What happens on an all girls’ surf trip in the Mentawais
11 Girls, 10 Days.
One Boat. One Full Moon Dance Party. Infinite Waves.
The Trip of a lifetime started and ended unlike any other.
At the sound of the anchor dropping, my eyes opened. Barely awake, I made my way up to the upper deck of our boat, the Sibon Baru. The moon was present, the horizon a faint purple, still dark from the night ending. The warm air was a reminder of where I was. Somewhere tropical, somewhere secluded, somewhere good.
From Dawn T’ill Dusk
Admittedly, I was a bit nervous before leaving for this trip. I always thought the Mentawais were reserved for pros and the more advanced surfers, but it was amazing to see the variety of options that were available, no matter the swell size. While I don’t recommend going if you’re still learning the basics, if you know how to pop up, turn, and can paddle decently, then there will definitely be options for you. My advice is: Go in with an open mind.
The When & Where
We went in the middle of March, which is shoulder season (low season is December-February), meaning there were little to no crowds, clean waves and plenty of options. Most of the girls had brought longboards and twin fins, and while some were absolute she-shredders, a lot of us wanted to start the first few days with some mellow-er waves to build up our confidence. Lucky for us the swell was building so we had Playgrounds, Burger World and Roxy’s as our favourites, all the while passing through Thunders, Hollow Trees, Macaronis and Rifles for some barrel attempts (Or at least, we got to watch Pris, Mahina and Kiana get some!)
I brought my all-time fave 7’6 Modern Minimal (as my “comfort board”) and a 5’7 DHD Twin Fin — both were amazing options if you’re not much of short-boarder. Some of the girls had 9’0 logs, others twinnies and some were die-hard short boarders. It was fun to have such variety and we were always swapping boards and riding one another’s. It also pushed us to try new things and discover new styles!
The smell of the coffee pot brewing in the morning, the crack of a Bintang opening at night. These were the sounds, before the day started and after the day would end. From dawn t’ill dusk we would fill our days with wave riding, eating, island hopping and then some more wave riding.
Already in our bikinis, we watched the surf as we zinc’d up our faces and sipped on our coffees. The ocean’s morning sickness was dissipating, the tide was rising. Three to four foot perfect, glassy waves were dancing towards us in the distance. Not a soul in sight.
I could already hear the sound of giggles, a few “wows” and a couple of gasps. I would hear this every morning for the next 10 days. The girls had awoken, slowly, one by one to notice what we had all already, silently, all concluded:
Today would be perfect.
Patience is a virtue, especially with mother nature. But the anticipation in the air was palpable. We needn’t say anything, all was being said. As we jumped into our dingy and buzzed our way to the break, the water was calm, warm, with a promise. Our excitement broked the surface of the ocean, creating ripples with each board being thrown in, each girl diving under.
It would be 4 hours before we finally had breakfast. Coming in not out of exhaustion, but hunger. Hunger for the next wave, grinning from ear to ear, ready for more as soon as our tanks would be refuelled. The banana pancakes were also a great motivator.
“These are the moments” I thought to myself.
Another great part of the Sibon Baru was the amazing crew, and the delicious food we got to eat. Every day we had some variation of fish, rice, traditional indonesian food and even some vegan and vegeterian options for those who wanted. Our bodies and brains felt amazing with all the fresh, natural meals we were getting, not to mention a couple of sweet treats and afternoon snacks. Surfing everyday gave us an appetite! There was always plenty to eat, more to share and just in case I had a pre-surf session slump, I had my trusty Blue Dinosaur bars handy. Our favourite part of the day was breakfast, safe to say the banana pancakes were a staple along with some sumatran coffee. Feel good vibes, guaranteed!
In the afternoons, unless we were surfing, I would teaching a little yoga session to stretch out all the surf kinks the girls had built up in the day. I focused on shoulder stretches, lunges (for tight hips), twists (for core stability), and forward folds (for lower back tightness that comes from paddling).
Sisterhood & Pushing the Boundaries
I watched the sun burn the horizon as it started to rise, and the girls, whom I had barely met 48hours before, paddle to the lineup. They already felt like sisters, bonded by our love for waves, energy, sun and laughter. As the first girl paddled for a wave on her longboard, we cheered. As loud as we possibly could. She stepped, one foot in front of the other, and twirled her way down the wave, zooming past us. Met with our laughter, hooting and shrieks of happiness, we watched the first one of us to dance along the ocean.
This may come as a shock, but I knew none of the girls before going on this trip! In fact, they barely knew each other. A part from a few from Hawaii, we all got to know each other really well during the past 10 days. The bond that we shared will carry on for a long time. There were no egos, no attitudes, no dramas. Simply a love for life, salt water and waves. Each girl brought her own quirkiness to the group, laughs were always heard and jokes were always told. If anything, the crew on the boat (all male) were quite surprised at the energy around them!
It was the first time the Sibon Baru had ever had a 100% all girls boat and we were proud to be the first ones to show them that not only do girls rip, they happen to be just as fun (if not more) then the guys. Surfing with females is completely different to an all-guy gang. While we don’t shave our heads or tattoo each other’s faces as a show of “Team Spirit”, we do yell, shriek and get as loud as possible in the lineup. We make each other better surfers, push each other to go for that wave or sit in the lineup of a bigger swell.
Island Hopping & Salty Snaps
Shots, Shots, Shots, Shots, Shots, Shots, Everybody.
In between our surfs, we would find a small plots of sand to wander our feet on, complete with crystal clear blue water and palm trees as high as the sky. Our visits were a nice break in the day, an opportunity to stretch, get some shots done (our amazing photographers; Lia, Shannon, and Margarita had their hands full with our team!).
It was hilarious seeing every one running around, getting their shots, sharing each others cameras, ideas, and laughing the whole time. It was the perfect location for me to shoot one of my favourite jewellery brands, Spindrift Collections. I had already taken the beautiful, sea glass and eco-friendly silver with me to The Whitsundays, and it was a pleasure to be able to shoot them again on these deserted islands.
The rings, necklaces and bracelets (if you know me, you know I love my jewels!) stayed on, didn’t go green and looked damn fine against the tropical backdrop. I’ve always gone for sturdier accessories when it comes to surf bling, and these guys were definitely put to the test with my salty shenanigans!
If land camps are more your thing, I highly recommend Hollow Tree’s resort. We spent the afternoon there for some wifi and massages (hey. girls need their basics!) and loved hanging out with our hosts, Teiki and Sina, along with their friendly pups in their newly renovated shacks. The island itself was stunning, a gorgeous bay encompassing several waves (With the infamous HT’s aka Lance’s right, right out front the resort). It’s a beautiful place to rest and recharge, especially if you have a partner who doesn’t surf. Plus there was something about watching the sunset over the palm trees there that made it extra special!
Until We Meet Again…
Thank you Sibon Baru and your epic crew. For bringing us girls together, for letting us take up space in the lineup up, and greeting us with smiles every second of the day. Most of all, thank you for letting us have a full moon dance party on the top deck, to the sound of Beyonce and in matching gold and silver leotards. Your patience was unwavering. Our trip was an unforgettable one, and we’ll very likely be back (extra) soon. Until then, keep up the good vibes and share the stoke. Terima Kasih!