Mentawai Surf Travel Guide
Since the discovery of waves by hard core explorers in the 1990s the Mentawai Island chain has revolutionised surf travel. The 70 or so islands off the West Coast of Sumatra pack more perfect waves per square mile than any other surf destination. There are 50 recognized quality breaks, with Hollow Trees, Macaronis, Rifles and Green Bush are known as some of the best in the world. Being isolated and spread out over 100 miles it was discovered early on that boats were the best way to access the breaks. More recently many excellent land camps have sprung up offering terra firma and speedboat access to the waves.
What we love
Some of the most perfect waves on the planet and waves can be scored all year round.
Off-peak season of December – February has the least crowds and mellow waves.
Charter boats from basic to luxury and a growing number of quality surf resorts.
Massive number of surf breaks in a relatively small area.
North Sipora Surfing
North Sipora not only boasts one of the Mentawai Island’s best waves in Telescopes, but a slew of other lefts and rights which offer a great variety for all levels of surfers. And compared to Playgrounds, an hour’s sail to the north, and HT’S on the south of the Island, it’s far less crowded. Telescopes is the obvious jewel, a long, perfect, barrelling left that lights up on the larger west swells. However, nearby Scarecrows is an often overlooked, but is a super consistent, left whose easy takeoff and long rides make it user-friendly. Elsewhere Icelands has a good claim to be the premier big-wave location in the Ments, while Suicides, Scarecrows and Seven Palms offer quality waves that are often surfed alone. Those who take the time to hang in North Sipora, and ignore the pull of the more famous waves further north, are invariably rewarded.
The most famous wave in the area its hard to beat this wave for its variations of sections. A long left with mutiple deep barrel opportunities, can hold real size. Made famous by the Young Guns 2 movie with Kelly Slater and Co having a load of fun with Indies Trader 4 and a helicopter!
Meaning Mouse Wave, this lesser known fun left is up the beach from Villa Mentawai. Ombak Tikus is a hidden gem and fun for most levels of surfer depending on the size. At 2-3 ft super fun and user friendly, however over 4-5ft it takes on a different look and feel and becomes a serious wave.
The swell magnet for the area, Icelands is a left with many faces. An easy going west peak is fun, but the main part of the wave loves the south swell angle producing a solid drop, barrel section, and bowl at the end. Can be quite heavy on its day.
Aptly named, this high performance right off Awera island is very shallow and can only be surfed on a mid to high tide due to the reef. However produces an amazing barrel and the locals love this break.
Breaks off of an island called Tugat Nusa just south of Telescopes. Great consistent left as exposed to South as well as SW swell. Best on a dropping high tide with the end section named the Curry bowl the pick of the wave for barrel riders.
Not very well known wave which makes it a very good choice when conditions are right as not a lot of charter boats know this wave. A great walling left with occasional hollow sections. Tucked in a small bay in the middle of Sipora you have to know where it is to find it, but worth it when its on.
South Sipora Surfing
The home of Lance’s Right (HT’s) and Lance’s Left, South Sipora was the first real Mentawai discovery. Yet all these years later it remains one of the chain’s best keepers for any trip to the Islands. Lance’s Right, also known as HT’s, is the main reason for this. It is, rightly, recognised as one of the best and most consistent fast, barreling right-handers in the world, set in one of Indonesia’s most idyllic bays. Around the corner from the right, lies Lance’s Left. This is a more down-the-line wave, offering less perfection and more turns than the right, but an incredible option to have when the wind turns onshore at HT’s. That you can surf these two waves, on the same day, is one of the reasons why South Sipora has embedded itself so strongly into surf culture. Close by waves like Bintangs and Cobras offer quality, if not world class, options for differing swell angles and sizes.
Found at the edge of Katiet’s western bay, this left-hander is a consistent and frequently surfed crowd-pleaser. Lance’s Left has the ability to hold big swells and can offer up rippable walls and some little tube sections. It can also handle an onshore wind and still have fun waves. Facing Southwest makes this spot very consistent however its nature become more serious when there’s a large swell running.
A short and hollow right across the channel from Lance’s Left. As the wave approaches the reef, the bottom drops out before barreling towards the channel. When conditions are prime, Bintangs delivers amazing, round barrels and extremely fun, rippable walls. A major advantage of Bintangs is that on the days when the dreaded North wind blows out most spots in the Mentawais, Bintangs is offshore and pumping.
