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Sumatra Indonesia

Sumatra is being touted as surfing's "Last Frontier'. This is a cliche that's applied to many remote areas that are just starting to open up, but in the case of surfing in Sumatra there is some validity. Travelling here is very difficult: there is a real risk of disease, and some of the outer islands you visit have changed little since the Stone Ages. At the same time, of all the new places being explored, the islands off Sumatra seem to be providing the best waves. Some of the breaks here are definitely going to wind up on the world famous list just as soon as the pioneers spill the beans on exactly where they are. Again, you rely on the captain of your cruise ship and count on the fact that his future depends on getting you to great waves, just as much as his future also de­pends on not letting anyone else know where they are. But wherever you go in Sumatra, no trip here is complete without a visit to the classic right-hand barrel at Lagundri Bay on the island of Nias.

Most well-travelled surfers regard The Point at Lagundri Bay as being the best right-hand barrel in the world. The bay faces directly south and picks up swells easily, so there's regular action right through the season. What makes The Point so special is the very steep angle of the reef shelf to the wave: it's almost at right angles, and the shelf itself is very narrow. This means the swell runs along very quickly, with just part of it getting flipped up into the break while the rest is powering along in deep water. The lip pitches incredibly to form a huge, round bar­rel one of the biggest you'll see anywhere and at the same time if you blow it you're going down in deep water. Lagundri can get swells of 5-6m, and some of the all-time great surfing photographs have been taken here. Get it before it gets too crowded.

Just offshore from Sumatra is a long string of islands called the Mentawas, that take the full force of most of the southern swells. These islands are inhabited by tribes of jungle dwellers whose customs have changed little in centu­ries, and very few Indo­nesians or foreigners have ventured here. There are no roads, rain forest still covers the islands and malaria is rampant. But the waves are extraordinary. If you prepared to put up with the hardships of cruis­ing through these is­lands, you can count on getting some of the best waves of your life and some of the best adventures.

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