Most surfers are likely to be aboard one of 50-60 charter boats operating in the Mentawai's. Many boats boast superior top-end speeds, but most will be cruising in the low teens, knots-wise. Long-distance travelling is often done at night and weighing anchor when the wind shifts often becomes a race to get to the next spot. Staying in one of the 8 land-based surf camps (soon to increase with many more planned) means using the hi-speed dingies if the local breaks aren't working and can be a bouncy ride on the longer inter area strikes. Independent travellers have been discouraged by difficulties like getting from the lee-side ports across to the surf and finding accommodation in the local villages. Roads are rare and there's only a few motorbike/walking paths to major spots like Macca's, so most villages are best accessed by boat.
Lodging and Food
Yacht charters offer unrivalled flexibility to be in the right place at the right time and are still the preferred option for a Mentawai surfari. Vessels carry from as few as 5 to as many as 14, so factor in the instant crowd. Levels of luxury vary from pimped-up, gleaming white sports cruisers and catamarans to local sailing ketchs. Some charters carry a PWC along with a fast tender to ferry people to the line-up. Land camps are now firmly established in the Playgrounds area (Ebay, Pitstop Hill, Wavepark, Kandui), Sipora (Aloita, Awera, Katiet, Lance's Left) and Nth Pagai (Macaronis). Trips are usually for 10-12 days and cost anything from $150-$400/d depending on the luxury of your boat/resort. All the main surf travel agents cover a plethora of operations so check out Freeline, World Safaris, Waterways and True Blue for prices and options. Many boats/camps are booked out at least a year in advance, especially for peak season, so plan ahead. Doing it in a harder, but maybe more rewarding manner, some villagers do put surfers up - be generous in return. Staying in Padang waiting for a flight is much harder since the Ambachang and many other western style, multi-storey hotels were destroyed in the Sept '09 earthquake. Local homestays or bungalows outside the city may be the answer.
© ~Low Pressure~