The best surf spots of the Mentawai Islands
Have you ever thought of surfing in the Mentawai Islands? The place is one of the most consistent surf destinations in the entire world. The power of southern Indian Ocean storms is turned by the prevailing SE trades towards these amazing islands and amplified.
The result is surf that is remarkably consistent and of unsurpassed quality. During the southern hemisphere winter, (late April to early November) the Indian Ocean is an over-active, groundswell machine. The best wave spots in the Mentawais are:
One of the best warm up waves in the islands. It's a right hander, fantastic fun and also very protected from most wind directions. Normally clean with a potential cover up on takeoff and a nice wall for limbering up and getting ready for the next great one.
Kandui Left ranks as one of the fastest left-hand barrels in the world. Most waves are just too fast to paddle into and some of the biggest bombs can only be ridden with a tow-in from well out the back. In a couple of sections the wave backs off just a little and that is where the brave sit. Epic rides reward those willing to take the drop. Punishment is mandatory and it is a long walk back to the keyhole once you get washed inside.
Kandui Right (Rifles)
Rifles or Kandui Right is all about straight line speed. When the wind goes west and eases off, Rifles starts firing. Dead straight barrels for several hundred meters with clear glassy walls that will leave your head spinning. The take off area is intense and forget about shoulder hopping.
The danger here is that someone is already in the barrel and you cant see them when you stroke in so take your medicine and wait your turn out the back. On its day there is probably no wave than generates more speed in the Mentawais yet is still makable and escapable.
7 Palm Point
A fun left-hander with a decent wall to carve. Most boats pass it by but it can deliver fun sessions.
Also known as Arik's Right. On a big west swell Arik's produces a spectacular high-speed barrel that barely backs off before it throws out again. The wave starts breaking way out the back with 500m rides possible. Needs a north or north east wind and a bit of tide. The coral here is unlike any in the Mentawai with deeply divided living reef that lurks very close to the base of the wave. Get over that and hold your line and make sure the camera is ready - images unlike anything else in the Mentawais.
One of the bigger and dangerous right hander. Good for photographs and video. Bodyboarders enjoy this wave.
Beng Bengs Left is an extremely good left that cranks on a mid size or bigger west swell. A 10 minute boat ride from Eco Bay Lodge. When E-Bay is out of control, Beng Bengs can hold the size. When E-Bay is a bit small or the tide too low, Beng Bengs pumps out mellow speed walls and the occasional cover-up. A walk along the perfect white sand beach is well worth the effort.
Koroniki (Burger World)
Koroniki Right or Burger World is a great alternative when everywhere else is flat. Anything bigger than 4 feet here flattens out into a giant speed wall. Burgerworld is very consistent and it has produced some epic images over the years. The setting just meters from the jungle is to die for.
E-bay is a spectacular fast, barreling left that is best when overhead or bigger. Jack McCoy named this place "Paradise Point" and it features heavily in some of his best known surf movies. Multiple coverups are common at mid tide and the wave can turn fun and slashable on full tide. A favorite with the pro photographers. Go left.
Hideaways Left or Mainu island throws a heavy left barrel over a very visible and very shallow reef. Far less consistent than other breaks in the area, it is best on a fresh west swell with a 14+second period. When it gets good it can be very very good. Other times it can be pretty gnarly. Low tide is for lunies and pros. SE winds or none at all suit it best.
Picks up all the swell and turns on more consistent performance waves than any location in the north Mentawais. Winds often go north and Nippussi is offshore while everything else gets blown out. Wide wedges hold up to 5m while the reef runners can produce barrels on much very little swell. Go right.
Playgrounds produces long and clean walls for mal riders or anyone looking for a mellow experience with little or no fear attached. On bigger south swell days this wave can stand up into the west wind and produce very long speed walls.
