Sumatra has world class surf year-round, but the surf season and weather in Sumatra are divided into two distinct seasons, the dry and the wet season and the high and low season respectively. With a median temperature of 25°C, (both in and out the water) year-round, Sumatra offers the endless Summer that many surfers are searching for.
With the equator running through the island, Sumatra is a tropical region meaning that it has seasonal rains, winds and swell patterns. Although you can get slightly different weather patterns between the Northern and Southern regions, with the North experiencing a more tropical climate with some rainfall all year round. Whilst the South has a more distinct wet and dry season, with the wet season being from November to February/March, with rainfall reaching its height around January and February, and the drier weather occurring between April and October.
The best surf season in Sumatra is between April and October, with rainfall decreasing late March in certain areas and some areas staying dry until early November.
Surfing during dry season in Sumatra offers consistent 6-12ft swell, which mostly occurs between March and November, while surfing during wet season in Sumatra offers 3-6ft swell.
In the dry season SSW winds consistently hit the coast producing ideal offshore winds and super clean conditions, there is no doubt that this is the best surf season in Sumatra. The biggest swell generally hits around July/August, however, there are more sheltered spots for those that aren’t intermediate-advanced surfers, so speak to your local guide to get advice about the most suitable spots.
If you’re looking to do other activities, besides surfing, like hiking, climbing snorkelling, then you should keep the weather in Sumatra in mind; the dry season offers the most opportunity for these activities.
The wet season consists of tropical storms, with intense downpours that last for a couple of hours. Road travel can be hindered so keep this in mind if you’re planning to travel during this period; searching for those secret surf spots via road may not be feasible. During the wet season some islands may also be less accessible via surf boat charter due to rougher seas. You should check with your local guide as they’ll use their local knowledge of the weather in Sumatra and surf conditions to ensure that you get the most out of your surf trip.
Taping off the end of the wet season, some areas of Sumatra could be dry by late March. Small swell between 3-6ft and clean conditions, attract less experienced surfers and advances surfers alike. With rainfall decreasing, surfing Sumatra in March becomes more popular, breaks will start getting slightly more crowded as the dry season begins; warm temperatures and some humidity provide tropical conditions.
Moving away from the wet season and heading into the dry season, May is hot, humid and dry. Light off shore winds produce clean waves and glassy conditions, consistent swell rolls in with 6-12ft waves being the average. Stronger winds can occur around mid-day so your surf boat charter will take you out for an early surf. Breaks will steadily be getting busier throughout May but surfing Sumatra in May is still world class and one to put on the bucket list.
Falling within the best surf season in Sumatra, June is dry with clean conditions, and waves that are steadily getting bigger; 6-12ft waves are standard. Early light winds provide ideal conditions with clean large waves consistently rolling onto the shores; winds can pick up at mid-day so an early surf is recommended. Temperatures are warm, between 27 and 32°C, and humidity hits 80%. Breaks are crowded leading up to the biggest conditions of year in July and August.
Swell is in full force when surfing Sumatra in July, 6-12ft waves roll in consistently with 15ft+ waves hitting the shores as well. Winds can pick up producing messy swell at times so speak to your local guide who will give you direction about the best time to surf. With a median temperature of 28°C and 80% humidity, you’ll experience all that this tropical region has to offer.
Huge swell of 15ft+ is not uncommon when surfing Sumatra in August. Breaks are crowded and the swell is insane, this is the best surf season in Sumatra. Winds are generally light but can pick up at times starting earlier in the day producing messy swell, so speak to your local guide to get the most of your surf trip.
Swell is perfectly groomed and keeps coming; winds back off a bit producing all day long, glassy conditions. Swell averages at 6-12ft with 15ft+ swell not unheard of. Temperates being between 23 and 30°C, with humidity being at a low of 70%, provide perfect tropical conditions making surfing Sumatra in September ideal.
Coming to the end of the dry season, surfing Sumatra in October is still one to put on the list. Light winds produce clean 6-12ft waves in idyllic conditions, although winds can come up around midday. Breaks start getting less crowded in October, although this is still part of the best surf season in Sumatra. Temperatures range between 23 and 33°C, with humidity at 75%, and dry conditions producing tropical weather to suit every traveller’s needs.
The weather in Sumatra starts to get more changeable as the start of the Southeast Asian monsoon season kicks in. This means high rainfall for Sumatra, although some areas of Sumatra may remain dry until early November. Swell size starts decreasing in November, 5-10ft waves are average for this time of year, however large swell can still appear. Winds get lighter producing glassy conditions, with winds picking up later in the day. Temperatures and humidity are still high so jumping in the water for a surf won’t be a problem.
High rainfall combined with smaller swell makes surfing Sumatra in December less attractive to many travellers. Although there is an upside, breaks will be less crowded and swell still remains between 3-6ft; this may be the best surf season in Sumatra for beginners. Temperatures and humidity are still high, 27°C is the median temperature with 80% humidity being the average for this month.
Having some of the highest rainfall, surfing Sumatra in January can offer some challenges to surfers that are travelling around the region. Surfing in the main regions and using a surf boat charter may be the best option for those traveling during January. High rainfall combined with poor roads will make road travel difficult during this time.
With very high rainfall and smaller swell, surfing Sumatra in February can be unappealing to the more experienced surfer. Road travel will be tough due to poor infrastructure, with rain affecting the roads. If you’re a beginner surfer then this period may be suited for you; surfing in central spots is recommended. Constant offshores can produce all day glassy conditions; combine that with tropical temperatures for ideal conditions.