Surfing

21 Best Surf Spots in Asia

Asia is home to some of the best surf on the planet, from the brilliant breaks in Bali to the tubular swells of the Maldives. Southeast Asia may be the epicentre of surf culture, but waves can be found all over the continent with conditions to suit all abilities. 

With tropical weather, jaw-dropping scenery, budget-friendly destinations, consistent waves and plenty of surf schools, surfing in Asia offers everything a salty wanderer could ask for. 

Since falling in love with surfing in Sri Lanka, I’ve been chasing waves throughout my travels across Asia and have discovered some amazing places along the way. Here I share some of Asia’s best surf spots to help you shape your own surf adventure!


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Surfing Season in Asia

The surf season in Asia is heavily influenced by the monsoons that sweep through the tropics. The wet seasons vary from country to country and coast to coast. 

This means that some spots are best visited during monsoon season as this is when the waves are at their biggest and best, while others favour the dry season that brings consistent clean waves. 

Girls surfing at Uluwatu, Bali.
Surfers in Indonesia – their smiles say it all!

While it’s difficult to generalise about the best time to surf in Asia, the good news is that there will always be great surf somewhere, no matter the time of year!


21 Best Surf Spots in Asia 

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1. Kuta Beach, Indonesia

Indonesia offers some of Asia’s best surfing, and Bali is the jewel in the crown of this wave-blessed country. One of the most lively spots on the island is Kuta Beach, with soft beach-bottomed breaks and no rocks or reefs to pose danger. 

It’s the ideal spot for beginners, with an abundance of surf schools lining the shore. Kuta Beach is where Bali’s surf tourism industry began, and since the 1930s, countless learners have been catching waves for the first time along this famous stretch of sand.

Kuta Beach has both left and right handers and diverse waves, making it appealing to intermediate surfers too. Its popularity means it gets quite crowded in peak season, but if you walk towards the end of the beach, you should be able to find a quieter spot.


2. Canggu, Indonesia

Canggu is certainly a contender for one of the most popular surf spots in Asia. This former fishing village-turned-boho surf hotspot attracts wave enthusiasts from around the world. It’s grown increasingly popular among the digital nomad population and trendy cafés and yoga classes abound. 

The surf camps in Bali offer great opportunities to improve your skills, and the social scene in Canggu specifically is great for mingling with like-minded travellers. With consistent waves and both beach and reef breaks, cinnamon-sanded Canggu has something for surfers of all abilities. Head out in the early morning for the best waves and the least crowds.


3. Uluwatu, Indonesia

For the experienced surfer, Uluwatu offers fantastic waves away from the throngs at Kuta and Canggu – with stunning scenery to boot. With sharp, shallow reefs, and fast, powerful waves, this is definitely a place for advanced surfers who can enjoy both left and right handers and barrel waves aplenty. 

A popular spot with the locals, you’re sure to be sharing the waves with Balinese surfers, a great opportunity to learn more about the local surf culture. Rental shops in the area provide all the necessary gear and the spectacular sunsets offer a particularly magical setting for hitting the waves. 

Read 👉 Top Surf Spots in Bali for All Abilities! 🏄


4. Kuta, Lombok, Indonesia

Less developed than Bali, Lombok offers gorgeous scenery with rolling terrain and white sandy beaches; a stunning backdrop to a day on the waves. Kuta is the place to base yourself to easily access the best spots on the island. Much quieter than its namesake on its sister island, laidback Kuta has a chilled and friendly vibe. 

Surfers in Lombok
Surfers getting in their wave time in Lombok!

The beautiful beach at Tanjung Aan is home to a mellow reef break that’s great for intermediate surfers and longboarders, while Selong Belanak Beach is the perfect playground for first-timers and spots like Are Guling offer exciting rides for advanced surfers. 

While the line ups here are less busy than Bali, crowds and popularity are ever-increasing as the beaches on Bali become more crowded. Surfing in Lombok is possible at any time of year but is best during the wet season. This brings cleaner and less choppy swells.


5. Kovalam, India

Surfing isn’t yet a mainstream sport in India but its popularity is growing. Perhaps the most well-known surfing destination in the country is Kovalam. 

