Not so exx$$y Mentawai's, but won't be travelling headache/lose a Kidney???

Sharkfin's picture
Sharkfin started the topic in Friday, 20 Jan 2017 at 11:27am

Hi, possibly a pretty repetitive topic but just weighing up options and the more I search around on the webs the more confused I become....
I know the obvious choice would be to jump on a popular boat charter and cop the 3.5-5k plus flights!
But i've surf chartered places in Lombok and Java for 1/2 - 1/3rd of the price, land based Sth Sumatra, Sumbawa, N Bukit for pretty much feck all...So surely there are cheaper, yet RELIABLE options in the Ments...

I've come across some more local operators for land based options such as 'Nyang Nyang' surf resort...
Or the cheapest boat that I can find is Nyata - which comes to about 2.5k for 10 day charter....
Or Ohno Niha in Nias / Telos .. As a 2nd option...

Anyone know any good value operators they've used and recommend that access good waves?

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Chumbucket Friday, 20 Jan 2017 at 11:38am

Hey mate I'm in the same boat (or lack of). Am wanting to head over to Mments in June and have been researching options for so long now. It's hard to know whether the risk of the cheaper options outweigh the price difference. But it seems crazy to spend so much money on a 10 day trip when the rest of Indo is so cheap.

I have actually started a facebook group for discussing options and linking up with others that are planning a trip (to share costs etc). Got 180 members already- feel free to request a join.

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Sharkfin Friday, 20 Jan 2017 at 12:16pm

sick bro thanks a mil!

Blowin's picture
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Blowin Friday, 20 Jan 2017 at 12:51pm

If there is one bit of rock solid advice I've received and can confirm, is that you should choose a boat charter based on the skippers / surf guides abilities as opposed to the boats level of luxury.

Get the most knowledgeable guide possible .

It's better to paddle in from perfect , uncrowded barrels to a less opulent boat than it is to have your floating pleasure palace parked in a channel alongside 6 other charters .

I heavily recommend the Barrenjoey.

Still comfortable , but the waves.....

indo-dreaming's picture
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indo-dreaming Friday, 20 Jan 2017 at 2:38pm

Mentawai's (and Telos etc) is different in price to other areas of Indonesia for a few reasons.

Charter boats are generally foreign owned business, westerners want to make western wages and the season is not all year round or they don't always get bookings plus i guess they have invested good money in the boat, only a few boats are Indonesian owned mostly Chinese Indonesian who are smart business man and also want to make good money, on top of that boats are high maintenance things even in Indo the cost isn't cheap, many go to Thailand to get dry docked and maintained in the off season, on top of that although cheaper than Oz they do use a load of fuel each trip, i believe they burn between AUD $10-20K of fuel on an average Mentawai trip. (but not sure how true as that was from a Charter boat operator)

So that's why Mentawai charter boat trips are expensive.

Then when the first Mentawai resorts opened there prices were set by competing with the charter boats because that was the only other option for surfers unless you wanted to basically camp or stay with local coconut farmers which was really hardcore at places like Nyang Nyang back then, no toilets, no shower, no electricity or generators, and cooking on fire, pandanus mat on hard wood floor with a thatch roof that if you were lucky didnt leak when it rained.

So the first resorts prices were set a bit lower but in the same price range as charter boats, obviously they are also mostly western owned so want to make western wages or have investors to give back returns too, they also have much bigger cost than running a resort elsewhere in Indonesia, as they need to ship in all food and then fuel needs to come from nearby port towns that is much more expensive than on mainland, not for just running boats but also running generators for electricity, basically running a resort in Mentawais is a logistical nightmare.

Compare that to say running a resort in other areas of Indonesia which I'm sure also has challenges but other aspects are much easier, guest can easily get to the resort by car and waves by car, resort can buy food locally and cheap and electricity is from mains electricity that is cheap.

But yeah there is cheaper options in Mentawais owned by locals, but things like food and boat trips to waves still cost more than in other areas of Indonesia, nyang nyang is no secret these days the Indonesia lonely planet guide has plenty of info on staying there, so here is my recommendation my friends place there.

Blowin's picture
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Blowin Friday, 20 Jan 2017 at 2:39pm

Take a look at the prices that some places in Rote are asking.

I guess that's more about demographics though.

Same could be said for Ments I suppose.

indo-dreaming's picture
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indo-dreaming Friday, 20 Jan 2017 at 3:02pm

I think the Mentawai's thing set the resort price for surfers accommodation around Indo for what people are willing to pay.

