The Mentawai's without the crowds

3 Sep 2007 0 Share

Brent Dorrington backhand smack at Missionaries

Brent Dorrington backhand smack at Missionaries

Uncrowded Perfection

Sibranun from Island lookout.

Sibranun from Island lookout.

Seabass carving Sibranun.

Seabass carving Sibranun.

Sam Page carving a blur at Sibranun.

Sam Page carving a blur at Sibranun.

Biggest day at Sibranun Island.

Biggest day at Sibranun Island.

Empty perfection in front of the camp.

Empty perfection in front of the camp.

Brent Dorrington cutting back in front of the camp.

Brent Dorrington cutting back in front of the camp.

Pagey's fin waft at Camp Right.

Pagey's fin waft at Camp Right.

Luke Watson & catch of the day.

Luke Watson & catch of the day.

Adam Melling going for the lip at Camp Right.

Adam Melling going for the lip at Camp Right.

Bobby Hanson punting at School Yards.

Bobby Hanson punting at School Yards.

A lot of crew have been asking the question. What if you could find another Mentawai’s minus the crowds? Wouldn’t that be nice? Due to the fact that the world economy is still buoyant, it seems like everyone wants to and can afford to travel and surf. Consequently empty waves zones are shrinking very fast.

There are still uncrowded waves in the Ment’s you can find, but the quality spots like Lances, Rifles & all the other main breaks in between get pretty crowded with punters. Some days it can almost resemble a surf on the Goldy - well maybe not quite, but you get my drift. The North Sumatra area isn’t exactly a new frontier, but on a recent trip to the Telo Islands I found something different to most of the surf trips I’ve been on recently....complete solitude.

The Telo’s are a small group made up of two main Islands with a few smaller ones thrown in. A group of those smaller ones are tucked into a relatively small area in the north. They tend to pick up south swells less consistently than the Mentawai’s due to the large blocking south island, Tanahbala (which also has some good waves.)

West swells tend to reach into the telo’s a little better. There are a number of good lefts and rights, although the rights probably have the edge over the lefts. We stayed at Telo Lodge which had everything you could hope for in a land camp. The speed boat they had transported our crew to a number of spots within half an hour or so.

If you don’t feel like a boat ride there is a nice right directly out the front of the camp at Sibranun, and a bowling left on the other side of the Island that you can walk to in 15 minutes. It’s a beautiful walk, with overhanging coconut palms fringing the shore, and tiny lush islands sitting literally meters away from the waters edge which can be accessed at low tide.

Some islands are rumoured to be littered with human remains leftover from head hunters and witches that frequented these parts not so long ago. While we were there, local workers from the camp were spooked when rumours spread of a recent murder ritual in the area. They would not sleep out the back they were so scared of being taken.

We never surfed with anyone else at all for the whole of our 11 day trip. It was a really cool feeling. There are one or two surf charter boats that come through from time to time, but it’s a long way from Padang, so it’s not likely to turn into another Ment’s in a hurry.

We were fairly unlucky on our trip, arriving in between swells, but as you can see from the shots, we still got good waves; we just didn’t have as much choice. It definitely lacks the consistency of its lower cousin The Mentawai’s but the trade off for less people alone made it a worthwhile alternative.

– Words and photos by Billy Morris.

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