Mentawais to Bali in sixty days.

Mentawais to Bali in sixty days.
July 22, 2015 Toni

Two months of chasing waves through Indo in ‘Fighter Jets’ with Riderzgallery.

 According to Indonesian locals, the Riderzgallery team has been lucky to kickoff it’s first season with the biggest swell to hit the coastline, in a decade.

Our first stop was Pedang, Sumatra aka “The Mainland”, a bustling city situated about half way along the southern coast of Sumatra. It’s the port of entry into the Mentawais and therefore serves as a the ‘re-fueling’ station for most of the guys living in the Mentawais. It was here that we first met up with our long lost friend – Greig Sharp. He is one of the Founding Fathers and Head Surf Guide at the Umma Maonu Mentawai Surf Camp. He showed us a night out on the town where we were able to catch up over a few beers.

‘Mentawai is Mentawai’.

The following day we were on a ferry bound for Siberut– one of the main Islands which forms pat of the Mentawais. We docked, gathered some supplies from the village, loaded the 15ft dugout to the brim and waited for a dark storm cloud to pass over before we made our way. The anticipation was unbearable.

The feeling connected to the realization that your lifelong dreams is coming true is absolutely insane, it’s impossible to contain the excitement, a cocktail of positive emotions, each one being triggered by the mixture of senses which are trying to comprehend exactly what is taking place in front of you. The new sights around every bend while meandering through the mangroves, the gentle breeze in my face combined with the mist created by the refreshing saline spray from the bow, the smells and sounds which seemed unfamiliar at first, all began to soothe my soul. This was no longer a dream, this was reality.

We were given a warm welcome by the Umma Moanu crew upon arrival. The main topic of discussion that first evening was waves, waves and more waves. Jaco showed us some of his footage from previous days as well as the swell forecast for the days to come and at that exact point in time, the butterflies began.

My first glimpse at the reason I was here, was nothing short of breathtaking. I could see it in the distance and i began to feel nervous, it felt like I was about to encounter the unknown it was a similar feeling to the first time you take a girl out on a date…ok not really, it was more like the feeling of approaching a chained up fire breathing dragon, and my mission was to tame it. As we closed in on this beast, it became more defined, a dark blue tube with a thundering explosion of white water hitting the reef. It looked like it was just standing still…until a behemoth of a charter boat blocked our view, suddenly the same dark blue tube was in my sights again, “holy shit…it’s still going!” I thought to myself while watching in awe…. and then, without fail, it blew it’s load,  a huge amount of mist was spat out like i’d never seen before. This was a moment that I’ll remember forever.

The Mentawais is a piece of paradise suited to anybody with a sense of adventure.We managed to discover ‘secret’ waves in uncharted territory, take afternoon naps and sip from coconuts on untouched beaches, catch fish for days, get caught in storms, surf from sun up to sun down and got to know some awesome people.

One of the things I learnt about the Mentawais is that one can never know what to expect and that a little bit of patience will get you a long way.

‘Mentawai is Mentawai’.


…the mere attempt to keep my balance at those G’s was a challenge on its own…

Tanjung Setia, Krui, (South Sumatra) was our next destination, all we had to do was get there… it’s really not a difficult task especially because there are a couple of options available, but thanks to our adventurous personalities we decided to take the bus, even though a few people tried to convince us not to. Maybe we should have listened to them…

There was something slightly disturbing yet highly entertaining about this bus trip, you decide ;).

I’m not sure if it was the food poisoning or the occasional waft of the disturbed ‘crap’ swishing around violently in the on-board toilet, or maybe it was the sixteen hours of non-stop ‘music’ that sounded like a combination of 80’s German techno, Mario Brothers melodies and a wannabe Celine Dion karaoke star, all mixed together by an illusive ‘Grand Maestro’ of the Casio Keyboard which was blaring out of the speakers at a volume loud enough to cripple a canary…(which made me feel like a character in a one of those low budget Japanese video games), or whether it was the stiff neck creeping in from the constant cold air blasting down on us, or the attempt at ‘draining the main vein’ in what felt like a Porta-Loo Fighter Jet. The mere attempt to keep my balance at those G’s was a challenge on its own, never mind trying to keep the toilet lid from slamming shut on me while holding on to the railing. There was no way I was going to voluntarily receive an enema from the contents inside the bowl… Standing up, was my only option. Nine hours of torment later and we had supposedly arrived at our destination… strange because one and a half  hours after our ETA we were still driving. It was a 27 hour test of mental endurance. But we kept our wits about us, this was one experience I will never forget. I would tell the next traveller the same thing we were told, but do you think they’d listen?

…the waves and adventures in this area are world class…

We stayed at ‘The Green Room‘ on the ‘Ujong Boccur’ point, and would recommend ‘The Green Room’ to anyone looking for the touch of comfort and a romantic sense of privacy. It has an infinity pool in the relaxing entertainment area, where surf movies are played on the big screen with the option of drinking an ice cold Bintang or a Papaya smoothie after a long day in the water. Thanks to Dylan and his dedicated team for providing an enjoyable and authentic destination.

