Surf trips are always tricky, as there are a lot of different variables that have to come together in order to create those magical waves we all daydream about: Swell, wind, weather, and tide are just the beginning. (It's all the more tricky when you only have a week or two of vacation to count on.) So, while banking on perfection over a 10-day surf trip may seem a fool's errand, our recent sojourn among the magical Mentawai Islands in Indonesia revealed that, sometimes, you can certainly flip the odds in your favor.
Not only do the Mentawais have arguably the most world-class breaks, pound-for-pound, mile-for-mile, than anywhere else in the world, they're also blessed with warm, clear water and electric-colored reefs and passes. Their orientation, bathymetry, weather patterns, and swell window cooperate beautifully, producing consistently flawless, almost mechanically perfect waves and conditions that are the closest thing to a sure bet you'll ever find. There's a reason every pro surfer spends at least a couple of weeks in the Mentawais every year.
The most efficient way to score uncrowded perfection in the Mentawais is to charter a boat with a group of friends. And hand's down, the Pelagic is the best: a hulking, 66-foot, A/C-chilled pleasure palace with a 900-mile range that handles rough seas with aplomb. The only boat in the Mentawais that was purpose-built for surf charters, it's staffed up with a top-notch crew of experienced locals, an insane chef, and a rugged captain who's been surfing in the Mentawais for over 15 years. The lot of them take care of your every possible need with an easy smile, and are devoted to making sure you're in the right spot at the right time – all while ensuring you get there safely, and in style.
The best day aboard the Pelagic (and every day was the best day) went something like this:
Wake up to the sound of the anchor being dropped (the Pelagic is a live-aboard boat with four cabins below deck, all comfortable flat beds with positively Arctic air conditioning). Then, quickly throw down a cup of coffee and the fresh fruit waiting for you. Next, jump overboard, into crystal clear blue water that hovers around 80 degrees. Hit up head-high to double-overhead waves for a bit before heading back to the boat for made-to-order breakfast (anything from amazing burritos to Nasi Goreng: Indonesian fried rice with vegetables and an egg on top). Rinse, repeat throughout the day, with a break for an air-conditioned afternoon siesta to beat the punishing equatorial heat, followed by a final session that lasts until about sunset. Then, an incredible sit-down dinner, and off to bed by 9:30 in preparation for doing it all over again the next day.
After two weeks aboard the Pelagic, you're guaranteed to be surfed-out, albeit wearing a perma-smile and wondering how you ever lived otherwise. [13-day trip for 8 people is approx $4,900/each plus airfare; pelagic-charters.com]