Are you thinking or dreaming of surfing the Mentawai Islands? But you’re not sure yet if you can handle the waves? Even if you’re not into surfing at all, and you’re accompanying your surfing partner on a family holiday, I can tell you: going to the Mentawai Islands is always a good idea.
Want to know what kind of dream holiday you can actually have? Then read on.
(All photos are taken by Quinten Jacobs)
Awera Resort: a picture-perfect paradise
As I’m writing this, I’m sitting on a comfortable sofa 10 meters away from the beach, overlooking the clear, turquoise ocean. Small but perfect waves are breaking on the reef in front of me.
I’m staying at Awera Resort, on Pulau Pototoga, a tiny Mentawai island located in West Sumatra, Indonesia.
It’s still early in the morning, and I just had an amazing night’s sleep again. There’s nothing here but the relaxing sound of waves and birds. I don’t think I’ve slept this good in over a year.
I must say it’s quite refreshing to wake up to the sound of chirping birds instead of crazy chickens, motorbikes and barking Balinese dogs (not that I have any complaints about Bali).
This place is absolutely stunning. It’s my first time to Sumatra, and the Mentawai Islands were on my bucket list ever since I first read about them in a surf magazine.
The reason why I’m here is, obviously, to surf. My good friend and surf photographer Quinten Jacobs got invited here to take shots of the property and the surfers. I said I’d make a good plus one.
And I’m so glad he listened to me. I can honestly say that I’ve had some of the best surf of my life here. Which is not so weird because these are the freaking Mentawaiiii!
Dream waves for all levels
I wasn’t expecting that though. I always thought that the Mentawai waves were only meant for pro surfers on the search for barrels all day long. Which is true, BUT there are actually waves here for intermediates as well. Even for beginners.
There’s a baby wave in front of the resort, which is perfect for beginners because it breaks mostly over sand and dead coral. You can just grab one of the resort’s soft tops or their stand-up paddleboards and go play. If you don’t feel comfortable on your own, you can take a surf lesson.
For intermediates, there are two spots (Icelands and Ombak Tidur – ‘ombak tidur’ means dream wave) close to the resort, each about a 10-minute boat ride away. Both break over a reef.
Icelands is a beautiful lefthander, which occasionally breaks to the right as well. When the swell’s big and the wind is offshore, it barrels off the peak. You can also shoulder-hop it if you’re not feeling confident enough yet.
Ombak Tidur really is a dream wave – if your dream wave is a righthander. Even if it isn’t, it holds up beautifully with an offshore wind and a bigger swell. It’s just so much fun, including for goofy footers.
Then there’s a third wave, called Telescopes. This long, mellow lefthander is a bit further away (like a 20 mins boat ride) and it’s another intermediate’s dream wave. I surfed it when it was small, and I still managed to get some really long rides.
Of course, there are many more spots around (well-known Playgrounds is about an hour by boat), but I didn’t get to surf those (need something to look forward to for when I go back, which I will).
Fish so good you stop being a vegan
The waves weren’t the only thing that blew my mind this week though. I’m amazed at how beautiful this resort is, how lovely the staff is, and how relaxed the vibe is here.
They do their very best to accommodate you and make sure you’re happy (as if you need anything more than a sleeping bag and a mosquito net to be happy on the Mentawai. Besides a surfboard of course).
It’s nice though. If you have any food allergies, for example, they ask you about your preferences. And the food is good and fresh. Breakfast consists of avocado and mango bowls with fresh dragonfruit, papaya, banana, mango, and granola.
For people who need their sugar shot in the morning, there are chocolate cornflakes and milk, jams, chocolate paste and peanut butter.
We mostly ate fish, rice, noodles, and vegetables for lunch and dinner. The fish was just unbelievable, I even took a break from my vegan diet for that. Just a break though, I’ll turn vegan again once I’m back ‘home’ in Canggu.
Fun non-surfing activities: yoga, snorkeling, stand-up paddleboarding, and a beach walk
In between surf sessions we practiced yoga at the studio or went for a stand-up paddleboard session. The water is so clear that if you want to go snorkeling, you almost don’t need a mask (unless you wear contacts, then don’t open your eyes underwater – learned that the hard way).
There are a lot of families and non-surfers staying here as well. It’s a good place for that, with all the different activities that Awera Resort offers. This makes it a perfect place for a family holiday or a couples retreat, even when one of you doesn’t surf. There’s no need to be bored here!
I even managed to get some work done. Wasn’t expecting that either, but somehow the incredible surf sessions just gave me more energy. The whole resort is nice and quiet, so it’s not hard to find your focus.
After my last surf session, I decided to walk back along the beach instead of taking the boat. So I paddled about 15 minutes to the beach, which was by far the most beautiful paddle you can imagine. Like, I was paddling through crystal clear, turquoise water, just enjoying the view of the white beach, the palm trees, the blue sky, the sun… and the fact that I was totally on my own.
Not a person in sight, I walked for about 20 minutes along the beach and made my way through soft white sand, hopped over palm trees that had fallen over, climbed over small rocks, and dodged pink little crabs.
The sun was kissing my skin quite passionately, so I used my surfboard as a hat. For a minute I felt like I could totally rock a live version of Castaway. My surfboard would be my Wilson.
The story behind Awera Resort
I always wonder how people actually make their dream come true and end up owning a surf resort (or yoga resort for that matter). Especially in the Mentawai. So I had a little chat with the owners, Mikel, Aimar, and Karla. They are from the Basque Country in Spain and run a surf school in San Sebastián.
After surfing the Mentawai a couple of times themselves, they noticed there were only two types of accommodation: elite or surf camp. There wasn’t anything in between that they thought offered good value for their money.
So, knowing that they could do it better, they purchased a plot of land on Pulau Pototoga. After an intense couple of months of construction work, they opened the doors to the public in 2017.
We were always 100% happy on our Indonesia trips, so when we saw the bay here at Pulau Pototoga and all the options for beginners, intermediates and advanced, we knew we had found something amazing.
Although popular spots like Playgrounds can be epic, you’d be sharing the waves with some 80 other guys in the water on a good day. The waves here though are uncrowded, they’re not too far and they’re not too hard. It’s just a really nice place with empty, quality waves.
Our guests are so stoked when they experience the uncrowded waves for themselves. They literally say that it is like going back to the past.
Not only are the waves uncrowded and empty, they are also clean. As in: there’s no trash floating around in the line-up, or on the beach for that matter. The island is immaculately clean. And Mikel, Aimar, and Karla intend to keep it this way.
They believe that spreading awareness and education is key to maintaining a healthy environment. That’s why Awera Resort supports the Perfect Wave Foundation, which offers educational programs to Mentawai kids and teaches them the importance of recycling.
How to get there
It’s not the easiest place to get to, but that’s what makes it so unique. You need to fly to Padang (Sumatra), then spend one night there and catch the Mentawai Fast ferry to Tuapejat in the morning (a 3-hour ferry ride).
Ferries only operate on Mondays (6 am), Wednesdays (7 am) and Fridays (7 am). The resort will come pick you up at the harbor at Tuapejat, and they will take you by boat (10 mins) to the island.
I stayed at Wisma Mutiara in Padang. A cheap ($15-$20 per night) and welcoming homestay, which is located 3 mins from Mentawai Fast Ferry. There are lots of other hotels, just click on the box below and check out your options.
So, what are you waiting for? Stop dreaming, book your ticket and wake up in paradise!
PS Do you want to see more dreamy photos of this trip? Connect with me on Instagram!