A day on The Hill

Words by Adam Callahan:

My day starts at 6am. I wake to the smell of brewing Sumatran coffee, the sounds of jungle birds and see waves breaking out the front. After checking with the surf guide what time the first boat will be departing to chase waves further afield, I get the go ahead to paddle out the front and loosen my back muscles from yesterday’s session.


Traditional Mentawai island life. Photo: @gypsyandthepest

My residence for this 10 night stay is Pitstop Hill Mentawai, ideally located in the centre of all the action in the northern Mentawai. The wave on my doorstep is regarded as one of the funnest in Indonesia. Pitstops starts with a takeoff behind a barrel section, through some turns and then finishing over a white sandy beach.


Paul Clark, speeding through a perfect Pitstop tube. Photo: @johnnyjungle

I take the steps back to the restaurant for a delicious breakfast of fruit and cereal and head to the fast-boat for a trip into the unknown. With 45 waves within 45 minutes, the swell and the wind choose where we surf. Yesterday we surfed a right. A 6ft barreling freight-train tube over crystal clear water with only a few other surfers to share it with. Today the swell has dropped a touch. The surf guides say they have a spot in mind. Out of the way, uncrowded and still picking up most of the swell on offer. We say yes.


Pitstop Hill, right in the thick of the Mentawai. Photo: @johnnyjungle

Since being “discovered” by Martin Daily and co. in the early 90’s, the Mentawai Islands of West Sumatra, Indonesia has been the pinnacle of surf travel. In no other place on earth can one find so many perfect waves in such close proximity. As Doug “Claw” Warbrick of the Rip Curl Search Campaign recently said “we will never find another Mentawai”. Pitstop Hill, owned and operated by Paul Clark, has been on the ground and getting guests into the best waves of their lives since 2008. The resort prides itself on being environmentally conscious, employing and empowering local Mentawai staff and with near 100% occupancy, the results of the smooth operation and professional surf-guiding speak for themselves.


This is what it looks like when you choose to walk to the surf in the Mentawai. Photo: @gypsyandthepest

My morning session at the long left-hander has my stomach grumbling as we pull into Pitstops for a quick refuel and make plans for the afternoon. I’ve decided that with more swell on the way, this afternoon is going to be a great chance to do some snorkelling at a beautiful patch of reef that the surf guides have been mentioning. We’re going to throw in the trawling rods and esky of ice-cold Bintangs just in case. Tarsi, our Mentawai boat driver lights a fire on a remote beach, as we sit and watch the sun fall gracefully into the Indian Ocean and wonder what’s for dinner.


Paul single-fin sliding through a perfect little cylinder, literally right in his front yard. Photo: @johnnyjungle

A day on The Hill is hard to describe to friends and family at home. Words and pictures just don’t do the place justice. The waves, the water, the jungle. Along with the hospitality of our hosts, the hard work from surf guides, and the all round good nature and attention to detail of the local Mentawai staff – everything comes together to make for one hell of a surf trip!


Mentawai sky-scrapers. Photo: @gypsyandthepest