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A must read if you and your mates want to do a North Sumatran surf trip

Postcard from Banyak Islands on board Sjalina Surf Charter

Day 1:

The Banyak Islands is about 10 hours boat journey off the coast of Sibolga, and a short 1 hour flight from Medan. The area possesses some of the best waves on the planet and is well known for its right hand reef point break known as Treasure Island which is said to be the easiest wave in the world to get multiple barrels.

Our story starts with 7 surfers. 2 from Sydney, 5 from Perth as well as our hosts Owner/Skipper of SJALINA Mick and his wife Coco also known as the Sumatran super chef!

After an overnight crossing in which we slept off our jet lag and long travels to reach our destination we awoke to a perfect right hand point break. Not big by any stretch of the imagination but nonetheless it was a mesmerising sight especially for the boys from Perth who in their own words are used to surfing “straight handers” 90% of the year unless they travel 2-3 hours along the coast towards Margaret River and Yallingup, so the sight was a welcome one by all!

I am of course talking about ‘Treasure Island” which is known as being one of the most perfect right-handers in the world! Skipper Mick believes on its day you can get rides up to 300m + with 4 -5 barrel sections!

Looking at the peeling right-handers from the boat Mick decided to send the boys who by now were looking more like caged animals out into the lineup for the first time to get the feeling of the board under our feet as well as that ‘first surf froth’ out the way! All the lads caught their fare share of waves and the hooting and hollering going on was great to be a part of!

After about a 2 hour surf the boys returned to Coco’s amazing burritos she had prepared whilst we were surfing which was polished off in 10mins…after all we had been living off plane food, Bintangs and corn chips for the past 2 days!


Great food on Sjalina

Jet lag had once again set in and not a peep could have been heard from any of the guys for a solid 3 hours. The day finished with a solid 3 hour session out at Treasure Island again which by now had grown a foot in size with the incoming tide!

Hopefully we will get more of the same tomorrow…

Treasure Island


Day 2:

Even with a good 10-hour sleep for most, the boys arose from their bunks with sore shoulders, but that wasn’t going to stop the wave hungry West Ozzies! Andrew ‘Greggy’ Greig and Ryan ‘Jamesy’ James were yet again the first guys in the lineup followed closely by Ben ‘Branchy’ Branch and Russel ‘Rusty’ Boyd. From the boat the waves didn’t look too spectacular so I decided to take some shots for this very blog I am writing and give myself  time to let brekky sit, but that didn’t last long as I sore 5 sets roll through, all about 3ft and as glassy as an ice rink! So that was the end of my photography for the morning but I did manage to get a few great shots you will see below!


Treasure Island

Once again Coco prepared an awesome lunch, this time curry!  Jamesy unfortunately lost his go pro so the boys spent an hour doing a rescue mission but came up stumps! Luckily the waves were still good so Jamesy wasn’t too disappointed and his travel insurance with QBE covered it anyway!

The final hooray of the day came when we got word from Mick that there had been an 8.9 earthquake off the coast of Simileu which is only about 250kms from the Banyaks. At the time I was on the boat watching a movie and relaxing after a 3 hour session but when I came up on deck I sore the boys scrambling to get into the zodiac as quick as possible like they had seen a shark when in fact it was a tsunami warning! Rusty mentioned “he thought he was going to shit his pants” as he was the only one in the lineup without a board as he was filming everyone else at the time!

Once we were all on board we headed for deep water! Needless to say we all felt we deserved a few beers and after a couple we even scored some luck in picking up a Spanish mackerel on the journey back to our overnight mooring! Everyone was again in high spirits and singing along –  ‘Kevin bloody Wilson’ was definitely the highest point of the night! So much action already for day 2! I can’t wait for day 3…Bring it on!


