The Ultimate Guide To Surfing The Mentawi Islands, Indonesia
While swaying palm trees and blindingly white sand may register as paradise for most, if you’re a surfer, then The Mentawi Islands will likely register as a whole new level of bliss and appreciated for much more than its natural beauty.
Relatively unknown to those who aren’t surfers,The Mentawi Islands are a chain of about seventy island and islets in Indonesia which are home to some of the world’s best surf.
Because of their remote location, the Mentawis are unspoiled by tourism and – thanks to their glowing turquoise waters – are considered by many to be the most beautiful place on earth.
However, despite the beautiful surroundings, the crowd that flocks to the Mentawis are there for something else – they’ve made the trek through Sumatra in search of waves that are dangerously close to perfection. For many surfers, surfing in the Mentawis is at the very top of their bucket list.
While there are waves that are suited for the less experienced, most waves in the archipelago are quite advanced, so you’re best to brush up on a more forgiving wave – like Kuta or Seminyak – before tackling the Mentawais.
Responsible advice aside, if you’re ready to get barrelled in paradise, read on for our picks of the best spots dependent on your skillset.
For adventurous beginners: Nipussi
Unlike the majority of surf spots in the Mentawi, which break best at lower tide over a sharp, shallow reef, Nipussi’s is surfable at all tides. This means, as long as you have some serious paddle strength (currents can get strong), you can surf it at high tide when the waters deeper and it’s safer for beginners. At Nipussi the wave is a right-hander, so you’re going to have an easier time surfing it if you are a natural foot stance.
Effectively the end of a more advanced wave, Bank Vaults, Nipussi gives beginner riders a chance to surf consistent waves that offer good opportunities for turns with workable walls and playful peaks, as well as the odd barrel.
Where to stay: Not only does Aloita resort look like actual paradise on earth, but it’s also conveniently located in close proximity to a lot of the areas breaks. A fifteen-minute fast boat ride from Aloita and you’ll be at the break, and the transfer is included in your accommodation. Here they have ten independently designed luxury beachfront bungalows which are surrounded by lush tropical vegetation and by a private 2km white sand beach.
For confident beginners: Burger World
As the playful name implies, Burger World isn’t the fastest or most playful wave in the cluster of islands, making it great for beginners. Like Nipussi, it’s also one of the most consistent waves in the area and you’ll find all levels of surfers flocking here on the rare occasion when there isn’t swell at the other breaks.
Because Burger World is best with small swells when the swell is too big the waves turn into ‘burgers’ (surfer slang for a soft, non-surfable wave). The wave here is a proper point break and is often compared to the famous Southern Californian wave, Trestles, without the crowds.
Where to stay: Ni Pussi’s is located even closer to the Aloita resort than Nipussis, taking just a ten-minute fast boat ride. With heaps of other entertaining activities for guests to do, like trekking, snorkelling, stand up paddleboarding and yoga, Aloita’s a great place to stay if you have a non-surfing partner.
For intermediate surfers: Macaronis
The Macaroni’s surf break is the most well-known break in the Mentawis, and the wave that many surfers head to the area solely to surf. If you have your eye on Macaroni’s and want easy access to the wave, Macaroni’s resort is situated right in front of the break and has all the bells and whistles of luxury accommodation.
Though Macaroni’s break isn’t always working, when it is the waves are world-class. It requires a south-to-southwest swell with size to really show off its’ magic and when these conditions are in play, Macaroni’s left break is a barrel machine paired with long, carveable walls with perfect form.
Though it’s likely the most perfect wave in the Mentawais, it’s also the most popular, which means the chance of crowds. While the crowds aren’t as crazy as Bali, it’s not unusual to see up to 30 highly experienced surfers out at once.
Where to stay: Affectionately known at ‘Maccas’, the resort is a favourite of many Mentawis veterans and you’ll need to book in advance here as it often books out in high season. Situated right in front of the wave, you can surf the island’s best break from dawn to dusk. All of the decked-out suites have incredible 360° views of the lagoon and the ocean
For advanced surfers: Bank Vaults
Bank Vaults is a fear inducing right hander that’s home to a mean, fast and heavy wave. The break is consistent in the sense that it’s very rarely flat, however, it has a thick lip and sharp reefs that can do some serious damage to both surfboards and bodies alike. Able to hold some serious size, Bank Vault’s is perfect for experienced surfers who are looking for a challenge.
Where to stay: As Bank Vaults is located next to Nipussi, the most convenient accommodation is also Aloita Resort.
For those with a death wish: Kandui
Considered one of the fastest waves in the entire world, and sitting on an almost dry, shallow reef at surfable tide, Kandui’s is certainly not for the faint-hearted. If you’re game to surf the super fast and super hollow left, be sure to dress accordingly with a protective rash shirt and preferably a helmet too.
Easily the most dangerous wave around, Kandui’s has been nicked names No – Kandui (no-can-do-ee for those playing at home). If you’re gnarly enough to surf Kandui’s then you probably have no fear of the ocean or reefs and want to sit in the sections where the wave drops off a bit and gives the chance for you to drop into a bomb. While few are game enough to ride Kanduis, those who have felt the sheer elation of riding out a clean, open barrel here will surely be talking about it for years to come.
Where to stay: The villas here were designed to cater for those looking for a luxury option while surfing some of the best waves in the world. It’s located literally out the front of the wave and faces west, so boasts some incredible sunsets. The wooden rooms are beautifully designed and look out on a beachfront swimming pool.
(Lead image: Aloita Resort / supplied)
Published 15 August, 2019