| HOME | BALI SURF REPORT | BOAT CHARTER | SURF CAMP | GIRLS ONLY | VILLAS RESORT |
   
 
 
THE MENTAWAIS 
 
[ VIEW SURF CAMPS & BOAT CHARTERS IN THIS LOCATION ]
   
Where

The Mentawai Islands, stretching from latitudes 2 to 3 degrees south, off the west coast of Sumatra, could easily merit a book to themselves. They are without a doubt the destination most aspired to by surfers worldwide, being home to a large number of the best waves on earth.

The Setup

4 main islands and dozens of islets are fringed by palm cultivations, 28 degree water and coral reef, and backed by dense jungle miles away from any western style “civilization”. Like much of Indonesia, volcanic eruptions shaped the topography and sea bottom of these islands, making for extremely deep trenches in the ocean floor, and fast rising land mass close to the shoreline. The result is minimal dilution of swell energy, and funneling and refraction of waves to the enormous benefit of surf spots. In conjunction with the above, the Mentawais present almost the widest swell window and fetch in the Indian Ocean.

The Waves

The convoluted shorelines, deeply recessed bays and many islets also add variety of angle to swell and wind, so whatever the breeze or swell direction, somewhere will be offshore and lined up. It’s a slam-dunk for surfers. Waves here tend to have considerable power without necessarily being heavy in the Hawaiian sense. Generally speaking, peaks are relatively predictable, enabling you to tackle larger waves than you might be able to at home. Intermediate surfers can get good waves although some of the celebrated waves are more challenging than they look in still photos. Prepare for anything from 2 to 10ft, but rarely more.

The Reef

The quality waves are over lava based coral reef lying at varying depths. Some are flat tables with a safe covering of water, others are pocketed, pointy, shallow and hard to avoid in the event of a fall. Very few surfers come back from a trip here without some kind of a cut, so the medical section at the back is particularly relevant.

Crowds

There are well over 30 full time charter boat operators, with an average capacity of 8 -10 surfers each. If 5 of them decide that a certain spot is on today, instant over-crowding is the result. Have a good long chat with your tour operator or boat captain about how to avoid this situation. Not all charter companies will take you beyond the main areas closer to Padang, and some are only willing to surf the big name, easy access spots.

Season

Swell is in best supply from April to October, with July and August often representing the peak of consistency and size. This middle of season is also the driest and most crowded. Boat operations run from April to October/November for these reasons, and because after November, the weather can get pretty unsettled. Trade-winds do not operate this close to the equator, and winds are shifting and unpredictable. Many days are wind-free, or with the breeze veering 360 degrees in 24 hours. Thanks to this, goofy footers and natural can both get their fix on the same day, with rights and lefts often next door to each other.

Getting There

It is extremely hard to get waves when tackling these Islands overland. There is very little accommodation (see back) for land surfers, and outside the semi-sanitized environment of the surf camp, food can be a challenge, as can shelter from malaria carrying mosquitoes. Alarmist as it may seem, Malaria is a genuine problem throughout Sumatra and its outer islands. Boat charter is the most realistic way to get to the best waves, which is why we’ve dedicated a few pages to some of the main players in the back of the book. Most charters depart Padang on Sumatra’s central west coast. You can get there from Singapore, or from Jakarta. Generally, a charter will be from 6 - 12 guests, so you will form part of a larger group.

Equipment

Take the full extent of medical and surf supplies listed at back. Boat trips provide some insulation from malaria carrying mosquitoes, but no guarantees. Spare board and leashes are essential. In addition, Stugeron or other sea-sickness pills are a must. Many charter boats are diesel powered and heavy, meaning they can have a particularly bad rolling action if big seas are running. Even the most hardened sailor can fall to sea-sickness in those conditions, and you will not be able to just get off the boat!

Boards

Generally, rhino chasers are not appropriate for these hollow waves; they make turns hard, are clumsy when trying to slot into the barrel, and can’t be pumped or positioned easily. On an average 4-6ft day, an ideal board might be about 4 - 6” longer and 1/4 inch wider than your everyday short board. Taking both should therefore cover you for the good days and the small. Add another 6” again for your “big day” board and you’ll have the ideal quiver! Bear in mind that snapping your only board on day one will leave you little else to do while everybody else is having fun.

Boredom

Most boat trips take 10 days minimum. When you are surfed out there will be little else to do. A few tips: Check if your boat has good fishing equipment - there’s great tasty fish all around you here. Ditto snorkeling. Take those books you always wanted to read. Check that the boat will have a CD player, and, of course, that staple of modern living, the DVD player. Finally, ensure somebody in the group has a good camera. Some operators run cultural tours of the villages when waves are absent; check in advance. It’s a shame to travel half way across the world and not meet a single local except your boat crew, and many surfers that come back rate these visits as the most memorable part of their trip. 
   
 
 
   
 
 
THE MENTAWAIS 
  Where

The Mentawai Islands, stretching from latitudes 2 to 3 degrees south,...
[ View Detail ]

( ONE PALM ) PANAITAN ISLAND & WEST JAVA :. JAVA 
  Panaitan Island

An Island extension of theUjung Kulon national Park off the...
[ View Detail ]

ACEH & THE NORTHERN ISLANDS 
  Aceh Province - The Mainland
A separatist movement, recently lifted martial law,...
[ View Detail ]

SABU & ROTE 
  Rote has been on the surfer’s map for thirty years, and...
[ View Detail ]

NUSA LEMBONGAN/ LOMBOK/ SUMBAWA 
  Perhaps rated as one of the classic SUrF charters due to...
[ View Detail ]

SUMBA 
  Some surfers say that the further east of Bali you travel,...
[ View Detail ]

 

     
| LINKS| MERCHANDISE | LOCATION MAP | PHOTO GALLERY | DISCLAIMER | ABOUT US | CONTACT US |
Copyrights @2006 - SUrF TRaVeL ONLiNe