Sumatran Surfariis

We have complied a list of the most frequently asked questions below.
If you need more info you can contact us HERE.

Sumatran Surfariis runs trips all year round.  While the peak season is roughly May – September, we’ve had some of our best trips well outside this time frame.  Most of the reefs in this region favor South – West direction swells, which are most consistent in the peak season. Unsurprisingly, it’s also the most crowded time of year.  However, too much swell is rarely a problem, and when it’s pumping it’s easy to find uncrowded or empty waves as long as you’re not stuck on surfing the famous waves.

We encourage our guests to think outside of the box if they are averse to crowds.  Our skippers generally favor the off months because this reminds them of how the islands were in the previous millennium.   October – April will have fewer boats and can have magic conditions, including those months when people believe there is no swell. And that’s fine with us. It’s quiet, the weather is epic, and we have our secret swell magnets that are actually better when the swell is smaller. If the swell DOES pop, then we have our pick of the magazine waves to ourselves.

The Mentawais and the Sumatran islands are not just for pros. If you are more interested in rippable walls than death tubes, we can certainly customize a trip to fit your needs.  If you are not a full group, we’d ask that you give us a complete and honest bio of yourselves. We will do our best to fit you with a group of similar skills, desires, ages, personality types, nationalities, etc.

You can also score waves in the “off” months,  and these times are generally favored by our skippers and guides because this reminds them of how the islands “used to be”. October – April offers fewer boats and can have magic condition, including those months when people are convinced there is no swell.  And that’s fine with us.  It’s quiet, the weather is epic,  we have our secret swell magnets that are actually better when the swell is smaller, and if the swell DOES pop then we have our pick of the magazine waves to ourselves.

The Mentawais and the Sumatran islands are not just for pros. If you would like to come and see why its considered the best and most consistent surf destination in the world, but are more interested in head high waves alone that big tubes, look outside the box and trust us with finding you what you want.  If you are not a full group, we’d ask that you give us a complete and honest bio of yourself, and we will do our best to fit you with a group of similar skills, desires, personality types, nationalities, etc.

As of August 2016, you no longer have to pay for your 30-day travel visa upon arrival. However, if you wish to extend your trip in Indonesia, you need to visit your local embassy for an extension.

Yes. Travel insurance is MANDATORY, and your policy must include MEDICAL EVACUATION. Please bring your policy details with you on your trip. We advise that you purchase travel insurance when you pay your deposit or book flights, as this will cover you for unforeseen circumstances that may arise prior to your trip. Please check your policy, as travel problems (lost baggage, damaged boards, missed flights, etc.) are much more common than actual injuries that occur on the trip.

We have a few recommendations for travel insurance companies below:


Yes, our friendly Sumatran Surfariis Team will be there to meet you at the airport and drop you off at the end of your trip. Please provide your Sumatran Surfariis representative with all flight information as soon as you have booked flights so he can coordinate your pick up and drop off.

Yes, you are permitted to bring one liter of alcohol into Indonesia. Please note that duty-free is not available at the Padang airport, so you will need to purchase it at your home airport or one of the major hubs such as Singapore, Jakarta, and Kuala Lumpur.

Minangkabau International Airport is located approximately 45 minutes from our office in the heart of Padang. We anchor all our boats at the Bungus harbor, which is an additional 45 minutes from our office under normal traffic conditions.  You should take these travel times into account when planning your arrival into Padang. We recommend you arrive no later than 4:00pm.

While Padang is not really known as a tourist destination such as Bali, there are several places for food and drinks in Padang. If you’re staying for more than a day, we can also arrange excursions to the local sights such as nearby volcanoes and lakes.  Please check with your Sumatran Surfariis representative or when you arrive at our office.

We recommend that you arrive at the Padang airport before 4:00 pm, and ideally a bit earlier, especially if you’re heading North. An arrival before 4:00 pm allows you to be less rushed and begin your crossing at a good early hour. The absolute latest arrival time we can accommodate is 6:00 pm. For those arriving late, please have three photocopies of your passport in your possession, be fully paid up, and have any special requests taken care of in advance.

We can make even the early 8:00 am departures. However, if the weather looks bad or you’re deep in the islands, we may need to cut your last surf day short by a couple of hours to make the crossing. Therefore, we recommend a late morning (or later) departure, as this provides breathing room and gives you a better chance of surfing until dark on your last day.

Your trip cost covers all the essentials, though there are a few extras you might want to plan for.  We cover all ground transportation, and our drivers will take you to the market or anywhere in Padang free of charge. Once on board, we provide all drinking water, coffee, tea, three meals per day, snacks, three beers, three juices, and three soft drinks per day.  We provide all bedding and linens, speedboat transportation to and from the lineup, several rods and reels for fishing, and snorkeling gear for diving or spearfishing.  Each boat has plenty of books for reading, board games for playing, and tons of DVDs/CDs for your downtime entertainment.

We always stock plenty of extra beer in our office for your purchase, and if you want specialty beer, please contact us in advance to see if we can provide it for your trip.  Most trips offer photo packages which range from roughly $100usd – $250usd, depending on the photographer and the packages arranged.  It’s a good idea to plan for any miscellaneous souvenirs or keepsakes you wish to purchase on your trip.  A tip for the crew is customary, but not mandatory.  Lastly, Indo airports often charge a small “airport tax” that amounts to roughly $20usd.

In our office, we accept USD, AUD, IDR, EUR, Visa, or MasterCard (there is a 3% surcharge for using credit).  Please keep in mind that while in the islands, the only acceptable form of payment is IDR.  So, it is a good idea to exchange some money before departure if you plan on purchasing souvenirs or goods while on your trip.

