To fly to Padang you have to transit in Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur or Singapore (the only 3 airports with direct flights to Padang).
Jakarta is the best option as there are around 20 daily flights to Padang, and back. For this leg (Jakarta-Padang) we recommend GARUDA AIRLINES as it is the most reliable air carrier in Indonesia and they don’t charge for surfboards transportation.
From Kuala Lumpur (KL) to Padang there are only 2 (two) daily flights, and from Singapore to Padang there’s only 1 (one) flight a day (in both cases with AIR ASIA), meaning that you might have to stay overnight in KL or in Singapore on your way to Padang, and one night in Padang on your way back home. And also that you don’t have alternative flights the same day in case of need (missed flight; delay during the crossing back to Padang at the end of the trip; etc.). That’s why transit in Jakarta is the best option, rather than in KL or Singapore. But if it’s ok for you to spend a night in Padang, KL or Singapore, then transit in one of these cities is a good option too.
No latter than 4 pm the day of departure (first day of the boat trip). The boat leaves in the evening, but it takes a couple of hours to clear immigration at Padang airport and collect surfboards/luggage, get in the mini-bus and go to Padang harbour. And usually there are a few things to do in Padang such as passport photocopies, exchange money, buy cigarettes, wax, a SIM card for you mobile phone, etc.
Yes, our staff will be waiting for you at Padang airport to welcome you and take you to the boat, no extra charge. This service is included in the trip’s price.
Please send us your flight details (day and hour of arrival, and flight number).
Yes. If you arrive in Padang the day before the trip starts, or if you leave the day after the last day of the trip (as we recommend below) you can stay overnight in a hotel or guesthouse. Prices are affordable: aprox. 40 USD for a 2 persons room on 4 star hotel; 10-15 USD per person at a guesthouse.
We can help you booking a hotel or guesthouse if you want.
Usually the boat arrives back in Padang before lunchtime on the last day of the trip, and the guests can fly from Padang to Jakarta or to Kuala Lumpur during that same day, after 4 p.m.
Nevertheless we advise you to book your flight from Padang for the day after the end of the trip (staying overnight in Padang) because we are never sure about the time of arrival back in Padang. It depends on the weather/sea conditions during the crossing back to Padang, and in case of rough seas there’s a (small) possibility of delay, and consequently a (small) risk of missing your flight.
It’s up to you to take the risk and book your flight from Padang for the day of arrival (after 4 p.m.), or play safer and book your flight for next morning, sleeping that night in Padang.
April to October. This period of the year corresponds to winter at the southern hemisphere, when big storms at the infamous Roaring Forties (latitudes 40 to 50 degrees south of the Equator, at the Indian Ocean) generate strong swells. These swells travel thousands of miles, loosing power along the way, until they reach Indonesian shores where they meet coral reefs, warm seas and light winds, conditions that are just perfect for surfing. During that period – April to October – there’s an average of 1 good swell every week reaching Indonesia’s southern shores.
During the rest of the year (from November to March) it’s summer time at the Indian Ocean so not many storms happen there, meaning rare and smaller swells. Consequently, the surf at the shores exposed to the Indian Ocean is smaller and less consistent, particularly from December to February (around 1-2 medium size swells per month).
Actually March and November are transition months and there are still a few good swells, and with a bit of luck you can get great surf without the crowds. If you are looking for “smoother” and absolutely empty waves, March and November are a great choice for a boat trip in Sumatra.
There are exceptionally good waves in several of Indonesia’s islands: Sumatra, Java, Bali, Lombok, Sumbawa, etc. But to find great surf you need to take into account two other major factors: winds and crowds.
To avoid windy conditions you either surf early in the morning (before 9 a.m.) or you go to a light winds region. But most of the Indonesian archipelago is exposed to the trade winds, blowing from the southeast from April to October, and from the northwest during the rest of the year.
The only region in Indonesia not affected by the trade winds is located at the so called Intertropical Convergence Zone (aka the Doldrums), a “belt” around the Earth spreading 2º north to 2º south of the Equator and characterized by light winds.
And the only Indonesian islands situated at the Doldrums and at the same time receiving the Indian Ocean super-consistent swells are the archipelagos of Mentawai, Telo, Nias, Hinako and Banyak. These small islands, in the hundreds, have very light winds for most of the year round, and at the same time they are directly exposed to the ground swells traveling all the way from the stormy seas down south the Roaring Forties, until they hit Indonesian coral reefs 3.000 miles (5.500 km) away, therefore with exceptionally long periods, sometimes over 20 seconds!
That’s why these little Sumatran islands have the best surf in Indonesia (and probably in the whole world!), with very consistent swells, lots of windless glassy days, and literally hundreds of surf spots.
