Recently our favorite photographer Brooklyn Hawaii rounded up our longboard maven Victoria Vergara and our globe-trotter Anna Ehrgott for a trip of a lifetime. The three headed out to the Mentawaii Islands for surf, yoga, sun, and an experience in the midst of Indonesia.
We asked them a few of their expectations going into the adventure, and they came back with and some favorite (and not-so-favorite) memories. Check it out.
Have you been to the Mentawais before? What are your expectations?
Anna: I've never been to any part of Indonesia! Coming from longboarding roots, I've avoided trips to heaving barrels over dry reef pretty successfully until now. The Mentawais are known for having some of the most perfect waves in the world and a turquoise water color I've lusted over since the first surf movies I watched featuring the island chain. I think we're all imaging those picture-perfect almond-shaped barrels, eating coconuts and papayas for breakfast, napping off the "noodle arms" in hammocks and enjoying all the sea has to offer. The waves there are a little out of my comfort zone, but I'm anticipating a little bit of an adrenaline rush. At least the forecast looks like it'll ease us into the swing of things.. starting off small and working it's way to double overhead towards the second half of the trip.
Victoria: I've never been; it's going to be my first time and I'm super excited. I picture this place as a dream for a surf trip. Clear blue water, solid waves surrounded by islands. I’m expecting lots of laughs and an overdose on surfing.
Brooke: I can only imagine it to be just like the photos -- waves for days, sipping on coconuts and basking in crystal clear water...
What about the girls going? Have you traveled with them before?
Anna: I couldn't be more excited to travel with a rad group of girls. Victoria and I have been on a few trips together, and I can only expect that we continue our giggle fests, candy feasts and lighthearted surfs. She's a sweetheart and I feel lucky to call her a friend.. Plus she charges, I always enjoy watching her surf. Brooklyn's one of my favorite photographers whom I have yet to meet. Through her images I can feel her love of the water and look forward to connecting with her on that!
So was it as dreamy as expected?
Anna: The Mentawais exceeded my expectations tenfold. The wave diversity is unrivaled. To be able to surf a different wave each session for two weeks of surfing, three times a day surpassed my wildest surf dreams. It's crazy how good of shape you get in spending that much time in the water. We never took more than 10 consecutive steps (the distance from our rooms) to get meals at Alaia and about the same to walk out to the boat, but we'd go to sleep with noodle arms every night. It's just too easy and too good to be true, yet... it is!
Victoria: The Mentawais were paradise on Earth, as I imagined it but even better. I’ve been travelling the world all year long and I’ve never seen a place as the Mentawais, untouched by people.
Any crazy stories?
Brooke: You can have expectations for a trip, but you can never prepare for what will naturally unfold in your travel story!
I expected the Mentawai islands to be remote, gorgeous, something you only see in postcards — and I was right! But what no one ever sees is the crazy adventure it takes to get to such remote destinations. Places like these are remote and untouched for a reason — they’re hard to get to! Three full days of traveling; airplanes, layovers, sleeping in airports, ferry rides, speed boat rides … traveling this way is taxing on the mind and body, and lugging around a couple of longboards was no joke! When we finally arrived at Alaia Mentawai, I was relieved to say the least and rested for half a day before I was ready to hit the surf.
I got injured during my first surf in the Mentawais which threw a wrench in my whole plan for the next nine days … and although it was disheartening and beyond frustrating at some points, I just had to buckle down and try to enjoy the rest of my time there to the fullest.
Anna: It was pretty remote out there! Our food for our trip came out on the ferry with us, and we didn't make any store runs after that. Brooklyn and I both got some good ole fashioned "Mentawai Tattoos," as they call the scars you get from falling on shallow coral. Scrubbing the cuts with lime is like some kind of twisted initiation to surfing reef breaks, but it kept ourbattle wounds clean.
And what was traveling with the other girls like?
Brooke: Girl time in the surf there was a dream — uncrowded breaks, trading off on waves, shooting photos, laughing, crying, snacking more than usual, talking about life. It was a great experience with these fellow Reef girls, definitely an unforgettable experience!
Anna: The girls crew was all time. We laughed till we cried a couple times, cried till we laughed, and ultimately got to surf the best waves of our life with nobody else in sight. Women's surfing is my favorite thing to watch, and the girls approach to riding waves was so beautiful and unique it was as much of a pleasure to watch the girls get waves as it was to surf first hand.
What did you guys pack?
Victoria: I definitely packed too many clothes… I was just wearing bikinis, sarongs, and my Reef Escape Sandals. And of course my boards.
Anna: We really didn't need much. Bikinis, boards and Reef Voyage sandals had us covered.
Brooklyn: Camera gear, bikinis, sarongs, and my Reef Escape sandals :)