So on my latest trip to the Mentawai Islands I headed to the newly opened Driftwood Mentawais surf camp to check see what it had to offer.
And after 2 weeks of kicking back in the Ments, scoring epic waves and generally enjoying paradise here’s my full rundown on Driftwood Mentawais…
Mentawai Surf Camp Review – Driftwood Mentawais
The Mentawais themselves are just off the North-West coast of Sumatra, in Indonesia – about a 3 hour ferry journey off the coast from the city of Padang.
Driftwood Mentawais is situated on Masokut Island (also known as Nyang Nyang island) which is the main location for Mentawai surf camps.
Slap bang in the middle of a wave rich area you’ll have heaps of surf spots within a 20min boat journey from the camp (but more about those later) with the fun left hander Ebays just a 140m walk from your doorstep – so location wise you really cant ask for much more!
For my full guide to the Mentawais click here – including details on flights, fast ferries and more
The Surf Camp
Driftwood itself is a relatively new camp (officially opened in July 2019) so when I arrived in August it was still in soft opening stage – with a few teething problems as you would expect from any new business, especially when it comes to Indonesia!
Based on Nyang Nyang Island (aka Masokut Island), this is the most popular area for Mentawai Surf camps due to its proximity to some of the best and most consistent waves in the Ments.
The camp itself certainly has a strong boho and Canggu style vibe – and as you might expect from the name there’s a huge emphasis on the wooden aesthetic!
- Sleeps 6
- Daily surf boat to surrounding breaks
- 3 meals per day
- Unlimited tea, coffee and fresh fruit
- …and coconuts!
- Use of spearguns and snorkel gear
Wifi is available at the camp (and surprisingly good, but don’t expect to be streaming Netflix or Skyping home!) but is a paid extra at $15AUD per 500MB or $50AUD unlimited for your entire stay.
Rooms wise Driftwood currently sleeps 6 – with 2 twin fan rooms and 1 fan double room.
The double rooms sit on the ground floor whilst the double room is upstairs – including it’s own balcony and hammock setup!
All the beds come with their own mozzie net (a must in the tropics!), as well as light, fan and power point – meaning you can easily get a good nights sleep as well as charge all your gadgets before another day of wave hunting!
Although the rooms are cosy (admittedly the double rooms has heaps more space!) your boards and board bags will be on the racks outside, so you’ll have plenty of space to organised yourself.
It’s also worth noting that Driftwood is planning on expanding in 2020, adding an extra double bungalow – which takes the capacity to 8 people, as well as opening up a bar on Ebay point – perfect for a cold Bintang at sunset or when the surf is pumping!
So lets talk about the waves! The Mentawai surf breaks are world famous and you’ll no doubt have clocked them in heaps of surf movies and clips.
And good news, Driftwood is surrounding by heaps of incredible surf breaks for all conditions and styles.
The main draw to Driftwoods location is the reeling left Mentawai surf spot of Ebays – situated just a 140m walk from the camp doorstep along a stunning palm tree lined pathway.
This makes it great for a dawny surf before breakfast, cheeky afternoon dip or if you just don’t fancy jumping on the boat!
Also short and super scenic walk around the corner via the jungle track or beach (about 10mins tops) is pitstops, a fun little right hander, so definitely give that one a blast when you’re there too!
Other surrounding breaks include;
- Beng Bengs
- Bank Vaults
- Four Bobs
Just as an added note – please be aware surfing in the Mentawais is best suited to intermediate and advanced surfers only due to almost all breaks being shallow reef breaks. The more surf experience you have, the more you’ll enjoy it!
Obviously if you’re smashing in 2 long surf sessions a day you need to be well fuelled – so meals at a surf camp are pretty core to the overall experience.
During my stay the dishes were slightly hit and miss on a few days (especially when the manager was over on the mainland sorting supplies), but overall it was pretty good.
Again this comes down to the fact during my stay it was still in soft launch so I’m sure the kitchen schedule will become more organised and consistent soon!
As a veggie (who also doesn’t eat fish or egg!) I was reasonably well catered for – but obviously being on an island it all depends what supplies are available, so get ready for lots of tempe and potatoes! The more heads up you can give them on dietary requirements the better they can prepare.
Food wise there was a good mix of local cuisine as well as western dishes like pasta, pizza.
How Much Does It Cost?
Ok, so lets cut to the chase – how much will a stay in this wave filled paradise set you back?
As with the Mentawai Islands in general this isn’t going to be your cheapest surf trip – with packages at 1.5million IDR per night (approx $106USD/£87GBP/$155AUD). They do however offer a 5% discounts for stays over 10 days or 10% if you stay more than 2 weeks.
These all include;
- Return speedboat from Siberut to the camp
- 3 x daily meals
- Unlimited tea/coffee/fresh fruit/coconuts
- Daily surf boats to the surrounding breaks
- Use of fishing/snorkelling equipment
On top of this you’ll also need a night pre and post Ments trip in Padang (I’d recommend the Mecure Hotel, Salvali Hotel or Koko Hostel for that) as well as your return Mentawai Fast Ferry – which will set you back 290,000IDR each way (approx $20USD/£17GBP/$30AUD) + 230,000IDR for a board bag of us to 15kg (approx $16USD/£13GBP/$24AUD)
As with all surf camps and charters you’ll also need to pay the Mentawai surf tax – which is a hefty one million IDR (approx $70USD/£58GBP/$100AUD)
And as previously mentioned wifi is available at the camp for $15AUD per 500MB or $50AUD unlimited for your entire stay.
Driftwood does also offer photography packages (and who doesn’t want that epic shot of them surfing with palm trees in the background or locking into that epic barrel?) and the photos will set you back around 1 million IDR too (approx $70USD/£58GBP/$100AUD) for all the shots from your stay.
If you’re looking to sink a few post surf Bintangs they also have those on offer at 30,000IDR for a can (approx $2USD/£1.70GBP/$3AUD) so make sure you add that into your budget too!
Would I Recommend Driftwood Mentawai Surf Camp?
When it comes to value for money Driftwood Mentawais does offer one of the better deals of the Mentawai surf camps in the area.
In comparison a stay at Beng Bengs surf camp cost roughly $60USD more per night, but this then does give you the choice of 2 surf boats per session, their incredible food, A/C rooms and does also include airport transfers and the fast ferry too.
However, Driftwood is well worth considering if you’re travelling on more of a budget, or you’re looking for a smaller capacity, chilled surf camp to stay at.
And of course it’s a great option if you’re travelling with a group of buddies and want to book the whole place to yourselves!
I’ll admit my stay there wasn’t perfect – but it was due to issues being slowly ironed out – something owner Ben is well aware of and working hard to get sorted, so I have no doubt it’ll be running smoothly very soon, and therefore offering solid value for money.
One thing I would flag up is they still don’t have a dedicated surf guide – which can be slightly frustrating when trying to figure out the best waves for the days conditions, but again this is something Ben is implementing before the end of the year once he’s found the right person for the role!
Have you stayed at any Mentawai surf camps?
Any you’d recommend?