Nestled off the western coast of Sumatra, the Mentawai Islands are a paradise waiting to be explored. Renowned for their stunning natural beauty, rich cultural heritage, and world-class surf spots, these islands offer an escape from the ordinary. Whether you are an adventurer, a culture enthusiast, or simply looking for a tranquil getaway, the Mentawai Islands have something to offer everyone. Here’s your ultimate Travel Guide to the Mentawai Islands.

Why Visit the Mentawai Islands?

The Mentawai Islands are a unique destination that blends pristine nature with vibrant indigenous culture. The islands’ isolation has preserved their beauty and traditions, making them a haven for travelers seeking an authentic experience. Visitors can immerse themselves in the lifestyle of the Mentawai tribe, explore lush rainforests, and ride some of the best waves in the world. The clear turquoise waters, rich marine life, and serene beaches add to the allure of this tropical paradise.

Where are the Mentawai Islands?

The Mentawai Islands archipelago is located off the coast of Padang in West Sumatra. It consists of four large islands: Siberut, Sipora, South Pagai and North Pagai. Each islands has its own natural beauty with different characteristics and activites.

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Travel Guide to the Mentawai Islands

The Four Main Islands

There are 4 main islands within the archipelago with smaller islands off their coasts.

Siberut Island
Siberut, the largest of the Mentawai Islands, is the cultural heart of the archipelago. It’s home to the majority of the Mentawai tribe, whose traditional lifestyle offers a fascinating glimpse into a world largely untouched by modernity. Dense rainforests, meandering rivers, and traditional Uma houses define the landscape. Siberut is ideal for trekking, cultural tours, and wildlife spotting.

Read also: Visiting the Mentawai tribes in West-Sumatra

Sipora Island
Sipora is known for its serene beaches and vibrant local villages. The islands is a little more developed, and home of the ‘capital city’ of the Mentawais, Tua Pejat. It’s less rugged than Siberut, making it more accessible for those who prefer a more relaxed exploration. The island is perfect for beachcombing, snorkeling, and experiencing the local way of life in its quaint villages.

North and South Pagai Islands
North and South Pagai are renowned for their spectacular surf spots. These islands is known amongst surfers from around the globe, thanks to their consistent and powerful waves. Beyond surfing, the Pagai Islands offer beautiful beaches, crystal-clear waters, and opportunities for diving and snorkeling. However, not many travelers make it out that far, but you could charter a boat and cruise around.

Travel Guide to the Mentawai Islands

How to Get There

Reaching the Mentawai Islands involves a bit of planning but is well worth the effort. The journey typically begins in Padang, the capital of West Sumatra. From Padang, travelers can take a slow or fast ferry or even a chartered boat or flight to the islands. It’s advisable to check the schedules in advance, as they can be affected by weather conditions.

The ports are Siberut and Sikabulan on Siberut Island, Tuapejat on Sipora Island and Sikakap on Pagai North Island.

Slow ferry

There is a slow overnight ferry that takes 10-12 hours and connects Padang with Tuapejat or Siberut. The fair is 200,000 IDR/person. However, the ships are old and rundown and it is rarely used by tourists. Schedules often change, but it usually starts on Friday between 5-6pm and reaches in Tuapejat or Siberut at 5-6am on Saturday. It is best to check with your accommodation in Padang or on the Mentawai Islands for the latest schedule.

Fast ferry

The Mentawai Fast ferry company connects Padang with the islands. The ferries don’t go every day and can get cancelled du to high waves or bad weather. So it is best to check the Instagram profile of the ferry company and to be a bit flexible with dates. It is not advisable to have a connecting flight planned on your return day from the Mentawai Islands.

Day Route Time Duration
Monday Padang – Tuapejat 10 am 3:30h
Tuapejat – Padang 3:15 pm 3:30h
Tuesday Padang – Sikabulan 7 am 3h
Sikabulan – Siberut 12 pm 1:45h
Siberut – Padang 2:30 pm 4h
Wednesday Padang – Tuapejat 7 am 3:30h
Tuapejat – Padang 3 pm 3:30h
Thursdays Padang – Siberut 7 am 4h
Siberut – Sikabulan 12 pm 1:45h
Sikabulan – Padang 2:30 pm 4h
Friday Padang – Sikakap 7 am 5h
Sikakap – Padang 1:30 pm 5h
Padang – Tuapejat 7 am 3:30h
Tuapejat – Padang 3 pm 3:30h
Saturday Padang – Sikabulan 7 am 4h
Sikabulan – Siberut 12 am 1:45h
Siberut – Padang 2:30 pm 4h
Sunday Padang – Tuapejat 10 am 3:30h
Tuapejat – Padang 3 pm 3:30h

Information without guarantee.
Private boat charter

Many surf retreats also offer a private boat charter. Expect to pay around 2-3,000€ for the boat. The boat takes around 3.5h.

