Photo: Surfing Village

The Inertia

The Mentawai Islands are a traveling surfer’s Mecca. Disneyland, if you will. But here’s what the videos and magazines don’t tell you: the Ments are crowded – like, super crowded. A new land camp pops up every year to compete with the boats flocking to any spot that works with the wind and tides on a given day. For the average surfer that has spent thousands of dollars and taken umpteen connecting flights to get there, the news that you’re going to be surfing with other people is devastating.

If your daily surf life is anything like mine (i.e.: city-side beach break), the last thing you want to do is travel halfway around the world to compete with an interchangeable group of rippers, kooks, and old guys that torment you at home. And thanks to a massive population of surfers in this world, you better believe this is what you’ll find at many surf destinations. We travel to escape the doldrums of surfing at home, not to bob around with the masses in an exotic locale. That’s why I am dedicated to searching a bit further and getting away from mainstream pipe dreams.

Lo and behold, not too far from the Mentawais, I found those elusive empty lineups. All it took was a little research, a willingness to leave things like A/C and infinity edge pools off my list, and an overnight crossing in a wooden ship.

What would you give to have this all to yourself? Better yet, what wouldn’t you give?

Located in the Telos Islands, we came across a place called Surfing Village. The camp is situated between a barreling right and a barreling left. They have two speedboats just a radio call a way to take to you about ten other waves, all within 10 to 60 minutes. Best of all, we left feeling like we were part of the owners’ families.


One of the owners said, “This place ruins the rest of Indonesia. Once you’ve been here, forget about it.”

Honestly, I left a bit worried that coming across this gem set an impossibly high standard for all future surf trips. The rest of the world might fall into the ruined category once you actually find a place where you can get warm waves to yourself. But that’s a risk I am willing to take. And if you’re satisfied with surfing the famed A-grade waves of the Mentawais, that’s fine by me too. I’ve just learned there are some serious rewards for thinking outside the box, i.e. Sumatra’s most famous chain.

So, shoutout to the people who just made my wildest surfing dreams come true.

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