South of Nias are the now famous Mentawai Islands, pronounced Men-tah-why, without doubt The Best Waves on the Planet.

Most islands are covered in dense rainforest jungles, hardly any roads, limited food supplies, and only a few comfortable places to stay. Despite thousands of surfers coming here over the last two decades, most surfers still prefer to return on a yacht rather than trekking overland, camping out, or going feral with the natives. New land-based resorts offer a touch of luxury and no seasick nights -,,,

We recommend you travel with the experienced professional yachts listed in our book, and avoid unsafe local fishing boats, no matter how cheap they may seem. Safety first, always! Get your copy of the book now, for the best recommended yachts and surf camps. 

The Mentawai people are the most primitive, tattoo-covered natives in Indonesia. Many live a simple subsistence life in the jungle, based on bartering, not money. Often they can not supply you with food or water, no matter how much money you have. Most prefer to trade goods for knives, axes, fishing nets, or even beads and betelnut rather than cash. Animistic religions and black magic are still strongly believed in, despite the spread of Christianity. The natives believe that all things possess a soul, from rocks to trees to rivers; illness is caused by upsets to the souls of the objects around us, so western medicines are still rare to find here. Thankfully SurfAid is doing something to change that -

Padang is now the base for over 35 yachts travelling to the Mentawais. The exact location of most surf spots remains a closely guarded secret, so simply rely upon your yacht captain to guide you to the best breaks each day. The Mentawais has hundreds of waves, but only about 30 are surfed regularly. This is one area of Indonesia where learners or first timers to Indo should probably avoid. 

In the north there are a dozen waves in the Telo group alone, with Resort Latitude Zero in the best spot. The largest island of Siberut has fast, hollow lefts at E-Bay, thick intense right tubes at Bankvaults, excruciatingly long left tubes at NoKandui, and even longer ones at Kandui Rights aka Rifles (600 yards of ultimate speed). Sipora Island has one of the world’s best right tubes, Lance’s Right, aka HT’s or Hollow Trees. The pro surfers make it look easy in the videos, but in reality it is a very dangerous tube with a slab of almost dry coral called “The Surgeon’s Table” awaiting any mishap. Not for learners. South Pagai Island has Rags Left and Rags Right, both ultra-long hollow tubes also for experts only.

On Pagai Utara island is Macaroni’s, “the most fun high-performance left in the world”. Maca’s peels like a machine, but the take off is fast and hollow. Macaronis Resort is now open all year, with great uncrowded “low season” waves -  

One of the most consistent lefts is Thunders off Pagai Selatan. A long way south is The Hole, an ultra-nasty gaping chasm. Expert tube riders only. Plus some secrets down to Enggano

Most Mentawai waves suit more experienced surfers. For intermediate level surfers, ask your captain to take you to these following breaks which can be fun on smaller days: Nipussi, a consistent yet mellow right with 75 yard rides; Four Bobs, another fun 75 yard right; Burgerworld, the slowest, easiest 100 yard right; Scarecrows, a wedgey left take-off with an inside tube; Lance’s Left, a more powerful left barrel to 100 yards; Macaroni’s, take off wide for 100 yards of non-stop mechanical lip bashes; Telescopes, a perfect reeling left up to 500 yards; and Thunders, the most consistent left in the Mentawais, with a wider peak great for intermediate surfers on smaller days. 

The Andaman and Nicobar islands north of Sumatra have very good reef surf, but are only accessible through India, where you must go through Indian Immigration. Don’t chance taking a local fishing boat from Sumatra, you may be arrested, or even worse, pirated! This is dangerous pirate territory, especially after the destructive 2004 Tsunami and earthquakes.

*Special thanks to Anthony & Jordan of Saraina Koat and Kandui Villas for contributing their experienced knowledge to this section of the book. 

Our #1 Recommendation for Mentawais

It's definitely worth the $5 a day for TRAVEL INSURANCE to avoid having to pay $50,000 for an Emergency Flight if you get badly injured on the sharp coral reefs or crazy roads.

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Top Travel Tips

Teach yourself Indonesian

Learning the Indonesian language can be a relatively easy affair. Compared with English, the structure of Indonesian is far simpler. However, deciding where to get started can be a problem, so here are a few hints:

Don’t try to learn too much all at once.  Just a few words and sentences each day, so it will be easier to remember.

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