Pulau Nias Travel Guide

This island off the west coast of Sumatra is part of an Indonesian archipelago that enjoys big waves in season. Most of the island’s visitors are itinerant surfers though there are a few cultural attractions for the mainstream tourist.

The best place for surfers on Pulau Nias is a small town called Teluk Dalam. The waves that roll in here are consistently high, especially in the peak months of June and July. Beaches on the bay can be crowded at this time though there are plenty of isolated spots within a short drive of the town center.

Away from the surfing scene, Pulau Nias indigenous culture is fascinating. There are many festivals throughout the year with activities like stone jumping and dancing. To learn more about the Nias culture, visit the Museum Pusaka Nias in Gunungsitoli.

The 2004 tsunami took a heavy toll on Pulau Nias and was followed by a major earthquake less than a year later. Tourist numbers have dropped off and even the surfing scene isn’t what it once was. The upshot is a beautiful travel destination with plenty of infrastructure and few crowds.

Getting There & Away

The easiest way onto Pulau Nias is to first fly into Medan’s international airport from Jakarta (2 hours, 15 minutes) or elsewhere in Southeast Asia and then catch a connecting flight to Binaka airstrip on Pulau Nias. Service to this facility is erratic at best, but this is by far the most convenient means of arrival. Otherwise, there are slow ferries from mainland Sumatra as well as Jakarta.