Mentawai Diaries: Travel Tips from Anna Ehrgott
Recently our favorite photographer Brooklyn Hawaii rounded up our longboard maven Victoria Vergara and our globe-trotter Anna Ehrgott for a trip of a lifetime. The three headed out to the Mentawai Islands for surf, yoga, sun, and an experience in the midst of Indonesia.
The trip was a dream with white sand, blue water, and perfect waves. However, traveling is not always as glamorous as it may seem if you are not prepared. So Adventure Seeker Anna Ehrgott put together a list of tips for your next adventure to the Mentawaii Islands.
Indonesia is an island chain riddled with perfect waves, 360-degree postcard-worthy scenery and incredibly kind people. Here’s what I’ve learned from my experience over there:
How To Get There
Getting to the Mentawais feels like going to the other side of the earth and back (it kinda is). Fly in through Padang and take the ferry ride out. Make sure your villa or boat charter will be able to pick you up from the main island and get you to the surf areas. 3 days of travel in total from California!
Pack your boards safely
Packing boards is always an important component of surf travel. Everyone has their own little techniques to make sure their boards arrive in one piece. Mine is to stuff towels and swimwear at the nose and tail of my board bag, keep boards in boards socks, and wrap the top and bottoms of my boards with towels or clothing. Some airlines are careless, so you'll never regret taking a couple extra steps to pad your board bag.
This was so funny! My taxi driver from the airport gave me a crash course on Indonesian on my way to my hotel. I wrote everything down and did my best to remember pronunciation only to find out the Mentawai Islands have their own dialect. We ended up getting by with smiles and body language, but next time I'll remember to learn the right language first.
We couldn’t have asked for anything more spectacular than what Alaia Mentawai showed us of their wave-rich surroundings. We got spoiled!
Mentawai Islands are all they’ve been talked up to be (and more). If you want to get away from the crowds, opt for less well-known spots, you might have to sacrifice a bit of size or barrel potential, but the empty waves are out there! Brooklyn, Victoria and I all come from a longboarding background. It was such a fun challenge of getting comfortable in shallow water and unlearning our bad habits of shoulder hopping.
I got my fair share of reef rash. Live coral has bacteria growing on it, so it's important to treat wounds asap and keep them clean. I used lime immediately then a product called Puremedy that kept my "Mentawai tattoos" clean and I was able to keep surfing.
When to go
Summer swells are generally the biggest, and that's when most people plan to come in order to surf the most well-known waves, but the Mentawais get swell year round, and different waves break during different seasons—so book that spontaneous trip!
What to pack
I brought my leather Voyage Sandals for getting around on land and my board for the water. Other than that, all you need is good sunscreen, Puremedy, and bikinis!
Shell collecting? Yep. Beach walks? Oh yeah. Snorkeling? Mhm. Free-diving? Yes! And there’s always an empty place to drop your yoga mat! While the islands are small and well-known thanks to the world-class waves, there is plenty to do in the rare occurrence you tire of getting barreled.
Gado Gado is a classic vegetarian Indonesian dish heavy on the veggies with potatos, green beans, salad, egg and rice all drowning in a delicious peanut butter sauce. It sounds like a strange combo, but somehow it works and definitely fills you up.
Chocolate Beng-Beng candy bars after those 4-hour sessions.
What Not to Miss
Meet the locals! Learn a couple words in Indonesian or Mentawai dialect and listen to the stories of people who've spend their entire lives in water.