Being a tropical island there is no shortage of beaches on Nias Island. In North Nias Regency alone there are 46 beaches with a combined length of over 70 kilometres. Needless to say there is something for everyone here; from small secluded beaches in hidden coves to long open beaches where you can walk for hours without seeing another person. Some well-known beaches are located right next to villages and are full of activity, while others are so far away from populated areas that they don't even have a name.
In 2005 a powerful earthquake created an uplift which effectively raised the whole island and tilted it on its side. This dramatically changed the coastline on Nias, especially in the North West. On the west-coast of North Nias Regency the uplift was measured to be 2-2.5 meters. The effect of the uplift can clearly be seen today as many west-coast beaches are now very wide and the old coast line (usually where the tall coconut trees grow) is several hundred meters inland from where it used to be. In some places beaches disappeared while new ones were created elsewhere.
The coast of North Nias Regency can be divided into tree distinctly different areas, each with its own unique characteristics; the west-coast, north-coast and east-coast.
The wild west coast has the most pristine and longest beaches in North Nias. This is the least populated region of the coast and itâ€™s possible to walk along some beaches for hours without seeing another human being. In total there are 22 beaches with a combined length of 40 kilometers. During storms the west coast faces the full fury of the Indian Ocean. West of Nias Island there is nothing but ocean all the way to Africa. During May to September there is a lot of swell here which in places creates world class surf waves. This is great for surfers, but not so good for fishermen, which is one of the reasons the west coast is so sparsely populated as there are only a few places where boats can safely launch here. Afulu harbour is one such place, where a large bay protects the beach from the waves and currents of the open ocean. Sections of the west coast are very inaccessible which means some beaches are difficult to reach, but on the other hand they are completely unspoilt. One of the best beaches in North Nias can be found inside the lagoon of Wunga island, which is located off the west coast.
The north-coast has a large variety of beaches; some of the most popular with local people as well as long stretches of isolated and inaccessible beaches. In total there are 15 beaches here with a combined length of 20 kilometers. A unique feature of the north coast is that instead of palm trees, pine trees have been planted along much of the coastline. This gives this part of the coast a very different look than the rest of Nias. Just off the coast some small islands offer a completely different experience. Several large rivers meet the sea on the north-coast and mangroves often grow around the river mouths. After heavy rains water clarity can be affected by river run offs. The north coast is more protected than the west coast, but there can still be waves and currents at some exposed beaches during the May to September period. One of the best places to see the effects of the 2005 land uplift is Tureloto near Lahewa. Here parts of the previously submerged coral reef can be seen at the beach. The outside of the Tureloto house reef offers some of the best snorkelling on Nias.
The east-coast is the most protected part of the coast and many fishermen live here. There are 9 beaches along the east-coast with a combined length of 10 kilometers. This is the most populated and most accessible part of North Nias. It takes less than an hour to drive from the airport to the North Nias east-coast and the main road from Gunung Sitoli, the main town on the Island, runs parallel to the coast. This makes some beaches very accessible, particularly the ones in Tuhemberua sub-district. Here the Fofola, Botogawu, Tanayae and Ladara beaches form a three kilometer long uninterrupted beach lined with coconut trees and fishermen huts.
On weekends many local people and domestic tourists gather at Fofola and Asi Walo beaches. But there are also some beaches where it's possible to relax in peace and quiet. Seriwao and Lakha beaches are beautiful and unspoiled locations which see very few visitors except local fishermen. Because the east-coast is protected from large waves and ocean currents it is safe to swim anywhere and at any time of the year. The east coast was not as affected by the 2005 earthquake, in fact the landmass on this side of the island is 20-30 cm's lower than before.