try to be as close to the world class surf spot as possible. You don’t need to see it from your bedroom – although that would be awesome – but you want to avoid having to walk 10 minutes every time you want to check conditions. If you have to walk far to check what’s going on in the water you will miss epic sunset sessions simply because you don’t know that 80 percent of the line-up just left the water for the last 45 minutes of daylight.

I usually try to stay one or two houses down the street. Mostly because hostels that are a bit further away (again we are talking a max of 300 feet here) are seldom completely booked out, charge you less a night and, since there are less guests, it will be much easier getting to know your host family.

Bargain for long-term stays

When you go to a place to surf you are usually staying for more than just a couple of nights. At the bare minimum you should stay for four full days to get a feel for the wave, surf as much as possible and have a reasonable chance to surf an epic session. Hotel owners close to surf spots know that you are most likely going to stay for longer when you carry a surfboard under your arm.

That’s exactly why they ask you how long you’ll be staying when you start talking about price for a room per night. Don’t be shy know, tell them honestly about your plans. I usually go with “If the waves are good I’m staying here for about five days and I would really like to stay at your place Deddy. Could you give me a special price if I’m staying for that long at only your place?” Usually that does the trick.

So how much did I pay to surf world class waves?

So now how much did I really pay for my room and food? To give you an example, on Nias, at Lagundri Bay, right in front of a world class wave I spent $4 for my own bedroom, bathroom and shared balcony. I paid about another $4 for all the fried rice and bananas that I could eat per day. Lakey Peak was a bit more pricey for accommodation, charging $6 a night for my own bedroom, bathroom and terrace with a direct view of the surf. Food at the mom and pop food stalls was much cheaper and for $1.50 I would get more fried rice and chicken than I could eat in one sitting.

Now it’s your turn, how do you make sure you have the right hotel at the best spot?

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