The seasonal potential predictability of monsoon onset during the August–December season over Indonesia is studied through analysis of the spatial coherence of daily station rainfall and gridded pentad precipitation data from 1979 to 2005. The onset date, defined using a local agronomic definition, exhibits a seasonal northwest-to-southeast progression from northern and central Sumatra (late August) to Timor (mid-December). South of the equator, interannual variability of the onset date is shown to consist of a spatially coherent large-scale component, together with local-scale noise. The high spatial coherence of onset is similar to that of the September–December seasonal total, while postonset amounts averaged over 15–90 days and September–December amount residuals from large-scale onset show much less spatial coherence, especially across the main islands of monsoonal Indonesia. The cumulative rainfall anomalies exhibit also their largest amplitudes before or near the onset date. This implies that seasonal potential predictability over monsoonal Indonesia during the first part of the austral summer monsoon season is largely associated with monsoon onset, and that there is much less predictability within the rainy season itself. A cross-validated canonical correlation analysis using July sea surface temperatures over the tropical Pacific and Indian Oceans (20°S–20°N, 80°–280°E) as predictors of local-scale onset dates exhibits promising hindcast skill (anomaly correlation of ∼0.80 for the spatial average of standardized rain gauges and ∼0.70 for standardized gridded pentad precipitation data).