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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:

World Nomads offers simple and flexible travel insurance and safety advice to help you travel confidently. World Nomads offers travel insurance for independent travelers and intrepid families. It has been designed by travelers for travelers, with coverage for more than 150 activities as well as emergency medical, lost luggage, trip cancellation, and more. Buy at home or while traveling and claim online from anywhere in the world..

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

    Omar AlJammaz 03/07/23

    Great travel options, great customer support, simplifying planing process.
    Looking forward for my next trip.

    Nina Ross 03/08/23

    Awesome holiday to Hudhuranfushi. Giulia was very helpful and quick to respond and overall we were very impressed with Awave Travel.
    Lohi's is a private, on site, awesome left hander that just kept giving. Also had options of 2 daily surf boat trips that went to other local breaks such as Sultans, Ninja's, Cokes, Jails. The surf team are amazing and we scored great waves the whole time we were there.
    Stayed in a Sunset family beach villa which was perfect for a family of 4, then upgraded for the last 3 nights to Ocean Villas, both great for different reasons!
    Island staff are so helpful and welcoming, and there's a good variety of food options available. Lots of other things to do such as paddleboarding, jet ski-ing, spa treatments, yoga and amazing snorkelling - with sharks, turtles and rays! We also hired bikes to get around and do morning surf checks!
    An amazing trip, thank you Awave and Hudhuranfushi!

    Seb Speck 25/06/23

    We had an amazing time on the Mentawai islands booked through Awave Travel.
    Giulia was very helpful and available at all times during the booking process. And we had the best time on the Mentawais on the Maki Boat. The staff were amazing. Raul the surf guide was very helpful, friendly and coached us on the waves. Kaique the photographer produced top quality pictures and videos from the water, boat and drone.
    Overall very happy and would highly recommend it.

    Tom Ward 18/06/23

    We charted Seafarer for a 10 day trip in the Maldives. We booked with AWAVE about 12 months before. James was super helpful, really responsive and just easy to deal with. We even made a very last minute change to go to the central atolls which he arranged pretty much straight away. The trip itself was unreal, great surf, amazing wildlife and scenery. If you’re thinking about a surf charter, do it and book through these guys!

    Natasha Gronski 06/08/23

    Awave Travel is the best surf travel agency I have ever booked! They are very professional and responsive to my inquiries and are able to match me with a surf trip appropriate to my interests and skill level. They have an outstanding relationship and reputation with the resorts that they work with, which makes a difference in the consumer experience. Above all, the Awave staff is very friendly and knowledgeable about the areas they recommend, as they have actually surfed the spots and stayed at the resorts. For anyone who wants a hassle-free, no worries, relaxing and fun surf adventure, Awave Travel is the way to go!

    David 05/29/23

    8 of us stayed at Hudhuranfushi for my 50th birthday celebration. The resort and services were amazing. James and the team at AWAVE stayed in contact from the beginning to end to ensure we had everything we needed. Great experience. Definitely looking forward to booking our next trip with AWAVE in the near future.

    Alexandra Franz 05/31/23

    We spent amazing days in Morocco in Amouage. Was an amazing stay and the full surf package offered by AWAVE was great.
    All the people were very nice and coaches were amazing. Booking was very smooth, answered all my questions and they took care of everything.
    I took the coaching package and had a great time and learning. The teacher was great, very patient and explained everything very nice and calm. Felt safe all the time and had a lot of fun as well.
    My boyfriend had the guiding package and he also had a great time. He was always taken to the spots that fitted his level and enjoyed the full when conditions were nice.

    Alex Reuter 05/22/23

    We stayed at Ayada in Maldives and I can't be more complimentary of AWAVE! Awesome and patient advise over whatsapp on which resort to go to with extremely details local knowledge on surf conditions, wave spots, resort quality, which atolls to go to, etc. I followed their recommendation and it was spot on. Easy booking on short notice before the trip, can't thank James enough!

    Stewart Cropp 05/19/23

    Our remarkable trip was 12 months in the was awkward to organize because there was so many people coming and going over our two week chartered cruise.
    I can’t speak highly enough of AWAVE and more to the point ,the wonderful Giulia Manfrini. She is so caring and sweet and far above and beyond any travel consultant that I have ever worked with
    Thankyou Giulia for all your prompt answers to my gazillion questions
    You are “Simply the best”.
    Now onto the Carpe Diem
    The trip of a lifetime was had by all 20 of us
    The Captain and crew worked tirelessly to pander to our every whim
    They would not allow us to lift a finger
    Our Barmen Shawn and Cook ( still can’t pronounce his name ) were superb, the food was first class and varied and the alcohol flowed like a river
    Our Surf guide “Seppe” found waves for us every day except for two while we travelled deep into the central Attols
    We were greatful for the rest
    We snorkeled with the sharks and visited uninhabited Islands spent an afternoon being spoiled at a high class resort .
    All in all an Awsome trip

    Diane 05/11/23

    James helped us organize our trip in April for my partner and I in the Mentawai.
    First, lets discuss the service : James was super clear and reactive. We received a list of resorts with different price ranges and he provided all the elements for us to decide based on our needs and budget. We felt very supported for the organization and we even received so advices few days before leaving for packing.
    I was a bit afraid as i'm not a good surfer so i reach out many times to understand how I could still try and learn and James always replied very quick and with all the info i need.
    Then when we arrive : it was super well organized, everything went smooth and we fell in love with the place and people. We can tell they really worked on their resort selection and travel organization and we trust our next adventure will be as qualitative.
    Already recommended their service ;).