A Rewarding Strike Mission to the Hinako Islands

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Searching for the perfect wave…

Each and every person’s definition of a “perfect” wave is different. Some desire a small rippable wave, others are on the search for death-defying gaping barrels. Regardless of what type of wave you are looking for, there is one common link between what surfers think of when they imagine their perfect wave.

Crowds, or more accurately the absence of crowds, is something we all dream of when we doze off. Empty surf is something that becomes harder to find more and more. With professional surfing becoming an official Olympic sport, and the recent addition of numerous wave pools around the world, surfing is becoming an internationally recognized and respected sport. This means the hoards of relentless beach-goers at your local is not something you should expect to thin out anytime soon.

Hinako Islands
Off the Sumatran Coast, in the Hinako islands – Photo by Austin Mullen

For most people, a surf trip is a type of escape. An escape from the responsibilities of everyday life. Somewhere you can get away from the groms who snake you on the set of the day. An escape from reality, even if only for a few days. Nowadays many popular travel locations like Central America, Hawaii, and Indonesia are experiencing overcrowding, which can be a taxing experience when you are searching for that perfect wave. By no means does this signify the end of the golden days of surfing, when you could enjoy epic waves with just you and your mates. However, it does mean the search requires a bit more time and effort.

The further you go on your search for waves, the fewer people you will encounter. Considering how massive and relatively undeveloped most of Indonesia is, you can find plenty of nooks and crannies where most people won’t dedicate the time required to travel to. This is where real adventures begin.

Hinako Islands
A dream that became true – Photo by Austin Mullen

…In the most remote corners of Indonesia

One of the most idyllic chains of islands in Indonesia is only an hour boat ride from the world famous right-hander, Nias. With the flocks of surfers that make the trek to Sorake Point every year, you would think anywhere else nearby with pumping waves would experience similar crowds. But somehow, there is somewhere nearby that has escaped this fate.

Hinako Islands
The mechanical left-hander we found. Photo by Austin Mullen

We arrived in the Hinako islands

Known as the Hinako islands, this small group of islands has been explored by surfers since the early 90’s, and had its moment in the limelight with Tom Currens’ infamous session at Bawa in 1994. Many surfers, even salted Indo ex-pats, are clueless to the treasures that await them in the Hinakos. There are flawless left barrels that rival the best waves in Bali. Rights that mimic Sunset Beach, Oahu. A few big wave setups that will challenge even the bravest of surfers and rip-able waves for the rest of us scattered in between. Better yet, if you somehow manage to find yourself on a day with no swell, there is some of the best fishing and diving in all of Indonesia. Flawless coral reefs and abundant populations of pelagic fish means even between sessions you can score if you go for a dive or cast a line out. Some days we found ourselves struggling to decide between surfing empty waves or going fishing. There are only a handful of surf-camps on the islands, most located on Asu. Even if all camps were at maximum capacity there is more than enough surf to go around for everybody.

Surf Hinako Islands
It remained unridden most of the time. Photo by Austin Mullen

AND STAYED AT SOZHINOS SURF LODGE

The newest camp in Hinako, known as Sozhinos, was built on the most perfectly situated plot of land directly in front of Asu Point, one of the best waves in the islands. The owner Daryn is easily one of the most down to earth people we have ever met, and made our stay here more than enjoyable. This isn’t your normal “Surf resort”, however. Being on such a remote island out in the Indian Ocean means normal amenities are much harder to come by. With no power on the island, Sozhinos Surf Camp is run entirely off a set of generators. They have still managed to set up their spacious rooms with air conditioning, hot water, and brilliant LED lighting. The kitchen is always fully stocked and has refrigerators to keep your Bintangs ice cold. Although they don’t have it as easy as other places in the more populated areas of Indonesia, Sozhinos cut no corners when they set up their camp. With wonderful staff on site 24/7, delicious food served up 3 times a day, and a boat to take you wherever you want to surf or fish, it’s easy to stay busy all day every day. As a family-friendly surf resort, if you decide to spend your time at the camp, you can relax on the yoga deck situated right in front of the point, challenge the staff to a rousing game of ping pong, or walk around the island to find a secluded beach for some sun-tanning and snorkeling.

Hinako Islands
Sozinhos Surf Lodge – Photo by Austin Mullen

When you arrive at the Hinakos, it feels like the search has been completed. Stunning beaches with little to no rubbish, perfect waves all around, and mind-melting sunsets left us in awe day after day. After a few days of scoring some of the best waves we have seen in Indonesia all to ourselves, Daryn mentioned to us that the word “Sozhinos” is Portuguese for alone. When you stay out here, experiencing a true “Sozhinos” session is more than a reality.

One day I was surfing a left-hander, getting barrel after barrel all to myself, and I realized this is something all surfers deserve to experience at least once in their life.

One day I was surfing a left-hander, getting barrel after barrel all to myself, and I realized this is something all surfers deserve to experience at least once in their life. There were no buildings or people in sight, just perfect waves all to myself. A couple times boats with surfers from the other camps passed by in the channel but continued onwards to other waves. There is an understanding between these camps that if someone is surfing a wave, even just solo, they will look for another empty wave nearby to keep everybody as stoked as possible. This single session will live on in my mind as one of the best experiences I have ever had while surfing.

Surfing Hinako Islands
Barrels after barrels, just us.

We hooked into some serious fish off the deck of the boat day after day. While spearfishing, I saw massive schools of fish, from Bluefin Trevally to Dogtooth Tuna, and numerous other types of trophy fish. I managed to land a solid 25kg fish on the speargun during my first dive which provided all of us back at camp with a delicious dinner. The amount of life boiling underneath the surface here is unimaginable, certainly competing with other world-class fishing destinations.

Surf Hinako Islands
Mind-surf this one 🙂 Photo by Austin Mullen

Most of the surf in the Hinakos is best suited for intermediate to advanced surfers. If you have the will to make your way out here and push your limits, you will be rewarded. When I think of the perfect wave, multiple spots from here come to mind. When I think of paradise, I think of the shores surrounding Sozhinos. It became comical how many days I looked over at my friend and said: “This is the best day of my life.”. Just spend the extra effort needed to get out here and you will see for yourself what I mean…

PLANNING A SURF-TRIP TO THE HINAKO ISLANDS?

Surf Hinako Islands
Another one that remained unridden – Photo by Austin Mullen

Photos by Austin Mullen and Words by William Slatery

Indo Surf Crew

Made up of surfers, photographers, film-makers and writers. Indo Surf Crew creates surf content in Indonesia while raising awareness on how to protect Indonesian beautiful surf playground and culture. Our aim is to give a voice to the local Indonesian surf communities, its surfers, and organisations with sustainable eco project that will help preserve the authenticity of Indonesian surf spots.

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