Mentawai Surftrip on a budget

by Pascal
Published: Last Updated:
HT's mentawai


How to do an independent surf trip to the Mentawais, without spending a fortune

HT's mentawai budget surftrip

Is it even possible to do a surf trip to the Mentawai Islands on a budget?

Well, it is possible to do it cheaply, but it’s just not easy – And not that cheap after all! Here are a few things to look out for to keep the cost as low as possible.


It’s Indonesia! Which means that if you’re an experienced traveler, and you speak Bahasa Indonesia good enough, I’m sure you’ll find ways to make it cheap. If you have any tips or tricks to do a Mentawai budget surftrip, make sure to let us know in the comment section.


For the average Indo surf traveler, the Mentawais are more expensive than other places – doesn’t matter how you do it. And keeping this in mind, it’s worth to consider to spend a couple of extra Dollars, to find the Mentawais you were dreaming of.

Maybe the Mentawais are the kind of place to go to with a couple of friends, who surf on the same level as you do. And you do it, as a once in a lifetime (or once a year) experience.


Whether you and your friends do a boat trip or staying in a resort that has speedboat transfers to different spots included, It all has its price of course, but that way you make sure you surf the waves you imagined.


mentawai boat charter lances left budget surftrip

Only you, a few of your best friends, and everyone else, who’s on a boat or at a resort near by


But here a few tips to do it on a budget


What are the fix costs that make the Mentawais so expensive, and how to keep them at a minimum?

The number one resource the Mentawai Islands got is waves. And make wealthy tourists pay for it, is legit in some way. Because of this, they invented a “Surf-tax”! As soon as you arrive with a board bag on one of the islands, someone comes up to you to collect it. And it’s a hefty 1’000’000 RP! If you go there during the off-season, your chances are high that no one comes to collect. But from April to September, you most probably don’t make it around.

The only way to get that price down is, to stay as long as possible.

It officially allows you to stay and surf there for two weeks. But if you stay longer, no one will know or care (most probably).


Flying to Padang is cheap. You don’t have to go to Bali first, if you come from somewhere else in Asia, Europe or wherever.

The cheapest option is probably Kuala Lumpur (thanks to Air Asia), and from there straight to Padang.

A few years ago, “Mentawai Fast” ferry started to run. This made it much faster to get to the islands, but made it also more crowded.

If you travel with enough time on your hands, it makes the whole trip obviously cheaper. Not only because of the Surf-tax, but also because you can take the night ferry.

The “Mentawai Fast” costs you 295’000 RP/ person, if you travel with light hand baggage. A board bag that weighs less than 15 Kg, is an additional 230’000 RP. If your bag is more then 15 Kg, you pay double!

The ferry leaves from Padang around 6 am, and you’re on the island around 9-11am. It’s super fast, but you get there in the late morning, and you’re most probably tired, because you had to wake up early in your hotel in Padang.

gambolo ferry mentawai budget surftrip

My favorite transport to the Mentawais

If you time the weekday of your departure right, you can take the night ferry.

You’ll find more or less reliable schedules with Google. It’s much cheaper. Depending on the class you’re traveling, it’s somewhere around 90’000-150’000 RP including your baggage. But not only the price is more appealing. It’s also a great experience with the locals, and the bed is reasonably comfortable. Just make sure to bring warm clothes, if you travel in the VIP class, as the air-con is freezing cold.

You should be in Bungus (from where the ferry leaves) around 6 pm. The ferry leaves at 8 pm, and you’ll get to the island around daybreak. That way, you’ve got the whole day on the island already, you’re not tired, and you’ve got the chance to catch the “Inter Island Ferry”. The Inter Island Ferry can take you to a couple of different places on the islands, what saves you a lot of money. But for many places, such as Masokut, you have to take a canoe anyways. It’s also pretty difficult to find out when that ferry is going, as they don’t really stick to a schedule.

The taxi from Padang to Bungus is somewhere around 150’000-200’000 RP, depending on your bargaining skills. What you spend for the cab, would be your night in a Hotel in Padang, so don’t worry about that. And it’s the price for the whole cab. If you travel with other people, you can split the cost.


Most people who do it as individual travelers go to Pulau Masokut, a.k.a. Nyang Nyang. There you’ve got 5 different waves you can walk to, what saves you money for your daily boat transfer.

