Despite their perfect location, the Mentawai have only been surfed since the early 1990s. This is because this island lies 90km off the land of Sumatra and it is one of the wildest places on earth. Many of the tribal people of the more remote islands have had, until recently, little contact with the modern world, trying to maintain their ancient way of life. Malaria is endemic and the forest is impenetrable, so don’t worry if the Indonesian government prevented surfers and tourists from visiting the Mentawai. Today, yacht charters take groups into the fragile environment where even the waves are very sensitive to the wind. There is always a perfect crystalline wave unwinding somewhere near the lava-encrusted shore. Go on a surf adventure in Indonesia!
The main island is Siberut with a large concentration of reefs at the southern end of the island. The Nyang-Nyang area has many spots like E-Bay and Nipussi Rights, which need a swell from the west. Pit Stop is a fun right wave that breaks on a sandy beach, while rights in Banckvaults are only for experts. Karangmajet Island maintains some good breaks including Four Bobs breaking off into the lagoon, but perhaps the best island in the archipelago is Sipora. Telescopes to the north is a constant left, perfect with SW swells combined with SE winds. Outside the port of Pitoyat there is Scarecrows, a short left which is usually better at high tide. South of the island of Sipora, there are the legendary Lance Right and Lance Left. The latter is an unforgettable mix of water walls, while Lance Right is dangerous and unsteady and it is usually full of boats.
To the south, there are the twin islands of Pagai Utara and Pagai Selatan, home to another Mentawai gem: Macaronis. This is a right that gives perfect tubes in the first section. Bommie Peack is only for the bravest surfers. Neighboring Gilligan provides waves suitable for all levels. In Sibigau, Thunders can produce very large waves.
Tariff per person, starting from:
|Departure||Aloita Resort||Vawe Park|
|From 1 January 2020 to 31 December 2020||€ 973||€ 3,541|
The super constant swells of the South Indian Ocean produce numerous 6-13ft SW swells from March to November and less constant 3-6ft swells during the off-season. There is also a possibility of some 2-6ft cyclonic swell. The off-season is less crowded and the waves are not as strong as in the primary season. The swells unwind around the islands, making any wind direction a possibility of offshore conditions. The winds are quite weak although there may be galeways with strong and variable winds. The predominant winds blow parallel to the island, so the most constant spots are offshore with both NW and SE winds. Unlike most spots in Indonesia, SE trade winds are not that safe. The tide variation is only 2-3ft but hits the shallowest spots where the reef hides just below the surface of the water.
How to get there : Portugal and South Africa need a valid visa. Most of the flights go to Jakarta or Bali from where you can take a connection to Padang. Otherwise Merpati, Sempati and Silk Air all have international flights to and from Singapore to Padang. The Mentawaii can also be reached with 5-6 hours of navigation with a fast boat.
Getting around : The majority of surfers are probably on board on one of the 25 boats operating in the Mentawais. It is possible to go independently but there is a lot of pressure to join one of the charters. If you go alone be careful as the seas are rough, navigation is dangerous and there are a lot of underwater obstacles. Be sure you have all the rescue tools on board.
Accommodation and Food : Living aboard a boat is a unique experience. The major companies are STC; GBI; and Good Sumateran. Trips last 10-12 days and cost $ 100- $ 300 per day depending on the boat you choose. If you don’t like sleeping afloat then try Losman Waveparck and E-Bay ($ 70 / day) or Lance’s Left ($ 40 / d). The last option, certainly more rewarding but harder, is to stay with people of the village: be generous in exchange for hospitality.
Climate : The Mentawai have a typically equatorial climate with very high temperatures and an equally high degree of humidity. The average temperature varies little throughout the year. The Indonesian dry season is between January and August, but nevertheless expect a few hours of rain especially in the evening. The rainy season runs from September to December: bring umbrellas and ponchos to cope with the amount of water that will rain on you (Sumatra means “storm”). The water temperature is also very high, perhaps among the highest in the earth. The lack of wind is perfect for the creation of glassy waves but it doesn’t compensate the heat.
Nature and Culture : The virgin forest, the rugged topography, the unique flora and fauna, and the tribal society, make the Mentawais an ideal spot, not only for an exotic surf trip, but also for trekking or relaxation activities. Unfortunately the eco-tours offered by the various surfing and hiking companies didn’t do much to benefit the local population, as on most visits, this can be compared to a Dysney attraction. Remember that you are lucky of being a witness on this remote and impressive island; try not to apply Western values to the people you meet and try to be as sensitive as possible from a cultural point of view.
Dangers and Nuisances : The surf is intense. Be prepared for reef cuts. The ships next to the spots can provide first aid, but the largest injuries could be fatal as you will be far from experienced doctors. There are strong currents. Malaria is high and very dangerous.
Tips : Bring lots of spare equipment with you, it will be useful to you. In the first wave sessions, larger boards are needed as the waves can reach very consistent sizes. It is recommended to go with people of your same level as the captain of the boat will take you to spots suited to your abilities.
Exchange rate 1 EUR = 1.08 USD
Exchange rate variations (more than 3%) will lead to an adjustment of costs. They will be communicated within 20 days of departure.
The tariff does not include