Travel to the Mentawai Islands, Indonesia with me!

After almost 4 days of traveling, we finally made it to the Mentawai Islands in Indonesia! It’s literally a little slice of tropical paradise. Tune in for a mini lesson on Indonesia and insider knowledge on how to get here if you want to visit this piece of heaven!

I have a hidden island gem in Indonesia to share with you! After 4 days of traveling from New York I am in my new home for the next few weeks. Tune in to the podcast or read below to hear all about it and why I think it’s an amazing holiday, surfing and digital nomad destination!

Prefer To Read? Here’s The Blog Version…

Life In The City Vs Tropics

Hello, my loves from Mentawai Islands Indonesia. I am back in the tropics after a really long journey and I am just feeling so good, so happy, so tan and skinny, like back to my surf, everyday fit self after spending, you know, the past two, almost three months in New York, I’ve definitely put on a bunch of winter weight and I just feel at home here.

I feel like I’ve been spending most of my life the past few years in the tropics. And so being back in this climate in Indonesia, one of my favorite countries, it just feels so grounding and I’m very, very happy to be here. My skin is also loving me because in New York it’s quite dry in the wintertime and I literally have to like lather myself in lotion every single day. But here it’s pretty hot, so I am glowing and I love it. Another thing about being back here guys, is that the audio quality may be a little off. Of course it’s just open air. I can hear waves crashing in the background. I’m staying ocean front at a luxury Villa. And so, you know, done is better than perfect and we just have to go with what we’ve got. 

About Mentawai, Indonesia

Today’s episode is going to be about traveling to the Mentawai Islands, how I got here and giving you a taste of what Indonesia is like because I think it’s such a fascinating country and most of the people I talk to, they have no idea where the mental y islands are. Even my parents, I’ve been going back to Indonesia every year and you know, I lived in Bali in 2019, but I haven’t been back since 2020 and my parents still think I’m going back to Bali every year and I’m not.

So this is going to be a little geography lesson, a little bit of current events, but also my recommendation on how you can visit this little piece of heaven on earth if you wanted to. 

Geography

So when I say Indonesia, most people just think of Bali. And yes, Bali is in Indonesia, but it’s just one of like 18,000 Islands. There’s more than 18,000 islands that are part of Indonesia. And Bali’s just one of them. The capital is Jakarta, so it’s not even Bali. And the capital is located on the main island of Java. And what I find so interesting, so fascinating is that the island of Java has more than 150 million people living on it.

It is the world’s most populated island. And it’s like, just to put it into perspective, the uk, the entire population of the United Kingdom is 67 million. So it’s double the population of the UK just on this one island, like not even in all of Indonesia, not even, you know, the 18,000 islands. It’s just this one island. So yeah, it’s a very, very big country, very populous. It’s the world’s number fourth most populated country after India, China and the us. So there’s a lot, a lot, a lot going on. 

There’s also so much biodiversity. It is the world’s second most biodiverse country. It has like dragons, like Komodo Dragons, tigers, orangutans, so much marine life. It is amazing for diving. And so I just think Indonesia is such an incredible country that doesn’t get the spotlight that often, but I am so grateful to have found this and to be sharing this amazing country with you. 

Currency

The national currency is the Indonesian rubiah, spelled R-U-P-I-A-H. And as of March, 2024, one US dollar is around 15,500 Rubiah. It’s a little hard to calculate in the beginning, but over time you get used to it.

I kind of just divide everything by 15,000 to get like a USD rate. Of course it changes with the Euro and the Australian dollars, so depending on like where you’re coming from, it will also be a different rate for you. But for me, I divide everything by 15,000 and it’s been like this since when I first visited into 18. It’s been around, you know, in between the 14,000 and 16,000 marks. So I wouldn’t say it fluctuates that bad. 

Religion

There are so many different religions in Indonesia, but the main one, 87% of the country is Muslim. So depending on which area of Indonesia you are, there’s going to be different islands, different places that practice different religions.

But most of the country is Muslim with the exception of Bali. Bali is Hindu and then there’s also a bunch of Christian Islands and Christian places. So for example, the mental y Islands heavy, heavy Christian influence. And so it just really depends. Like last year we spent a lot of time in Java and it was heavily Muslim there and it just really depends on where you go. 

Areas of Indonesia

Which brings me to my next point that there are so many different geographical like units, almost like provinces in Indonesia. So they consist of Sumatra where I am right now, Java, where I was last year and where Jakarta is, another is Kalimantan then the Lesser Sunda Islands which is where Bali is as well as the Sulawesi, Maluku and Western New Guinea island provinces. So Papua New Guinea is its own country, but Western New Guinea is part of Indonesia. 