Guys on Sjalina

Day 3:

After our near death experience and a few too many beverages in the alcohol family to name the boys arose from their bunks slightly hungover and sleep deprived. However we all showed a lot of courage and ended up having quick surf at Treasure Island before setting off for our next surf destination known as ‘Pig Island’. Mick had reported to us a drop in swell which was hard to believe after hearing of an apparent tsunami.  Nonetheless we set off for the Pig and to our surprise we were greeted with an amazingly playful peak called ‘Piglets’. We surfed here all day and the scenery was amazing to say the least! It was a remarkable day, the sun was out and not a cloud anywhere to be seen. Most of us came back a little pinker than usual but the waves we scored were unforgettable!

A-frame called Piglets

Later that night everyone was so dead, not to mention still hungover that we decided to hit the sack early, some read a book in the moonlight while others chose to fall asleep listening to their play lists they had made before the trip started! All in all an unforgettable day!


Day 4:

Day 4 started the way day 3 did with a great sunrise and fresh ocean seabreeze! However by around 9am the wind had kicked in and there was a slight onshore! Mick decided to take us back to Treasure Island but surf a nearby break known as turtles, we would get there 4 hours later which didn’t worry anyone as we were ruined from about 8 hours of surfing the day before! When we arrived Turtles wasn’t really doing its thing with the arvo trades! But tomorrow is apparently meant to be firing so we will see!Dinner was epic again! This time beef burgers with fries and salad on the side! Who would have thought the food would be this good in the middle of nowhere.

Day 5:

Perfect left-handers at Cobras! 4-5ft walls with up to 6 second barrels!

This is all I’ll say about Day 5…

Cobras pumping!

Day 6:

After surfing 8 hours the day before, most of us took it easy today!Everyone still went surfing and the waves were still really good at Cobras in the morning but. Most chose to go on land at Cobras and get their legs back after being on a boat for a few days! And some read a book or chilled with a game of chess or something to make the day go faster! We also had a quick session in the arvo at Treasure Island but it was fairly small, but everyone was exhausted anyway…

The night again finished with a superb meal prepared by coco, and on the menu was Jamesy’s big tuna he had caught trawling the evening before! Absolutely superb! We also watched a slideshow of a selection of photos from Micks camera and got to see the waves we were surfing the days before which was a good chance for everyone to see what they will be taking home with them after the trip.


The freshest tuna I've ever had!

Some decided to hit the sack early whilst a few others polished off 2 bottles of gin. Another great day in the Banyaks!

Day 7:

With a dying swell predicted everyone surfed as much as they could today. We scored Cobras in the morning at around 3ft but with the swell direction being slightly off what it needs to produce quality barrels it was a little too fast so we decided to hit treasure island where we enjoyed a fun surf with around 2ft waves.n


We finished the day early again and Mick told us his stories of Indonesia after living here since he was around 20 yrs old! There were also many interesting injuries Mick has endured and all I can say is im grateful things Mick has gone through hasn’t happened to me.

Day 8:

With the swell charts looking grim, we decided a day of fishing was in order! We spent hours trawling for GT and got lucky a few times.

The fishing was legendary!!

Day 9/10:

With the swell still looking bare the last few days, we made a group decision to head back early but check certain attractions not too many people get to see. We made our way to the Sibolga waterfall which was a very bumpy ride, but nevertheless we still go to see the waterfalls which on their day I think would look spectacular! We then made our way back to Sibolga port for one last hoorah on the drink and will be flying out tomorrow.


All in all, the trip was excellent and one of the best I have ever been on! There were great waves, great people, great food and most importantly we all experienced something like never before which will last a long time in everyone’s memory!

I will be back to the Banyaks again for sure, the waves are sensational and with a little more swell this place can really turn on as you can see from the photos!

We were unlucky to miss the 2nd big swell on April on our last day but that happens with surfing, hopefully next time we score it more than we did!

If you would like more information on how to get to the Banyaks and the best boats to charter please contact our friendly team on 1300 00WAVE or

Written by:
Ben Horvath

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