In Travel

The Ultimate Guide To Surfing Lakey Peak In Indonesia

While Bali is about beach clubs and Bintangs, Lakey Peak on the south island of Sumbawa is altogether more mellow. Although the Indonesian village is by no means a secret spot, you need to have a bit of an adventurous spirit to visit.

Booked and keen to know the best surf breaks? Read on.

For adventurous beginners: Lakey Peak Beach Break

Image: Lakey Peak Beach Break / Carla Grossetti

Pick up a Rip Curl Tide Chart from Ishaka ‘Onkey’ Samsudin at Fatmahs restaurant before you paddle out to the placid beach break that comes rolling toward shore in the lagoon when there’s a large swell running. Beginners sit astride their boards here, watching the precarious crest of the wave break at Lakey Peak and waiting for the ripple effect, like a stone thrown into a pond.

Wait for high tide, when the sea slips on its ruffled skirt, and paddle furiously alongside local kids who make it look easy and will hoot and holler you onto waves. Those tempted to catch a few waves should time their entry into the water wisely as bobbing around in the pebbled shore break when the tide is running low can feel like being in a blender.

Image: Doughnuts on the promenade / Carla Grossetti

Where to eat: Wander along the promenade that slices between the surf camp and the sea and you will pass women selling doughnuts, bananas and fresh papaya. Stock up on snacks as there is not a lot of variety at the restaurants. You can also stop off at Pasar Induk Dompu market to pick up fruit and vegetable supplies on the way to Lakey Peak.

Where to stay: Lucky Lakey Surf House, which boasts one of the best views of the main break.

For gutsy learners: Nungas

Nungas is the most user-friendly wave for learners: it comprises lefts that you can take on the shoulder and ride into deep water so you don’t risk getting sets on the head and washed across the coral reef. It’s about a 15-minute walk from Lakey Peak along a pot-holed promenade dotted with cabanas where you will almost certainly be overtaken by men with knotted hair riding mopeds.

While the surfers dodge and weave around the small children and mangy dogs on the pock-marked path toward Nungas, farm workers can be seen processing their crops with colour-coded tarpaulins on either side. With Nungas, the rule of thumb is ‘the bigger the better’.

“It’s a very forgiving wave and it’s great for goofy footers,” says Onkey. “Nungas is my favourite wave because you can beat the crowds and it’s a longer ride,” he says.

Image: Ali’s Bar / Carla Grossetti

Where to eat: The fish is fresh, the beer is cold and happy hour is at Ali’s Bar from 4pm to 6 pm each day. Chef Ali trained in Darwin and his English is great. So are his spring rolls.

Where to stay: Rock Pool Home Stay is located on Nunga’s Beach and the surf is just metres from the front door. Ali’s Bar is attached to the accommodation.

For intermediates: Periscopes

Image: Rhonin Henry Micale surfing Periscopes / Carla Grossetti

Periscopes is an apt name for this long, hollow cylinder of a wave. Australian Indigenous Surfing Champion Rhonin Henry Micale recently visited Lakey Peak where he dominated this wave, which he described as being very similar to Aussie Pipe, the all-time classic reef break near Booderee National Park, the unofficial home of indigenous surfing in Australia.

The emerald wave is very photogenic when it curls overhead and best suits a natural barrel rider as it’s very challenging on the backhand. The wave works best at 4-5ft and is too big to surf when it’s over 6ft and the big smokers start roaring in. To observe this wave, which is otherwise out of sight, you need a periscope as there are no webcams mounted in the palm trees.

Image: Breakfast Bowl at Fatmahs / Carla Grossetti

Where to eat: Start the day with an espresso at Balumba followed by a brekkie granola bowl or omelette at Fatmahs Restaurant. Ishaka ‘Onkey’ Samsudin is the manager and a regular in the surfing line-up.

Where to stay: Lakey Peak has an interchangeable population of bronzed surfers. Most of them stay here at the Balumba Hotel Lakey Peak which can be party central for those in the mood. If you have any dinged-up boards donate them to Spanish expat Carlos Ferrandiz who loans them out to local children through his NGO, the Harapan Project.

