Nowhere else on earth has so many world-class waves in such high concentration. The Mentawai islands are one of the best surf destinations in the world and have attracted salty surf travelers for decades. With waves of all shapes, sizes, and quality breaking in warm tropical waters, the Mentawai is ground zero for quality waves.
However, navigating the place is tricky if you haven’t been to the islands before (or even if you have). With hundreds of islands and notable world-class breaks, it’s hard to know where to go, where to stay, and how to get there.
In this post, I’ve tried to make things easy again. We’ll dive into when to go, how to get there, where to stay, The best surf spots, top resorts, and charters, and discover if a trip is possible without breaking the bank. Here’s everything you need to know about surfing in the Mentawais.
Table of Contents
Mentawais Best Surf Season
While you can score fun waves all year in the Ments, the best season is between April and October. This is when large swells from the southern Indian Ocean light up the various reef passes across the island chain.
Waves are consistent at this time, and it’s not uncommon for the swell to stay in the 4-6ft during a 10-day trip. Thankfully, there are enough reef passes in the area to bend and dilute swells of any size to serve up waves for all abilities–no matter which island you choose to visit.
Mentawai Surf Spots
There are hundreds of surf spots in the Mentawais, and while many of them are well-known and super crowded, there are many more off-the-beaten-track spots in far-flung reef passes in the middle of nowhere.
For the sake of this post, I’ll focus on the most well-known spots around the main hotspots. Surfing in the Mentawais can be broken down into four areas. These are the main land masses making up the Ments; each has its share of world-class waves.
Best Surf Spots Siberut Island
A freight-train right-hander with sick tubes on its day. Rifles is one of the premier waves in this area and need a substantial swell to get going! Advanced surfers only.
Right out the front of PitStop Hill Resort, Playgrounds is a super fun, right. As the name suggests, it’s a playful right peak and is super forgiving–an easy option for a surf if staying at Pitstops.
A world-class left-hander, just to add to the abundant epic waves in this region. On a typical day, E-bay is a fun left-hand wall for blasting turns and hitting the lip, but if the swell jacks, it turns into a freight training beast–a classic Mentawai wave like you see in the vids!
Another super powerful right-hander. On its day, Bank Vaults is a freight train right barrel. While it can be a little shifty, lock into one here, and you enter “wave of your life” territory. Bank Vaults gets its name from how it locks you into the tube, not letting you out until you race and race and get blown out into the channel. A world-class wave and what you come to the Ments for!
Burgerworld is one of the most consistent waves in the area. Breaking off an island off the coast, it’s a super playful, albeit fat wave, compared to other waves in the area, but a great option if the swell is small. Popular with surfers of all abilities, a perfect wave to train as an intermediate and an epic wave to throw your finds around as an advanced surfer.
A super heavy left-hander. When those huge swells hit Indo, this is where you see videos of the pros pumping through huge electric blue barrels—a serious wave for serious surfers.
Best Surf Spots Sipura Island
Lances Right (HT’s)
Lances’ Right is one of the best waves in Indo, a perfect right-hand barrel on its day. However, Lance’s comes with more intricacies than you’d expect. Depending on the swell, the wave can be shifty, with two separate sections that don’t quite join up. (The swell has to be huge for those classic roll-ins). Oh, and the wave finishes on dry coral, known intimidatingly as the “surgeon’s table.”
Across the headland from HT’s lies another epic wave. While not as good as HT’s, Lances Left somewhat mirrors Lances Right—a perfect left, with sections for turns and tubes. Kingfisher Resort is straight in front of the wave.
If the wind and swell align, and you get bored or frustrated with HTs (like me), Bintangs is a super fun wave. While short, Bintangs is a slabby double-up take-off into a cover-up before dispersing in the channel. Fun and easy!
Beachbreak 1 & 2
If you’re with staying with a surf camp, you can head to one of the beach breaks in the area. There are two beachies in the vicinity offering fun walls and tube sections. A beachie surf can be a great decompression after tackling the tricky Lances Right lineup. What’s more, is you’ll likely score it to yourself.
Best Surf Spots Pagai-Utara Island
An Indonesian gem that needs to introduction. Macaronis is referred to as the most playful wave in the Ments. Either it’s a small day perfect for turns or a bigger day with freight training left barrels–it’s world-class, and if you’re an advanced Goofy footer, the best wave ever.
You might be lucky enough to score Green Bush if the swell is bigger. Green bush is a heavy take-off into a barrel that locks you in, and only the most tube savvy can escape before the closeout section on near dry reef.
Mentawai Surf Spot Map
Where are the Mentawais?
The Mentawai are part of Sumatra, a chain of islands located off Sumatra’s North Western coast.
How to get to The Mentawai Islands
Getting to the Mentawais is a mission, no matter where you come from. I mean, world-class waves need to come at some price, right? I’ve tried to break down how to get there as simply as possible. Ultimately, you need to get to Padang, the gateway to the Mentawai.
From overseas, you need to get close to Padang. This could mean flying to Kuala Lumpur, then connecting through Medan, or flying directly to Padang. Alternatively, fly to Jakarta, then to Padang.
If you’re in Bali, fly to Padang (connect in Jakarta); this is by far the cheapest and easiest way to get to Padang. Once you’re in Padang, you’ve done the hard work and are only a boat ride from epic surf.
Once in Padang, you have two options for the boat ride to the Ments. This can be organized through your surf accommodation, or if you’re doing it solo, you can book the slow board or fast boat.