I guess it started cheap with Bali and Nias, even Asu and Lakeys

Then for a while G-land before the Mentawais would have been the most expensive (but nothing like Mentawais), i guess again because of the logistics of getting food and guest there and the fuel for generators.

Then the Mentawais set a new price, now it's been taken to a whole different level in places like the Telos charging $500+ per person per night, it's crazy it's like how high can we push it, i guess it's now decided on how much older cashed up guys have to blow on two weeks a year on a boys trip away from the wife.

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dandandan Friday, 20 Jan 2017 at 3:22pm

Spot on there indo-dreaming.

If I was you I'd try not to let money come into too much. For many it's a once in a lifetime trip, either because they don't have much time or they don't have much money. I wouldn't go out and get on the boat with the chopper, I'd be looking at where I want to surf and what the best option to get me there is.

If I was loaded I'd love to spend the week at Togat Nusa - great looking waves and a really beautiful looking place.

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Blowin Friday, 20 Jan 2017 at 5:15pm

Just looked into Togat Nusa. Unfortunately it opens after I leave. This time.

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groundswell Saturday, 21 Jan 2017 at 7:21am
Sharkfin's picture
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Sharkfin Saturday, 21 Jan 2017 at 10:57am

Thanks for your input guys/ really appreciate it! And especially I love helping out the local operators and feel that in a way you can get a more genuine experience through this...for instance , I love staying in balangan beach in Bali at jimmys brothers wurung, such nice people, cheap, great service, great food, massage and even learn some language , customs and ways of life of the locals. n it's good to see local business still surviving in such a globally competitive tourism market... However last time I was there in balangan a few neiboring villas were destroyed- apparently being bought out by Chinese investors w the veiw to create more upmarket accom , because they can I guess! Sigh! I guess that's just what happens in the end! Indo thanks for recommending your friends place! Looks cool! Real genuine sounding guy too! Do you book for he's place or just rock up n pay cash!? Just had a quick glance, but will have another peruse over the site ... Cheers

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MRsinglefin Sunday, 22 Jan 2017 at 7:06am

As Blowin suggested. The Barrenjoey. I went last April and the relief surf guide (Neil Croft) had us every morning as the first boat at every surf , somedays the only boat unit the afternoon. Great food, great crew

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indo-dreaming Sunday, 22 Jan 2017 at 3:09pm

I can vouch for the Barrenjoey, that boat always seems to turn up when i find uncrowded waves, also Scuzz's boats Southern cross and Budaryi, all pricks they should stick to the big name spots like all the other boats :P

@ Sharkfin i just turn up, but if he is full i just stay elsewhere lots of places all pretty much similar buildings and apart from two maybe three places the prices are all the same.

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leckiep Monday, 23 Jan 2017 at 10:03am

Re: Togat Nusa.

John and Ainsley at Togat Nusa saved our asses a few years back in 09 when we were booked to go on the Saranya but it never left port and the boat owner royally fucked us over. Too long a story to go into here but we were shipped out to the islands on the ferry with the promise of the boat meeting us but it never came. Everything was getting seriously Lord of the Flies until we were taken in. Togat Nusa wasn't quite open then so we slept on the floor of the big deck overlooking the ocean and they fed and watered us.

It is an incredible place and I can't speak highly enough of them.

Barrenjoey sounds sick.

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mbl88 Saturday, 28 Jan 2017 at 8:35am

Hey indo-dreaming ive got 2 weeks off in the middle of april do you think that's to early to go to the ments or should I be looking elsewhere. any help would be appreciated.

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indo-dreaming Saturday, 28 Jan 2017 at 8:47am

No not too early, its always a roll of the dice to how much swell you can may get, but April can have plenty of swell and very good waves, plus winds are often lighter early season, and crowds can be lighter.

One of the biggest swells I've seen in the Mentawais was in March

frog's picture
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frog Saturday, 28 Jan 2017 at 9:29am

Charter boats have the ability to hunt out the waves at greater distances than the land camps. But most importantly, Charter boats give you as a surfer more flexibility to surf as and when you want - you are not tied to the whims of other guests or the camps schedule.

A charter will get you to the right spot at dawn. Then the frothers on board paddle out into empty surf and the others eat breakfast and eventually hit it at their leisure. The resort boats have to wait for 10 people to get organised and tend to get there a bit later. The resort boats also tend to head off late arvo leaving evening sessions empty for the charter boats to enjoy. A bad wind change can send the resort boats home only to have it glass off an hour later for the charter boats to enjoy.

