Weather in Indonesia can be divided in two seasons. Having a tropical climate, the seasons have the amount of rain as the major difference, with temperatures averaging 28°C during the day, throughout the year. The dry season goes from May until September, and the wet season between October until April.
There are some regional exceptions though. For example, in the north, regions such as Sumatra, where it rains more between October and January. In the southern regions, it starts raining heavier a little later, from November to February.
But generally speaking, the best time of year to visit Indonesia, as a regular tourist at least, is between May and September with less rain, sunny days and offshore winds on the west coast.
However, the wet season still offers high temperatures and rainfall is intense with downpours that “religiously” last everyday for a couple of hours. This means that travelling to Indonesia is possible all year round.
Also, in some regions you will not notice much of a difference between the two seasons. For example in Bali, where most surfers travel to, there’s not much difference between the seasons. For surfers, it's important to know that the major differences will be in terms of wind and swell patterns which means you will have better surf conditions in the East during the wet season and vice versa.
But you should also know that as you travel east, for example to the Nusa Tenggara region, where you can find plenty of surfing in the islands of Lombok, there are greater chances of flooding during the wet season, and, on the other hand, the dry season is really dry.
During the wet season you should prepare for some mud and dirt in the roads so driving can be tougher at least if your plans are to find some more remote surf spots. During the wet season some islands can also have less accessibility due to rougher seas. You should check with our team the boats on offer and if they will make it to specific islands you may wish to surf.
Some of our clients also plan to do some snorkelling and during the wet season you may end up being stuck to lower sea visibility. Also if you would like to combine surfing with climbing, then this outdoor activity is not recommended during the raining season. For instance, if you want to climb the Bromo Volcano on the Java Island then you should try doing it between April and September.
Some say that July is the best month during Bali’s dry season that goes from April to September, with blue skies, sunshine most days and offshore winds on the west coast.
But if you want to travel to Bali, then you should also try to avoid the months when Bali is crowded. Believe us, the crowds in the line ups are sometimes hectic and the surf experience is not as good.
The months of May, June and September are probably your best options if you’re well experienced and want to charge the most popular reefs. These are the months also when there’s good weather conditions and tourists are still not at their highest.
But travelling to Bali during the wet season, between October and March, is not necessarily that bad since the monsoonal downpours occur daily for a few hours but you can still get great surf. Keramas, for instance, is a popular surf spot that works well during the wet season as it has offshore winds (and plenty of barrels too!).
The wind patterns also switch between the dry and the wet seasons, so if you’re travelling to Bali during the wet season, then the east coast will offer better conditions, however the most popular surf spots such as Padang Padang and Uluwatu on the west coast will work much better during the dry season.
Apart from the lower crowds, the wet season, November to March, also means that you’ll get less warmer days which, trust us, can be good. If you’re more into right hander waves, then also the wet season will also be more suitable for you as the swell and offshore winds will be more generous on the Eastern surf spots.
Sumatra is a large island divided by the equator and within Sumatra’s region you can get slightly different weather patterns mainly with the North experiencing a more tropical climate with rain all year round; though the rainfall gets higher levels between October and January.
On the south of Sumatra you could experience a more clear difference between the wet and dry season. The drier weather occurs between April and October and wet season from November to March.
Like Bali, the main surf season in Sumatra runs between April and October with swells up to 4 meters high. This is also the time of the year when winds with SSW direction hit the coast producing ideal offshore winds. Nevertheless, the "Off season", between November until March, is rarely flat with swells up to 2 meters high.
In Indonesia, the wet season is known also as the “off season”. During this time of the year you'll have lower tourism crowds which means surf spots are much less busy than what you’ll find during the drier months.
Most people will get alarmed with the Southeast Asian monsoons and in fact this season can bring some hurdles. So what should you know about the Wet Season?
Our best tips would be to stay closer to the major centres where there are regular transports and an overall urban planning. This means that, as long as you stay surfing in those surf spots easier to reach, it should be fine. For example, during the wet season you should avoid the charter boats to the secluded and more remote surf spots far from the major cities. Surfing in the Mentawai Islands or Northern parts of Sumatra during the Wet Season may not be reasonable during this time of the year.
If you’re lucky, you might get away with some days without any rain at all.