On Masokut are a lot of different accommodations, where you can stay for around 350’000-450’000 RP/ day, including food. That’s the price for one person. You’ll find some of those places online, just google it. If you want to lower the price, make a list with what you need to eat and drink during your stay, and do all the shopping before you go there. If you bring your food, and do your cooking, you save up quiet a bit of money.

To get to Pulau Masokut (Bang Bang, Ebay, ua.) you need a canoe that picks you up in Muara Siberut (the harbor), and of course brings you back there. This canoe is another 1’500’000 RP one way, so make sure you can share it with others. If it’s only you, you spend another 3 Million Rupees return, just for that short ride (2 hours)! With that extra money, you could almost stay in a beautiful resort!


There are a lot of different places to stay on all the different islands.

If you want to safe money, look up some of the waves online, and decide where you want to surf.


Most of the waves here are perfect, what makes them easier to surf. BUT the reef is usually near and sharp, plus the level of surfing is often really high. If you’re not ready for this, you probably get more waves and have more fun somewhere else. You can still keep the Mentawais on your bucket list for later.

But if this is your piece of cake, check where you want to go, and if there is an alternative wave close by, for the days when it gets too big or too small. A cheap place to stay won’t safe you any money, if you spend a fortune on boat transfers every day.

Mentawai map


Probably the cheapest option would be Sipora (or Sipura), where you can drive by car from Tua Pejat (the harbor) to the North of the island. This costs you only 20’000 RP per person, and there are some cheap places to stay.

It has a beach break where you could get a wave every now and then, but all the other spots are boat access, or a far walk and paddle. How ever, make a deal with the people you’re staying with, or with some of the surfers in town who have a boat, and it will be much cheaper than in most other places.


Bring enough cash with you! There are not a lot of ATM’s on the Mentawais, and not the kind you could rely on anyway. And you’ll spend more money than you think. Believe me! Going back because you run out of money does make the whole trip much more expensive for nothing!


These are the additional costs you’ve got for your Mentawai budget surftrip.


Lets calculate it for a ten days trip:

Pulau Masokut


Surf-tax                                                          1’000’000 RP

Mentawai Fast (return with board bag)           1’040’000 RP

Canoe to Masokut (return)                               3’000’000 RP


This adds an extra 500’000 RP per day to the cost for accommodation and food. What means even with all the travel hustle, you look at probably 60-80 $ per day!

If you go with a group of let’s say, 4 people, the canoe is much cheaper for you, what already makes a big difference. As you have to pay for the canoe, you could do all the shopping before, and bring it packed up in cardboard boxes.


shopping telo mentawai indonesia budget surftrip

Your typical shopping opportunity once you’re on the islands (on the bigger ones)


North of Sipora


Surf-tax                                                                 1’000’000 RP

Night ferry (return with board bag)                      ca. 260’000 RP

Transfer to the North                                                   20’000 RP


This way, it would be an additional 128’000 RP per day, and it’s easy to find cheap (but also really basic) places to stay. Accommodation here is, a whole lot cheaper than on Masokut. Plus you’re close to the harbor, where you can always stock up on food (and beer), where you find cheap Warungs, and where your mobile-phone has good enough reception for 3G.



If you travel alone, and if you’re happy with Iceland, Telescopes, and the waves in the North of Sipora, this is probably your cheapest option. But don’t forget the cost for boat transfers to the surf spots.

Lances left budget surftrip

A great wave with an expensive resort in front of it, a budget accommodation 25 Minutes by foot, and as you’ve seen on the first picture…sometimes a couple of charter boats in the channel


In short:


  • Bring enough cash
  • Travel in a group of 4 people with more or less the same level of surfing, or at least the same preferences if it comes to waves
  • Stay as long as possible in one place, to keep the transport cost low
  • Take the overnight ferry instead of the fast ferry
  • Bring and cook your own food to safe more money
  • Try to be as organized as possible, and know where you want to go, before you go




Treat yourself nice and stay in a resort.


In a lot of places in Indonesia, it’s easy to live on less than 20 $/ day, and surf as much as you want. This budget would be really hard to keep anywhere in the Mentawais. At least if you calculate it with the additional costs you’ll have.


I’m not telling you not to go, just because you’re on a budget. I’m just saying, it will most probably be much more expensive than what you had imagined! But it’s definitely an incredible place with friendly people, an interesting and old culture, with picture perfect beaches, and the waves are spectacular! Hands down!


