Mentawai Meditations With Rosie Jaffurs

Mentawai Meditations With Rosie Jaffurs

Seea team rider Rosie Jaffurs spent some time in the Mentawais this past summer enjoying perfect waves immersed in a breathtaking landscape. Whether this is a place you plan on visiting one day, or you're just keen to daydream over some beautiful imagery from her trip, read on for some insider travel advice and tips for visiting this special place.
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The Mentawai Islands are a chain of hundreds of islands and islets off the coast of Sumatra in the vast archipelago of Indonesia.  Shimmering blue waters dotted with islands boasting serene palm-fringed beaches glint like diamonds in the equatorial sun - If you're lucky enough to have been there, you'd probably agree that this special place looks a lot like what you might envision in your mind if you were to close your eyes and think of "paradise."

Aerial photo of the ocean and distant islands in Mentawai, Indonesia
Photo courtesy of Nat Shibata and Dave Matthew of Alaia Mentawai 

An expansive network of remote islands that happen to be home to some of the most renowned waves on the planet, the Mentawai's have long-been the stuff that once-in-a-lifetime surf trip dreams are made of.

Seea team rider Rosie Jaffurs spent some time there this past summer exploring all it has to offer - so whether Mentawai is a place you plan on visiting one day, or you're just keen to daydream over some beautiful imagery from her trip, continue on for some travel advice and tips for visiting this special place.  

Seea surfer Rosie Jaffurs jumps off the boat into the ocean for a surf in the Mentawai Islands

 Photo courtesy of Nat Shibata and Dave Matthew of Alaia Mentawai 


{Rosie wears the Tofino One Piece in Nia, Photo Credit: Lost Not Found}

{It's not all heavy slabs and barrels, the region serves up some pretty fun waves for lots of different levels and surf craft, too.  Rosie wears the Dara in Juniper. Photo Courtesy of Nat Shibata and Dave Matthew of Alaia Mentawai }

Getting There

From most places in the world,  getting to the Mentawais is still quite a haul, but not nearly as daunting as it used to be.  Even still, it takes a solid bit of logistical planning. 

Regardless of where you're coming from, if you're staying at a land-based accommodation and taking the public fast ferry you'll have to arrive the day before and spend the night in the city of Padang, Sumatra.

Rosie says,  "Mentally prepare yourself for long boat rides and untouched beauty. Bring everything you need to make yourself comfortable. I like to cover up even though it’s hot, the ferry ride is freezing and it keeps the mosquitoes off. "

Luckily, the fast ferry lives up to its name and will get you to the Mentawais pretty fast - in about 3.5 hours (longer if there's inclement weather or lots of swell). Once you arrive you'll be greeted by someone from your accommodation and you'll take another boat to get there. 

If you're doing a chartered boat trip you'll likely leave in the evening, so coordinate with your booking agent to determine when you need to arrive. 

Where to Stay

Before land-camps and resorts started popping up a boat trip was your best option to access these waves, but these days there are lots of accommodation options ranging from budget to luxury. Most are all inclusive and include three meals per day and daily boat trips to the surrounding waves. Some places are more well-suited than others to cater to families with children, or for friends and spouses in your group who do not surf. 

First, it's helpful to decide what your budget is (it can get very expensive, but there are no frills budget accommodations available) and where exactly it is in this region that you want to surf.

In the northernmost part of this island chain you'll find Playgrounds, home to  waves like Rifles and Nokandui; the central island group is home to Telescopes, and you'll find Macaronis in the south. These are just a few of the most well-known waves - there are, of course, plenty of others! Do some research about the waves in each area and decide from there.


Interior view of the accommodations at Alaia Mentawai
{ Not a bad place to rest your surf-weary head! Previous two photos courtesy of Nat Shibata and Dave Matthew of Alaia Mentawai }

When Rosie visits she stays at Alaia Mentawai , a small luxury surf resort located in the Playgrounds region with 20 + waves all within a 30 minute boat ride from the resort.  With stylish and comfortable accommodations made from local materials, and an idyllic infinity pool, Alaia provides all the creature comforts one might expect from a high end resort. 

About the resort Rosie says , "Alaia is owned by a couple who run everything themselves. It's worth every dollar - this is a luxurious camp for Mentawais. Hot water, wifi, gourmet meals and a mission to find the least crowded waves as possible!"

 Other Resorts

*There are *plenty* more - this is a short list of some well-known ones from North to South

Kandui Resort

Togat Nusa

Awera Resort

Hollow Trees Resort 

Macaronis Resort 

Rosie Jaffurs surfing in the Mentawais {Rosie on a day with more size somewhere in the Ments. Photo courtesy of Nat Shibata and Dave Matthew of Alaia Mentawai}

{Our longboard Queen, Rosie, mixing it up with a fish somewhere in the Ments , PC: Lost Not Found}

Who Can Surf Here?

While there are all different types of waves, the Mentawais is not really suited for beginners. 

The guys at Alaia say ,"In our opinion Beginner Surfers do not yet have the experience to really enjoy what the Mentawai's has to offer and there is a chance for beginners to find themselves in dangerous situations. If, however, you are an Early Intermediate Surfer or above, the Mentawai's could be your dream destination."

With that said, it is a place for all different styles of surfing - not just shortboarding. Surfers can enjoy the waves here on all types of craft, including longboards. Your guides will know the best waves in the area to suit your experience and style of surfing. 

{Photo Credit: Lost Not Found}

What About Non Surfers?

If you don't surf or are wondering if there's anything to do if the waves are flat it's no surprise that this paradise offers plenty of other activities.  Many resorts offer yoga classes and some have on-site spas where guests can enjoy massages and cold plunges. There is, of course, snorkeling and long walks to explore stretches of unspoiled beaches. Some resorts have equipment like stand-up paddle boards  or canoes that you can use to explore mangrove forests. For those who want to give back something positive to this region, check out Togat Nusa Retreat : during shoulder season they offer guests the opportunity to participate in coral restoration at their coral garden - a truly unique and (environmentally beneficial!) experience. 

What To Pack

{PC: Lost Not Found}

{PC: Lost Not Found}

You'll want to pack swimwear you feel comfortable and confident surfing in - prioritize comfort, performance, and sun protection! 

Rosie says, "I wear the Bobby Top and Phoebe Bottom as a base layer, but you’ll get burnt fast so definitely bring a rash guard. By the end of the trip I was in the Penelope Bodysuit because of leg rash from so much surfing…Surf hat is a must! Also nothing dries out there so you probably want all your bikinis because the humidity takes days to dry anything!" 

Our Picks

The Dara Surfsuit or the Penelope or Nazare paired with a rashguard for ultimate sun protection 

Harper Surf Suit  for comfort during longer sessions -the underarm gusset helps prevent dreaded arm-pit rash.

Check out the rest of our Mentawai Surf Trip Essentials collection here.

Other Essentials

Surf wax 

Spare leashes

Spare fins 

Avasol Sunscreen and Manda Paw Paw Salve

A good book

A broad spectrum antibiotic (we're not doctors so this does not constitute medical advice!) 

Cash in Indonesian Rupiah

Plug adapters

Stuff to give resort staff - Rosie says, "I like to try bring stuff that I could potentially leave behind for the workers at resort. They don’t have stores like we do so they appreciate any gifts."



Have you visited Mentawai? Let us know in the comments below?


Looking for other travel related content and tips?

Check out our guide to Bali

How to pack your board bag





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