Then you have the comfort factor. On a charter between sessions you sit, sleep or eat on the boat in pure comfort, cool drink in hand (air conditioning inside) and you can watch with pity the small resort boats moored nearby baking in the sun all day with guest having a break trying to "relax" on their little seats huddled in the few shady spots. A half hour nap in an air conditioned cabin after a long session can perk up the energy levels for your next session in ways rocking away on a hot little boat cannot.

Last trip the wind kicked up one arvo and it got a bit unpleasant at the mooring. Two resort guest just stayed out in the cross chopped waves for hours, while 8 other guest rocked back and forth in their little boat cursing them under their breaths. We sat in our charter boat watching the surf and enjoyed a cool drink with some corn chips and salsa.

Personally the freedom to choose when I head out and for how long on these type of trips is hugely important to my enjoyment. Sneak out early whilst everyone is having breaky, surf for ages with no worries about holding up others from heading back to a camp. Notice the crowd has thinned and the rest of the guys on your boat are snoozing - quietly head out again for an almost empty session.

Whereas for the resort boats it is more all in (ten guys jump off the boat at once) , then all out (when the boats has to go) and your schedule is more dictated by the group. Also, resort boats won't travel far if the wind is up or might get up later shrinking the actual pool of surf spots you can access to well below what they state on their web sites.

The ments is crowded these days, you need every factor in your favour to get good waves. It could be two hours one evening when the crowd is low is the best session of your whole trip. It can also be that the little annoyances described above shift your mind set from carefree fun in the tropics to being a bit pissed off at times.

Costs are a factor but if your time frame is limited you need to have as many odds in your favour to get a great trip.

Blowin's picture
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Blowin Saturday, 28 Jan 2017 at 10:04am

Agree with all Fong says.

But the thing with being on a boat for 10 days is that it's a long time to be cooped up in a tiny environment with little personal space or alleviation from any potential loose units that may find their previously concealed character flaws shine like a dying supernova in the human soup of confinement.

Nothing worse than being stuck on a glorified raft in the tropics next to a serial pest with a head of steam.

Never happened to me personally ....but it's happened to blokes that have had to share a boat with me.

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goofyfoot Saturday, 28 Jan 2017 at 10:59am


indo-dreaming's picture
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indo-dreaming Saturday, 28 Jan 2017 at 11:11am

Okay to keep some balance argument for resorts or against charter boats.

Probably the biggest is in between surfs, being on a charter boat can at times like being stuck on a floating prison charter boats are not very big and there is not much personal space and even your good mates can drive you crazy when you are with them 24/7 especially when you are tired and just want to sleep but others want to get on the piss playing drinking games for the 7th night straight.

Resorts win hands down in this area endless amount of room you want to go for a walk just go, you need your own space its easy to find, if you are over partying and just want to rest in peace you can retire to your own room or villa and get a good nights sleep no rocking boats or drone of bilge pumps etc (as long as their generator is far enough away from the resort that is)

Charter boats rely on a good anchorage luckily the Mentawai's generally has good anchorages at most breaks, but not all and there is some quite good waves charter boats rarely surf because the anchorges don't suit either to open to swell or not safe, while surf resort boats generally don't have this problem.

Checking spots, sometimes conditions on paper don't equal reality, on a charter boat it can take quite some time to pull anchor then motor from one spot to another to check, what can take half an hour in a charter boat can take 5 minutes in a resort boat, and conditions in Mentawais often change very quickly, resort boats definitely have the edge here, being able to check a number of spots in a short space of time, not to mention get a good close look at the waves.(charter boats often need to get their smaller boats out to do this)

Charter boats surf a greater area, this can be an advantage but it can also work against them, for instance the wind might not be good for rifles so they head south, a few hour latter a storm comes through and wind goes offshore, your at a resort notice the change and bang your onto uncrowded riffles with no charter boats, I've been in the Mentawais at the same time as friends have been on charter boats, and when I've talked to them they have got average waves and quite crowded while I've got some real fun uncrowded waves at the exact same time.

Generally charter boats also need to go in one direction north or south sometimes it all lines up while other times you can be missing good waves because you are moving around too much and most don't like to waste fuel back tracking, also another problem is captains and surf guides look at a forecast and try to plan ahead to be at a certain point dying swell head to thunders, then work back north with a news swell, problem is many other charter boats think exactly the same way and you can be seeing the same boats everywhere you go.