Located in the southern state of Kerala, Kovalam is a lively town with a welcoming atmosphere and the beach is surrounded by tropical forests, providing a beautiful setting. It’s easily accessible from the state capital of Thiruvananthapuram and is just 12km from the nearest international airport.

Kovalam is home to a number of surf schools and the waves here offer something for everyone, with beach, reef and point breaks. Beginners can enjoy small and gentle waves, but watch out for the rocky sea bed! There are also bigger and more powerful swells for the more experienced. 


6. White Beach, Japan

Japan’s southern islands benefit from a subtropical climate and Pacific swell to the east, creating good surfing conditions year round. The island chain of Okinawa boasts some of Japan’s best waves, as well as abundant pristine beaches and clear waters. 

Surfing Japan
There is a burgeoning surf scene in Japan.

White Beach on the main island is one of the few sandbars in the region and is a popular spot suitable for beginners. With a lively, family-friendly atmosphere, White Beach provides fun rideable waves for all levels. 

For more of a challenge, experienced surfers can explore the reef breaks nearby, such as Sunabe Seawall. Caution should be exercised here as the island’s position makes it particularly prone to tropical storms and sharp coral reefs dot the coastline, creating hazards for the inexperienced.


7. Shidashita, Japan

The surf in Japan’s Chiba Prefecture is some of the easiest to reach in the country. From Tokyo, the town of Ichinomiya can be arrived at in under two hours. It is here, at the southern end of a long stretch of sandy coastline, that you’ll find one of Japan’s most popular beach breaks. 

Officially called Tsurigasaki Beach, but known to the locals as Shidashita or ‘Shida’, this was the spot chosen as the venue for surfing at the 2020 Olympics, the first time the sport was included in the games.

The breaks are reliable with typhoon swells in the summer and wind swells in winter or spring, but the best time to surf here is typhoon season. Shida is a popular spot with the locals and has been the training ground for many world-class surfers. This is not a spot for novices and longboards aren’t allowed. 

Beware of the strong rip currents that can occur near the breakwaters during the biggest swells and be sure to observe proper surfing etiquette at all times.


8. Juara Beach, Malaysia

Tioman Island is a true tropical paradise situated just off of the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia, accessible by ferry from the mainland. The pristine rainforest and crystal clear waters make for a mesmerising and memorable spot to catch some waves, the best of which are found on the east coast at Juara Beach. 

Board rental can be limited and quite costly, so it’s recommended to bring your own. Head there in January for the annual Tioman Surf Festival, featuring three days of surf competitions, beach games and live music.


9. Cherating, Malaysia

The best waves in Malaysia can be found on its east coast and Cherating sits at the heart of the country’s surf culture. A small fishing village with a laid-back vibe, Cherating draws a backpacking crowd to its long, wide beach. 

The sandy-bottomed breaks are perfect for beginners and the consistency and variety of point breaks offer something for seasoned surfers too. On good days, the waves can offer 500m rides! Local surf schools provide lessons and will introduce you to the friendly surfing culture that Malaysia has to offer.


10. Thanburudhoo and Thulusdhoo, Maldives

There is perhaps no other surf destination in Asia with a more fascinating origin story than the Maldives. The surf in the North Male Atolls was discovered in the 1970s by two Australian surfers after they were shipwrecked in the Indian Ocean running aground on their journey from Sri Lanka to Mauritius. Little did they know, but they’d find themselves in a surfer’s paradise!

Surfing Maldives
The Maldives is a paradise location for surfers!

The Maldives offer consistent swells, with the biggest between June and August, and a good mix of left and right-hand waves. Arguably the best surf spot in the Maldives, Honky’s is located off Thanburudhoo. Definitely one best left to the pros, Honky’s is a world-class spot in the right conditions offering a long left-hand wave. 

Also for the experts, Chickens and Cokes are both located near the island of Thulusdhoo. Chickens is a long left-hander offering rides up to 500m long, whereas Cokes is a tubular right-hand wave known as one of the best waves in the country. 


11. Baler, Philippines

Baler is known as the birthplace of surfing in the Philippines, thanks to the cult classic Apocalypse Now. Although the movie’s surf scenes are set in Vietnam, they were actually filmed in Baler, which introduced the sport to the local population and created what would become the epicentre of surf in this island nation. 

