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SUMMARY
+ Regular N monsoon swell
+ Quality, mid-sized waves
+ Calm winds, small tides
+ Totally virgin surf area
+ Super scenic and wild
- Short surf season
- Long distances between spots
- Lack of reliable local transport
- Lack of organised boat trips
- Civil unrest & seismic activity
oneill



Northern Maluku, Indonesia, EAST ASIA


Serenade, John Callahan/Tropicalpix

Surf Spots

Tobelo Islands
Pulau Kecil
Indo Jiwa
Village Reform
Serenade
Short Ledge
Tanjung Padang
Tacos
Nachos
Heavy's
Double Dome
Coconut Swing
Sidewalk
Racing Lefts
Paniki Point
Sama Sama's

The Surf

The original Spice Islands, the Maluku (Moluccas or Molluques are alternative names) are part of the easternmost archipelago of Indonesia, and the only Indonesian island chain in the Pacific. The Magallenes expedition, which took a ton of spices back to Spain in 1521, first put Maluku on the map. Despite waves as good as the Philippines, these islands remain largely ignored by travelling surfers. Occasional forays into the region by boat have revealed an outstanding variety of breaks, most of which go unsurfed.



When to Go

Although the NW Pacific typhoon season must give rise to some epic days, it's much safer to hit these islands at the heart of the North Monsoon season (Nov-March) for maximum consistency. Sept-Oct is the ideal time of year for a low latitude typhoon developing off Mindanao, Philippines. During winter NE monsoons, the usual size is 3-6ft (1-2m) of wind-driven waves, with potential for bigger days at the more exposed spots. Wind patterns at this equatorial “doldrums” latitude are very light and variable and glassy days are the norm, apart from the frequent rainy squalls. Some offshore ENE winds do occur, shifting NNW if the sun is shining. Transition months of April-May and September-October are usually calm with light winds but hardly any swell. The question of whether the Maluku straight produce SW windswell from July to Sept is yet to be answered. Tidal range varies up to 3ft (0.9m), and affects the shallowest spots.

SURF STATISTICS
J
F
M
A
M
J
J
A
S
O
N
D
dominant swell N -NE N -NE NE -E NE -E NE -E N -NE
swell size (ft) 4-5 2-3 0-1 1-2 2-3 4
consistency (%) 90 60 10 20 40 80
dominant wind N -NE N -NE S -SW S -SW S -SW NW -NE
average force F3 F3 F2-F3 F3 F3 F2-F3
consistency (%) 65 54 40 66 49 48
water temp (C) 28 28 29 28 28 29
wetsuit boardshorts boardshorts boardshorts boardshorts boardshorts boardshorts
Population
2.1M

Coastline
54,716km

Timezone
GMT + 8

Travel Information

Weather

With a thousand odd islands, the climate in Maluku is heavily influenced by the monsoon trends, elevation, proximity to volcanoes, and coastal exposure. The weather varies from one island to another. However, humidity is the rule with over 2.5m (100in) of rain a year. Usually, north of the Equator, Nov-March NE monsoon clears up the skies while April-Oct SW monsoon brings downpours. Wind squalls are frequent and thunderstorm activity is amongst the highest on earth. Transition months like October or April are characterised by heavy rainfall as well. Fortunately, the surf season is somewhat clearer. Daytime temperature variation is small; expect it to be hot and humid year-round. Water is amongst the warmest on earth, at 29°C (84ºF).

Nature

Apart from old rusty jeeps and remnants of WW2, there is not much on Morotai except thick jungle. In 1988, most of the rusted remnants were removed. Underwater, there remain sunken ships and bombed planes for divers to visit. Halmahera has more WW2 evidence, and Ternate and Tidore are popular sightseeing spots.

Hazards

This is a virgin area with a really low population. For the rare traveller opting for land access, be aware, malaria is present and humidity levels are high.

Hints

Take at least 2 everyday boards and a semi-gun in case of a bigger swell. A longboard opens up a variety of long, fast, peeling waves. The water is extremely warm, so pack plenty of wax.