Tanjung Setia is a place full of excitement and adventure. There are many friendly people along the Ujong Boccur point. If you are looking for a place to enjoy some western food such as Taco’s, Burgers and Pizza, “Lani’s” is the place to go. “Lanis’s” serves the coldest beer on the strip and the owner, ‘Deano’ is an ‘old dog’ surfer from Hawaii, he is always ready to help out with whatever it is you may need. He actually planted the idea into Tracey’s head to take photos of the surfers for some extra pocket money…

We stayed there for a total of 28 days and without giving away too many secrets, all I can say is, the waves and adventures in this area are world class. You will find out where to go once you arrive, but make sure you have got your sense of adventure as well as the shoes to go with it if you really want to get the true experience.

Find Yourself

…he literally just fell from the sky…

On our way to Bali, we received swell forecasts from various sources and one common message: There was some serious swell headed our way!!!

After a briefing and reunion with family and friends from South Africa, we headed down to Uluwathu where surfers were being towed in. It was breathtaking. One of the locals told me that he heard Padang-Padang was cooking and so off we went.

I wasn’t convinced by my first impression of the wave size until I paddled out into the lineup. It was absolutely amazing… according to the locals, it’s the biggest it’s been in over a decade.

A Californian surfer paddled up to us from a distance and in a slightly confused and flustered tone asked “what is the name of this break” as if he literally just fell from the sky, another surfer replied “Padang-Padang of course, where have you been?”

It turned out that the poor guy had just taken a wave from Uluwathu’s ‘Inside corner’, when he realized he wasn’t going to be getting to shore at Uluwathu, he linked up with ‘Racetracks’ which took him all the way down to ‘The Corner’. If you’ve been to Bali you will understand the distance I’m talking about. I could hardly believe what he had just told me and neither could he. He then said “Oh well, I wanted to surf here later on anyway, my wife is just gonna have to come and find me.” Haha.

… best snorkelling and diving around Bali…

Our next destination was ‘Nusa Lembongan’ – a small island South East of Bali’s main land.

It’s a very beautiful place which offers some of the best snorkelling and diving in Indonesia, as well as amazing views. It has become a popular tourist destination, meaning that the main beaches will most likely be crowded. Lembongan offers some good breaks as well as an awesome cliff to Jump off. The smaller swell allowed us to test out our skills at ‘stand up paddling’ as well as an enjoyable sunset surf at ‘Secret point’.

Our final days in Indo were spent in the company of some absolute legends back in the Mentawais. We met Peanuts and Phill in Pedang, and took the fast ferry the following day. When we arrived at Umma Moanu, there were some new faces, one of the first things these ‘new faces’ asked us was “ are you the guys who are going to shoot the fish for us?” Greig had obviously told them about the ‘Woods’ brothers who were still on their way. We reassured them that when ‘the brothers’ arrive, there will be an unlimited supply of fish… Our final week in the Mentawais was awesome, we got thrashed at Bankvaults and Hideaways and managed to get some sizeable fish for dinner. According to the photos posted on Facebook, ‘the Brothers’ lived up to their reputation.

It was great to see the gents again as well as  being able to meet all the new lads from Cape Town. I have truly met some interesting characters in the past two months and I look forward to returning to Umma Maonu especially now that there are some new developments taking place at the surf camp click here to see the drone footage from Experience Mentawai. This project is being headed up by an amazing couple who have set up Scuba Diving centres around the world and have now decided to take on the Mentawais. They refer to themselves as ‘Hintanah’

I would like to thank the RiderzGallery team, ‘all the people’ who have made these adventures possible as well all of the photographers who have come on board and submitted the awesome footage which is available from  RiderzGallery. we look forward to the exciting times to come. Now all you need to do is, go and ‘find yourself’.

– Toni –

Some of ‘All the people’ in order of appearance: Trace, Greig Sharp, Andy, Henry, Timon, Jaco, Opi, and the rest of the Umma Moanu Crew. Beng Bengs, Reunion Bodyboarder, Erik Hans Jensen, French scientist, friendly lady, Bridgette’s House, New House, Bruno, Dylan TerMorshuizen, Bus driver, Stone man, Model man, Rob, Hermann, Yessi, Roh, and the rest of the Green Room Crew. Todd, Tom, Tom, Richard Gere, Phillip, Sean & Kristie, Aaron, Deano and family from Lani’s Resto, canary islands crew, Dolf, Freckles, Amy’s House, Loka and babies, Dylan, Randy, James and girlfriend, Taxi driver, Sean, Gary, Janine, Claire, Cat, Jeff, Hennie, Janet, Angus, Hickey, Kerry, Greig, Steve, Jo, Lorenz, Local guy, Slovak guy, Peanuts, Phill, Two crazy Kiwis, Tim, Dave, Will, Greg, Steve, Hinton and Danah, Miguel, Andre, My entire Family and friends at Heart and everybody else who welcomed us in to their homes…..and to all of you who are not on this list, I apologize. Please add yourself in the comment box.

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