Iceland is a gut churning left wedge that sucks out of deep water and blasts down a very live reef in super clear water. The name relates to the water color after the wave breaks leaving a fizz of air bubbles in the water for far longer than other places. The peak shifts and getting caught inside is just part of the fun. North to North East winds or flat calm are the only times you will see the best of this wave but it can turn on some incredible sessions.
Pitstops take off area is very narrow, it moves out predictably on mid size swells but goes mutant and wide when the swell picks up. Best at mid tide or lower and 3ft, the wave throws a nice cover-up on the take-off, backs off into a bashable lip and then reforms over sand all the way to the beach.
Promises is not often ridden by anyone who is not at professional level. Nice for photos looking for wide open right hand barrels in but very close to dry reef so no room for error.
In the Pitojat Island. Scarecrows Left is always a bit larger and a bit more exposed than Telescopes. Scarecrows is best on an incoming tide and very light east or south east wind. It handles stronger south winds at low to mid tide and the take off is either a deep instant coverup or a big wedgey ramp and an insane inside bowl.
Left. How deep do you want to paddle? One of the world's most perfect left barrels once the swell hits 4ft or more. A tide gate holds back the swell on the outgoing and for an hour or two after low tide. Then the fun starts and if you are on the spot for the afternoon offshore your tropical fantasies will all come together in front of your eyes. The wave looks easy from the anchorage but it is always bigger and faster than you think on the drop.
Lance's Right (Hollow Trees)
A freak of nature and a fantastic spot. Wide sets can be fat and easy to make but everything else is fast hollow and almost mechanically perfect. The screamers across the reef can reward and they can punish. A wave to elevate your surfing skills if you can face the drop and believe in yourself.
Long left walls wrap down the point before hitting the final section, which is the main take-off spot. Great hollow section after the take-off.
Delivers more fun per meter than most waves you will ever surf. It is short and sweet. On days when the hell north winds blow everything out, Bintangs shines. Go right.
Macas Left, voted the most fun wave in the world. Macaronis, more commonly referred to as "Macas" is one of the best lefts in the tropics. Consistency is Macas' middle name. The wave looks more like a machine than a natural reef formation. If you could design a wave, Macas is about the best thing one could imagine putting together.
A great left-hander that can hold the biggest swells. It is very hollow and can often dish out some of the heaviest hold-downs in the island chain. Usually a bit more water moving around so a larger board can be useful.
Rag's Right is still working on high tide but it is no less intimidating. The lip throws out so far because the reef ledges up fast and mistakes are not good for your health. Awesome on its day, Rags Right needs light NE or N winds to fire.
Thunders is named for the goosebump raising noise it makes. Dropping pick at the place causes a rush to the head. Always way bigger than it looks from the boat, Thunders is easily the most consistent left in the Mentawais. SE to SW winds are more or less off shore with South being the ideal wind direction.
Waves wrap from several different directions so you are always on the look out for the most feared wide sets in the Mentawais. Caught inside at Thunders is something to avoid. Six wave sets and a lot of water rushing over the reef make you feel like an old sock in a washing machine.
Injuries are actually pretty rare on the bigger days but beware when the swell drops below 4 ft. The small days always seem to hammer you harder and after the recent uplift there is no more washing in over the reef to the keyhole.
Most surfers agree the wave is actually better since the island jacked up about 40cm in the quakes last year.
A so-so right next to Thunders. If you decide to surf here hopefully you'll have a northwest wind and medium tide to make it halfway entertaining.
Can turn on an incredible spectacle when the winds drop out and the swell cranks from the south. Huge wedges seem to hang in space for ages as the lines march towards the lighthouse. Climb the tower to take some amazing shots of the lineup. Go right.
A very hollow left off a small island in south pagai. Starts barreling off the takeoff, but never really stops until a closeout section at the end of the reef.
Turuns is an underrated left breaking round a picture perfect tiny island. Most boats pass it without stopping. Wait for the mid tide and the glass off and be rewarded surfing alone in paradise.