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Surfing the Mentawai Islands

A relatively new surf destination the Mentawai Islands have quickly become one the premier surfing destinations due to their fantastic waves, warm water and great climate.

Host to some of the world’s great reef-breaks, an amazing concentration of waves, a huge swell window, light winds and breaks facing every possible direction the Mentawais are an ideal place for surfers of all levels.

Onestopsurf takes you through some of the things you should know before you go.

Where are the Mentawai Islands?
This Mentawais are located 140 km off the west coast of West Sumatra, Indonesia, in the Indian Ocean.

Located in deep water on the edge of the continental shelf the islands are surrounded by coral reefs ideal for surfing

Surf Conditions for Mentawais
Whenever you go to the Mentawais you are bound to get surf.

The Mentawais face a massive expanse of the Indian Ocean and are therefore open to almost every swell direction.

With fetches of thousands of miles and swells groomed by light winds the Mentawai Island’s waves are considered some of the most consistent and high quality on the planet

Mentawai Swell Size (average)

Jan/Feb: 5 ft
Mar/Apr: 6 ft
May/Jun: 7 ft
Jul/Aug: 8 ft
Sep/Oct: 7 ft
Nov/Dec: 5 ft

Mentawai Water Temperature

Jan/Feb: 30 degrees C
Mar/Apr: 29 degrees C
May/Jun: 28 degrees C
Jul/Aug: 28 degrees C
Sep/Oct: 29 degrees C
Nov/Dec: 30 degrees C

"Malaria is rampant in Western Sumatra. A number of studies have described the Mentawai Islands as a hyper-endemic malaria area with up to 50% of people carrying the parasite at any one time” – Surf Aid International

Prevention is therefore recommended so take precautions to avoid mosquito bites use repellent, dress suitably and stay clear of land and swamp areas especially at night.

Make sure you have up to date health insurance.

The Mentawai Islands have consistently high temperatures and humidity, with very little change in temperature year round due to it’s proximity to the Equator.

The temperature ranges between 72 – 90 F degrees (22 – 32C).

Water temperature is fairly constant at about 80F degrees (27C).

The dry season is from January to September, and the wet season is from October to December.

Even during the dry season, you can expect rainfall regularly, usually lasting for 1-2 hours, but mainly at night.

The winds are variable throughout most of the year. Since the islands are very close to the Equator, they are less affected by any trade winds and most winds are due to local storms or pressure differentials with many glassy days during the surf season.

What to bring
Last time we heard there are no surf shops on the island or the ferry port of Padang so bring everything you will need with you. We suggest you bring:

  • At least one surf board

  • Extra fins

  • Spare leashes

  • Wax

  • Board repair kits

  • Booties (that coral can be sharp)

  • Long sleeve rash guard/vest to protect you from the sun

  • Helmet

  • Sunscreen

Who to go with
Because of the popularity of the Mentawai Islands as a surfing vacation location a whole raft of companies have sprung up to cater for this demand.

The most usual way to explore the islands is by surf charter and there are quite a few to choose from.

If you want to take the hassle out of it then some of the surf travel agents will do the job for you.

Here are a few to look at:

Freedom Surf Adventures

West Coast Surfari

Olas Navigator Surf Charters Mentawai Islands Indonesia

The Surf Travel Co

Surf the Earth Trips

Mentawai Sanctuary

Indies Trader Marine Adventures

Pure Vacations Ltd

Waves Hunters

Wave Park

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