Where: Kandui Resort lies roughly 80 miles off the Indonesian island of Sumatra and is located right in the middle of one of the world’s most prolific wave regions-commonly known as “Playgrounds” in the Mentawai Island chain in the Indian Ocean.
What: Whether it’s the super-heavy, world-class barrels of Rifles or Kandui Left, or the mellow, beginner-friendly spots like Beng Beng or Four Bob’s, or anything in-between, Kandui Resort has quick boat access to it.
When: A little known fact about the Mentawais is that it breaks year-round. In fact, the “Day Of The Year” at Rifles in 2006 occurred in mid-October, when there were hardly any charter boats at sea-and just a lucky few out at what’s considered one of the world’s best rights. That said, the most consistent swell window is from April through September.
Why: Because there’s something for everyone. For every ten-foot, board-snapping Kandui barrel, there’s a mellow spot just around the corner that the Kandui guides will be happy to ferry you over to. It goes beyond the epic surf, though, and no expense has been spared in the development of the resort: in-room wireless Internet, carb and protein-loaded grinds (can’t surf for six hours straight on fruit alone), a kick-ass speed boat, a super friendly staff, and exquisitely built umas (bungalows) greet you upon arrival.
How: Unless you’re coming from Australia, getting there is definitely not the funnest part of your Kandui experience. Here’s how it goes: LAX to Singapore (which usually includes a layover somewhere), Singapore to Jakarta, Jakarta to Padang, then an overnight ferry (or half-hour plane ride to a neighboring island) out to Kandui Island for almost three days of travel. We recommend flying Singapore Airlines where boards fly free (the hot Asian flight attendants don’t hurt, either).
Where To Stay: The traditionally built umas are sweet. Fabricated out of native wood, umas blend both the ancient Mentawaiian culture (meticulously carved posts) with more modern creature comforts like wireless Internet, air conditioning, and mini fridges.
Places To Eat: Only one option here, but it’s a good one. The restaurant/bar (currently unnamed) is the official meeting spot for post-surf grub and grog and footy checks in the evening. A typical dinner consists of roasted chicken, potatoes, salad, assorted fruits and veggies, and a dessert. It’s buffet style, too, so you never leave hungry.
Dudes And Babes: Bring your own. While a non-surfer would most likely get bored, Kandui is a perfect spot to bring your surf-stoked girlfriend/boyfriend no matter what level they are.
Crowd Factor: The Playgrounds region is the most popular spot in the Mentawais for all the boat charters, and crowds are a factor at the standout spots or when only a few places are breaking. The guides at Kandui have a knack (and a very quick speedboat) at beating the crowds though, and they’re experts at getting you into good, un-crowded surf ahead of the slow boats.
Stuff To Bring: Sunscreen, lots and lots of it. Don’t bother with SPF 15, either, the Mentawais are just a few degrees off the equator and the sun is brutally strong. Board-wise, you’d ideally bring your two best shortboards, a step-up mini gun, and something even bigger for Bankvaults and other big and scary, open ocean waves. Extra surf gear (leashes, trunks, fins, tees) for the workers is always a nice way to repay their kindness and assistance in and out of the water, too.
If The Surf Is Flat: Celebrate being off the grid by reading a book, taking a nap, snorkeling the reef in front of the resort, fishing (dorado, tuna, Spanish mackerel, etc.) hike the tsunami bridge (tested and approved during the September ’07 earthquakes) to the middle of the island, or just kick back in the bar and regale your fellow guests with surf stories while drinking two-dollar beers.
Helpful Web Sites: Everything you need to know about Kandui Resort, including a day-to-day surf report, thorough descriptions on the breaks, photos, videos, and more can be found at mentawaiislands.com/kandui.