GIF HT's mentawai budget surftrip

Worth traveling for?





  • Pascal

    Born and raised in Switzerland, Pascal took up skiing and snowboarding from a very young age. Surfing came pretty naturally after that! He's since written for various Surf Mag’s, captured waves around the world and has even competed for a couple of years.

    View all posts

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Kevin April 9, 2017 - 10:28 am

Question, if you’re a solo traveler, what would be the best way to find a group of people who is heading to the mentawais? Any particular forums or places in Indo where people meet up? Maybe somewhere in Padang?

Pascal September 8, 2017 - 12:55 pm Reply
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[…] viel herumkommt und über seine Surfreisen rund um den Globus schreibt. Richtig cool war z.B. sein Artikel über Mentawais und wie du selbst mit schmalem Budget hinreisen […]

Tk0 September 30, 2017 - 3:25 pm

Whoever wrote this is a a dick

Pascal October 6, 2017 - 2:16 pm

Thank you Trent for your wise words.
Bon appetit!

Mombasa July 19, 2022 - 7:52 am

It takes one to know one

Mentawais: Traumziel aller Surfer oder ein Trip, der noch warten kann? October 21, 2017 - 9:28 pm

[…] Wenn du noch günstiger unterwegs sein möchtest, wirst du dich einfach von Reis und Nudeln ernähren müssen. Zum Frühstück Banana-Pancakes und viel Kokosnuss zwischendurch. Klingt doch auch gut, oder? Mehr dazu, und wie du die Kosten möglichst tief halten kannst, findest du in meinem Artikel Mentawais on a Budget. […]

tjasa February 20, 2018 - 5:45 pm

Hi, thanks so much, helpful article! Do you have any schedule for the overnight ferries? I turned Google around and there are no consistent information. I arrive to Padang on Monday around noon, so I would take a Monday night ferry if there is one?

Thanks again!

Pascal February 27, 2018 - 6:21 pm

Google for “ferry bungus to mentawai” or something like that. As far as I know, the Monday night ferry comes back from Tua Pejat to Padang. And from Padang to Sikakap is on Tuesday night. I guess you have to spend one more day in Padang or take the fast ferry on Tuesday morning to Sikabaluan-Siberut. But better

Alja March 13, 2018 - 11:03 am

good article, I am a return traveler to mentawai and all the tips are totally true. I have one question to the author of the article.
Do you know if there is any way to go from Siberut to Tuapejat without returning to Padang?
Thanks a lot!

Pascal March 20, 2018 - 2:43 pm

Hey Alja,
There is an Inter-Island Ferry going from Siberut to Tua Pejat from what I heard. But no clue on what schedule it runs?!

Marcelo Gaudio July 17, 2018 - 11:55 am

Very good I d like to know more about the acomodation how simple they are near the harbor and if it is a comunitáry kitchen what kind of acomodation homesatay bungalow s or sort of … I m I’n sumbawa going to java traveling with wife and kids I believe we are roots enogth kkk to make it I really don’t concern much about tax cos only I will pay and all the costs of transport ara ok to me also we have plenty of time ….our special concern is about get a room or a bungalow and food what better eat any warrung near the harbour and take with us only for breakfasts

Pascal July 18, 2018 - 8:00 pm

Hey Marcelo
There are a few different homestays. Just check them out and find one you like. In most cases, you can use their kitchen, just pay a little extra, or treat them for a self-made dinner.
The diversity of food is very limited if you want to eat cheap, and not in fancy resorts. Cheap but good.

andy October 4, 2018 - 2:57 am

Hey guys,
Does anyone know the price of the boat to surf telescopes.
When staying on land near the wave.


Pascal October 4, 2018 - 8:40 am

Hey Andy,
become friend with the locals, go surfing with them and you’ll get a good price. Same as everywhere around the world. But either way, if you stay with the locals, it shouldn’t be too expensive. But I don’t remember the exact price

Michael Grainger December 15, 2018 - 8:44 am

Hi guys

Pascal thanks for the link to the FB group.

While travelling to the Mentawais I met and stayed with a local guy who has been building a surf camp on the South end of Siberut in the Playgrounds area of the Mentawais. His goal is to create a camp specifically aimed at the budget traveller, surfer or not. He helped me a lot on my trip and I promised him I’d try help him by sharing his info.

