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how to surf in the mentawais

The Ultimate Guide to Surfing in the Mentawai Islands

So, you’ve seen the photos, watched the surf films, and want to take a trip to surf the Mentawai Islands!

The Mentawai Islands in Indonesia are renowned worldwide among surfers for having the most perfect waves on Earth located in a picture-perfect tropical paradise. In this guide, you will find out where are the Mentawai Islands when is best to travel to the Menatawais, how to get to the Mentawai Islands, and some hints for packing for the perfect surf trip!

The many legendary world-class breaks around Mentawai can handle all different swell and wind combinations, which makes this area a year-round surfing destination for all surfing levels.

Where are the Mentawai:

The Mentawai Islands are a chain of about seventy idyllic tropical islands located approximately 150 km off the western coast of Sumatra in Indonesia. They can be divided into three main surfing regions:

  • Northern Islands: The majority of the spots are located around the islets south of Siberut, in an area called Playgrounds. This is also the most crowded region, due to the presence of many camps and easier accessibility from Padang via public ferries, but the variety and quality of waves are excellent.
  • Central Islands: push yourself a bit more south and get lost in paradise. Sipura is the main island and home of legendary waves as Lance’s Left and HT. 
  • Southern Islands: What you come for is Macas, the only wave in the Mentawai with limited access to a certain amount of surfers. This area is still very untouched and not so developed. With very few land based options, if you are on a charter in this area, expect to surf with just you and your mates!




When to go:

When to travel to the Mentawai Islands? The Mentawais are a year-round surf destination due to their exposure and swell consistency. There isn’t a bad time to go! Every season has something to offer. The low swell season (December to March) offers many perfect fun-sized days of surf (head high) perfect for beginners – to advanced surfers looking to relax. This is also the quietest time of year with very few people in the water!

The peak swell months (May to September) are every chargers dream with average swells of 7ft with long periods and a high percentage of forecasted 5 stars rated days, this is the time of year to surf the Mentawais if you want big barrels and to challenge yourself. In between the seasons, the Shoulder Months are the best pick for intermediate to advanced surfers that want to stay away from the crowds and still score fantastic waves!

How to get there:

How do you get to the Mentawai Islands? Padang is the international airport where you would have to arrive. Daily flights land here from Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta. Garuda Indonesia is the best airline company based on reliability and they carry surfboards in your checked baggage for free! Surf charters depart from Padang harbour during the late afternoon to undertake the crossing during the night. If you have chosen to stay in a land-based camp, Fast ferry boats leave the city of Padang every day. If you choose public transfer ferries try to do it on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays to get the best rates. As the fast ferry leaves early in the morning, make sure to arrive in Padang the day before your Ferry departure day! AWAVE Travels Expert Surf Team will assist in the arranging of all your logistics when traveling to the Mentawais.

Charters vs Land-based – Which is best:

This really is a matter of personal preference! Although dozens of land camps have been established in the past few years and many more are planned, the best way to get around Mentawai is no doubt a charter boat. Long-distance traveling is mainly done at night to be able to be at the surf spot already at dawn. All charter boats have a dinghy to drop you on and off the surf spot. Surf Charters offer unrivaled flexibility to be in the right place at the right time and to surf from dawn to dusk.

The real downside of charters is the lack of space and privacy. This is where the Surf Resorts really excel, offering access to a smaller selection of world-class waves in one region but offering much high levels of comfort and privacy. These are perfect for those that don’t enjoy boat life as much and couples looking to have a bit more privacy. AWAVE Travels Surf Travel Experts can help advise you on the best charter or resort for you!

What is the Mentawai Tax:

To surf in the Mentawai you need to pay a Tax. The Mentawai Tax has been introduced by Mentawai’s governor to benefit the local community and it requires each surfer to pay 1 Million Rupiah (around US$75) upon visiting the region. The tax lasts for 15 days, but it’s extendable, in case you want to stay longer. The Tax has been thought to improve the management of carrying capacities of surfers in each region, reduce overcrowding, and improve the overall experience of visiting surfers.