Crowds are another problem pretty much everywhere there are good waves. This is happening in Bali, Lombok, Sumbawa, etc.
But Sumatran islands (Mentawai, Telo, Hinako, Banyak, etc.) are not accessible by car or airplane (there are no airports), and there are no places to sleep or eat near most of the surfing spots. To get there one needs a good boat (not cheap!) because these islands are 100 nautical miles (180 km) away from Sumatra big island. Therefore crowds are minimal there, and many surf spots are actually empty.
In short, Sumatran islands are the best choice to catch perfect and uncrowded waves due to a unique conjugation of factors:
They are the only islands directly exposed to Indian Ocean ground swells and, at the same time, located on a light winds region (the Doldrums);
Crowds are minimal due to difficult access and lack of tourist facilities;
Many surf spots are still unknown to most surfers.
NO!!! That’s a myth!
There are more than 50 waves at the Mentawai, more than 30 waves at the Telo islands, more than 20 at Nias, etc., etc., and of course there are waves of all kinds: hard-core, medium and easy waves, fast and slow waves, barrelling and not barrelling waves, etc. Therefore there are waves for all levels of surfing skills.
The average wave-size in Sumatra is 3-6 feet (1-2m). Occasionally the waves get bigger (8 feet/2,5m) but when that happens it’s only for 1 or 2 days, and even then usually there are alternative spots to surf smaller waves. We know many spots for those surfers who don’t want to surf 8 feet barrels, so don’t worry, we will find the right waves for you.
Most waves break over coral reefs so a careful approach is needed particularly at low tide. But our surf-guide will not take you to surf on dangerous spots or in hard-core conditions.
Often our guests surf all the spots demanded on a trip. Many of them tell us they’ve had the best surf of their lives, or the best barrels …or their first barrel ever!
Yes, as long as you are not an absolute beginner. If you catch waves by yourself (without being pushed) you are ready for a Sumatra surf trip.
Of course some spots are for expert surfers, but that happens in all surfing areas around the world. You don’t have to surf there; actually many surfers don’t.
There are literally hundreds of surfing spots at the Mentawai, Telo, Nias, Hinako and Banyak, and of course there are waves for surfers of all levels.
Our surf-guide pays particular attention to those who are surfing in Sumatra for the first time, advising about each surf spot, how and when to paddle out, the best tide, if you need reef-shoes in that particular spot, what not to do in that wave, etc.
Sure! If he is a surfer he will love it! It’s an unforgettable experience for him. If he is a young kid, say under 12, maybe he won’t be paddling out on every occasions (for example on a bigger day) but he will surf more and better waves than ever before in is life.
We’ve had 9 years olds, 11 years olds, 14 years old girls… They all had the best waves of their lives! There might be a problem though… they will never stop asking you to come back to Sumatra!
Some spots at the Mentawai are getting crowded, namely at the famous Playground area, because access to this area became easier recently.
A couple of other particular spots at the Mentawai can also get crowded occasionally (Lance’s right and Maccaronis), but the majority – away from the Playground area – has no access neither accommodation available, and therefore it’s not crowded.
Not to talk about the other Sumatran archipelagos – Telo, Hinako, Banyak, etc. – that seem to have been forgotten by surf boats and resorts operators. Most of these islands are absolutely desert.
Remember that most of the other Indonesian surfing islands (Bali, Java, Lombok, Sumbawa, etc.) are way more crowded than the Mentawai because the accesses are easy and there’s lots of cheap accommodation there.
In short, the only crowded spots at the Mentawai are at the Playground area (northern Mentawai) …and we don’t go there very often (unless you want to).
Yes, we can take you anywhere you want in Sumatra. Actually we love to surf at Telo, Nias, Hinako and Banyak islands, away from the Mentawai crowds and where the waves are just as good. And we can combine more than one archipelago in the same boat trip.
A trip to the Telo islands it’s easy as it’s not far from Padang, and we go there often.
To go further north (Hinako, Banyak, etc.) there’s an extra charge for fuel as the traveling distances increase considerably (100-200 USD per guest, depending on the destination).
Just tell us where would you like to go; we’ll take you there!
Sure! You can do a boat trip with any duration you want.
Standard trips are 10 days/11 nights long; shorter trips are cheaper; longer trips are more expensive.
We recommend durations between 8 and 12 days. Less than 8 days and you risk missing that perfect swell for just 1 or 2 days. Besides, it’s a shame to travel halfway around the world to spend such a short time in paradise.
On the other hand, more than 12 days and you can bet you’ve had more than enough surf, you’ll be totally surfed-out …and by then most guys are missing their kids, wives, terra-firma, etc. But we can do it: a couple of years ago we run a 24 days long trip!
