Pop Quiz: Did you know you can surf in Malaysia?
We’re all familiar with the images of Malaysia’s sandy white beaches and calm sea, but it’s a little known secret that Malaysia has some pretty decent waves for surfing. Malaysia’s small surfing community is still in its infancy as the water sport has only started to gain momentum over the past 10 years, but the community is growing rapidly from year to year. From a time when surfing seemed too exotic to us Malaysians, we have developed a pretty credible surf tourism market in Malaysia. Not only have we organised a handful of local surf competitions, surf spots like Cherating, Pulau Tioman, and Pantai Batu Burok now host International Surfing Competitions to the delight of surfer dudes everywhere. And believe you me, our kampung surf scene is starting to catch the attention of local and international surfers.
When To Surf
When the islands close its doors to the public and the divers retire, that’s when the surf boards hit the waves. The surf season on the East Coast usually starts from October/November to February/March. Typically the beaches on the East Coast becomes a no-entry danger zone during the monsoon season because of the relentless rain, angry winds and ferocious waves, but now it just means it’s a good day to go surfing.
On the west coast away from the monsoon, Langkawi’s surf season starts from April to October.
Where To Surf
The coastal areas on the East Coast of Malaysia have some pretty good shore-break and beach-break for a quick surfing fix. In Pahang, Cherating, is by far one of the most popular place to surf in Malaysia. In Johor, look out for Juara Beach in Pulau Tioman, Desaru and Tanjung Resang. Terengganu organises international surf competitions in Pantai Batu Burok and have about 15 other surf spots, including Kijal, along the coast from Kemaman to Besut. Langkawi has good surfing in Pantai Cenang and Pantai Tengah.
If you’re stuck in KL, Sunway Lagoon has all-year surfing with artificial waves. BUT, it’s really expensive and let’s be real, nothing beats being on a real beach.
These are the more popular spots but of course, if you have a chat with the local surfer dudes in these states, they might share with you secret surf spots that no one else goes but the local community.
How To Surf
There are numerous surf schools with overly tanned instructors in these surf locations that you can learn from. Unless it’s an isolated surf spot, you should be able to rent surfboards from some a surf school.
How’s The Waves
Let me be clear, this is not Bali and I would not recommend anyone to fly to Malaysia with the sole purpose of surfing. But it’s definitely a scene not to miss if you’re in the neighbourhood. The waves here are consistent, and are suitable for beginners, intermediate, advanced and longboard surfers. Also, a good place for beginners to learn surfing. The current is strong and can be irritating and tiring when you’re trying to get back to where the waves break, but if you push on through, you can get some good, long rides. This might not be Bali, but I’ve seen many a happy, beaming faces walking back to their hotel with their surfboards in hand after a good surf day.
Though big surf brands like Rip Curl, Billabong and Volcom have cashed in on this growing market, surfing is still a rather underrated sea sport amongst Malaysians. I’m super stoked to see how big it’ll rip in the next few years!
So if there is one thing new to learn this year, make it surfing. And you better hurry before the surf season ends Bruddah!