The Mentawai Islands surf spots are broken down into three main areas – northern, central and southern. These are serviced by the four main islands in the Mentawai Islands Regency – Siberut Island in the north, Sipura Island in the centre and North Pagai (Pagai-Utara Island) and South Pagai (Pagi-Selatan Island) in the south.
The Northern Mentawais area of surf is a cluster of islands off Siberut that make up the Playgrounds area and surrounding islands, where the waves tend to be heavy hitters with some exposed sections of shallow reef. But don’t worry – while there are waves for the expert in all of us, you can find surf for most abilities. That’s because there are 25+ breaks accessible by boat suitable for a range of levels. You’ll be staying on islands like Masokut Island, surrounded by epic waves like eBay, Pitstops and Bank Vaults, or Karangmajat Island (home to famous waves Kandui and Rifles).
Sipura, or Sipora Island as it is sometimes spelled, is about as close you can get to perfection. Imagine private and secluded beaches, world-class waves at every turn, and lush tropical forest. Sipura is not only one of the most picturesque islands in the Mentawai area, but it also has some of the best surf. Sipura offers an array of waves for all abilities but tends to lean heavily towards experienced and expert surfers. Heavy barrels, shallow reefs, and consistent surf make Sipura and this corner of the Mentawais some of the most coveted waves in the world.
North Pagai is where some of the jewels of the Mentawais hide. Here you’ll find waves like Macaronis, Gilligans, and Bommies Peak. North Pagai is also known as the Nassau Islands, a name given to North and South Pagai by the Dutch. In addition to incredible waves and scenery, North Pagai is known for being a tectonic hotspot.
South Pagai, the other half of the Nassau Islands, not only boasts great waves but history and cultural interaction. Tourists come to South Pagai to enjoy nature, meet locals, and spend time in a culturally rich island. South Pagai hosts some of the highest quality and consistent breaks in the island chain. A majority of waves off of South Pagai are consistently world-class.
A surf trip to the Mentawai Islands is on every surfer’s bucket list with thousands of kilometres of spectacular coastline and hundreds of surf spots exposed to powerful Indian Ocean swells. This geography provides incredibly perfect waves, remarkable surfing conditions and countless surf spots, which is why the Mentawai Islands has become the best-known destination for surfers around the world. In this section, you will find a tonne of tips for your next Mentawai trip.
The travel industry in the Mentawai Islands started exclusively with private surf charters. The boats are able to anchor around the various breaks, and go to the breaks which have the best wind and swell conditions. As of 2019, there are close to fifty different boats operating out of Padang Harbor, offering surf trips to the Ments. There are many Indonesian style boats as well as Australian boat Yachts and Catamarans.
After 2000, many land-based resorts began to spring up in the Mentawais – served by the infrastructure of more regular Mentawai Ferries and communications. Some of the first resorts were at Macaroni’s Camp and Lance’s Right (HT’s). The land camps range from higher-end resorts to eco style backpacker camps. There are well over 30 land-based camps in the Mentawai Islands.
The Mentawai Islands are located approximately 150 kilometres off the west coast of Sumatra, Indonesia. There are about seventy islands and inlets that make up the regency.
Before getting to the Mentawai Islands surfers must get to Padang on Sumatra’s west coast to meet with their transport to the Mentawai Islands. You can get to Padang via Jakarta or Kuala Lumpur. Garuda Indonesia handles flights from Jakarta to Padang with common routes to get to Jakarta via Singapore, Bali and Australia. While AirAsia offers flights from Kuala Lumpur to Padang. It is not currently possible to book flights directly to any of the Mentawai Islands, however, in the past there have been flights available through Susi Air to Rokot Airport on Sipora Island, although unreliable, but since 2018 there have been no scheduled flights available.
From Padang travellers are able to take a ferry out to the Mentawai Islands, departing daily to the three popular hubs of the Mentawais – Siberut (north), Tua Pejat (central) and Sikakap (south). There is both overnight slow ferries and the Fast Ferry, departing in the morning. The schedule for these is as follows.
|Day||Route||Departure time||Vessel Name|
|Thursday||Bungus–Tua Pejat||8pm||Ambu Ambu|
|Friday||Tua Pejat–Padang||8pm||Ambu Ambu|
The Ambu Ambu and Gambolo are very large ferries connecting Padang and the Mentawai Islands. Options include air-conditioned VIP seats (123,000Rp), basic economy seats and wooden berths you can lie down on ranging from approximately 123,000 IDR – 50,000 IDR. Both ferries are usually very crowded as they provide the most economical method of travel to the Mentawai Islands and are always loaded with a lot of cargo. Both ferries leave from the Teluk Kabung port at Bungus which is south of Padang and requires a taxi to get there.
In the peak season be sure to pre-book the Mentawai Fast Ferry and arrive at the dock in central Padang 30 minutes before the scheduled departure.
From Bali, you will fly from Denpasar to Jakarta with a connecting flight to Padang, the biggest city in West Sumatra. Flights range between $100 – $300USD.
Most people like to bring 3-4 surfboards to suit various conditions. Surfers will usually bring one extra board in case one breaks or gets damaged, as well as a larger board for when the waves are bigger.
April to October
Heavy, epic waves in April to October. Expect world-class waves and hardcore frothing surfers.
December to February
Mellow & cruisey waves from December to February. Expect smaller waves (3-4 feet) and fewer crowds.
Native Mentawai culture is based on a semi-nomadic hunter-gatherer lifestyle that depends on the coastal and rainforest environments of the islands. There are an estimated 65,000 Mentawai people living throughout the islands. It is believed that the locals migrated from Nias.
The Mentawai follow Sabulungan, a belief in animism – to the Mentawai every animal, flower, and piece of the land has a spirit and soul. The intense spirituality, as well as relative insolation of the Mentawai has resulted in a culture that is rich in ancient beliefs and incredibly respectful to the land. The Mentawai live simply in longhouses made from bamboo. They wear minimal clothing (loin cloth) but accessorize with necklaces and flowers. Tribal tattoos and sharpened teeth are aesthetic preferences among the people. The Mentawai live off the land: men hunt pigs, deer and primates while women and children gather wild food.