Articles Tagged with: surfing in mentawai

Mentawai Impressions: Trekking

mentawai3Leaving Butui, one of the better accessible settlements of the Mentawai on Siberut Island. The Mentawai people never wear shoes but we-the people who cannot walk-need such aids, and many more. A handrail along the slippery tree trunk, for instance, to facilitate access to the house and to leave it, especially at night when somebody had to follow the call of nature.

Tree trunks are very often laid on muddy trails, where the mud can get quite deep. Good balancing skills are required on them, especially on round, slippery bamboo. One plus: falling in the mud does not hurt!

Rivers cannot be followed all the time, and hills in between can be quite steep. They can be better walked uphill than downhill, for us with sticks as walking and balancing aids. Left lane for overtaking!!

Trees had been felled by the local people to grow bananas, and are now part of the trail.

mentawai21Three of the 21 Mentawai porters we had hired to carry the food for eight days as well as luggage.

Mud walk. Here the ‘normal’ forest mud, greyish and odorless, but very sticky and difficult to walk with shoes.

Lunch break during a seven-hour trek. Food is always being shared, but most important is that everybody gets a portion of tobacco.

Cigarettes are fuel for the Mentawai people.

Mud walk, here in a sago area. This mud is less dense, has a reddish-brown colour and smells of fermented sago. As with the Inuit who have many different words for snow we try to figure out how many words the Mentawai have for mud. The generic word ‘lati’ has been one of the first Mentawai words we have learnt.

Beauty contest after a sago mud walk.

We sometimes face the dilemna between balancing on a tree trunk and going through the mud. As shown above, mud can get quite deep. Two persons were necessary to free our fellow traveler from the mud trap, and they had to be very careful not to slip and get stuck themselves.

The river between Atabai and Butui had swollen due to heavy rains and some passages could not be negociated without getting totally wet. Backpacks had to be passed over heads, and a ‘bridge’ made of round, slippery bamboo to be put across for the sikerei, who felt safer at balancing on it than at swimming.

Getting There

  • Take flight from Sukarno Hatta air port, Jakarta to Tabing air port, Padang-west Sumatra (flight served every day)
  • Trip from Teluk Bayur port, Padang to Mentawai island by Ferry


Based on the visitor experience, the local people’s housing is the best choice to stay. Having interactions with local people and staying in unique architectures give the visitors distinctive way to blend with the culture. But, there are also common accommodations available.

Moving Around

To access all the beauties offered, you can use boat owned by local people. You can find the boat a long the beach and the rate depend on your bargaining power.

Boost your taste with exotic and fresh sea foods that you can found in the local restaurants run by local people. If you are lucky enough, you can pick and cook your own sea food, but make sure you know the secret recipe/spices from Mentawais people. For those who are not sea food lover, you can find regular meals for your dining.

Other Things to See or Do

Beach Activities

  • Sight seeing
  • Diving
  • Snorkeling

Cultural Activities

  • Learn how to perform the Traditional dances (war dance and gratitude to nature)
  • Traditional ceremonies
  • Mentawai is one of the best place to conduct an Ethnographic study since its one of the oldest tribe in Indonesia

Ecotourism Activities

As the habitat for rare primate, the natural rain forest of Mentawai will be the perfect place for research or other educational purpose. Here, you can conduct research about

  • Snub-nosed monkey/Simakobu (Simias concolor) monkey family eat leaf as primary food
  • Joja or Lutung Mentawai (Presbytis potenziani) easily identified for the long tail, white face and black hair head
  • Bokkoi atau Beruk Mentawai (Macaca pagensis)
  • Kloss Gibbon/Bilou or Siamang Kerdil (Hylobates klossii) famous for the beautiful voice, different compared to general monkey

More info about Mentawai Island, please click here.

Filed under : Adventure

The Reasons Why The Mentawai Islands Are A Great Surfing Destination

resorftIndonesia and Hawaii are the 2 best locations in the world for surfing, with a combination of big waves, variation of conditions and miles of coastline. Bali itself has to be the single best island in the world for surfers to visit due its combination of warm weather, low prices, great surfing, easy of access, selection of food and drink, not to mention plenty of pretty girls for when the surf is not up. For surfers visiting Bali, who want to go on a adventure inside Indonesia, one of the absolute best surf locations is the Mentawai Islands, situated off of the west coast of Sumatra.

The reasons why the Mentawai Islands are a great surfing destination are:

  • They get good swell moving in from the Indian Ocean.
  • They are spread out enough to feature many breaks.
  • They are in a very remote part of the country.

• There is no industry on shore, so conditions are pristine.

Negatives about the Mentawai Islands as a surfing destination are:

  • They are in a part of the country prone to earthquakes and tsunamis.
  • They are hard to get to unless to arrange a live-aboard boat
  • There are few facilities onshore.
  • Malaria is rampant in the Mentawai’s and Nias.
  • There is an increasing number of boat operators in the area.

• More expensive than surfing Kuta Beach.

