Experienced Surf Travel Consultant Steve Adam scoring some fun ones in the Mentawai Islands not long ago!
Steve is an experienced surfer and travel consultant with a passion for finding his clients the best waves anywhere around the world. A South African native with more barrels at Supertubes than Fanning & Parko, Steve’s favourite wave on the planet is J-Bay closely followed by Rifles in the Mentawais.
Some musings from 10 days in shoulder season Mentawais.
I recently had an opportunity to jump on a last-minute trip to the Playgrounds region of the Mentawais. This was not an elaborate strike mission but rather came about as the result of a common occurrence on group surf trips, a last minute drop out.
With flights booked and four days to arrange my affairs, my thoughts turned to the swell forecast. Now, as I mentioned, this was no strike mission and the swell forecast affirmed this. After what can only be described as a season for the records from a swell point of view, the 10 day forecast provided a stark contrast to the up until then, constant train of large, high period swell the region had been bombarded by since May.
I would be lying if I said there wasn’t a niggle of doubt creeping in, as is often the case when, as surfers, we find ourselves faced with an average forecast a week out from a trip. But it was 0ft on the Sunny Coast and it would be better than nothing I told myself.
Well, “better than nothing” became a slogan as such! Something our excellent, if slightly jaded, surf guide would toss around on arrival at waves that had me jumping out of the boat, hooting and hollering, before the anchor could even be dropped. “Better than nothing” turned out to be some of the best consecutive days of surf I have had in my life!
There is something surreal about jumping on a boat every morning after breakfast and motoring off, boards waxed and ready to go, KNOWING that you WILL arrive somewhere and be greeted by waves that would probably top the 10 best days of the year at your local. Repeat this twice a day for 10 days and time, sessions and waves start to warp into a continuum of perpetual stoke.
Having been fortunate enough to experience extended stints of time in Central America, Africa, The Pacific, Indo and here in Australia; with the primary focus being surfing; I can honestly say I was blown away by the incredible consistency of the Playgrounds over a 10-day period. Regardless of the wind direction (fair to say I did not experience the dreaded Southerly wind), swell size and angle (often small during my trip), we were always able to find clean, fun surf with the odd larger day to mix things up. Whilst the Playgrounds can be busy, the number of setups mean that crowds can be dispersed – something that is often helped along with the experience of the guides! If you are willing to roll the dice in the early / late season you further your chances of scoring perfection with just your crew out.
We surfed a variety of waves during the trip, some well-known, others with no name or 10, lefts and rights, some rippable, some barrelling, some challenging but all very, very fun. You could have been a a local shredder or a beginner and your trip would have paid for itself with the number of waves you got.
Perfection is probably a word rather loosely used when describing surf, mostly as a result of its rather subjective application! Perfect surf for someone living on the Sunshine Coast is different to someone living in the Mentawais and then different again for someone living in Brighton, England! But as surfers, we can all probably agree, that scoring fun, rip – able, barreling waves with ONLY you and your mates out is as “perfect” as it gets within in the context of our surf travel!
So, embrace the uncertainty, roll the dice on a shoulder season or head off on a surf trip somewhere new! Chances are, when your sitting having a post surf beer somewhere warm and exotic, you won’t regret it!