For intermediates: Cobblestones

Image: Cobblestones / Carla Grossetti

Cobblestones is a great option for those who want to avoid the hustle at Lakey Peak, where the crowds can be quite parochial. Walk for 45 minutes or pay a local fisherman to run you out the channel to Cobblestones where, when it’s working, you will find nice walled-up rights and lefts barrelling into the channel. It’s a high-tide wave and is only manageable on a small swell, says Onkey.

Cobblestones comprises super-fun lefts and rights and it works well up to two metres. It’s fairly consistent, but watch the rips as the tide is pulling out or you might be pulled back into the impact zone. It’s often called mini G-Land after the iconic wave in Plengkung Beach on Grajagan Bay, and sections start to connect on bigger swells offering rides of more than 200m.

Image: Secret Peak Villas / Carla Grossetti

Where to eat: It’s worth turning your back on the beach and mooching toward the main road for sashimi at Mamat’s. The low-key restaurant sources fresh fish daily and, if you want to save money by eating local, this is the place.

Where to stay: Secret Peak Villas is now open and it’s one of the more comfortable places to stay in Lakeys, which makes it popular with professional surfers such as Felipe Toledo who recently booked both villas.

For advanced surfers: Lakey Peak

lakey peak

Image: Isi Campbell surfing Lakey Peak / supplied

Spend a few weeks surfing Lakey Peak and you’ll leave all nuggety and triangular. The best thing to do here before and after a surf is to watch the sun inch up and down in the sky and the tide ebb and flow. Conditions are more favourable in the early morning so expect every surfer in camp to spill out of their villa for the dawn run.

Western Australian skateboarding and surfing star Isi Campbell recently surfed Lakey Peak for the first time when she visited with her parents. The 13-year-old paddled out into the almost exclusively male community of surfers on days when the cobalt waves were 8 to 10ft. Campbell was a standout in the line-up, jockeying against burly blokes for waves that she described as “incredible”. The elite surfer says she felt lucky to surf Lakey Peak in near-perfect conditions as “you can do airs, it breaks left and right, it’s a barrel wave … and you can pretty much practise all your turns”. The wave works best on a medium to mid-low tide.

Campbell says you have to have a bit of experience to surf Peak, as it can be critical when it’s over 6 to 8ft.

lakey peak

Image: Wreck Restaurant / Carla Grossetti

Where to eat: The Wreck sits atop a boat out of water and is one of the most popular places to eat in Lakey Peak. Herman, the manager, loves his Aussie hip-hop. Order the soto ayam (chicken noodle soup) with some Hilltop Hoods on the side.

Where to stay: Aman Gati Hotel is right on the main promenade overlooking Lakey Peak. This hotel also caters for local families, who mob the swimming pool on Sundays.

For those with a death wish: Lakey Pipe

Lakey Pipe is a barrelling left-hand wave that gets really shallow on the low tide. It’s also a dream come true for goofy-footed tube riders says local surfer, Onkey. Onkey advises taking off deep and then back-dooring the fast barrel section and making your way out to a long workable wall that takes you almost all the way into a lovely arc of beach.

“You have to be experienced to ride this wave. It’s not a long ride, but it’s a good ride and it is pretty much the best left-hand barrel you’re ever going to get,” says Onkey. “If you don’t know this wave, you can get pretty smashed up on the rocks and hit the reef,” he says. Best time to surf it is mid-to-high, then high-to-mid low on a SW swell when there’s a cushion of water between you and the reef.

Where to eat: Lakey Beach Inn run by Frenchman Rachel, who is married to local woman Nursanti. Rachel has lived in Lakey Peak for three decades and is sashimi is his restaurant’s signature dish.

Where to stay: Nunga’s Haven looks like it fell out of the pages of a Dr. Seuss storybook. The three-storey wooden house is managed by the sister of Indonesia’s No. 1 surfer, Oney Anwar who grew up in Lakey Peak, and returns home often. The rustic house is one of the most affordable places to stay for the surf obsessed if you don’t mind sharing it with a few geckoes.

(Lead image: Cobblestones / Carla Grossetti) 

Published 28 June, 2019