Price is a main factor when choosing a charter boat. Some boats are way more expensive than others, but be aware because often an expensive boat does not necessarily means a better boat. In fact some “not-so-good” boats have very good marketing and consequently are almost fully booked, so they push their prices up.
Boat characteristics are another main issue to take into account: usually a bigger boat is safer and more comfortable. A boat with two engines is also safer than a boat with one single engine, and it’s faster.
The surf-guide is also very important: a bad guide can ruin your holiday, or just make it pretty much average, as much as a good surf-guide can find you the best waves of your life! …and away from the crowds.
Before committing to a boat ask someone who as been on a boat trip before about boat conditions, surf-guides, etc.
There’s not a minimum number of guests. We can run a trip with just a couple of guests as long as they pay for the trip costs. But a bigger number of guests will make the price per guest cheaper.
Under 8 guests the price per person becomes expensive, so we recommend 8-10 guests for a good compromise.
Usually the maximum is 10-12 guests, depending on the boat.
Most surfers bring 2-3 boards for a 10 days boat-trip.
If you are in “good shape” we recommend a quiver between 5’8 and 6’5, depending on your height/weight.
If you don’t surf very often it’s important to bring boards with good floatation (volumes over 28 litters, or even more if you are a heavy guy) so that you catch the waves early without being late at the take-off or going over-the-falls.
If you ride a longboard bring it along, but consider bringing also a shorter board (retro, fish, malibu) as sometimes longboards are not easy to handle in some of Sumatra’s hollow waves.
Yes. No problem!
Yes. The maximum allowed by Indonesian customs is 1 litter per person.
Absolutely forbidden! In Indonesia you can get death sentence or life in prison for carrying or using any drugs, even in small quantities!
Besides taking very high risks, you would also put in risk all the people who are with you on board.
The power on board is 220 V and sockets are European standard for 2 pin plugs (round pins).
If you are living in the USA your electronic gadgets work on 110 V and you will need a transformer to 220 V.
At first light (around 5:45 a.m.) the boat will be anchored at a surf spot. The surf-guide will give you a quick briefing about that spot and he will tell you to go out asap. Enjoy surfing at sunrise while your mates are still asleep.
Back at the boat you’ll have a complete breakfast, relax, and you can paddle out again as soon as you are ready. 2 surf sessions before lunch are normal.
Lunch is served around noon, but if you are surfing don’t worry, the chef will keep your lunch safe.
Till dark you can surf as much as you want: relax, eat, surf, take a nap, surf again, have a beer, surf again, and again…
By sunset you’ll be enjoying ice-cold beers with your mates and discussing the waves of that day, while the boat sails to another surf spot or to a safe anchorage, a couple of hours away, for a quiet night.
Dinner is served around 7:30 p.m. After dinner the photographer will run a slideshow with the “best of” the day’s shots.
Usually you’ll crash by 9 or 10 p.m., the next day’s action starting at dawn.
You can swim, go snorkelling in the beautiful coral reefs, fishing or spearfishing, explore the surroundings on a SUP board, relax at the beach and drink a fresh coconut, visit the local villages, take pictures at tropical scenarios, or just relax on board, read your book in the hammock and let yourself fall asleep, practice yoga or stretch your surfing-sore muscles, play chess with the crew members, watch a video, listen to music… And the all-times favourite: watch over and over that sequence of you getting barrelled, and show it off to your mates!
The guests decide where they want to surf based on the information provided by the surf-guide, who advises the group about the waves available on that particular day considering the swell size and direction, winds, tides, etc.
The surf-guide’s job is to satisfy the group preferences. If you are not happy about the surf just let the surf-guide know about that. He is always concerned about finding the best surfing conditions for you as he really wants you to be stoked with the surf and comeback next year.
We serve 2 breakfasts: first breakfast (around 6 a.m.) is buffet-style including fruit, cereals, bread/toasts, butter, peanut butter, jams, coffee, milk, tea, etc.
Second breakfast (by 8-9 a.m., after the morning surf) is usually a hot plate (eggs, omelette, pancakes, etc.).
Lunch and dinner consist on fish, meat, chicken, shrimps, burgers, rice, pasta, eggs, french fries, pizza, soup, and some Indonesian food such as fried rice with veggies and chicken (nasi goreng), noodles, etc.
In between meals the guests can help themselves on fruit, biscuits, peanuts, snacks, a fresh coconut, etc.
When we catch fish (tuna, trevally, mahi-mahi, wahoo, etc.) the chef prepares sushi or sashimi.
The guests can have all non-alcoholic drinks they wish: mineral water, Coke, Sprite, juices, isotonic drinks, coffee, tea, milk, a fresh coconut.
Yes, the price includes 30 beers per guest for the trip (3 cans per day average).
You can buy more beer on board if you wish.