Just six hours from the capital Manila, Baler is one of the more easily accessible and budget-friendly, spots in this sprawling country. Sabang Beach, a soft beach break with glassy waves, is great for beginners and fun for the more experienced alike. This beautiful stretch of black sand is hugely popular among the locals, who are welcoming and friendly and can offer valuable surfing advice. 

For more of a challenge, head to Cemento Reef, but be careful of the sharp coral here. Charlie’s Point is a river mouth with a small swell and easy peaks. It offers less exciting surf but a chance to experience movie history – now that’s an opportunity you won’t get every day!


12. Cloud 9, Philippines

As its name suggests, Cloud 9 is one of the best waves on the planet and with guaranteed barrels, riding it is a heavenly experience! This famous right-hand break is a surfing paradise for the highly experienced surfer. It’s the ultimate ride on an island boasting some of the best surfing in Asia and can deliver triple overhead waves during typhoon swells – definitely not for the faint-hearted!

Siargao draws surfers from all over the world and has plenty of other surf spots for those not quite at professional level yet. There’s even a boardwalk from which you can watch the experts catching barrel after barrel on Cloud 9! The spot also hosts the annual World Surf League International Surfing Cup.


13. Arugam Bay, Sri Lanka

With waves suited to all levels, Sri Lanka is making a name for itself as one of the top surfing destinations in Asia. A budget-friendly country with friendly locals, delicious food and beautiful beaches, it’s easy to see the draw. 

Its premier surfing spot is Arugam Bay on the island’s east coast. A world-famous surfing destination, A-Bay, as it’s known, has hosted numerous competitions including Sri Lanka’s National Surf Championship Series and Red Bull’s Ride My Wave.

Sri Lanka has two distinct surf seasons and A-Bay is the place to be in the summer months when the southwest monsoon is drenching the south coast. Regular ground swells and sun-soaked days make it a haven for surfers of all abilities. 

Main Point is the best spot for advanced surfers, while a little further north, Whiskey Point is great for intermediates, and south of Main Point, Peanut Farm is the best place for beginners.


14. Weligama, Sri Lanka

For beginners to the sport, Weligama on Sri Lanka’s southern coast offers the ideal conditions. The large horseshoe bay, the biggest in southern Sri Lanka, is protected from the biggest swells and provides smooth waves that are perfect for learners. 

The east of the bay is a quiet area where novices can perfect their pop-up in the whitewash before moving on to try their hand at catching green waves in the centre. It’s here that you will find most of the surf schools and the busiest line up, but you can usually find a quieter spot if you head slightly further west. 

Weligama also caters for intermediates with the reef break at Fisherman’s Bay on the southwestern tip. The town is great for joining a surf camp – these cater to all budgets. For great value, a social atmosphere and friendly local guides, head for The Surfer.


15. Hiriketiya, Sri Lanka

For a change of pace from buzzing Weligama, head to laidback Hiriketiya, an hour further east along the coast. A true surfer’s paradise, the beach offers two breaks, a beach break and reef break, as well as waves for most of the year. 

Surfer in Hiriketiya, Sri Lanka
Hiriketiya is growing in popularity among surfers.

Once a hidden gem, this chilled-out spot is becoming increasingly popular and is a great place for both beginner and intermediate surfers alike. From the sand-bottomed waves that roll into the west of the bay (best from December-February) to the fast left-hander in the east (best from August-December), Hiriketiya won’t disappoint! 


16. Jialeshui, Taiwan

  • Location: Pingtung County
  • Surfing season: November-March 
  • Required skill level: Intermediate to advanced
  • Recommended accommodation: Tapeng Bay Holiday Hotel

Taiwan is one of the least crowded surf destinations in Asia and a great place to catch some waves for those seeking relatively empty line ups. Jialeshui, which means ‘water falling from high ground’ owing to the nearby waterfall, is a hallowed spot in the Taiwan surfing community. 

The surf vibe is strong here with plenty of surf shops and surfers from around the globe. Surrounded by forested mountains, this is one of the country’s more beautiful beaches and it feels a world away from the other heavily developed and commercialised areas nearby. Longboards are great for catching the long rides on offer here, and the bigger swells can produce barrels for more advanced surfers too.


