Monday, April 25, 2011

Nias Island

Pulau Nias is 125km of the west coast of Sumatra and is the largest island off it's coast. Nias is 130km long and 45km wide, just smaller than Bali.

Legendary for surfing, this island once hosted a World Surfing Championship round. Reports are that the surfing is as good, if not better after the massive earthquake that caused the 2003 Tsunami. It's reported that vast sections of the reef have lifted 1m or more. Various sections which were submerged are now sticking out of the water. The surfing conditions are best between April and October.

The population is estimated to be around 500,000 people on Nias Island. The capital of Nias is Gunung Sitoli. The airport is located 19km from Gunung Sitoli and the sea port is 5km.
As Nias is difficult to get to it was cut off from Sumatra for several centuries, developing it's own distinctive culture. The Niassian people have an interesting history of animism and ancestor worship. "Rumah adat' - old stone carvings as well as monolithic free standing stones can be found around the central part of Nias island. Some of these date back to over 3000 years old, the oldest found in Indonesia. The village of Holi has an old 'big house' with pyramidal tombs commemerating the great ancestral chiefs.

Off the coast of Nias lie 2 other islands - Pulau Bawa and Pulau Aru. Pulau Bawa is excellent for surfing and can be accessed via the public ferry. It's a 2 hour ferry ride from Nias.

There is no public ferry to Pulau Aru but you can charter a boat from either Nias or Bawa. This island has some great left hand reef breaks.

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