Naish SUP team member and SUPGlobal roving reporter Gareth Grant headed out to the Mentawis Islands to see if he could score some perfection on his SUP. Gareth is a regular on the UK contest scene and is often seen on the the South Coast of the UK ripping it up, but what would this Indonesian trip be like?
Indonesia is such a unique place, the combination of the smell from spices, fresh food markets & the hustle and bustle of cars, mopeds and horns. Padang is no different, the destination accessing the Menatwais Islands.
The trip from the UK is challenging, flying from London to Kuala Lumpur, then down to Padang to connect with the boat transfer. After much deliberating the boards of choice were the Naish - Hokua 8”5 & Hokua 7”8. The smaller Hokua for the faster, punchier days and the 8”5 for the bigger days.
Padang was the meeting point, a bunch from all over the world, Japan, South Africa and Aus… me the only guy from the UK and the single SUP guy. This seaside port, has welcomed surfers for some 15 years, it is estimated that 98% of all tourism to the Mentawais Islands is generated from surfers. A welcome surprise is the news of the brand new highspeed boat, transferring us from Padang to the resort. We are the first crew to use the service taking some 4.5 hours.
The accommodation in the Mentawais ranges from charter boats through to island surf camps. I chose WavePark resort located off a heavy left hander - Hideaways… The owner, Christie Carter has been a pioneer in the region, having first surfed the breaks some 14 years ago, when charter boats were rare, and land camps didn’t exist.
The accommodation at Wavepark is superb, varying from beach bungalows to the three - storey beach house. Not the traditional seedy surf camps, where toilet paper is a premium, this was lush… & limited to 12 surfers.
At Wavepark, the day consists of early breakfast, a debate with Christie and Shane (the worlds most enthusiastic surf guide) of where to surf and why. Two traditional long boats head off in different directions with half the crew on each, in search of the best waves, with the least crowds. The winds are fickle and wave options are everywhere, trying to chose the right one is challenging.
Finishing up for the day.
Now there are more than 21 breaks in this area, so establishing where to go is a challenge, the guys assess wind and swell direction. No magic Seaweed used here…. For the next 10 days we surfed some 6 – 7 hours a day, surfing some 10 different breaks. Some days we surfed alone, other days were not so lucky but the crew spreads out.
What was it like riding a SUP in the Mentawis?
The waves are mechanical and clean, and range is size from 3 ft through to 8-10ft in the peak season. Some waves break on shallow reef so booties are a must. Booties are key for SUP riders.. with duck diving not an option. Getting caught inside is challenging, so the ability to stand on the reef is a must. A 2mm wetsuit is recommended to prevent reef gashes…
How were the crowds and the surfers with a SUP in the line up?
We surfed without other guys most of the time, however there were sessions when the crowd topped 25 guys, and only one SUP. Tips are to stay wide and sit on the board after catching a wave. This shows that you are taking your turn. Do not paddle for every wave, the other surfers have paid to go on their own trip and don’t want to be hassled by a SUP.
Spankers - fun wave (nice SUPGlobal sticker as well ;))
What board would you recommend?
A sub 9Ft board is key… as this gives the ability to get some drive and speed through critical sections. There are barrels galore, so fitting a larger SUP in a pocket would be challenging. The two paddles, if the reef doesn’t snap one – the baggage handlers will.
Do you get caught inside?
Yep, patience is the key along with a pair of good lungs. A tip when being held down is to angle the paddle underwater. blade towards the surface and angled towards you, this will bring you to the surface quicker when being dragged… Booties are a must, the drag of a SUP will take you into very shallow reef.
What was the cost of Wavepark?
The cost is approximately $3,000 US for a 10-day trip, including all meals, accommodation, boat transfers & surf guide. Soft drinks & alcohol are additional. Check dates and availability at wavepark.com. Wavepark takes bookings for singles or smaller groups, so there is not need to wait til your mates pull their finger out.
The wave I lost my hat.
What time of year to go?
Tough call….. the more reliable swells run from May through to August, however the seasons is from March through to November. During late March / early April we had solid 3-5ft surf every day, ideal for a SUP and for the everyday surfer.
Resort information: Wavepark.com
Board info: Naish.com – Hokua 7”8 & Hokua 8”5
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