If you’re a princess kind of surfer who must wear delicate designer bikinis and only paddles out to be “seen” by the men, I highly recommend staying home as this place is not for the faint-hearted. If I could associate one word with Mentawai my first pick would be “wild”. Think jungle meet waterfall, meet crystal clear lagoon and waves that will absolutely blow your mind type perfection. If you’re a surfer, this is the one part of the world you definitely should not leave untouched.
Stay at home princesses
Just getting to the outer islands can become a treacherous and very tedious adventure, depending on your style of travel. For me I opted heading over to work at a surf camp, which turned into an accidental-lets fall in love at first sight with owner of camp- have craziest period of my life to date type of travel.
Totally unplanned. Totally let’s drop everything I thought I knew about life. Totally and utterly unforgettable.
Doing it rough
Over the period of two months in these islands, my mock itineraries included being the only Westerner sleeping top to tail amidst hundreds of local Indonesians on the floor of a rusted out boat.
The very same port to port journey in which a boat of similar description capsized in rough seas killing seven locals that same evening.
I sat for 12 hours in a tiny fishing village wondering if a boat home was ever going to arrive. I found myself being transported in dug-out canoes built to strictly transport supplies to the camp.
The scariest of all was stepping foot onto the same supply boat racing out through a narrow reef passage into the biggest, roughest stretch of ocean I have ever seen before, drenched to the bone and terrified if I would make it out alive.
vs doing it in luxury
Now, enough of the crazy stories. The majority of surfers that visit the Mentawais opt for a more comfortable experience for their short period of time in paradise. There’s thirty or so charter boats from budget to luxury that buzz around the chain of islands.
You’ll also find a select number of land camps to choose from- most in which offer a safe and enjoyable ride from the mainland (to avoid the crazy alternatives that I found myself taking). The Mentawais feature the “no rules, anything goes” type lifestyle where you can truly live with no restrictions that you find back home.
Some surfers take this too far and end up living out there too long and completely losing their minds or going “troppo” as they say.
An amazing experience
Being a chick in the Mentawai rocks. Guys give you massive credit and respect in the lineup as they’re stoked to have a female join them in some heavy waves. Your surfing ability will improve faster than you can imagine, with mechanical barrels galore and long green walls that seem to peel forever.
When you’re not surfing you can go brave the dense jungle, practice your Indo on locals in the small villages, pick fresh tropical fruit from the trees, explore outer islands and reefs, snorkel & spearfish, gaze at picture perfect sunsets or pretty much anything your heart desires. But remember- no barbie dolls in these neck of the woods.