By Shaun Levings: MD of World Surfaris.
I’ve just returned from 10 days in Sumatra with a couple of mates. Our destination was the Telo Islands located in Western Sumatra midway between the Mentawais and Nias. I had heard plenty over the years from a few charter skippers about how good the surf is there. Telo Island Lodge opened in 2006 and the secret is out now, however the remoteness of the region will ensure crowd factor is kept to a minimum that’s for sure.
World Surfaris VIP clients, Keith Anderson & Graham Elder accompanied me on the adventure. We flew via Jakarta and overnight at the Airport hotel which is so handy as it’s located within the terminal. The following morning we flew to Padang which recently was heavily hit by the earthquake. There was no evidence of this at the airport and we were met by local operator, Rudi, who sorted out our domestic charter flight connection to the Telos. We met our 4th amigo and travel companion, Marc Olivier a French Canadian geologist/surfer living in Borneo (on his 2nd visit to the Telos) and within 2 hours we boarded our charter flight and were winging our way to the Telo Islands. 1 hour flight and touchdown on one of the most spectacular runways I’ve encountered.
Dave Simons (ex pro longboarder from Crescent head) who is the manager at Telo Island lodge met us on arrival and after a short walk we were loaded onto their impressive speedboat for a 20 min ride to the Lodge. I was immediately struck by how beautiful the islands were and upon entering the Lagoon of Telo Is. lodge it soon became obvious this was going to exceed my expectations. The local boat boys ‘Virus’ and Gus made an instant impression with their happy faces and willingness to help.
For the next 4 days, Dave and the friendly crew at Telo Island Lodge kept us surf stoked (even though huey was a little unkind with small swell, we surfed twice daily) entertained and well fed. Dave was really on the ball finding us the best available surf according to the conditions and the vast array of set ups/reef passes blew me away. The Telos is certainly surf infested ! A big mention to Gerry and Reso in the kitchen for their incredible food. The late arvo beer snacks including sashimi, squid and fish sticks were washed down with an ice cold Bintang on deck of our overwater bungalow. Telo Island Lodge has to be one of the most exclusive surf resorts in the world as it’s only catering to a max. of 8 guests in high quality accommodation. The attention to detail was amazing and the ‘upmarket rustic’ feel/ambience they have created in this tropical paradise is a credit to them. I can see why their 2010 season is nearly booked out and 2011 is filling up fast. If the righthander out the front was pumping you would not want to leave the lodge although “Mishos Left’, 5 mins around the corner is an insane wave. This is the ultimate lads lodge!
We bid farewell to the smiling staff at Telo Island lodge and Dave drove us approx. 45 mins south in the speedboat to Resort Latitude Zero. I was particularly looking forward to catching up with one of the resort Latitude Zero owners Matt Cruden as I spent my teenage years surfing with him on the Central coast of NSW and although we speak every 2nd day I had not seen him for a few years. When we reached the resort I was amazed by the unspoilt beauty of their Island Paradise. Resort Latitude Zero is on it’s own private 100 acre island surrounded by white sandy beach with turquoise lagoon. This might sound corny but it’s exactly that as my photos below show (taken with an Olympus pocket camera and no photoshop!!)
Matt, his family and staff met us on arrival and were ushered into this very impressive looking resort. Stage one of the resort was complete in April 2009 with the South house, Pool, Restaurant and landscaping looking amazing. The quality of the building is first class and you would expect to find such a place in the Bahamas or Bali but not in the middle of no-where in the remote Telos Islands. A team of nearly 100 local and international tradesman have done an incredible job creating a very upmarket boutique resort. The South house where we stayed is a 2 story Queenslander style timber home with a large deck overlooking the lagoon, polished timber floor boards and high quality air conditioned rooms (2 with King size beds & ensuite bathrooms ideally suited to couples). The living area has a large dining room table, a self serve fridge with soft drinks and snacks and tea and coffee making facilities. There is also a large leather lounge in this area with a big plasma TV and entertainment system to watch movies, play WII etc.. A great place to chill out. This house will take a maximum of 8 surfers plus a few non surfers or kids. Downstairs is a open air entertainment area with Pool table & Ping pong table.
Stage 2 (the North house) is well underway now and will be complete by February 2010. The upstairs of the north house will basically be a mirror image of the South house with guest rooms and living area and large deck overlooking the lagoon. This will take a max. of 8 surfers also + non surfers. Downstairs will have some staff offices, storage and a interconnecting family room at the front with deck. The foundations of the houses are an incredible feat of design and labour. Each house is supported by approx. forty; 1×1 metre, steel reinforced concrete footings that go three metres deep .
With the 2 house complete by 2010, Latitude Zero resort will take a max. of 16 surfers and each house will operate as it’s own group/tour. Each house has it’s own speedboat and surfguide and will surf different breaks to the other house each surf. This is no problem due to the abundance of surf in close proximity.
Adam ‘Wal’ Roffey who has worked on charter boats in Sumatra for the last decade is the resort Manager and when quizzing Wal on the volume of surf in the region he counted out 20 regularly surfed quality breaks ranging from full on world-class barrels (DC’s right breaking of f Resort Latitude Zero will feature in a new Matt Gye movie featuring Owen Wright and some other hot groms pulling into big barrels) to mellower point style wave and reef passes. There really is something for every surfer in the Telos.
For the next 4 days Wal took the 4 of us surfing at Monkeys Right, Mishos Left, Rangas Right and a beachbreak (who would have thought). The quality of the set-ups was amazing and we were all surf stoked.
The surf trips were made easy and FAST! by the resort speedboats -Latitude 1 & 2. Latitude 1 is 20′ Aluminium hull bow rider with twin 150 hp engines and Latitude 2 is a 30′ fibreglass half cabin speedboat with twin 200hp. Both boats will comfortable take 8 passengers + 2 crew.
The quality of the food and beverage at Resort Latitude was outstanding, ranging from imported New Zealand beef to local seafood with Indonesian flavours. A large range of beer, wine and cocktails is available from the bar. The pool area is outstanding and a great place to chill out in between surfs or at the end of the day. I would not hesitate to take my wife and kids back to Resort Latitude Zero as they would have a nice relaxing holiday in tropical paradise; surfing, swimming, snorkelling, beachcombing, fishing and being well fed and watered!
It’s worth noting that Resort Latitude Zero is very ECO friendly and both houses have water catchment systems that run rainwater to 8 large water tanks. The water is treated and purified and pumped back to the houses for guest use. You can drink the water direct out of the taps which is unheard of in Indonesia.
Whether it’s a 11night 100% Mentawais charter, an 11nt Nth Sumatra adventure or a 7 night charter combined with Resort Latitude Zero. Captain Jono Shade and the crew of Nomad will find you uncrowded waves on this very very comfortable boat. Please enquire for more info.
After our stay at Resort Latitude Zero we actually went back to Padang by the 30′ Latitude 2 speedboat rather than a charter flight as there were only 4 of us and they did not have guests arriving same day (last trip of season). We left the resort pretty early after a quick breakfast and surfed Monkeys right for a couple of hours then motored for approx. 6 hours back to Padang. We slept, read, played cards and ate lunch onroute before arriving mid afternoon. We were met on arrival and transferred to the airport for our flight home. We witnessed the devastation of the recent earthquake and this further re-inforced why we are supporting SURF AID with donations and a concert on the Gold coast on Sunday 22 November. See details on poster below. We aim to make at least $10,000 for surf aid from this concert.
All up my first trip to the Telos was incredible and I will certainly be returning again there in the future. Thanks to the crew at Telo Island Lodge and Resort Latitude Zero for their incredible hospitality! As Arnie says “I’ll be back”!