17. Donghe, Taiwan

The swell in Taitung provides fast waves and clear waters. It’s also beginning to make a name for itself on the international scene. Taiwan has been dubbed the ‘new Hawaii’ thanks to its burgeoning surf culture and Donghe is one of the best spots in the country to ride the waves. It has played host to international competitions including the World Longboard Championships and the Taiwan Open of Surfing. 

The fact that Donghe is less easily accessible than some other spots means it retains a laidback vibe and fewer crowds. Check out YOLO Surf House, a hostel offering surf lessons run by a friendly local couple keen to share their love of their culture and surf.


18. Bang Tao Beach, Thailand

Surfing in Thailand is becoming increasingly popular, and although it may not offer the thrills and consistent waves of some other countries in Asia, it can provide fun, rideable waves, all with the benefit of being located in one of the region’s most budget-friendly destinations. 

Surfing in Thailand
With beaches like that, it is easy to see why people want to surf in Thailand!

Bang Tao on Phuket is a 8km stretch of white sandy beach blessed with waves suitable for beginners to intermediates. The southern end of the beach is the perfect spot for learners as the headland protects this part of the bay from the biggest swells, which can reach up to 3m on good days. 

This end of the beach is also where the more cheap accommodation can be found. The middle of the bay is more exposed and offers bigger, but unpredictable, waves.


19. Aow Yai Beach, Thailand

  • Location: Koh Phayam
  • Surfing season: November-March 
  • Required skill level: Beginner to intermediate
  • Recommended accommodation: Bamboo Bungalows | Phayam Surfers

One of Thailand’s best-kept secrets, Koh Phayam is a small island just off the country’s northern Andaman coast. Its west-facing bay Aow Yai, or Long Beach, opens out onto the Indian Ocean and receives some of the best swells in Thailand. The beach break here is a safe spot and perfect for learners. 

The dry season brings small but clean and rideable waves suitable for beginners and intermediate surfers. The monsoon season (May-October) brings bigger waves, although they can be unpredictable and inconsistent. The dazzling sunsets, pristine beach and mellow line ups make Aow Yai well worth the effort it takes to get there. 

Phayam Surfers offers lessons and Bamboo Bungalows have a good range of rental boards at decent prices.


20. Bai Dai Beach, Vietnam

Nha Trang is the most popular beach destination in Vietnam and doubles up as a playground for Vietnam’s most glamorous holidaymakers, drawing a young, hip and stylish crowd. At around 15km long, Bai Dai is the longest stretch of beach in the country offering plenty of space for surfers to share the waves here. 

Surfboards
Surfing in Vietnam is growing in popularity.

With sandy-bottomed beach breaks, Bai Dai is a great spot for beginners and lessons and board rentals are on offer here, including by The Shack Surf School. Dangerous rip currents can occur here, so be aware and take notice of local warning signs.


21. Nam O Point, Vietnam

The surf in Da Nang was made famous in the movie Apocalypse Now which depicted American GIs riding the waves at My Khe Beach, nicknamed China Beach by the soldiers. 

Just north of My Khe is Nam O Point. With reliable surf and good wave quality, it’s one of Vietnam’s most popular surfing spots. A point break with long left hand rides, and strong rip currents, it should be tackled by experienced surfers only.


Surfing in Asia is as thrilling as it is varied. The countless amazing surf spots across the continent each have their own unique character, offering something for everyone. 

Whether you want to experience the empty line ups and up-and-coming surf scene in places like India or Taiwan, or surf all day and party all night in Bali’s lively hotspots, there will be a vibe to suit you. 

Not only does Asia have a wealth of waves for all surfing abilities but its geography means that there is great surf to be found all year round. The only problem is choosing which spot to visit first!

Where is your favourite place to surf in Asia? Let us know in the comments!

Lisa Barham author pic
Lisa Barham

Having always dreamt of travelling the world, Lisa finally decided to follow that dream in her mid-thirties when she left her nine-to-five in London for life on the road. After trekking to Everest Base Camp in Nepal and learning to surf in Sri Lanka, she headed for wondrous Southeast Asia, where she can currently be found solo backpacking, navigating through life and unfamiliar streets.

Follow her on: Instagram

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