If you’re an avid surfer, then Lhoknga is the place for you. If you love beautiful beaches and natural landscapes, then Lhoknga is the spot for you. If you want to escape mass tourism and experience a much simpler way of life, then Lhoknga is the place for you.
Lhoknga is a small coastal village located about 20-30 minutes drive outside of Banda Aceh. This town offers some of the best conditions for surfing and kitesurfing, and also has some beautiful beaches and natural landscapes.
The surf season is generally between November and March, but at times you can also catch some good waves in October and March (even sometimes in April). For the remaining months, kitesurfing is your best option because the wind is mostly onshore.
Lhoknga is a beautiful part of Indonesia, and is still very much untouched by mass tourism. This means that it is relatively underdeveloped, so don’t expect 5-star accommodation or luxury eating options. If this is something you are after, then places like Bali or Phuket are much better suited to you. But if you are after some top waves and beautiful nature, then Lhoknga is the spot for you.
Below is a travel guide to help you plan your trip to Lhoknga.
Table of Contents
Getting to Lhoknga
To access Lhoknga, you will need to fly into Banda Aceh (BTJ), and the most popular way to fly here is via Air Asia direct from Kuala Lumpur. There are direct flights daily from Kuala Lumpur. You can also fly direct from Jakarta, Medan and Penang via various airlines.
If you are coming from Singapore or Bangkok, or any other city for that matter, it is best to fly via Kuala Lumpur on Air Asia, or look to fly into Medan and then connect onto Banda Aceh.
Upon arriving at Banda Aceh airport, getting to where you need to go is easy. There is an array of taxi drivers waiting at the entrance and it is a fixed fee depending on where you want to go. If you are staying in Lhoknga, then it will cost you approximately Rp170,000 (A$17/U$13) based on the price in early 2016. It’ll take about 30-40 minutes to drive from the airport to Lhoknga.
Once you are in Lhoknga, there are various ways of getting around. Many places can be reached by walking (depending on where you are staying), but tourists still prefer to hire bicycles or motorbikes to get around. And if you are planning to do particular day tours, such as to Banda Aceh, it is possible to rent a car with a driver. Your Homestay should be able to assist you with hiring transport.
Everything is dealt with in Indonesian Rupiah, and most places (if not all) will accept cash only. So best to organise to change money ahead of time. I don’t remember seeing an ATM in Lhoknga, so the next best option would be taking money out from an ATM in Banda Aceh.
It’s a good idea to take with you medication you are used to from home. I highly recommend bringing a packet of Imodium…just in case. Plus any other medication such as pain killers, electrolytes, vitamins, and antiseptic cream.
Places to Stay
Yudi’s Place is the most popular place to stay for tourists, especially for surfers and kitesurfers. It is only 150 meters from the Lhoknga beach, which is perfect for avid surfers. There are 3 different categories of rooms you can rent, depending on how many people and how much space you need. All rooms come with it’s own ensuite bathroom, all with ceiling fans and some with air conditioning.
This is a great option for any females and families traveling to Lhoknga. Yudi’s Place offers a great vibe and there is usually a number of guests always around. This accommodation also has a great little café serving up fantastic coffee, good food and free wifi accessibility. The café is open for breakfast and lunch, and the prices are reasonable.
You can also rent surf boards from Yudi’s Place, as well as arrange surf lessons. They also offer tours that you can book.
Darlian Homestay was the first homestay to be opened in Lhoknga back in the early 1980’s. They offer a variety of clean rooms at different prices, depending on the size and style of bathroom (squat or western). They are just 500 meters from the beach. and also can assist with any transport or tours that you want to book.
Nurmas Losmen is another great spot to stay, which has clean rooms and is just 500 meters form the beach. There is also a café here, which serves western and local food at reasonable prices.
Females Traveling to Aceh
When you travel between the surf season (November to March), Lhoknga is busy with foreign tourists. There are many travellers around, so Lhoknga has a great vibe and is safe.I have also personally travelled to Aceh and know that it is a safe place to visit.
It is important thought to keep in mind that Aceh is a bit more conservative part of Indonesia. I highly recommend to dress more moderately while getting around the place. Also avoid walking by yourself, especially at night as there are some roads that are not so well lit.
Eating in Lhoknga
There are several food options in Lhoknga to grab some food. Below I list the options that I know about. If you are looking for something different, head into Banda Aceh for even more food options.
Yudi’s Place is open for breakfast and lunch most days and offers a good variety of western and local dishes. It also serves up the best coffee in town. Do try the Deluxe French Toast and Banana Pancakes. You are looking at about $2-5 per person, depending on your meal.
Warung Kak Rose
This warung is open every day in the evenings from about 6-10pm. You’ll get a scoop of either white or yellow rice and then you can select small portions of various dishes to go with your rice.