Charter flights

There is only one airport on the Mentawai Islands, which is Rokot Airport on Sipora Island. The airport is super small and only small aircrafts can land on it. Currently only Susi Air offers flights from Padang to Rokot.

How to travel between the islands

There are also frequent ferries in between the islands. These are also run by the Mentawai Fast ferry.

Day Route Time Duration Price
Monday Tuapejat – Siberut 7 am 1:45h 125,000 IDR
Siberut – Tuapejat 1:30 pm 1:45h 125,000 IDR
Tuesday Tuapejat – Sikakap 7 am 2:45h 200,000 IDR
Sikakap – Tuapejat 11:00 am 2:45h 200,000 IDR
Thursday Tuapejat – Siberut 7 am 1:45h 125,000 IDR
Siberut – Tuapejat 1:30 pm 1:45h 125,000 IDR
Friday Tuapejat – Sikakap 7 am 2:45h 200,000 IDR
Sikakap – Tuapejat 11:00 am 2:45h 200,000 IDR

Information without guarantee.

There are also private boat charters from the resorts.

How to get around on the islands

You may be able to walk around if you are in Tuapejat or going from your accommodation to the beach. Although Google Mapys doesn’t show many streets on the islands, there are in fact some. So if you want to explore further, renting a scooter or bicycle can be easily arranged with your accommodation as well.

Travel Guide to the Mentawai Islands

Activities on the Islands

The Mentawai Islands are a surfer’s paradise, with world-famous breaks like Lance’s Right, Macaronis, and Hollow Trees. Whether you are a seasoned pro or a beginner, the consistent waves provide an unparalleled surfing experience. Depending on your level check beforehand with your surf resort where the best breaks are.

Cultural Tours & Trekking
Immerse yourself in the traditions of the Mentawai tribe on Siberut Island. Guided tours offer insights into their spiritual practices, traditional tattooing, and communal living. Staying in a traditional Uma house is a unique way to connect with the local culture.

Read also: Visiting the Mentawai tribes in West-Sumatra

Snorkeling and Diving
The crystal-clear waters around the islands are perfect for snorkeling and diving. Discover vibrant coral reefs, colorful marine life, and maybe even encounter sea turtles and reef sharks. The small islands off the coast of Sipora Islands are a true paradise. Here you can have picturesque beaches all to yourself.

Boat tours
Hire a boat for half or full day and explore the islands off the coast. Hop off at lonely beaches and go for a swim with nobody in sight.

For those seeking relaxation, the islands offer serene beaches, hammocks under swaying palms, and the soothing sound of the ocean. It’s the perfect place to unwind and disconnect from the hustle and bustle of daily life.

Where to Stay

Accommodation in the Mentawai Islands ranges from basic homestays to more comfortable guesthouses and surf resorts.

  • Homestays: Staying with a local family in a traditional Uma house is a cultural experience not to be missed.
  • Guesthouses: Sipora Island offer guesthouses that provide basic amenities and a more comfortable stay. We can recommend Crow’s Nest, Oinan Guest House, Villa Tala or Hollow Trees Mentawai.
  • Surf Resorts: For surfers, several surf camps and resorts cater specifically to those looking to catch the best waves, offering all-inclusive packages that include meals, transport, and guided surf tours. Aloita, Awera, Nasara, The Shadow or Macaronis are just a few to be named.

Restaurants and local eateries

The Mentawai Islands are truely local islands. Don’t expect fancy coffeeshops or restaurants with Western food here. Only some guesthouses and the bigger surf resorts cater to international travelers, but even in the ‘capital’ Tuapejat you will only find local warungs and streetfood. So be prepared to adapt.


General Things to Know

  • Weather: The best time to visit is during the dry season, from March to October, when the weather is most favorable for outdoor activities.
  • Health: Ensure you have necessary vaccinations and take precautions against mosquito bites to avoid malaria and dengue fever. There are a few small clinics and pharmacies on the islands.
  • Respect Local Culture: The mayority of the island’s inhabitants are muslim (apart from the Mentwai tribes). So dress appropriately. Ask your accommodation where it is ok to swim in a bikini.
  • Internet: Mobile data coverage is available on the Mentawais, but it can be limited in some areas. Major mobile network providers such as Telkomsel generally have coverage, but it may be slow or not stable. Some guesthouses and hotels have free wifi.

The Mentawai Islands offer an unforgettable journey into a world of natural splendor and cultural richness. Whether you’re riding the waves, exploring the jungle, or immersing yourself in the traditions of the Mentawai tribe, this hidden gem in Sumatra promises an adventure of a lifetime.