Located immediately south of Timor Island, Rote Island is the eastern outpost of the arc of the islands facing the Indian Ocean. As such Rote, is the last target in the firing line of most Indian Ocean swells. This small but beautiful tropical paradise is also Indonesia’s most southern landmass, closer to Australia than it is to Bali.
For many years, Rote remained an underground surf spot with a regular crewrejoicing in empty lineups, but now it’s well-marked on the surf maps, especially the Nembrala area on the island’s west coast. This strip of reef has several well-known surf breaks, left and rights and peaks. From May through September, the steady SE trade winds are offshore all day. You can go surf whenever you feel like it and then chill out in the laid-back vibes of the island, where the wind rustling in the palms is not a cliché.
There are plenty of other surf breaks around the island, some less known and others you wouldn’t expect, which is why you want to book with World Surf Adventures. Our partners in the region have years of experience and can guide you in the right direction.
Rote gets its best swells from May through September, which is the Southern Hemisphere winter. Because of its easternmost situation, Rote has the longest fetch for South Indian Ocean lows as they spin across from South Africa, resulting in solid ground swells. Nembrala easily holds up to 15 foot plus.
The shoulder months of March/April and October/November provide variable winds for surf spots that the trades blow out. Swell might be less consistent but no less fun. The wet season months of December through February feature strong west winds and rain. These wet season months also coincide with cyclone season in the Timor and Arafura Seas, which can produce pretty raw weather—but you might get lucky on strong south cyclone swells.
The original “discovery,” a long left that wraps onto flat reef in several sections. Not noted for its barrels, but offers fun workable walls. Once it hits eight feet, though, the wave gets serious. Surfable at any size, from 2 foot to as big as it gets, and throughout most of the tidal changes.
A right that can throw up throaty barrels, mixed with whackable walls. Comes in hard and steep.
A thick and heavy right-hander at size and low tide, but becomes more user friendly at higher tides.
On big swells, an offshore bommie will gather the swell as a large peak, the fun part being the drop. Short and intense.
The four little islands offshore of SW Rote have classic waves, but wind and tides play a big role in scoring. There are also gaps and channels in the fringing reef that sometimes hold surfable waves. Our World Surf Adventure partners can put you in the know and get you there.