Surfing in a remote location such as the Mentawai Islands means you will have to think ahead regarding what’s needed to bring along. Extra boards, leg ropes, wax, plenty of sunblock, reef boots, a knife will all be used most likely. You might also want to pack your own lightweight first aid kit. These are available from camping stores, but you can easily assemble one here in Bali for a lower price. You might take a selection of BandAids in various sizes, scissors, a roll of gauze tape, gauze pads, Betadine, tweezers, ibuprofen, aspirin, insect repellent. Pack that all in a waterproof lunch box that you can get in Bintang supermarket and you’re good to go. There are small neon-blue octopuses in the islands which local have advised are poisonous if stepped on. Reef boots might be a good idea.

  • SurfAid:

One of the charities that involves surfers and the Mentawai’s is SurfAid. The organization t is trying to help the Mentawai locals fight malaria.

Filed under : Nature & Adventure, Sports

Surfing Lures More Foreign Tourists to Come to West Sumatra

Many foreign tourists have arrived in Mentawai Island district in West Sumatra province in their preparation to enjoy surfing in the offshore district waters which was frequently selected as host for World Champions Surfing Series event.The tourists, among others coming from United States, Australia, Britain and Austria, arrived at the island by ferry or hiring boats after landing at Minangkabau International Airport (BIM) in Padang Pariaman district.

Martin Daly, head of world surfing agent, Indies Trader Marine Adventures from Australia said in Padang, capital of West Sumatra recently that ocean waves in Mentawai waters have the most consistent movements among the well known surfing locations in the world.There are about 400 spot surfing with almost six-meter high of the ocean waves which can be used by the surfers, Zulkarlin, head of Mentawai Island district tourist office told Antara.”The flow of tourist visits to Mentawai always increases annually and in 2007, the amount reaches about 12 thousand people for surfing,” Zulkarlin said, adding that the local government had established six resorts including Makaroni in Silabu Island, Kandui in Nyang Nyang Island, Saraina Koat Mentawai in Pulau Karang Majang, Alloyta in Simakakang Island, and Surfing Ground di Katiet in a bid to make the tourists feel comfortable.

According to Zulkarlin, 60 percent of about 12,000 surfers were Australian citizens, 39 percent from the U.S. Brazil, Europe, Asia, and one percent is Indonesian surfers.”We are waiting for investors to set up more resorts in Mentawai and will facilitate them to get licenses,” Zufkarlin said.In the meantime, Martin who has been promoting Mentawai’s sea waves in the world market since 1990, now operating four mini cruise-ships to carry the tourists.

He stated that surfing package price to Mentawai reaches US$2,500 or about 22.5 million rupiah per person for a visit of 20 day-stay. The income from tourism sector constitutes 95 percent of the provincial income, Zulkarlin pointed out.At present some 46 mini cruise-ships have been made available to help transporting tourists in the Mentawai waters.Target of tourist visitIn 2008, West Sumatra provincial government set a target of tourist arrivals as many as 131,123 people, with length of stay 4.08 days and daily expenditure amounting US$150 of each person.”The province is optimistic to reach the target with the support of tourist object diversification,” Head of the West Sumatra Tourism, Arts and Culture Office, H James Hellyward, said recently.

West Sumatra as one of tourist resorts in Indonesia has been set as a center of tourist development for western part of Indonesia with series of its tourist resorts.Several panoramas which are highly attractive to tourists among others Ngarai Sianok in Bukit Tinggi, Lake (Danau) Maninjau, Danau Diatas, Danau Dibawah, Danau Singkarak, Lembah Anai water fall, Ambun Pagi, Carolina Beach, Bungus Beach, Taman Nasional Kerinci Seblat (National Park) and Singgalang volcano.Cultural attractions among others Pagaruyung Kingdom palace in Batusangkar, which is now undergoing renovation, he said, bringing optimism that West Sumatra will likely reach target of the tourist arrivals due to its cooperation with international events in Malaysia, Singapore, Dubai, India and Japan.

Apart from that another tourism event which will be held in Padang starting from May 30 to June 1, 2008 and tourism promotion through a forum dubbed “Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand Growth Triangle (IMT-GT)” would also attract more tourists to the region, James said.

According to him, low flight route tariff from Padang to Malaysia and Singapore will also lure many tourists to visit the province.Padang Immigration office recorded tourists arrivals in 2007 reaching 113,822 people, with a length of stay 4.02 days and daily spending US$130.As may as 23,213 tourists coming from Malaysia, 1,481 from Singapore, 941 from several countries like US, Britain, the Netherland, France, Germany, Japan, Italy, New Zealand, Switzerland, and 37-400 people from Canada.

West Sumatra has at least seven districts/cities with beaches where tourists can do surfing and diving, for instance, in Pesisir Selatan district, H James Hellyward, said at the Asia Dive Expo (ADEX) which took place in Singapore from April 18 to 20 April.In addition, Hellyward said West Sumatra has places where tourists can see something more unique, namely the turtle breeding process.

The provincial tourism office would involve local fishermen in its effort to develop its turtle breeding areas as tourist objects as it is they who know precisely when the turtles come ashore to lay their eggs, James said, noting that the most interesting period is during a full moon.It is expected that the turtles way of laying eggs could lure more foreign tourists to visit West Sumatra which also popularly called Minangkabau.

Filed under : Nature & Adventure