Being stuck in one area can be a disadvantage at times, but it can also be an advantage at other times especially if you want to try to catch a certain wave at its best that may be a little fickle, say a wave like Riffles chances of catching this wave from a charter boat are pretty slim but if you stay at a nearby resort they increase quite a bit.

That said some waves are really only accessible by charter boat like the lighthouse/ Hole area

Also no matter how good your surf guide or captain thinks he is, local knowledge is always king some guys from certain resorts know areas better than anyone and can see the changes in front of their resorts and know from these changes instantly how these changes effect other waves.

Being on a charter boat, you can miss out on a lot of what there is to see or offer other than waves, from a boat you may see palm trees and a bit of smoke and maybe a glimpse of some buildings, but really there is a whole other world there a whole different culture and people, experiencing and interesting with this can be just as rewarding as surfing itself.

Ethics: Charter boats do basically nothing for the Mentawai people or contribute basically nothing to the Mentawai economy, they are registered and operate out of Padang where they stock up on fuel and food and do repairs there or in Thailand, most don't even employee Mentawai locals, only way the contribute to the Mentawai economy is if they buy fish etc from locals or pay a small fee for surfing a break and now the Mentawai surf tax.

Environmentally they can be damaging to the Mentawais damaging reefs with their heavy anchors, oil/fuel leaks, raw sewage pumped out to sea, some even dipose of rubbish at night into the ocean.

On the flip side, resorts generally are built with local materials and often local labour, pay tax and other red tape fees locally, buy fuel locally and often food locally, and employee many Mentawai staff, any maintenance in the offseason is often done by locals.

Personally for me i don't like charter boats or resorts, i like doing it cheap alone or with 2 or 3 guys and when i get uncrowded waves I'm not surfing with a boat load of others, or when the charter boats or resort boats do move on it can go from crowded to uncrowded, although it can work the other way too, surfing alone, then bang a resort boat or charter boats turn up.

I really like the freedom of having my own choice and often get good waves right under the noses of both charter boats or resorts and that's not because i know better but i have the freedom to make the calls and often charter boats or resort boats might be restricted because of the ability of their guest or they might not surf a wave because there might to be enough waves for 8 guys, but still plenty of waves for two guys.

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swab Saturday, 28 Jan 2017 at 11:22am

I agree with the above comment 100%.

indo-dreaming's picture
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indo-dreaming Saturday, 28 Jan 2017 at 11:26am

Sorry heaps of spelling mistakes in that above post etc....but you get the jist

zenagain's picture
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zenagain Saturday, 28 Jan 2017 at 11:32am

awesome posts from Indo and frog. You both make great points.

Indo, if you don't do boats and don't do resorts, excuse my naivety but where do you stay?

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indo-dreaming Saturday, 28 Jan 2017 at 6:38pm


Me and my Indo wife did have a house there where we use to stay, but it was just an old timber village house and the termites got into it and storms ripped it apart (termites also got into my longboat too), i will rebuild something better in the future out of brick, but I've got other things happening at the moment in other areas of Indo so it will have to wait.

I also have friends stay with and stay at cheap losmens like the place i posted a link too above.

I also managed Maccas resort for a season when it first opened and did about a half a dozen trips on a charter boat as a surf guide.(even though I'm just an average surfer)

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zenagain Saturday, 28 Jan 2017 at 7:27pm

Cheers Indo.

When anything pops up about surfing in Indo, if you post- I read.

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frog Saturday, 28 Jan 2017 at 8:27pm

Good perspectives Indo. I need to qualify my views. I've been on a fast charter boat that could move quickly and with a good bunch of people who all get along and only about 3 to 4 older "frothers" on board. Being on a charter with 10 hot surfers on board would be another matter as you cart around a permanent crowd. I can't imagine going with strangers hoping for the best in terms of social and surfing dynamics.

Plus I've been in the water most of the day so have no time to get sick of anybody. I also had 10 days spare so couldn't just kick back somewhere with weeks up my sleeve and let the swells and crowd cycles pass by picking the eyes out of it.

Four trips so far mostly in off peak times and all have been great but I often felt we got lucky and that all it would have taken was a couple of charter boats to turn up on certain days to change the whole flavour of a trip.

On one trip we had great empty sessions at A grade spots but these sessions had loooonnngggg waits between sets and so another 10 guys would have been no fun at all. Last year we had Maccas perfect for two days with one other boat and no camp guests at 4-6 ft which is unheard of these days. Fantastic but by no means anything but a fluke and some good tactical decisions by the skipper with his timing and staking claim to a mooring on the two days the NW wind dropped out.