A short distance up the reef from Lance’s Left, you will find this intense left-hander. It gets really shallow on the low tide and prefers a bit more water. Due to the shallowness it is normally relatively uncrowded. On a South swell and East wind it is a non-stop barrel from the takeoff all the way to the channel where the wave spits you out. Therefore appropriately named, The Cobra.
There may be no more wave dense region in the Mentawais, heck the entire world, than Playgrounds. Located at the most northern point of the chain it has 20 world class waves all located within a half hour boat ride of each other. Whether you choose a land camp or charter option the chances of scoring well-known waves like Rifles, Nokandui Lefts, E-Bay or Bank Vaults remain very high. And sure, like bees to honey, Playgrounds does attract a crowd, but with so many options it’s easy to find a wave away from the crowds or that better suit your needs. You may not be as familiar with spots like Hideaways, Pistols and Dog’s Reef, but they can all produce the session of your trip. It’s also not all death and glory, with waves like 4 Bobs, Beng Bengs, Burger World, Nipussi and Good Times being some of the most perfect intermediate waves on the planet.
One of the best waves in the Mentawais and the world. A very long righthander that wraps around the other side of the same island as No Kanduis. Rarely makeable from start to finish, but even just from section to section you can get barrels up to 100 yards or longer. Nice and hollow once it’s a few feet overhead, but usually more sectiony at smaller sizes.
Kandui (aka No-Kandui)
One of the best waves in the Mentawais and the world. A very long righthander that wraps around the other side of the same island as No Kanduis. Rarely makeable from start to finish, but even just from section to section you can get barrels up to 100 yards or longer. Nice and hollow once it’s a few feet overhead, but usually more sectiony at small
This is a small peak for when there is heaps of swell, or guys looking for a mellower option. Mainly a right with a short barrel off the takeoff, but quickly dies off into the channel. There’s an even shorter left, but usually not worth the effort. Low intermediates and Kids love this wave.
A heavy righthander that barrels and spits. Usually larger than most spots in the area. Watch out for clean-up sets. Great location for the photographer though to capture that barrel of your life photo.
Pagai, the islands at the southern end of the Mentawai chain, is another wave rich surf haven dotted with some truly world class breaks and plenty of just plain amazing ones. Macaronis, decried as the planet’s funnest wave, is Pagai’s poster wave and rightly so. Its mix of barrels, high performance sections and incredible consistency has made it pure surfing bucket list. Close by is Greenbush, another world class left that however is far more heavier and for experienced surfers only. Further south consistent, quality waves like Rags Left and Rags Right, the super fun Roxys, the perfect Bat Cave and the consistent Thunders all provide real Mentawai magic on what is a relatively quiet corner of Sumatra.
When to go
Considered the most consistent area of surf in the world, the Mentawai can get surf year-round. Off Season - From December to February the region is always empty of people and the weather is amazing, and you have the choice of more small perfect waves than you could surf in a year. Shoulder season - The months of March, April, October and November are considered shoulder months, but get everything from solid swells to small fun days. Peak Season - If you want to get the barrel of your life and experience what true Indonesian surf is like then between May and September are the months for you.
The Mentawai is not only for mad surfers, it is one of the last truly remote regions of the world to have indigenous tribes still living the way they did thousands of years ago. With amazing untouched jungle reserves you can do trekking tours and visit the indigenous villages lost in time. If trekking isn’t for you, then there are some amazing snorkeling and diving sites to explore. And did we mention the fishing? For the angler you have some great game fish like wahu, mackeral, tuna & giant trevally to hunt down.
With over 255 million people, Indonesia is the world’s fourth most populated country. Consisting of thousands of islands, Indonesia is rich with tropical oceans, delicious fruits, and impressive volcanoes. Even with the nation’s large population, there are many opportunities to escape the crowds by visiting the country’s outer islands, rainforests, and beaches. Over the millennia, Indonesia has been controlled by many world superpowers – including the Dutch, French, British, and Portuguese. Since the end of World War II, Indonesia has remained a free nation with a constitutional government. Because of this diverse history, Indonesia has a unique blend of island culture, Western Colonialism, and Islamic lifestyle – making it a unique experience for any world traveller. If you enjoy respectfully meeting new people, you will undoubtedly find the people to be as beautiful as the oceans.
Padang (PDG) is the gateway airport to the Mentawai. Direct flights are available from Indonesian airports of Bali, Jakarta, Medan, Bandung and Surabaya as well as Kuala Lumpur. Once in Padang the boat or resort’s representative will transfer to your surf charter boat, or to the speedboat which will take you to your Mentawai surf resort.
Indonesian Rupiah IDR
230 Plug type V, C, F