Unveiling the Waves: A Comprehensive Guide to Gili Air Surfing

Just like three different-natured popular kids, the Gili Islands each offer their own remarkable ways to impress, making them favoured destinations for various activities, including surfing. While they are not known for having the biggest waves in Indonesia, each island has its own unique surf spots to catch some fun waves, pampering your craving for a more idyllic surfing experience. For those seeking the best and most reliable waves, you might want to explore Gili Air. 

Gili Air remains relatively undiscovered within the surfing community, thanks to its remote location. Despite this, the island offers an authentic South East Asian experience while still delivering impressive waves. With fewer people in the line-up and a welcoming local community, the surf at Gili Air stands out. Consider adding it to your surf destination list before it gains popularity akin to the next Bali or Lombok. Being the closest of the three Gili Islands to Lombok, Gili Air surf also serves as an excellent option for day trips, allowing you to explore new breaks.

Gili Air Surfing Starter Pack

For anyone aiming to catch the waves, the first and most important thing is to grasp the Gili Air surf culture. The island’s laid-back atmosphere effortlessly combines with the exciting thrill of surfing. Gili Air provides a friendly environment for surfers of all levels, whether you’re an experienced surfer or a beginner eager to learn.

What type of wave characterises Gili Air?

Gili Air features a reef break that peels off the southern tip of the smallest and most accessible of the Gili Islands. Accessible after a long paddle or a short boat ride, this spot offers the reward of minimal crowds and short square barrels. Even with  its enticing nature, catching waves here can be challenging due to prevalent onshore tradewinds. For an optimal day at Gili Air, be attentive to significant southwest swells, exceptionally high tide, and light winds from the west – northwest.

On favourable days, the shoulder is open for manoeuvres. However, if seeking shade, concentrate on extending your initial bottom turn before selecting your line and swiftly pulling in – failure to do so may result in missing the section. Keep in mind that, particularly on mid to low tides, you are likely to brush against the reef, underscoring the importance of using adequate sun protection while surfing.

Gili Air Surf Spots

For beginners and intermediate surfers, the most popular Gili Air surf spots are ideal, featuring small and gentle waves—a perfect setting to learn and improve surfing skills.

1. Play Gili: The West Coast Gem for Experienced Surfers

Play Gili takes the spotlight as the best surf spot on Gili Air, showcasing a reef break on the island’s west coast. Its left and right-hand waves make it an enticing location for intermediate and advanced surfers. Despite its appeal, catching waves here can be challenging due to onshore tradewinds. Optimal conditions include significant southwest swells, exceptionally high tide, and light winds from the west – northwest.

2. Secret Spot and Manta Point: Beginner-Friendly Spots

Gili Air is the best place for surfers of all levels, offering beginner-friendly spots such as Secret Spot and Manta Point. These areas are suitable for those still honing their skills, featuring smaller and gentler waves for an ideal environment of learning.

3. Bongkas: The Challenging Star of Gili Islands

Bongkas, located just off the southern reef of Gili Air, steals the show as a challenging surf spot. A hollow, long, barreling wave, it requires a high tide to cover the super shallow reef. With significant southern swells, sets at Bongkas form onto a pitching take-off zone, providing an exhilarating ride. While not easy, it’s not overwhelmingly difficult unless facing massive swells. To reach Bongkas, a boat journey from the ports in the Gilis is necessary, with prices varying but typically starting at 50,000 IDR.

Gili Air Surf Forecast

Timing is also crucial when planning your surfing adventure on Gili Air. The prime time for surfing in Gili Air aligns with the dry season, spanning from May to September, offering more consistent waves. Positioned on the south and east sides of the island, the surf breaks attract enthusiasts, with several surf schools and rental shops providing lessons and equipment. In the broader context of the Gili Islands and Indonesia, the optimal surfing window extends throughout the dry season. This period witnesses robust  southwest swells originating from the deep 40s latitudes, generating extensive groundswells, including those reaching Uluwatu. The chance of hefty swells required for the sheltered Gilis to thrive is higher during this time. While the wet season tends to bring smaller swells, they often assume a more southerly direction, facilitating their navigation through the protective islands of Lembongan and Penida at the strait’s entrance.

That being said, timing is closely related by how the forecast around Gili Air is and it can closely affect your surfing experience. Hence you need to keep a close eye to various online tools or Gili Air surf forecast websites that provide real-time information on wave height, wind conditions, and other crucial factors that impact the quality of your surf session.

Gili Air surf forecast varies depending on the seasons. In the rainy season, the swell can arrive only around 0.3m-0.6m and 6s-13s period with the largest open ocean swell as 0.6m 6s period. The wind is predicted to be cross-offshore as the primary swell arrives. The best choice of surf can be done when the wave height is at 0.5m in the 13s period, or you can elevate your wave type to the most powerful at 0.6m 13s periode. 

To wrap up, Gili Air stands as an all-encompassing destination for surfers seeking an authentic and thrilling experience. From the challenging waves of Play Gili to the beginner-friendly conditions at Secret Spot and Manta Point, the island caters to surfers of all levels. By combining surfing adventures with exploration of Gili Air surf’s unique charm, visitors can create lasting memories in this tropical paradise where the waves are abundant, and the surf community thrives.

So, pack your bags, wax your board, and get ready to ride the waves in Gili Air—where the adventure never ends, and the surf is always calling. For your homely Gili Air surf experience, feel free to reach out My Gili Trip and get the best insider guide to discover Gili Island.