Mentawai Island, Sumatra

The Mentawai Islands are a chain of about seventy islands and islets approximately 150 kilometers (93 miles) off the western coast of Sumatra in Indonesia. Take a trip into the wild with an adventure to the Mentawai islands. Be surrounded by tropical rainforests and immerse yourself in the traditions of the local people. While the physical distance between the mainland and Mentawai is not great, this remains one of the most isolated places in Indonesia and was only subject to outside influences at the start of the 20th century. A long way from the world of shopping malls and theme parks, this is where travelers come to get a truly off the beaten track adventure.

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Naturally, surf tourism is a big part of the economy, with surfers traveling from all over the world to chase the pristine waves. Resorts like Kingfisher Mentawai and WavePark revolve around all things surfing, providing speedboat transportation to and from remote surf breaks. Best of all, there’s a good chance you’ll have the waves all to yourself.

With that said, there’s no reason the Mentawai Islands should be a destination exclusive to surfers — these islands belong on everyone’s bucket list.  Between the snorkeling, fishing, kayaking, and beach lounging, there’s an ocean adventure for everyone. 

Since the islands are small and relatively undeveloped, don’t expect to have many dining and activity options outside of your resort. But if laying on a beach with a smoothie in hand sounds like your style, you’ll be utterly content.

Since the islands are fairly secluded, the aboriginal culture is well-preserved. Mentawaians traditionally cover their bodies in elaborate tattoos, and many continue to live in wooden houses called uma.

Getting to the Mentawai Islands is a bit of a trek. After you fly into Minangkabau Airport from either Jakarta or Kuala Lumpur, the easiest way to get to the Mentawai Islands is by boat. (There is an airport on Sipura island, but it is very small and generally unreliable.) Nevertheless, once you make it there, you won’t want to leave.

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