Why August is the best month to visit Sumatra in Indonesia

Enjoy the Alaskan summer, cruising around the fiords and glaciers whilst the midnight sun lights your holiday evenings during July.

Whilst large parts of Asia experiences a rather wet August, the Indonesian island of Sumatra remains wonderfully dry and offers up the chance for a fantastic summer holiday, especially if you choose to backpack. Long sandy beaches, palm trees, clear blue seas and skies, Sumatra really does have everything you would want from your vacation. Here’s my guide to visiting Sumatra in August.

Sumatra

Located in Western Indonesia, Sumatra is one of the largest islands in the world. Divided into 10 provinces, there are also many small islands scattered around the main island itself and these can provide the idyllic secluded break you’ve been looking for.

August is a great time to visit Sumatra. The dry season lasts from May through until September so August really is the peak of this period. Though there are occasional downpours, these usually disappear as quickly as they fall and they’re often very refreshing. During August, Sumatra hits average highs of 30C (86F) and you’ll find the waters warm whilst dipping in for a swim, dive or surf. Sumatra’s Independence Day falls on 17th August and there are celebrations held across the country including parades, dressing in traditional clothes and dancing.

Beautiful Beaches

The main factor behind a summer holiday is often to relax away from everyday life on an idyllic beach, with the sun beating down and the sound of the waves breaking at the shoreline. A trip to Sumatra will have you spoilt for choice as to where to take your relaxing break, providing some of the best beaches in Indonesia. The many smaller islands offer secluded sands to enjoy and I would particularly recommend visiting the Banyak Islands and the Mentawai Islands, which are both located off the Western coast. On the main island, the beaches of Lhoknga are exquisite and the village that surrounds it gives the perfect experience of Indonesian life.

Hit the waves

Many people visit Sumatra for its fantastic surfing opportunities and they are quite literally dotted around the coastline of the island. The Mentawai Islands are renowned for being a fantastic place to hit the waves, allowing you to enjoy the waves of the Indian Ocean. Not only are the waves great in August in this region, but they’re also varied and fine of a wide range of surfing expertise. August provides the prime conditions to surf so there really is no excuse not to pick up a board. Other great surfing destinations include Pulau Nias and Krui.

There are other great ways of exploring the seas and diving is especially great around the smaller islands. There are a wide range of dives available, with much marine life to keep you occupied, undisturbed reefs to enjoy and wrecks to explore. The ideal place to visit for diving is Pulau Weh which is home to the WWII wreck of the Sophie Rickmers as well as many natural reefs and is located to the northwest of Sumatra.

Natural Wonders

Sumatra is home to no less than 10 national parks and has tropical rainforest covering a large proportion of the island. For a great chance to see the indigenous orangutan and rare Sumatran Tiger, head for Gunung Leuser National Park which is located in Northern Sumatra and is home to many mountains including Mount Leuser. Other great national parks to visit include Kerinci which is filled with mountains, volcanoes, hot springs and lush forest to explore or Berbak which is home to a swamp forest. You should also take a gentle hike up Mount Sibayak which is a popular tourist attraction for this very reason. You’ll be treated to a wide variety of animals within the national parks including rhino, elephants and many species of bird.

There are other great natural sites to visit outside of the national parks. Situated off the western coast is the island of Krakatoa on which the infamous volcano lies. If you’ve chosen to surf in Krui then you can take a boat from here out to the island to see where one of the biggest Volcano eruptions ever recorded happened. You should also try to visit the Harau Valley which is home to stunning waterfalls, a picturesque canyon and lush paddyfields and take a trip to Lake Toba, the largest volcanic lake in the world.