You like surfing uncrowded waves, love good food and don’t mind basic accommodation? If so, you should definitely consider a surftrip to south Sumatra and stay at the Paradise Surfcamp Krui.
How to get to Paradise Surfcamp in Krui, South Sumatra
There are different ways to get to Krui in South Sumatra – but the fastest is to take a flight to Bandar Lampung and get a Taxi (organized by the surf camp) to Krui, which is more or less on the other side of Sumatra. The taxi ride takes up to 7 hours, time depends on how crazy the taxi driver is – he might get you to Krui in about 4.5 hours.
Alternatively you could take a bus from Jakarta that takes you right to Krui – within a day or two. We didn’t check that one because it seemed like a lot of hassle and finally we just wanted to go surfing.
What are the Paradise Surfcamp bungalows like?
To describe the bungalows shortly – The accommodation was pretty basic but good. By now most of the bungalows will have a private bathroom and shower. All of them do have a mosquito net and a proper fan.
Interestingly we didn’t bother using the mosquito net. At first we’ve been afraid since you read a lot about Malaria and other diseases spread by mosquitos – luckily there seem to be almost none of them sticking around Krui or at least not at the Paradise Surf Camp Krui.
The shower had a strong water stream and the water was cool. Electricity was working almost always.
The restaurant / hangout area is quite big, includes a pool table and a ping pong table. There is a super slow USB Dongle for internet available. Best to be used during the night or really early in the morning. Even early in the morning it takes minutes to load websites, but it works just fine for downloading your mails.
The Paradise Surfcamp built a wave lookout. Unfortunately it wasn’t open during the time we’ve been there, which is a pity because from up there it’d be way easyer to check the local wave ujung bocur. In the shade of the lookout are hammocks and sunloungers.
But to be honest, what made the surfcamp a truly good experience wasn’t the infrastructure but the people.
There are more luxurious accommodations available further up, a little bit closer to the reef break. But you might easily end up paying double without getting that much more. And for sure you won’t get the atmosphere of the Paradise Surfcamp. It’s probably the first surfcamp I regularly saw crew and clients crying when they had to leave this southern Sumatran pearl. Those people really make you feel as if you were part of the family, as if you belong to this surfcamp. Warmest, nicest place ever. Even if the surf wasn’t epic (but it was!) I would go back. And not just the crew around Widi, also all the surfers and other guests of the Surfcamp seemed to fit in perfectly – one big family. We have been (or in case of Bea worked) in a lot of surfcamps – but something like that none of us ever experienced before.
How is the food at the paradise surfcamp?
Included in the surfcamp fee is full board. Freshly cooked breakfast, lunch and dinner with ingredients from local sources such as the Krui market or the local fishermen. You get breakfast anytime between when you get up, even if it is 6am, until just 30 minutes before dinner. You can’t choose what you get, but normally it is some sort of egg or pancake, together with a milkshake or juice. Lunch and Dinner are varying a lot and are almost always amazing. They do invest quite some time to get some variation into the meals. For example, I’ve heard it is quite a hassle to get potatos and still we got it at least three times during the week we’ve been staying at the Paradise Surfcamp. Often you got fresh fish deliciously grilled by the Sumatran surfcamp crew. Healthy food a surfer needs.
Next to the included meals you can buy beer, coke, pocari sweat and water at the camp “store”. Since they trust you, you are allowed to just grab the drinks you need and note it on the whiteboard.
The food was always delicous and really tasty – not like in other surfcamps where you get westernized, not spicy and heartless food.
We liked that we didn’t need to head out to restaurants or warungs for lunch or dinner. It is just so easy if everything you have to care about is surfing uncrowded waves and everything else is taken care of by the surfcamp.
The surf in Southern Summatra
Ujung Bocur (Karang Nyimbor) is the main break and just in front of the Paradise Surfcamp. The wave can get bloody shallow and reef cuts are not that rare. One of the longest waves around. Can get up to 200m and longer. Which it does quite often. When high tide, the wave breaks a bit slower, on mid to low tide the first peak tends to barrel a lot, especially early in the morning when there is no wind. Obviously one of the most crowded waves in the region due to its location near to all the surfcamps. If you get up early you will still surf for your own. We counted almost 50 surfers on the most crowded day. When other spots don’t have swell, this spot still works.
Crazy big wave spot that always picks up swell, too. Seems to be a bit more fickle to wind and is definetly no option for intermediates like us. Heavy, shallow, steep and fast. But amazing barrels if you got the skills.
When Ujung Bocur is too big, take a bike and ride 30 minutes up the coast until you get to Krui. When you see the first supermarket (I think it was Indomaret) take the small street down to the beach. From there you are able to check Krui Left and little further up the coast, Krui Right. The Krui Left surfspot needs some swell to work. As it seems to be with most of the spots in South Sumatra it is quite shallow – bring your booties. Can barrel and get quite long as well. Normally less crowded than Ujung Bocur. Don’t bring anything valuable. The local kids will break your bike open.
This spot never worked during our time at the Paradise Surfcamp. Supposed to work trough all tides as soon as there is a bigger swell. You don’t want to surf there after heavy rain due to polluted river.
Jimmy’s and Jenny’s
We haven’t been that much up the coast. It’s at least 1 hour north of the surfcamp but we’ve heard good things about both breaks. Ask Widi about the camp options up there. The waves are supposed to work even with a tiny bit of swell but tend to barrel when it gets bigger. There are 1-2 surfcamps up there that are worth considering. It is just too far away for a daytrip – especially with the bike. And if you stay there and get up at sunrise, you will be able to surf the wave of your choice for yourself at least for one hour, until the surfers from Krui show up.
When Ujung Bocur is small and has side shore winds, head down to the Mandiri Beachbreak. The beachbreak seems to have a couple of great working sandbanks but is very fickle to wind. During our stay quite a lot of people got barreled in this beachbreak. And even of it is not that steep, the break still provides long shoulders and a lot of fun. Tends to close out on low tide, tough.
Staff at Paradise Surfcamp Krui
Like mentioned before. We never felt more at home than in this Southern Sumatran Pearl. Paradise Surfcamp really makes you feel like you belong there. Everyone is joking around, happy, smiling the whole time and caring. Additionally, they employed a local legend as night watch. He’s nickname is no less than ‘chuck norris’. Everybody up to Krui seems to know that guy. I’m sure there will be no theft at this camp even if there where a couple of thieves wandering around during the night. Nobody want’s to mess with Chuck Norris!
Conclusion Paradise Surfcamp Southern Summatra Review
For US$25 per person you get a basic bungalow with bathroom , full board and unlimited coffee and tea. The food is amazing and you never will think about eating at some place else. But what makes this place really special and worth staying for a while are the people. We both lost a bit of our heart to this place and we will come back for sure.
As for the surf and recommending it to friends, the two of us were probably the worst surfers in every lineup and most of the waves are shallow as hell – therefore Sumatra might not be the place for a regular swiss surfer. The level of surfing is quite high and the waves are good if not amazing BUT challenging. Reef cuts on shoulder, legs or the back were rather the rule than the exception. Still we don’t understand why southern Sumatra hasn’t a bigger surf tourism yet. It seems as albeit the Mentawai Islands draw huge attention and crowds to Sumatra, the mainland gets forgotten. To conclude it: We recommend every intermediate to good surfer that can’t stand the crowds in Bali anymore to visit the Paradise Surfcamp in Krui, Southern Sumatra.