What to do in Nias, A hidden gem amongst tourist islands in Indonesia

Just a small percentage of all the travelers and holiday goers will ever hear about Nias Indonesia. Even a lower number will also visit this island. Thus making Nias a getaway from the busy tourist places like Bali. So what can you do here? well I have listed 10 things you can do in Nias.

How to get to Nias Indonesia

Nias is an island on the west of North Sumatra in Indonesia (Marked with a yellow pin on the map). Regular flights are going to Gunungsitoli (GNS), which is the airport. When booking a trip to the island, you will probably have a stopover (marked as purple on the map) at Medan (KNO), Jakarta (CGK) or Padang (PDG). You then take a flight from the stopover to Gunungsitoli. In the map above you can see the airport locations, and as a reference point I have added Bali, so you can see where Nias is located compared to Bali. It’s pretty far, but if you don’t like the busy tourist areas, you will like it on this secluded island.

What can you do in Nias

Local surfers at Nias
Photo of 2 local surfers in Nias Indonesia by Sergi Hill


This island is well known for surfing. On the South and South-west part, there are multiple surf locations. There is even some smaller island (Hinako island) where you can go surfing. This would require a boat to get there. When you are going just for surfing I suggest to visit this website: https://www.surfindonesia.com/nias-surf-spots/, they have more information on types of waves and where to surf.


Cultural War dance of Nias
Part of war dance ceremony in the reoccurring colors of Nias by Doni Ismanto

Museum Pusaka Nias is located north of Gunungsitoli. Here you can see many of the history and culture in their different pavilions. There are English speaking guides for your convenience with excellent knowledge about the place and its history. The buildings are divided in the past, traditional feasts and celebrations, daily life and the temporary exhibitions. And to top it off an extraordinary museum group of dancers that would perform a cultural dance in front of the exhibits.

Beaches of Nias

This island is full of beautiful beaches. The positive thing is compared to Bali, these beaches are a lot less crowded. If you love the beach then visit the following all situated on the southwest of the island:

  • Moale Beach
  • Ladeha Beach
  • Pantai Sobahi Mboho
  • Sorake Beach

Visit a cave: Gua Tögindrawa

This cave is near Gunugsitoli, and about 12000 years ago a tribe was living here. Until 700 years ago, this cave was used for people to live in. Pretty amazing stuff. There are some interesting theories about this cave. If you are interested in history consider this a thing you should do when in Nias.

Watch the stone jumping (lompot batu)

Stone Jumping Bawomataluo, Nias. Proving to be ready for manhood
Jumping over the stone photo by Doni Ismanto

Being able to jump over such a stone means that you are an adult, ready to marry and allowed to participate in wars. Nowadays, it is there to awe tourists at the same time. Youngsters will demonstrate for your social media how they jump over it. There is a price to pay for this. This event happens in Bawomataluo.

Explore the village of Bawomataluo

Street at night showing the signature architecture of a village in Bawomataluo
Photo of a street in Nias at night by Sergi Hill

You can wander and go around. You will notice traditional houses that have withstood the brute force of nature, and they are still standing. When you are here, you can see that these houses are built from wood alone. So no metal nails are used. It’s a fantastic feat in architectural achievements to see.

Market: Pasar Yaahowu

Shop for fresh fish, vegetables, and others at the market. The market is called “Pasar Yaahowu” which translates to “Hello market”. If you are staying multiple days and want to cook for yourself and or family/friends, then this is the place. The locals say they have and sell fish that you can only catch around Nias.

Eat local food of Nias

As usual in a new place, try the local cuisine. They prepare and grill fish for you on the spot with special local spices. Or buy some of the gorengan (tahu/tofu) stuffed with coconut. Spoil your taste pallets and enjoy the tastes of Nias. Try some local cuisine at a warung or restaurant.

Interact with the locals of Nias

They are friendly and hospitable. Try to interact with them. When the locals see tourists, they might even ask you for a picture? They love having tourists over. Greet them with Yaahowu, and they feel the joy of being greeted in Bahasa Nias.

So there you have it, more than just surfing on this wonderful island of Indonesia. Are you planning to go there or have you been there? How was your experience?


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