Mentawai: Day-by-Day Itinerary

From the April/May 2010 issue of ISLANDS magazine, available now in the ISLANDS Store.

Day 1: Check into the Kandui Resort
For this remote region, travel options are limited to charter boats and surf resorts. Of the latter, the Kandui Resort is considered the Cadillac. The all-inclusive sits on its own private island, can arrange your travel and hosts just 16 guests at a time. The resort's umas (Mentawai huts) offer air conditioning, hot water and Wi-Fi. But I mainly just slept there. The resort's lodge and the daily surf excursions to nearby islands are the big draw.

Day 2: Surf Safely
Wake up, apply sunscreen and enjoy a traditional egg breakfast or a local one called Nasi Goreng. Then hop on one of two boats headed out for the morning surf session. There are 16 surf spots accessible by canoe from Kandui's lodge that offer waves for any skill level. I started on the smaller breaks first. Regardless of where you go, surf guides join you, each of whom are trained paramedics — a huge comfort so far from civilization.

Days 3-8: Repeat, Repeat, Repeat
Savor the daily surf routine of morning and afternoon surf sessions with meals in between. The staff can also arrange other activities — such as touring a nearby village or snorkeling or fishing.

Day 9: Explore and Meet Shamans
Jump in a skiff to explore the Dead Forest, a field of uprooted trees in the swampy interior. Or hop in a boat headed to villages in the heart of Siberut. To meet shamans, well, they come to you. The shamans stop in to entertain guests at the Kandui Resort with traditional dances. Join in and — if you dare — ask them about souls.

Day 10: Get a Souvenir
Wood crafts abound. To fly home with a paddle, conceal its spear-like ­appearance with cardboard. Prep for questions. Remind yourself this keepsake's soul is now connected to yours. Treasure it.