Sumatra is known as the Jewel of the Indonesian Crown. In terms of surfing there is probably no other location on the planet that delivers the quality, consistency and density of surfing breaks. Add to this tropical waters, idylic islands, remote villages and the stage is set for your very own surfing adventure.
Jiwa will take us to the Mentawai Islands with a selection of quality waves to suit most standards of surfers from intermediate to advanced.
There are a lot of waves outside the breaks we’ve all become accustomed to seeing in the pages of surf magazines and it is these that we will try to focus on instead of battling with the crowds
at HT’s or Macca’s.
For consistency, quality and density of waves The Mentawais is hard to beat and as a result peak season here can be fairly crowded. We focus more on the shoulder & off season, order to get more days surfing the named breaks with less people and a much greater chance of surfing alone.
The Mentawai’s have a typical equatorial climate with very high temperatures and humidity. Temperature variations are minimal year-round with a night/day range of 21-32ºC (70-90ºF).
Equatorial Indo “dry” season is Jan-Aug, but frequent 1-2 hour showers can be expected, usually falling at night. Rainy season is Sept-Dec, which requires an umbrella or poncho as it rains frequently (Sumatra means storms!).
The water is some of the warmest to be found in any surf region averaging 27ºC (80ºF) and sometimes creeping up to 30ºC (86ºF)! Old hands often wear white cotton tee-shirts instead of lycra to stay cool, since the lack of wind is good for glassy surf but doesn’t help with evaporative cooling.
Night time humidity remains high so modern metal-hulled cruisers need air-con below decks while traditional Indonesian ironwood vessels are often open air, sleep on deck affairs.
Bring plenty of sun protection in the form of long loose clothing as well as zinc & creams, sunnies & hats. For surfing bring some old white T-shirts as well as traditional lycra.
The virgin forest, rugged topography, rare flora and fauna and a unique tribal society make the Mentawai’s an ideal spot for trekking. Neolithic material culture has evolved for 2-3000 years on Siberut, which is the place to experience daily life in an authentic Mentawai village.
The southern islands were colonised far later (2-400yrs) and recent immigration has brought some modernisation. Eco-friendly tours offered by various surf and trekking companies are now doing more to benefit the local populations and the land-based camps are increasingly sourcing food and labour from local villages.
A local government tax on every visiting surfer (land or sea) is earmarked to help create infrastructure. The non-profit organisation Surfaid International has already vastly improved health care by fighting preventable diseases like malaria, through education and mosquito net distribution.
Walking paths criss-cross the islands through dense tropical lowland rain forest, home to endangered endemic monkeys (Mentawai macaque, Kloss’s gibbon, pig-tailed langur, leaf-monkey, snub-nosed monkey) deer, snakes (reticulated python, king cobra, viper), saltwater crocodiles and a range of amazing birds. 60% of the forest is intact, but logging and cash crop clearing threaten the local wildlife.