Thinking about an off-season SUP trip to Indo? Let’s catch up with the Canary based explorers Stéphane Etienne and Nicole Boronat aka « les lovers ». After a trip in Liberia in 2011, the talented couple went on a one-month boat trip to explore a less traveled Indonesians islands last summer. They sailed through the Mentawaii and finally escaped up north in Banyak and Telo Islands to avoid the crowds. A web series of the Indo trip came out about a month ago. Even if Mentawaii sounds like a popular destination now, it’s always good to know what to expect out there especially on a stand up paddle board.
ItV with Stephane Etienne
- How did you book your boat ?
We accepted an invitation on The Gloria of Granada from our long time friend Captain Raja, 66 yrs old Californian surfer, traveler, Grand Vividor. His 22 meters Ketch was not all about luxury but way enough comfortable for that kind of trip. With only 5 of us on board and just 3 surfers!!
- Did you know the area before?
No, it was our first visit in the area, full on discovery.
- The Mentawaii are know to be pretty shallow and radical, how did you handle this on a SUP?
Indeed, waves are fast and hollow, the reef is very shallow, quite technical. The good thing is, the waves are very predictable which reduces the risk. We didn’t get too hurt, just a couple scratches.
- Looking at the videos it doesn’t look like there are many people around?
Well we were surprised to see the number of charter boats operating in the area, especially in the Mentawaii. There were quite a lot of people out in a line up depending on the days. That’s why we escaped from the classic charter routes. We wanted to find isolated breaks, maybe less perfect but still good. We had them for ourselves most of the time, a good way to get plenty of waves!
- So where did you go exactly? Surf looks kind of small for August in Indo..
The weather conditions were unusual for August, with a lot of rain and onshore wind. It forced us to move often, in order to reach safe places to anchor the boat. So we took advantage to check the surrounding reefs. We were also lucky to have a good boat, with a good captain ready to go anywhere we wanted. We sailed about 800 miles from the Mentawaii to the Banyaks stopping at Tellos Hinakos, Nias along the way. It’s amazing how many waves we ran into!
- Seems like the locals are now riding their waves as well?
Yes, in the Mentawaii locals surf with very good barrel riding skills. Most of the boatmen bring surfers out there, so they also surf almost every day unreal waves.
- Tsunami effects are still visible?
Yes on some islands the shoreline remains completely washed away, even after a few years, pretty scary!
- Did surf tourism really hit the place or is it still roots?
We were surprised to see how much the resorts charge on almost every island. It’s obvious that the surf, boat and resort tourism is quite big, but it doesn’t seem like the locals really benefit from it. There are still remote islands but there are not easy to get to!
- So are the Mentawaii on a SUP it’s for anybody?
I’d say you need a good SUP level overall, surfing here is definitely technical. The very good quality of the waves make them accessible but you need good level to make the best of it.