All the food that Kak Rose prepares is home cooked and there is a great variety of dishes to choose from such as fried chicken, chicken curry, fried fish, a variety of vegetable and so on. You are looking at between $2-3 per person.
Located only about 500m from the beach, you also get a variety of food here, such as grilled fish and fresh salad. I personally have not tried the food here, as when I was in Aceh last, Nurmas was under renovation.
Alex’s Sunset Café
Alex’s Sunset Café is located right on the sand of Lhoknga beach and is the perfect way to watch the sunset in the evening. It is also a great spot to hang out after a few hours out in the water. The café offers drinks and light snacks.
There are also several fruit stalls available, where you can buy fresh fruit. My favourite are the small bananas. You can grab fruit at really reasonable prices, plus you’ll be supporting a local business.
Things to do
There are a variety of things to do in Lhoknga and the surrounding areas. For a more detailed breakdown of things to do here, check out my 15 top things to do in Banda Aceh & Lhoknga.
The most popular reason for visiting Lhoknga is to surf, which is best between the months of November and March.
The nature that surrounds this area is just beautiful and you can spend hours just walking along the coast and through the jungles. You can also head into Banda Aceh where there are a host of places that tell you about the 2004 Tsunami devastation.
The sunset here is breathtaking and there is nothing better than to sit at Lhoknga beach, sipping on a coconut while watching the sun go down.
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I visited Banda Aceh last year but I didn’t know about Lhoknga – it looks like I missed out. Lovely photos, it looks beautiful, peaceful & green. Even though I’m not into surfing, it seems life a super-chill place with other things to see & do and excellent budget accommodation & food options. Right up my alley… for my next trip to Indo 🙂
What did you think of Banda Aceh? Lhoknga has a totally different vibe than Aceh city and the nature that surrounds is just beautiful. You should try to head back between the surf season!
Lhoknga beach looks so pristine and untouched, its my kinda place, far from the crowds and an opportunity to be one with the sand and the sea. The food options too look tantalizing, especially I would like to try the banana pancake.
It is such a beautiful part of Indonesia, and I really love that it is still untouched by mass tourism.
Raya this looks amazing! I’d love to visit one day as I’m trying to improve my surfing and much prefer uncrowded waves (so I don’t kill anyone with my board!). Thanks for the great tips and detailed recommendations!
Lovely Flo, Lhoknga is a great spot to learn and is still much less crowded with surfers. I am sure you will love this spot!
I’ve visited Bali many times but never made it to Banda Aceh. The food looks absolutely amazing. I do believe the VOA fee has now been scrapped as long as you are staying under 30 days.
That’s what I thought as well, but in Banda Aceh they have different rules. So I had to pay for my visa on arrival.
It’s very interesting to know that even if you come from a visa free country for Indonesia, you still need to pay for a visa in order to visit Banda Aceh. I am not into surf, but I am sure I can enjoy those paradise beaches. It looks like it’s not a massively touristic place, which is great, as I like to discover “untouched” places. The food also looks delicious and seems so cheap! Reminds me of my travel to Vietnam, where 2 dollars were more than enough for a full meal with drinks.
I had never heard of Lhoknga before, but I am going to SEA for the first time in March, so this guide was great for me! Is it mainly for avid surfers, or are there places to learn to surf as well? I don’t know how to surf but would love to learn, and that seems like a great place to start my life as a surfer (;
That’s exciting! I love traveling around SEA. You can learn how to surf in Lhoknga. Yudi’s Place offers surf lessons and board rentals. You can contact them for more information.
I’ve made it as far as Bali but never off the island – Banda Aceh looks incredible though! The colour of that water and the gorgeous beach really looks out of this world. For someone looking to have a nosey around (without any specific interest in surfing up a storm), how long would you recommend spending there?
I love how the food is so cheap but is so yummy.
I was wondering if you made the trek here because you surf? Also, I didn’t know Malaysia was so strict about not taking currency if it’s folded or creased. How strange! I love scooters so I would take one to get around. Do you know how much it would cost to hire one?
Found your blog while researching about Lhoknga & surfing.
We’re a family of four who picked up surfing early 2016 and have been going to Cherating regularly to practice.
How are the waves here? enough places for beginner to intermediate surfers? Our children are 7 & 9 so they would prefer gentler smaller waves.
Also whats the average price of Yudi’s rooms? It’s not published on their website.
Hi Andri. Thank you for your message, nice to hear you’ve picked up surfing. The waves in Lhoknga would be considered intermediate to advanced, and the best waves are usually between December to March. Surfing outside these months wouldn’t be recommended in Aceh. Also, the waves in Lhoknga are reef breaks and the paddle from the beach to the waves is quite a distance for a 7 & 9 year old. The rates at Yudi’s are approximately IDR300,000-500,000 per night (price may fluctuate), but I would recommend to contact Yudi to check for availability. Hope this helps, let me know if you need more info. Thanks!