The truth straight from Nias! Well, I’ve got your attention, but the truth?! The truth is, no one really knows what’s going on here! So all I can tell you is how it looks here right now, and the rumors I heard from (as far as this goes) reliable local people.
So first things first. Relax! From what it looks like, it’s not as bad as it might seem. When I came here a few days ago, the whole surf-related internet was foaming with fear and anger! But I couldn’t find any real information about what’s going on in Nias right now? Only the talk of a street on top of the reef, and the destruction of the wave.
Yes, it is weird to be laying in the hammock on the balcony, where I’ve spent many hours before. But this time not only listening to the calming sound of the ocean but heavy tools and trucks. It looks like they are building “land” over the reef just in front of the kiddie corner. And this will go all the way up to the keyhole area. And yes, coming back to shore with a descend swell and high tide is already more annoying than before. So this point is definitely true. And if they finish a promenade all along the way, as I heard they will, I guess coming out will get even worse. But then again, how many awesome waves have a less than perfect access? If worst comes to worst, you can still paddle back to the keyhole, or go further down where the boats are anchored.
I highly doubt the promenade to create a backwash toward the wave, as there are still so many meters of half-dry reef between the new land and the wave. I guess we can relax a little, and hope for the best. (That it won’t change the wave at all.) I’m not an engineer or a developer, but I don’t think it will change it.
The thing about the concrete blocks in true too (cover picture). And what they will be for? No idea. I just really hope they don’t come up with the stupid idea of placing them further out on the reef, as wave breaker to protect the new street/ promenade! This could have a serious effect. But as the want to make Sorake more ”beautiful” and more tourist-friendly, I don’t think they would dump something so terrible looking right in the view? But never know, it’s Indo!
Cement over the reef
The thing about concrete all over the reef? I wouldn’t say so. It’s been raining a lot, and all the rivers wash out a lot of mud at the moment. So the water along the coast has funny colors in many places. But I guess what is going on here is, that they try to fill up the reef with a lot of limestone pieces, and as it rains and the high tide pushes up, it washes them and brings brown water back out. I really wouldn’t say concrete all over the reef. But then again, I’m not an expert. Just someone who happens to be here and trying to share what I see and hear with everyone who is as curious about the situation as I was.
Some people say the brownish water will be a thing to deal with for quite some time, as the limestone takes a few years before they stop coloring the water. But that’s something I’ve heard and don’t know if it’s true.
What I also heard is, that the president of Indonesia will come to Sorake during the WSL QS competition in September. This makes the constructors work in a here unknown efficiency, and they will make things look done by the time he is here. The president comes to witness the surf-tourism in his country, and the possibilities to promote surfing outside of Bali. The Surf competition will be part of a bigger “Beach Festival” here in Nias, with Beach Volleyball and whatever else could be mixed in with a surf comp in Indo.
And most exciting, the opening of the Airport 10 minutes away from here!
They had the runway here for a long time, and there was always talking about opening a domestic airport this side of Nias! No more 3 hours in a car from the airport in Gunung Sitoli to the wave in Lagundri Bay! Some say there will be flights from Jakarta or even Bali. I don’t think they will open an Airport on this side of the island this September, and probably no flights from Jakarta! And if they would open it, I think it would be one for small planes like Susi Air. I guess this is just rumors at the moment. But once again… never know, it’s Indo!
The people who want to surf the wave here would be happy to spend only a couple of minutes in a car and not 3 hours. But whoever wanted to come here, came anyways. So I guess this won’t be that much of a difference for the number of people in the waver. It does get crazy crowded sometimes already (around 45 people in the water a few days ago!). Maybe people would come for a shorter stay if coming here becomes easier. But as the alternatives for other surf breaks are really scarce here, I don’t think it would become another Kuta Lombok. And if a lot of local tourists come, who want to have a look at the world famous Lagundri Bay, and the Bule surfing it, it wouldn’t change much for us, who come for the wave. Maybe you would have to take a few pictures with them every time you hit the water. That’s it.
It would (or will) bring Indonesian tourists who are interested in things like Zip-lining and taking selfies in beautiful locations. And this could be, in the best case, a business possibility for the people of South Nias, who are not lucky enough to live right at the water’s edge of this world class wave.
I have heard about plans of Sumatra tourism to push new surfing destinations for a couple of years already. They understood their waves as resources and try to make something out of it.
A few years ago, they implied a Surf Tax in the Mentawais. Sure, no one liked it, but at the same time, no one stays away because of an extra 70$ per trip.
They push surf tourism in Krui, South Sumatra, and had a great competition there earlier this year. And they are looking for new places along the coast. But maybe they gave up on the “mapping” of new surf destinations, as they call it. Maybe they found it easier to push and expand places that are already well known in the surfing world? I don’t know. And finding someone who does know is not easy.
So I guess all we can do is to lean back, relax, buy another coconut from the coconut-mafia, keep surfing the wave that hopefully and most probably won’t be affected by the constructions, and tell the people in our hotel, who are here for the first time, how much better the waves in Nias used to be before they started the construction! Just as we do everywhere else…