Other kinds of alcoholic drinks (whisky, vodka, gin, etc.) you must bring it from some airport duty-free shop before arriving in Padang because they are not available in Padang.
Yes, it’s mandatory. You know the story: accidents only happen to others …until it happens to ourselves! In fact that’s very true! Over the years we’ve seen a few accidents, fortunately not very serious (dislocated shoulders, torn knee ligaments, wound infections, etc.) but still needing hospitalization, physiotherapy, flight changes, etc. At the end of the day these unexpected expenses plainly justify insurance coverage.
In case of a serious injury we ask for medical advice by radio or with our satellite phone, and if needed we immediately head off to the nearest hospital. Often there is a doctor or a paramedic among the guests, or on board another boat close by, and in case of need all boats get in contact via radio to find one.
There are new hospitals at Padang and at Nias island, and a few small medical facilities at the islands of Mentawai, Telo and Banyak.
There are top modern hospitals and medical specialists of all kinds in Jakarta, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, these cities 1-2 hours away from Padang. Treatments at these modern hospitals can be expensive, that’s why you need travel insurance.
Current wounds and infections, diarrehea, fever/flu and other minor situations are usually controlled on board with our complete first-aid kit. Our surf-guide has a fist-aid course and good experience with this kind of situations, including applying stiches with anaesthetic.
Not really. Malaria exists in Indonesia, but being a mosquito-transmitted disease, and since there are no mosquitos out at sea neither on board, it is very unlikely to get infected during a boat trip. We don’t know any cases of malaria during boat trips.
Nevertheless we recommend you to seek medical advice about tropical diseases before traveling to Indonesia, and if needed take proper medication.
Probably not. Seasickness cases are rare in these boat trips because the sea in Sumatra is calm, and the few times it is rough we avoid sailing and we stay anchored at a sheltered bay.
Sometimes during the crossing from Padang to the islands the ocean becomes a bit shaky, but it doesn’t happens often.
Seasickness is not a big issue in these boat trips.
All food and non-alcoholic drinks on board; - 30 ice-cold beers per guest (average of 3 beers per day);
Mentawai government taxes;
Use of all equipment on board;
Our boat-trips are all-inclusive, meaning that the price you pay includes everything you need from the moment you get on board to the moment you drop off the boat. Nevertheless we advise you to keep some cash with you to buy souvenirs, cigarettes, make a phone call, buy extra beer, for tips, or for any unexpected situation (emergency, medical assistance…).
Travel insurance (mandatory);
Meals outside the boat;
Hotel in Padang, if needed;
Surfing photography service (optional);
Tips for the boat crew (minimum recommended 50 USD per guest);
Hospital or medical assistance, if needed. That’s why it is so important to have travel insurance;
Passport with at least 6 months validity;
2 photocopies of your passport: we need one for port clearance, and you should keep another one just in case;
A print of your return ticket to Indonesia (sometimes Indonesian customs officers ask for it to let you in);
Photocopy of your insurance policy with the necessary information to make a claim (contacts, procedures, etc.);
Credit/debit card to take cash from ATM machines;
Yes, but not at all times. These days there are many places at Sumatra’s islands with mobile phone reception, and every year there are new places. Usually we don’t spend more than 2 days straight without phone reception.
We also have a satellite phone on board for those situations without mobile phone coverage, and for emergencies.
Sometimes. If the mobile phone network is good enough it’s possible to access internet with a smartphone. The best way to achieve this is to buy an Indonesian SIM card for your smartphone (if it’s unlocked) and an internet data package. You can buy both in Padang before the trip, it’s not expensive.
Do not expect the best coverage or data speed, though. Usually it’s slow, but it’s enough to check and send e-mails, check the swell forecast, and sometimes even to make video calls (skype, whatsapp, etc.).
Yes, if you want. Let us know in advance and we’ll arrange it. It costs around 150-200 USD per passenger, depending on the photographer.
Usually the photographer shoots 2-3 times a day, including in the water with a housing, he will run a slideshow every night, and at the end of the trip he will give you all your photos.
Surf trip’s photographers are experienced and they shoot all the guests including those who are not expert surfers, and by the end of the trip all the guests have enough photos to be happy about it.
Yes please, if you are happy with them. Usually they really deserve it!
We suggest at least 50 USD per passenger, at the end of the trip.
2-3 surfboards, fins, and 3 leashes;
Tropical wax (75-85 F);
2 pairs of surf shorts;
3 T-shirts + 1 T-shirt to surf;
Sun screen (SPF 30+);
Memory stick to save your photos (16 Gb);
Documents: passport + photocopies, insurance policy photocopy, airplane ticket, credit card;
Yes, as long as there’s someone to replace you. It’s not difficult to find a replacement if with some anticipation.
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