Sleeping arrangements and capacity vary from boat to boat. Some have dorm-style cabins, others have a series of private double cabins, and some have a combination of both.  Regardless of the ship, we provide all linens and pillows. Each area is air-conditioned, and all bunks are large enough to accommodate a giant.

For more specific information, please see our boat pages here:

While not consistent, there are certain areas in the islands that have good mobile reception. We usually try to pass by these so you can check in with family and friends. Each boat comes equipped with a satellite phone for you to call out in case of emergencies.  If there is an emergency and your loved ones need to contact you immediately, please have them contact your representative. He will have the office radio out to the boat for the fastest service.

Currently, we do not offer full-time internet connectivity on the boats. The only way for guests to get full-time reception of streaming quality onboard is by renting a satellite modem. If you only need to check emails periodically, but reliably, a satellite modem with a data kit is a much less expensive option. Internet IS available at the Sumatran Surfariis office.  Occasionally we will visit a resort in the islands that has internet availability at a small charge.

Yes! Please check with your Sumatran Surfariis representative to see whom you will have on board. Prices vary from roughly $100usd – $250usd/person, depending on which photographer you have and what package you arrange. Many rates/packages are negotiable, but you should coordinate with your photographer at the beginning of your trip. Please note that once you reach an agreement, you are obliged to follow through.

Our national currency is the Indonesian Rupiah (IDR). In Padang and the islands, this is the only accepted currency. And to purchase souvenirs from one of the many “floating gift shops” (canoes), you will need IDR. You can exchange USD, AUD, or EUR at most airports or our office. Usually, your guide has enough change if you need to swap some IDR in a pinch, but you will get a better rate at the airports or our office. If you would like to tip your crew, it is acceptable to do so in IDR, USD, AUD, or EUR. You should pool your funds with your guide, and he will distribute them evenly among the crew.

Indonesia has a similar voltage to Australia, and all boats have suitable adapters onboard. If you are thinking of bringing your own adapter, please do so; a universal adapter is never a bad thing to carry. Indonesian plugs are the same as European and have 2 x round pins. US travelers, please note that power is 220v and 50Hz, and you may require voltage regulators. Many modern chargers allow for use in a range of voltages, so please check your manuals.

We strongly recommend that you seek information from your doctor regarding vaccinations. In addition to malaria, there are other vaccinations to consider, such as hepatitis, typhoid, tetanus, etc. We also advise speaking to your doctor about any additional recommendations for illnesses that are common in this area. For example, some doctors often prescribe Cipro to combat a stomach bug that can be common in these areas, and it’s also a suitable medication for general infections.

These days, many guests feel that malaria medication is overkill. Typically people contract malaria while staying on land and near marshy areas. On our trips, we usually anchor far from land, and there is often a good breeze at night. If there are any areas we feel are at all risky, we turn down the lights and burn coils. Those factors, combined with light clothing to cover up and spraying any remaining exposed areas with mosquito repellant, usually make guests feel safe from infection. But, once again, this is a decision you need to make with your doctor. Sumatran Surfariis accepts no responsibility for any illnesses contracted while onboard our trips.

No, No, No. Don’t even think about it. Surfing is the new high!

Your usual shortboard, a step-up, and a semi-gun between 6’6″ – 6’10” are the most surfed boards (for the average-sized surfer). Trips heading up north or far south can warrant a slightly larger/thicker board if you have room in your bag, and you’re with a gang of chargers. You should check your airline’s policy for board allowance.  Typically it’s the weight of the bag that’s most important, rather than the number of boards.  If you can pack an extra board and keep it under the weight allowance, we’d recommend backing up your shortboard. That’s the board you’ll use most often, and it’s the board you’re most likely to break.

Sure! Please check your airline policy for larger items. We do carry SUPs on our boats, so if you’re not picky, that may be adequate for you.  If you wish to bring your personal SUP, please advise your Sumatran Surfariis sales representative so we can prepare for your pick up.

The island chain offers all variations of waves, from super shallow barrels to long cruisy walls that break in deep water. We can accommodate just about any skill level, so please make sure you let us know what you are after so we can plan accordingly. The most successful trips are those where the entire group is at the same general skill level and is looking for the same types of waves.  Conversely, the most common cause of frustration is when we have surfers of different skills/desires. For example, if you have a group of half pros mixed with half beginners, usually half of the group will be dissatisfied a portion of the time.  So, we feel it’s essential to try to get everyone on the same page.  When combining groups, we always prescreen the guests to make sure they are as compatible as possible before putting them on the same trip.  We try to match surfers of the same general skill, age, personality type, nationality, etc., so we have similar guests, and everyone is happy.

While fishing is still a popular non-surf activity on our boats, it’s not as abundant as it once was. Regardless, we will always be trolling when we move, and we usually snag plenty of good ones to provide fresh fish for several meals throughout the trip. The dedicated fisho can expect to catch fish such as trevally, Spanish mackerel, dog-tooth tuna, wahoo, barracuda, reef trout, yellowfin tuna, mahi-mahi, and rainbow runner. Occasionally we’ll hook larger pelagics like sailfish, so it’s still fun to try.

Our boats come equipped with at least two trolling rod and reels, gaffs, and some lures. We could always use more, so we encourage guests to bring their own lures and leave behind what they don’t need. Rapala Magnums or weighted bullet heads are the most successful, with green or light-colored working the best.

Personalized fishing gear is very welcome aboard, so feel free to bring rods (including popping rods), reels, line, etc. We’d recommend leaving spearfishing gear at home, as customs often confiscate it until the end of your trip. We travel at approximately 8 – 10 knots, so have this in mind, as we sometimes lose a few to the sea. We can’t bring fish back into Padang, so you need to gobble them up on the boat!

Please see our comprehensive Travel Checklist HERE.