You'll always get waves in the Ments but the dream trip with heaps of uncrowded sessions is far from certain these days. I have very high expectations (for low crowds and catching lots of waves - not so much for mega perfection) and the more I've gone the more I realise I've rolled winning numbers 4 times in a row and could easily imagine, and have heard about, some trips where you are battling with crowds to get a good wave every now and then.

In contrast my lunchtime sessions at Maccas last year had 4 people in the water and the moment I reached the take off spot it was swing around and straight into another long left. Late arvo on the final day another boat turned up with no idea about sharing and in five short minutes turned the lineup into a no fun hassle showing just how fragile a "perfect surf session" can be. We sat back on the boat with waves too many to count under our belta and a cool drink in hand thinking how lucky we got.

By the way, if you are a red hot ripper or are gutsy and comfortable taking of way inside on coral reefs, Mentawai crowds will not bother you a bit. The crowd lurks on the safer take off zone. Watch vids of HTs and you will see what I mean.

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IndoSteveH Tuesday, 31 Jan 2017 at 12:27am

I found a new website on facebook, that sell complete packages (incl. airport/harbor transfer and fast ferry tickets) for budget surf camps on the Mentawai Islands.

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indo-dreaming Tuesday, 31 Jan 2017 at 8:03am

Looks like basically a very inflated price for the convenience of having this organised for you, don't have the time at the moment but i will break it down latter to show how much they add on.

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Chumbucket Tuesday, 31 Jan 2017 at 11:50am

Indo, your input is always awesome. I'm interested to hear your thoughts on these on-sellers of budget options, to see the difference in price than what you were expecting. Baring in mind I think these prices are including boat trips to surf spots.

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indo-dreaming Tuesday, 31 Jan 2017 at 4:44pm

Okay I'm going to average it out base it on three guys traveling together staying at Sabbits place, and this is going to be confusing plus I'm useless at Maths so I will most likely screw something up..

Transfer from airport to hotel Rp200,000 (x2 times)
Transfer from hotel to ferry Rp 100,000 (x2 times)

So Rp600,000 divided between 3 people = Rp200,000

Fast ferry with Rp300,000 one way (10kg of boards= Rp230.00 20Kg of boards= Rp 460.00 )
so Rp300,00

Return so Rp1,060000 to 1, 520000.

Siberut to Nyang Nyang Rp1,500000 each way so return Rp3,000000 divided between three (So Rp 1,000,000 each)

Nine night with meals= (Rp300,000 x 9= Rp2,700.000)

Boat to surf spots per day Rp 1,500000 divided between three (Rp 500,000) by 8 days

transfers return =Rp 200,000
ferry return = Rp1,500,000
longboat to island return= RP 1,000,000
accommodation/food =Rp, 2,700.000
Boat to surf =Rp 4,000,000

Total for one person =Rp 9,300.000 (USD $6, 970)

Compared to their price = USD $738 (that had 10% discount deducted)

So sorry I'm wrong its actually not that bad.

Actually just read on website their price doesn't included cost of surfboard on fast ferry so you need to add about another $50 USD to their total.

You could however do it much cheaper if wanted, just grab the bus from airport to Padang which is dirt cheap, stay near where the ferry goes so can walk to ferry, could take slow ferry, but the fast ferry is 100 times better and faster and worth the money, and only hire boat to surf when conditions are no good at waves within walking distance.

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ebaysurfcamp Friday, 14 Jul 2017 at 9:02pm

At last! Now you can stay in budget-priced traditional Mentawai bungalows, right on the beach of Nyang-Nyang island, South Siberut. Just a short 5 minute walk to excellent surf at E-Bay. With Beng-Beng, Nipussu and Pitstop a short walk close by. Our locally owned camps cater for small groups, offering traditional Indonesian family hospitality with modern but basic facilities. White sandy beaches, palm trees and coral reefs - Camp Siberut offers an exciting budget-priced experience!

*See TripAdvisor 5-star reviews for "Surfcamp Siberut"!

Contact Handra for details: Tell him Indo Surf 'n Lingo sent you!
Mobile: +62 8137 400 6060 (he speaks good English)
Email: [email protected]

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Booka78 Thursday, 6 Dec 2018 at 1:53pm

There has always been homestays in the ments or f you head down south, take a tent & stay in the village (always ask permission from landowner) the cost is low like $5 per night. So if you are happy for a traditional experience it's not the expensive. Most cost would be longboat transfer.