Sumatra may not be the first place you mention when you think of Indonesian oceanfront, but in fact close by to Padang there are a few great beaches to soak up the rays and enjoy the waves. Pantai Air Manis is probably the most famous of these beaches.
Yet while the beaches of Bali or even north Sulawesi are known best for their sunbathing hotspots, Air Manis in Sumatra is one of the places to catch the waves in the Indonesian archipelago, and what surprised me was the sheer variance of ages of the surfers! There were grown men, but also little kids who had came to the beach presumably from Padang with their parents for a grand day out. Sumatra is probably the best place in Indonesia to surf, as the waves can get extremely rough in the afternoons during high tide – and this brings the thrillseekers from all over the world!
Air Manis beach is a favourite tourist site for local and foreign tourists because of its waves for surfing and its beautiful views of Mount Padang. There is also a small island called Pisang Kecil (literally “small banana”) on its right side. From morning to afternoon, you can walk to this island through shallow water. In late afternoon, however, there is a tide and you must take a boat to return. On its right, there is another island called Pisang Besar (literally “big banana”). Local inhabitants on this island are mostly farmers and fishermen.
Air Manis beach is located 15km from Padang city centre. From Minangkabau international airport, visitors can go to Air Manis by passing through Padang. If you want to use public transportation, you must first go to Plaza Sentral Pasar Raya from the airport exit gate in Simpang Ketaping. From the city centre, you can take public transportation plying the Padang-Bungus route.