Situated about 80 miles off the coast of west Sumatra, the Mentawai Islands are home to some of the best waves on earth and has become the bench mark for the ultimate surf trip. If you’ve not been before, then here’s 5 reasons why every surfer should have them right at the top of their surf vacation bucket list.
1. The perfect combination
Its unique location with a large exposure to the roaring 40’s in the Indian Ocean result in extremely groomed and consistent swells that peel perfectly along its countless coral reef passes. Being close to the equator and away from a large land mass it also means that winds remain light and varied throughout the year. And with crystal clear tropical bath like water as well as golden beaches fringed with coconut trees, it’s not hard to see why so many surfers make the long journey to this remote corner of Indonesia.
2. It’s so worth the effort
While the journey might take 2-3 days to complete, it hasn’t stopped travelling surfers from making the trek. In fact as transport links have improved, the Mentawais have become more popular since it’s discovery as a surf Mecca a few decades ago. But while the long journey has become significantly more convenient, reliable & comfortable in recent years, it still remains a remote and relatively expensive surf destination. This perceived inconvenience is actually a good thing from a surfing point of view and for some time to come will at least keep crowds to a minimum!
3. No kook zone
Primarily suited for intermediate to advanced surfers, the islands natural beauty has some inherent dangers that lurk beneath for any intrepid surfer. And we’re not talking about sharks – of which there are no threatening species. Instead the biggest hazard is the coral reef that lies beneath the majestic surf. And with only a few feet separating the surfer from the razor sharp reef, it’s no joke when we say that it’s not to be taken lightly. As jaw dropping as the surf and surroundings might be, the trip of a life time can easily be turned into your worst nightmare. Good news is that it seems that the majority of camps and surf operators in the region really understand this and although some beginners do visit the area, it’s less of a circus than many of Indo’s hot spots. As frustrating as a boat load of Brazilian surfers can be, a flotilla of beginners bobbing around the line-up is much more of a danger and annoyance to everyone than a pack of Brazos. Thankfully it’s a pretty rare sight, for the time being at least.
4. Surf all day
Surf trips can be experienced by staying at a land camp or by jumping aboard a charter boat. Each has their advantages but the goal for everyone is quite simply to surf as much as possible over a period of around 10 days on average. Surfers can surf from dawn to dusk, so it’s not hard to clock up some memorable sessions in just a handful of days. Of course, with so many new resorts and boats operating in the archipelago, it’s not uncommon to experience a few uncowded line-ups from time to time. This is especially so at the regions premier waves such as Rifles, Macaronis and HT’s. But thanks to experienced captains and resort surf guides, it’s never too difficult to find enough waves for its thirsty punters.
5. A year round destination
The best time to visit these incredible islands is actually any time of year. But the main surf season is certainly from April until October when the surf is extremely consistent and the winds remain light and favourable. Nearly all of the more famous waves will break with some regularity at this time of year. Crowds vary from week to week but for those looking for the least busy line-ups, book a trip in the off season which ranges from November to March. In fact it’s not uncommon these days to see more and more surfers in the water in the fringe season looking to escape the crowds of the busy months.
One thing for sure is that the crowds aren’t going to lessen. But don’t let that put you off from visiting its sandy shores. The Mentawai Islands remain as one of the finest surf destinations in the world. Crowds come and go but either way you will probably experience some of the best waves of your life.