What do I have in common with Alana Blanchard and Nicky Van Dijk?
Alana Blanchard, Nicky Van Dijk and myself have all surfed and stayed at Aura Surf Resort.
The surf resort is in Simeulue an island paradise in Northern Sumatra, Indonesia.
My trip to Aura was a last minute escape from Bali. I was recommended to stay with Aura Surf Resort; however the hotel was booked 3 months in advance. Luckily, the owner of the resort was nice enough to give up his own bungalow enabling me to receive some well-needed peace and quiet away from the commotion that is the city of Bali. I had no idea what to expect traveling to this supposedly remote island… little did I know I would be in for a complete cultural immersion unlike anything I had experience previously in my travels.
Aura Surf Resort is considered one of surfing’s “last frontiers” because of the island’s largely unexplored seclusion and the island of Simeulue itself is largely unaffected by western civilization which keeps the feel when visiting very exclusive to a New Yorker.
“Looks like this is going to be a private jet for you only”, said the Susi Air representative while ushering me onto the plane. The next thing I know, I’m being zipped around by the pilots in my jet in the clouds- it seems I had been given a privileged “air show”- just me, myself, and my board!
Upon landing in Simeulue, I couldn’t believe what I saw, the scenery reminded me of something out of the Jurassic Park franchise: lush, plentiful flora and fauna in the foreground; rows of misty, green mountains in the background; pockets of villages here and there with handmade wooden houses scattered about; and dozens of happy villagers sitting in front of their homes chatting and waving to me as we drove by. It was pretty cool to be in a place where time seemed to stand still, a place where Muslim and Aboriginal culture blended so harmoniously. This was a fantastic vacation already!
A few minutes later we drove onto the site of Aura Surf Resort. Immediately I saw the ocean. It seemed to beckon at me from every vantage point. It was crazy how the preserved authenticity of Aura was completely symmetrical to the island’s preserved beauty– no gimmicks here! Sustainable architecture combined with an atmosphere of comfort came in a rush of abundance at Aura Surf Resort. Aura provided a multitude of amenities during my stay and I noticed total care was taken to make sure with the resort catered to both surfers and non-surfing vacationers alike.
After I had a chance to take in the fresh ocean air, I was shown to my private bungalow. I instantly noticed all of the bungalows are on high risers so they are both bug and flood proof. The bungalows themselves are constructed out of native materials- mostly wooden and bamboo- and each group of guests that come to stay at Aura get their very own bungalow to themselves, complete with a fantastic view of the sea.
After a morning of some salty surf, choices of authentic Indonesian meals are prepared and enjoyed at a communal bungalow. In the common area of the bungalow there is a television along with a kitchen for those budget-friendly vacationers to be able to prepare their own food items. In addition, there is also a separate bungalow just for recreational use. The rec bungalow includes a ping-pong table, a look-out deck with a view of the best surf break on the island, and a private stretch of the beach outside with chairs for resort guests. The best thing about Aura Surf Resort is that everything is simple and sustainable, keeping the environment in mind.
Surfing is the number one reason most tourists travel to Simeulue. During the dry season from April to October, 6’ to 8’ waves are a norm. Wet season is smaller and fun as well.
We mostly surfed right out front of Aura Surf Resort. There are beautiful A-frame wave breaks with perfect lefts and rights for either type of surfer. There were also other world class surf breaks nearby, available either by car or the Aura’s private boat.
During my stay, Alana Blanchard and Nicky Van Dijk visited a local waterfall for a GoPro promotional event. The secluded waterfall is one of the more popular destinations for surfers who want to take a day off. When visiting Simeulue it’s easy to turn the day into an adventure with unforgettable snorkeling, fishing, hiking, golf, rainforest tours, and more. All of the staff at Aura is very helpful with setting guests up with all the activities there is to offer nearby. No matter what you choose, everything is magical and you can expect the experience of a lifetime far from the stress of everyday on remote Simeulue.
When I visited there was an 8-10 foot swell but because a couple of the people I traveled with were weary of braving surf so epic right in front of Aura Surf Resort, we chose to pass on the advanced-level wave. Instead we traveled to a nearby village to surf a smaller, but perfect, world-class reef break. Most of the locals can speak English pretty well from working in the hospitality industry. Even the Indonesian villagers who don’t work on the resorts can easily communicate with a smile and some broken English. I found the locals to be very curious about where I was from overall, consistently engaging me in conversation. Everyone on the island is extremely friendly and open in this way… and the children are no exception. They are very talkative and curious to learn about the world outside of the island, not held back by their inability to speak fluent English.
Foreigners at Sumatra come from all over the world. It was understood among us travelers that we were all a bunch of free spirits, given this once in a lifetime chance to meet on this enchanted island. At night you can often come to expect after a day of surf that groups of expats, tourists and locals all come together to exchange stories while watching the Simeulue sunset go down every evening. There was a strong sense of community felt with everything we did that made the journey unforgettable.
Surfer or not, Simeulue offers peace, adventure, and culture that we rarely find in our colonized, westernized world. I encourage anyone looking for an amazing adventure to escape to Simeulue for their holiday and stay with Aura Surf Resort!
Weather in Simeulue is 75-90 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the year. The ocean water temperature stays an average of 82 degrees. Indonesia has a wet and dry season like most tropical countries. However, according to Aura Surf Resort, Simeulue is located in the doldrums which means winds are light and variable. Also there is no real wet and dry season. Only November and December are the predominate stormy months. Outside of these months swell and weather is usually good. With the occasional storm that passes through within half an hour. From January to June, weather is generally great. July and August are a bit turbulent but with larger swells. September and October again have great conditions. Then November and December are larger chance of storms. The waves are generally good all season with weather variations.
Peaks season is in July and August- prime surf season.
Peak season is April to October – prime surf window
Flying into small Indonesian Islands can be fun. Airlines such as Susi Air are pretty typical and usually you’re flown in a private jet with approximately 10 seats. You will need to pay extra if your luggage is over 10 kg, plus surfboards and your person will also be weighed, as the small jets all have strict weight capacities. Given that there are limited flights per day, it is the best to book all air transportation 2 or more months in advance. I booked my trip last minute and so extra fees were incurred that could’ve been avoided.
With sustainability in mind, Aura Surf Resort is an eco-friendly community where guests and staff live in a small village. Aura is the oldest, most experienced surf resort on the island and is located on a well-known surf beach with both left and right breaks. Other surf spots can be accessed in approximately 30 minutes via boat or shuttle.
Aura amenities available include: an on-site restaurant, special diet menus, fishing rod and tackle, snorkeling gear, surf guides, tour guiding of all types, and roundtrip airport shuttle service.
In addition, the resort offers several all-inclusive package deals along with several cuisine options for you to choose from. With a welcoming atmosphere, a range of activities to choose from (including ones not surf related), and an insane view all spent in a beautiful paradise– Aura Surf Resort will fit your every need.
Note that the island itself has a dress code which encompasses the resort. When walking outdoors and walking around the town and beach, women wear a sarong cover up and a t-shirt. When not in the water men also wear a t-shirt with their swim trunks.
There are also swimwear modesty requirements; therefore I encourage you to look online for more information before purchasing those sexy Brazilian bikinis ☺
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