This is a story I’ve asked myself, many a time, whether I should write. It’s about a surfer’s sanctuary nestled within the Mentawai archipelago. A place where a playground of waves are groomed to perfection, a place where slow rolling Bomboras bring mile-long smiles to beginners and where deep-pitted barrels send diehards to ponder life in the “green” room.
A dream surfing destination where the quest for the perfect wave is found and time and time… and time again…conquered.
I discovered this place a couple of years ago whilst researching the world’s best surf resorts. As you can imagine, many places try to claim this title. In fact I would be very interested to see what Google Adwords charge for such keywords. A hefty sum I am sure.
But as an avid surfer you learn pretty quickly just how skilled these marketers are at describing their “world class” locations. I am sure rose-tinted glasses must also be a popular Google keyword. They conveniently forget to mention the roaring winds hailing in from the sea, the army of kamikaze board riders absent of any surf etiquette, the banks, or should I say lack of banks, the off-chance once a year swell that makes the particular surf spot of interest, iconic. Ah yes, I’ve certainly experienced my fair share of being tricked into thinking my colossal journey of catching planes, trains, ferries, horses, tuktuk’s, (you name it I’ve “caught” it) will, in turn, reward me with the perfect wave. But alas it never did.
That said, until I discovered this enchanting land located in the Playgrounds area of the Mentawai Islands, Indonesia — a place where those who come here feel spellbound by its beauty. A place where the palm trees meet the sea, where red raw sunsets grace everyday of your stay, where sun-kissed surfers and beach lovers alike spend their days marinating in a state of bliss; migrating from frolicking in the 20+ world-class, turquoise waves, to taking afternoon slumbers on the verandas of their luxury, handcrafted umas (traditional Mentawai accommodations). A place of friendly people, happy people, people that make you think… am I dreaming?
Who’d believe in such a place? A surfer’s heaven, boasting and living up to its title as the world’s premier luxury surf resort.
The discovery of this elusive land was rather serendipitous. Twenty years ago Taylor Steele’s epic surf videos “Focus,” “Momentum,” “The Show,” and others introduced the world to a new generation of surfers led by a young Kelly Slater. Two decades later, Taylor, who has since moved on to bigger and more lucrative filming gigs, was able to gather all the stars of those early videos – Shane Dorian, Ross Williams, Taylor Knox, Benji Weatherly, Kalani Robb, Rizal Tanjung, and of course Kelly – and have a Momentum reunion. The place? Kandui Villas, Mentawai, Indonesia.
Despite being someone who definitely needs to see things to believe them…after watching the promo trailers of the Momentum reunion I was already hooked. I knew I needed to visit and discover firsthand whether this place, where the pro surfers play, did in fact live up to its debut on screen.
And so I ventured. Admittedly, the journey was rather seamless: plane, plane, and speedboat. Really? Is that all it takes to get to some of the world’s premier waves?
Now before I continue I should get a few things straight. Whilst I was on the hunt to discover the world’s best waves — I am by no means the world’s best surfer, Far away from it in fact. Rather, I am one of those people who know a lot about the theory of the technique, the optimal weather and wave conditions and have surfed for many years. But, the honest truth is that I am more like the women in the Beach Boys music clips: long board, party wave style. Not quite mastering the tandem surf acrobatics, but you get the picture. Call me the foodie who is not a chef if you will.
Why am I telling you about my surfing ability? Well, the truth of the matter is that whilst we all like to believe we can charge those startling fast, hollow, perfect tubes; Pipeline, Teahupo’o, Grajagan, Cloudbreak style, it is only a select few; i.e. the pros, or simply the “crazy” ones who can. All the rest of us mere mortals should simply be happy to watch in awe from the shore and enjoy Mother Nature’s show and those who know how to “tango” with her. But that’s my point. A perfect wave does not have to be a barrelling monster, a towering wall of water ready to drag you into the dark abyss. Rather, it can be a 3-4ft high, beautifully groomed wave, mechanical in its delivery. Giving you rides of upwards 30 seconds and one in which you can put both hands in the air, as a salute to the ecstasy you are feeling.
And so, with that in mind, what I discovered about this mesmerizing place, the Kandui Villas, is that it not only offers surfers access to some of the world’s best waves, but it offers waves for all levels. Add to this the resident yoga instructor, surf guides, a personal chef preparing delicious farm-to-table meals, surf photographers to capture that epic ride, masseuse, plus a host of other activities: SUP, kayaking, snorkelling, bocce, beach volleyball, billiards and ping pong to name a few. Eco at heart. This is the place to bring family and friends who have a passion for the beach/surf lifestyle.
So, yes, after the hard yards of finally discovering Kandui Villas I did have to question myself on whether I should be telling the world about its existence. After all, you should never kiss and tell. However, some secrets are just too good to keep.
NEED TO KNOW:
WHEN TO GO:
High Season: April to September
DID YOU KNOW:
Kandui Villas is home to two of the best barrelling waves in the world, a perfect right on the opposite side of the island and directly in front of the resort, the incredible Kandui Left.
Kandui Villas is located in the “Playgrounds” area of the Mentawai – surfers have access to over 20+ different and unique waves. 12 located on the island, with the others only a 30 minute speedboat ride away.
Fly direct to Jakarta with Etihad or Emirates airlines. Then take a domestic flight to Padang, Sumatra where you take the speedboat to Kandui Villas.
Words By: Laura Brown