AWAVE Travel’s Favourite Waves in the Mentawai Islands:

The island chain is home to an almost unlimited amount of waves with lefts, rights, a-frames, heavy reef breaks, playful pointbreaks, and everything in between. This region is a surfers playground and you can find waves for all levels on a trip to the islands. The AWAVE Travel team loves surfing in the region and has picked a few of their favourite waves!



South Mentawai – Voted the most rippable and funnest wave in the world, Macas Left is a machine, predictable, perfect, and challenging at the same time! Working on almost all swell directions, this world-class left can serve up perfect walls, heavy barrels and is even good onshore!



Central Mentawai – Hollow Tree or Lance’s Right is the classic Mentawai right barrel, mechanically perfect. Be careful in the inside, where the shallowness of the Surgeon Table awaits. On smaller swells, this can be a friendly right but with size becomes one of the best right-hand barrels in the world!



North Mentawai – Spectacular and barreling world-class left with a vertical drop and a race to the exit. A short but spice ride, the bigger the swell, the better it gets. Generally needs a good-sized SW swell to get going but is a beauty when it does! Watch out for the two rocks on the inside.



North Mentawai – Race on the most perfect rights in the Mentawai, or even the world. Rifles it’s all about hollow barrels and straight-line speed! Rifles is a rare gem that needs all the conditions to align to score it perfect but when it is on, this is a freight train barrel that races along a very shallow reef!



Central Mentawai – ruly one of the most underrated waves in the Mentawais, this classy right-hander produces a slabby, take-off barrel section followed by a fun bowly wall.


A Frames

North Mentawai – Short right and playful left in a beautiful set-up right in front of an idyllic island. Usually uncrowded and overlooked by most charter boats. A great spot to get away from the crowds and enjoy fun waves with your mates!


4 Bobs

North Mentawai – Fun right-hander for the less intrepid surfers, with a whackable wall and deep water. Although not as intense as the average Mentawai wave, everyone loves 4 Bobs. This super rippable right is perfect to lay some turns and get the occasional barrel. Kandui Resort even has a floating dock over locking the wave for afternoon beers!




AWAVE Travel’s TOP PICKS for surfing the MENTAWAI Islands
















What to pack for your trip:

The Mentawais are a tropical year-round destination. Warm water, light winds, and sunny days are definitely the highlights of this region. Being very close to the equator you also expect some rain from time to time!

Due to its remote location and difficulties in finding even the most basic stuff, we recommend bringing with you the following items:

  • 2 or 3 surfboards
  • Spare legropes
  • Surf wax
  • Sunscreen (lots of it!)
  • Zinc
  • Surf hat
  • Rash Guard
  • first aid kit

Travel Insurance:

Travel Insurance is mandatory when traveling to the Mentawai, due to their very remote location and lack of medical facilities in the area. AWAVE Travel recommends purchasing travel insurance from, available to people from over 130 countries, designed for adventurous travelers with cover for overseas medical, evacuation, baggage, and a range of adventure sports and activities, including surfing.

World Nomads is backed by a suite of strong, secure, specialist travel insurers who provide you with great cover, 24-hour emergency assistance, and the highest levels of support and claims management when you need it most.

Travel to Indonesia:

Although Visa requirements change depending on your nationality, the majority of nationalities can get a free visa on arrival for 30 days extendable until 60 days. At the moment tourist visas are suspended, but entry to the country is possible if you hold a Special Visa and after completing a 5 days quarantine in selected hotels in Jakarta. Get in touch with us to get more information about visa.







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    Customer Reviews

    AWAVE Travel

    Customer Reviews

    Justin West 19/04/2022

    I run surf coaching trips to perfect, uncrowded waves and I relied on the AWAVE team to deliver for my clients a month long boat trip to the Maldives. We had great waves on an absolutley 5* boat called North Seven which I REALLY recommend you enquire about.