For – HTs, take the ferry: Padang – Tuapejat
For – Pitstops take the ferry: Padang – Siberut
For Macaronis, take the ferry: Padang – Sikikap
The fast boat is the best way to get to the Mentawais. Depending on the conditions, it costs around $25 and takes between 3.5 – 6 hours. Check out the Mentawai fast boat here.
Monday, Wednesday & Friday (Padang/Tuapejat (Sipora Island)
– 6am Padang – Tuapejat
– 3pm Tuapejat – Padang
Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday (Padang/Siberut Island)
– 7am Padang – Sikalabuan – Siberut
– 2:30pm Siberut – Padang
Friday the Ferry runs between Padang and Sikikap ( Pagai Utara Island)
– 7am Padang – Sikikap
– 1pm Sikikap – Padang
Sunday the ferry runs between Padang, Sioban and Tuapejat.
– 7am Padang – Sioban – Tuapejat
– 3pm Tuapejat – Padang
I’d recommend organizing your ferry transfer via your surf camp!
The slow boat/ferry takes 12-16 hours; it’s cheap ($15), but if you traveled internationally beforehand, it is a frustratingly long journey, especially when gagging to surf! The ferry is always crowded as well.
Depending on which island you choose, you’ll need the slow boat to the respective ferry port, then get a taxi/boat to your accommodation. The slow ferry only tuns a couple of times per week and is only really worth it if you’re on a tight budget and if it aligns with your flights.
Where to Stay in the Mentawai?
Best Budget Options
Arthur Homestay Telescope Mentawai
Located in the incredibly wave-rich north Sipuru island, Arthur Homestay is one of the cheapest surf accommodations in the Mentawai. While the place is basic, if you want to tap into world-class waves on a budget, look no further. As the name suggests, you’ll be able to surf Telespcoes, one of the best waves in the area—dorm rooms for $15aud per night.
Another affordable surf hostel in the telescopes region. Crows Nest is super basic accommodation with A/c, a small garden, and a terrace. Breakfast is included in the price, and rooms start at $62usd per night. Right on the beach, the owners can help you organize boat trips and transport to the waves.
Best Mid-Range Options
Katiet Surf Villa
If you’re looking for the most affordable ways to score HTs (one of the best waves in the world), check out Katiet Surf Villas. The property is located beachfront, next to HT’s Resort, right on the sand and facing straight into the barrel at Lance’s. Pretty sick, huh? The accomm is basic, but you can walk to HTs Resort and eat at their restaurant. Book a room for $100usd per night (sleeps two).
Nyang Ebay Surf Camp
Nyang Nyang (e-bays) is one of the most wave-dense areas in the Mentawais. Nyang Ebay Surf Camp is beachfront, and you’ll have access to several world-class waves and options for all abilities; dorm rooms start at $71aud per night.
Best Luxury Options
Driftwood Mentawai is one of the best places to stay in the Ments. A beautiful property overlooking one of the area’s best waves. Comfortable rooms, restaurant, bar, and even a waterpark on-site. Oh, and you’ll be overlooking a pumping left-hander. A sick brekkie buffet is included in the room price–starting at $500aud per night.
Best Surf Resorts in The Mentawais
Best Mentawai Surf Charter Boats
Typical Ments Trip Cost Breakdown
The Best Trip
Tips for Surfing in the Mentawais
In the Ments, the waves are super powerful; if you’re a beginner or intermediate, this is something to consider. Even as an advanced surfer, adjusting to the combination of fast, shallow waves can be tricky. For instance, my first time to the Ments (check out the video here) was to HTs, and I spent most of my time on the shoulder dodging sets, terrified of the reef.
As you’d expect from one of the world’s best surf destinations, the Mentawais are crazily crowded. At any of the best spots, Ebays, HTs, Macaronis, etc., several surf camps are perched overlooking the wave; throw in a couple of boats in the channel, and you have an intense wave-hungry crowd. I counted 50 people out HTs one morning!
The Mentawais, despite being so well known, is frickin remote. I only traveled there from Bali and felt like I’d traveled to the other side of the world. It’s a mission. For this same reason, it’s vital to have solid travel insurance; the last thing you want to do is get injured and be airlifted from here! We’re talking tens of thousands of dollars. Check out World Nomads travel insurance here.
Ments Resources and Equipment Recommendations
If you’re a short boarder, I’d take a standard shortboard, maybe a small wave epoxy, and a step up. Booking a trip well in advance means you don’t know what you’ll get, so cover all bases and take 3-4 sticks.
Take sunscreen (duh); it’s frickin hot in the Ments, and you won’t want to paddle out without protection. I like to use Indo Coco Zinc, which you can only buy in Bali.
As you’d expect, mozzies and sandflies are gnarly in this part of the world, and a good supply of bug spray will mean you’re not getting bitten to death every night. Most accommodations will have mozzie nets. It’s also worth considering malaria tablets for Sumatra; you can buy these from the chemist in Bali.
Non-surfing Activities in the Ments
The Ments are beautiful, and whether you’re just going to surf or traveling with a non-surfing partner, the water is crystal clear blue, the beaches are stunning and white, and the palm trees bend out like those stock photos you see. Snorkeling, chilling on the beach, and surfing are all there is to do here, which is what you come here for!
Undoubtedly, the Mentawais is one of the best surf destinations in the world–a must-do surf trip for anyone, and surfing in the Mentawais are everything you dream of! World-class waves, warm blue waters, chill, paradise. Oh, and you might just get the wave of your life. If you’ve been to the Ments and have more info to provide, id love to hear about your experience. Let’s make this post the best Mentawai surfing resource on the web!