• Escape To Mentawai Islands With Sirikit

Escape To Mentawai Islands With Sirikit

A surf trip on a boat to the Mentawais - truly a dream come true.

Considering the weather it sure was one of the worst winters here in the Basque Country. After months of grey skies, tons of rain (and even snow in Biarritz!), I closed the Frozen Palm, my coffee shop, to go on a holiday for the first time in months (Sri Lanka last year in the same period, everything’s relative).

We were 6 friends in a beautiful sail and motor boat, the Nusa Dewata, on the mission for 11 days of sailing and intense surfing. With 6 board bags, 14 surfboards, one body board (it happens to the best), liters of sunscreen and seasickness medicine, we finally reached our floating home in the middle of the night after 24h on a plane.

And the trip went on for 11 more hours of sailing from Padang to the Playground. The surfers’ paradise, perfect waves, hot and crystal-clear water. Once we met our surf guide and owner of the boat and after he’d given us the life and security instructions, he promised us good conditions and above all assured - “you’re gonna ride f**g empty waves all by yourself guys!”.

We spent the first night in the cabin on rough waters or maybe it just felt like this because it was my first night on a boat. While laying my bunk bed I thought I was on a roller coaster. Maybe I was just too excited by the promise of the waves for the next morning.

On the first morning, we discover the spot of Ni’Pussy. A beautiful right in front of a paradise-like island with its thick coconut palm jungle. As expected, we were the only ones in the water. 6.30 am, we started paddling in the tropical waters to get to the peak of the waves that were just waiting for us…

The warm up in the first couple of waves allowed me to re-familiarize with reef surfing. Getting out of the wave as elegant as possible, falling like a starfish, managing the depth while duck-diving, shifting well while popping up. I love surfing reefs for the beauty of the landscape but also for the confidence I get from it.

I am goofy and I was waiting impatiently to surf a left. After 3 hours of surfing and 2 breakfasts, we anchored in Beng Beng. The beautiful left of approximately 1m was perfect for a session with my fish, shaped by Bugg Custom lovingly aka The Unicorn Vomit (see photo).

Naturally we established a line-up system for every session to go well and in harmony.

Each of us paddled up the peak with a huge smile. Pure happiness.

One of the rare sessions when we were not alone in the water was in Burger World. This right unwinds in front of a tropical setting. The swell was stronger on this day, the bottom was shallow and there were “a lot” of people in the water. I got scared and decided to stay on the boat hesitating between having a nap and watching this beautiful scenery. The level of surfing was good, people encouraged each other, I got to see some beautiful barrels!

We surfed 2-3 different waves each day. The first sunburn was violent as we did not expect to burn that quickly, what could have been obvious after such a rainy winter…

After one year of working hard every day and not a lot of time in the water back home, the Mentawai’s gave me the chance to push my limits and I am proud of myself. Also I didn’t use my phone there, it stayed in my bag all the time. The only times I got it was to take pictures of the wonderful landscapes or thanks to my Axisgo box, underwater pictures and for surf videos in aqua.

On a boat trip you can always have a nap when you don’t surf, read the books accumulated throughout the year or just take some time to simply enjoy life. Above all this, you can take your flippers, your diving mask and go explore the surroundings. Discover the beautiful reef that unfortunately has been devastated a few years ago by El Niño. We’ve seen way too much waste drifting along the shore, one of the biggest problems of this paradise. I started to feel the same sadness as during my stay in the Maldives, where the white sands were littered by plastic bottles and other waste…

The Nusa Dewata crew tries to limit its pollution, there is still some work ahead but they are on the right way. We talked a lot with the Indonesian crew and at night we looked at the Milky Way and some shooting stars before falling asleep at 19.45… Personally I made up a lot of sleeping hours!

All the left peeks of the Mentawais are my favourites, for sure. In Telescope it was impossible to get me out of the water. The classic “one last wave before I get out” lasted forever. Dolphins came by to say Hi! on a morning with never ending waves. I had the time to manoeuvre, to practice, to enjoy.

Ladies Left was a gift from Simon our surf guide after my flop in Burger World. A nice little left that would have deserved a longboard on that day… but the quiver is never complete…

As the Boss announced that he booked us in to surf Macaronis the next day, the pressure was on. We had to be the first ones in the water to get the best out of the most famous wave of the archipelago. As a matter of fact there were only three Indos in the water, the performance level was high and the water level very low. Seashells very close. With lots of love I thank my Surf Capsule 2/2 SALTY DAZE LONG SLEEVE SPRING WETSUIT not only for protecting me from the sun but above all for protecting me from the reef after this one magic wave. It was my biggest wipeout of the trip where I found myself in the washing tumbler with the water up to my knees. Later on the boat I was dripping lime juice on my reef cuts but still with a smile on my face after having ridden this almost barrel (depending on the point of view and my imagination...).

I thought I had already reached my limit of injuries on the reef of 4 Bobs but I managed to get a bit further out of my comfort zone and I am proud of it.

Loooking back I have to say that as a passionate surfer you have to do this trip once in your life or more often, if possible. I think it’s important to know your level of surfing and most of all to listen to the advice of your crew. The presence of a surf-guide is much needed to get the best out of these 11 days of intense surfing.

Take the time to live these magic moments up to the fullest. It’s like being in a bubble, giving you a time out from our hyper-connected lives. On the Mentawai’s the only things you have to think about are the direction of the wind and the size of the swell…

My advice :

  • Travel light but with all you need. You better bring enough boards, leashes and fins according to the conditions and possible accidents instead of your make up bag or a hair dryer. Shoes are completely useless by the way!
  • Prepare against the danger of sunburns. Bring a lot of sun protection! In the middle of the ocean the sun reflects much stronger than on land. Also don’t forget to regularly apply new sunscreen. During our session we always carried an EQ sun stick in the pocket of our boardshorts. You can’t get around wearing a hat since the first rays of sunlight start showing. I never took off my New Wave visor that was literally stuck to my head since the first day of the trip.
  • Protect the environment! Indonesia is a wonderful place but unfortunately devastated by pollution. We got to experience this on a daily basis. Try to limit your waste and bring reusable water bottles for example (link to Lolitas eco tips…), use sun screen that doesn’t damage the corals like the ones from EQ and much more you can do…
  • Don’t put too much pressure on yourself regarding your performance in the water. No one’s going to judge you and it’s all about having a good time and loads of fun! Progress always comes by itself!
  • Most of all, don’t take unnecessary risks at a distance of 11h of navigation from the next real city. Think twice before you jump head first onto a bommie of corals.
  • Beware of the land-sickness ! After 11 days on a boat you might be feeling a little dizzy as you return to solid grounds!
  • @siri_kit