You're probably used to hearing the phrase 'Shoulder Season' and thinking, nah it isn't worth the punt. But the Mentawais isn't like other places and has been on the pump over the last 30 days. While it may not be as solid as the normal Winter In-Season, it's a great a time to catch fun surf and what Kandui Resort calls "The Mentawais' Best Kept Secret"
In fact, there’s still plenty of waves and, in some cases, waves that might be more suitable for everyday surfers (read: those looking to get head-high tubes at Kandui, rather than absolutely pulverised at XL Bank Vaults).
Spot Guide: Mentawais
“All Day” Ray Wilcoxen, Kandui Resort Manager who has been holed up in the Ments during COVID and historic swell, said: “Our Shoulder Season is my favourite time of the year. This time of the year, my eldest son Dylan and I froth out of our skin! Overhead, fun right-handers, and you’re lucky to see another boat to surf with. While it’s rare to see the triple-overhead Bank Vaults or double-overhead Rifles swells, you will see overhead surf virtually every day and the kind of surf that is enjoyable, not scary.”
Remember Anthony Fillingim and the Last Man in the Mentawais? The guy that got stuck in the Mentawais for six months during COVID-19 and scored massive Kandui, empty Bank Vaults and perfect Rifles? Kandui Resort originally brought him out in late February to show firsthand why they claim the shoulder season is the Mentawai’s best kept secret.
For more on why shoulder season rules in the Mentawais, we hit up “All Day” Ray for five reasons on why it should be considered for your next trip.
1) The winds
“Once we get into October the larger swells and SE trades winds start backing off and the winds switch back to north to northwest. It’s a big misconception out here that the Mentawais is like the rest of Indo and goes onshore. Our resort faces east, and we have a number of incredible waves that remain offshore during our entire shoulder season. Plus, the waves that take N/NW wind spots are swell magnets and it’s honestly never flat here. If the waves are super small, we always end up surfing shoulder-high plus waves and if you get a swell, you’re laughing since you have a lot of options and there’s very few people.”
2) The lack of crowds
“October and March can still have some people in our area but once you hit November through February, it’s very uncrowded. It still blows my mind that no one comes and part of the reason why we nicknamed shoulder season ‘The Mentawai’s Best Kept Secret.’ Our shoulder season edit truly shows what that time of the year does. You won’t find massive barrels, but you’ll be surfing overhead fun waves daily and you’re lucky to surf with another resort or boat.”
3) Slim Chance of Getting Skunked
“The Indian Ocean really is a miracle. It puts out some sort of swell just about 365 days a year and it’s rare that a day goes by when we don’t surf. While most of Indonesia goes onshore, our area has a number of reefs that stay offshore. Big and barreling waves don’t happen every day, but fun waves just about do happen every day.”
4) Know your limits
“Shoulder season is best for anyone looking for fun, overhead waves with less people. Every resort/charter boat is different, but the majority of our guests are looking for exactly this. Some of the more well-known waves in our area (Kandui Left, Rifles, Bank Vault) are all very heavy waves and you need to be very comfortable in shallow, fast moving waves. The majority of our guests come this time of the year, give it a shot once, and then spend the rest of their trip searching for what is readily available during our shoulder season. It’s insanely frustrating to me, personally, since I would say at least half of the people visiting the Mentawais don’t want the heavy stuff, so there’s always a large number of people in the area searching for a fun size wave in the middle of peak season.”
5) And, of course, the waves
"Once the waves go as small as it gets, that’s when the swell magnets turn on. Burger World is one of the best pointbreaks I’ve ever surfed and from Nov-Feb, the winds are typically perfect and there’s very few people to surf with.
"Burger World is especially incredible since the flatter the surf gets, the better the wave is. Nipussi is a go-to wave during this time of the year and it’s rare to surf with crowds from Nov-Feb. We have a couple secret spots that work super well with small surf and here’s a video of Donavon Frankenreiter from a couple years ago in early shoulder season. Donavan’s video is literally from one of the smallest days of the year. Once you get a small amount of swell, you’re surfing waves like Pistols, 4Bobs, small Rifles, fun size Bank Vaults, Pitstops and so many more."