    I was dubious at first as a few boats were changed, in for repair but James assured me correctly this was a usual thing and they would endevour to find us the very best replacement (which they did). North Seven was so new we were the third guests but the crew were super experienced and could not have given us a better service. Captain Usmaan, the Chef great food, Hasan and Azim our surf boat operators could not have worked any harder and always had a smile even after the 50th request to speed us to the line up or spend four hours cruising looking or waves.

    AWAVE team were always on hand to answer any fears and smooth out any worries. The payment system using Revolut was super easy.

    We did have a few hiccups with the local airlines which was resolved and partly our fault (as for a month trip we took alot of surfboards and in some cases were over weight).

    Take the fear out of booking and especially group bookings by using the AWAVE team. Justin West Coaching recommended.

    Alex J. Zalewski II 12/11/20

    These guys are the BEST! Massively knowledgeable, fun and absolute shredders. I approached them asking for a UK winter getaway somewhere in the Indian Ocean and they suggested the perfect place, awesome setup with the beach a short stroll from my accommodation with 3 sick waves breaking over reefs to chose from. Real life doesn’t get much better than this. I also popped my barrel cherry in a big way on this trip so it was a truely memorable one. James also somehow wangled a boat charter to some super remote islands where we scored epic surf and landed some massive fish. James’ broken Indonesian language skills will get you places. Thanks again guys you rock.

    Christine Losser 04/27/21

    James was very helpful and always there to answer all the questions. I will definitely book again with him!

    Mark Carless 05/11/21

    James is a super knowledgeable surfer with a great ability to match any trip requirements to the right locations. He has arranged several trips for me and my friends in France, Morocco and more recently Indonesia. Awave have a great knowledge of all the surf spots and will go the extra mile to make sure your trip is all set up. With limited time to do this myself their service was invaluable.

    Andrea Gomez 05/19/21

    Giuliana has been amazing to work with!! She was always available and answered all my questions. Thank you for all your help! We can't wait for our trip!

    Adam 05/23/21

    Fantastic service from start to finish from James and his team. After having several ‘self organised’ trips to Asia end with only a handful of good surf days I decided this time to use Awave in hope of maximising my valuable holiday time. James custom built a trip for me and my friends tailored for our abilities and requirements. There were no days wasted waiting for transfers as he organised it all from the airport to the beach. We scored pretty much every day whilst also having a surf trip that had that ‘off the beaten track’ feel we wanted. To round it off there was also a secret boat trip in the end where we surfed an awesome spot just us...Unforgettable. Will be using again.

    Micio Pardo 07/13/21

    Fantastic service and support from Giulia during our trip. During a self organised trip to Maldives, we ended up in a sketchy situation: the hotel was far from the described plus the owner 'forgot' to mention that the whole island was in lockdown for a covid emergency. I quickly realized that I would need support and the best in class. That's when I decided to use Awave! Giulia answered reactively and custom built several solutions for me and my girlfriend, based on what feasible, our budget and surfing preferences!! No other words needed. Thanks Giulia, we'll be in touch again!

    Caroline 07/18/21

    A wave travel were great! They helped me organize my trip to Sumatra. I would definitely book with them again!

    Harry Vargas 07/19/21

    My friends and I recently went on a trip to the Maldives. We booked a week on the Hudhuranfushi resort which was amazing! The staff was very welcoming, flawless facilities and tasty food. One day our surf guide Ryan caught a fish and made some sashimi on the spot! I think that was pretty thoughtful! Awave agency really made sure all our needs where met as we where a big group of friends. A very personal approach and clear communication. Epic surf, great service, memories of a lifetime! I highly recommend traveling with Awave!

    A. Laprell 09/03/21

    I had just arrived in Bali when the whole of Indonesia went into lockdown again. Despite travel restrictions such as mandatory vaccination and PCR tests, flight cancellations and even the fast ferries to the Mentawis being cancelled, Giulia tried everything to get me there. It was a hell of a trip to get there but totally worth it.

    I scored pristine and empty Mentawis. The resort was affordable yet very luxurious given the remoteness. And with their great surf guide and their boat, I scored amazing empty waves!