He hopes to officially open for the start of the 2019 surf season in March/April and will be charging USD100 pppn for an all inclusive trip (transfers from Siberut, accommodation, all food and daily boat trips to the waves). He says from now until then he’s looking for some ‘tester’ surfer guests at a discounted rate of USD75 pppn before fully opening. Not sure about non surfers right now…

He doesn’t have a website yet or Facebook or anything, but I can confirm he’s a really cool, legit guy that wants to make a life for himself and his family by helping surfers travel his homeland. He has a local phone number and I contact him on Whatsapp which he asked me not to share publicly, but please give me a shout if you’d be interested in contacting him personally to find out more.

That’s all, go get some



Pascal December 16, 2018 - 2:20 pm

Hey Mike,
Not sure is 100$/day is what most people consider a budget trip 😉 But thanks for sharing

Pogstar (Simon) January 11, 2019 - 11:20 am

Hi Mike, im interested in helping your mate up there and plan to go to the Mentawis mid March 19,i plan to spend at least a month up there

Griffin Bolan January 23, 2019 - 6:24 am

Hey I’m planning a trip for the beginning of June. Any chance I could get this guys contact info?

Rien January 24, 2019 - 10:28 am

I’m also interested in the information of this guy. He must have a facebook page up by now if he wants to open up in 1-2 months from now?

Oliver Begley June 16, 2019 - 6:59 am

Hi Michael, thank you so much for your message , I’m heading to the Mentawais next week with a friend and we would love to check out his resort.
We’re both experienced surfers and keen on a good adventure!

Lobo June 26, 2019 - 6:02 am

Hi Mike,
Could I get your friends contact info? I am planning a trip to the Mentawai’s in the coming months.

Nicholas Spiers January 16, 2021 - 10:07 am

Hi Mike,

My partner and I are heading that way Mid-Feb.

Would you mind sending me your friends contact details?

Many thanks,

Anne Gregory March 6, 2022 - 6:01 pm

Did your friend make it through Covid? Would love to head down there with my three grown children who all surf at varying levels, as do I. If his new place survived, could I also get his contact info? Thanks

zeca February 24, 2023 - 1:44 am

Hi Mike

I will travel to mentawais alone in june for 20 days, so I would like to contact your local friend to do my trip cheapest, Can you give me his contact , your article is very nice, I am studying about my trip and your information is really good, so I have to see if is better go to a resort and garantee the boats trips and translades or go with local surfer , buy the food , walking and etc


Lincoln Norton April 19, 2023 - 7:42 am

Hey mike super interested in that and would love to help your friend out. any chance i could get his contact info?

Keane Marsh January 31, 2019 - 5:14 am

Hey Mike, 3 buddies and I are looking at going to the mentawais at the end of May. Could I have your friends contact info please? I am interested in a budget accommodation.

Thanks in advance,


Vilson February 20, 2019 - 1:50 am

Hi Keane I want to go about 29th may to mentawai, maybe we can keep in touch to try make it cheaper for every one, we are in two people.

Tom April 11, 2019 - 9:03 pm

Hi Michael,

Hope you’re well. Could I also please get your friend’s contact? planning a trip in August.


milo April 12, 2019 - 2:09 pm

and u know disss mikey

Dominic L'Huillier May 9, 2019 - 2:42 am

Hi Michael could his guy help with 2 families accomadation one family has 2 teenage girls

Oliver Begley June 16, 2019 - 7:52 am

Hu Michael, Im heading to the Mentawais next week with a mate and we would love to check out his resort. We’re both keen surfers from Ireland, travelling around Sumatra for 3 weeks.

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Nicholas Dillon December 29, 2020 - 12:39 pm

Hi Michael,

Really appreciate the article. My question is, would you recommend that you try to find a homestay for accommodation before hand, or just search for one when you arrive. Thanks!

Pascal December 30, 2020 - 5:29 pm

Hey Nicholas,
Depending on where you’re going? If you need someone to pick you up and bring you to the place, it’s probably better to organize it beforehand. Same if you really know what you’re looking for. But if you’re planning on staying on one of the main islands, and if you can do with what’s on offer, you can easily just show up and look around.

kandui January 26, 2024 - 1:37 pm

While surfing is the main draw, there are plenty of other activities to enjoy in the Mentawai Islands. Snorkeling, diving, and fishing are popular water-based activities.


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