And what’s really cool about this area is it shares a bunch of land borders with countries but also like a bunch of maritime borders. And that’s why it’s so easy to get to like Singapore or Kuala Lumpur. It’s just very connected in this area of the world. There is still so much to explore in this country, but I am pretty familiar obviously with Bali, like I mentioned, it’s part of Lesser Sunda Islands, also known as Nusa Tenggara Islands. And the Mentawai islands are part of Sumatra. And last year when we were in Niass that is also part of Sumatra. We also spent a lot of time in Java and that’s where Batukaras is. 

And next month we will be going back to Rote, which is part of East Nusa Tenggara. So many people, you know they take trips to visit the orangutans to Komodo Island to see all of the Komodo Dragons. And I haven’t done those trips yet, but I’m just saying like you know you’re never going to finish exploring this country. There’s just so much to see. 

Surfing In Indonesia 

What I love about Indonesia is not only the surf and there is world class waves like on every, on a lot of Islands, I wouldn’t say every island, but on many of the islands you’ll find so many good waves because of the geography of how it’s located. The swell comes from the south of Africa and it just builds through the Indian Ocean and it hits all of these islands.

So geographically speaking, it has the world’s best, most consistent waves. It’s literally paradise on so many of these islands like with clear, clear blue waters, palm trees and the people are just so nice no matter where you go. I just make friends everywhere and I really vibe with the locals here. I’ve never really gotten into any like negative situations, any drama. The locals in the water when you’re surfing, they’re like so nice. It’s not like in other countries where they get really aggressive ’cause surfing can be like kind of aggressive sometimes. But I meet so many people, I love the food. The food is different on every island we go to and there’s just so much to see and it truly feels like home at this point. I’ve spent a lot of time here and I tell all of my friends about it, only good things of course.

Getting To The Mentawai Islands

Right now I am in the Mentawai islands. I’ve never been here before but Ragz and I have wanted to come here for so long. It is literally paradise. We are staying in a luxury beachfront Villa called Villa Onu. It’s in front of Lance’s Right, which is a really famous wave and it’s very consistent. I’ve been watching incredible surfers surf every day and there’s a lot of professionals here. I’ve met a few pro surfers, which is just really, really cool. 

It took almost four days to get here from New York and I’m just really happy this trip was worth it because it took a lot of planning and a lot of traveling. So what we did was first flew from New York, New York airport to Singapore. That was a direct flight that was almost 19 hours long.

And then we had a transfer to Kuala Lumpur. We left the morning of Sunday and arrived in Singapore like Monday evening. Then we flew to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and then we had another night there and then flew to Padang, which is where we crossed into Indonesia and stayed overnight in Padang. We then woke up super early to take a fast ferry from Padang to Tua Paja, which is the main harbor of the mental White Islands. That was around three hours long. It was very early morning. And then once we arrived we needed to take another like one and a half hour speedboat to Villa Onu.

And after all of that travel I was like, oh my god, I need a coconut. And lo and beholds, we were greeted by coconuts upon arrival, which was just one of the highlights of my trip. Like after so much traveling you’re like, I just need to be hydrated, I need to be back in the tropics. And then a coconut appears was amazing!

Living In Mentawai

The first few days I was here I went surfing every day and I got so burnt like after I lose my tan, after being in New York or like Europe for a while, when you’re not surfing in a bikini, I get really, really pale and then when I go back into the water I like burn. But then after I get my tan back and it’s all good.

But the sun here is very, very strong. It’s only been a few days here, but I’ve found such a great community already. We are really good friends with the owners of this Villa. And then there’s also a mix of locals and expats who are based here and it’s just really fun to hang out with like-minded individuals. The Villa itself, Villa Onu, it is in front of world class waves, like we can look out from our room and see the ocean, see the surfers. It’s amazing. There’s breakfast, lunch and dinner included in the packages provided by a private in-house professional chef, like I’ve been eating such amazing food.

The quality, the plating, the presentation is so good and you can like request anything you want from like ribeye steaks to sashimi that’s freshly caught or like creme brulee and macarons. It’s actually insane what they are capable of. There is daily housekeeping, there’s an in-house bar, there are fishing trips and I also brought starlink from New York and it’s been working amazing minus some, you know like little delays when there are giant thunderstorms. But with everything being said, like how remote we are, I think the quality of life here is incredible and exceeds all of my previous expectations.

Next door there’s also Hollow Trees Resort with their own restaurants. So we’ll go hang out there, work from there, go for like happy hours there. And they also have like a really, really delicious menu full of smoothie bowls and local food and western food. So I’m just very happy to be here and I want more people to know about this spot. Well not a lot more people ’cause I don’t want everyone coming here. It’s kind of like my little secret. But I would love for my podcast listeners to really check this place out. There’s really nothing to complain about. 

Visas For Indonesia

Some of you have also been asking me how I stay in Indonesia for extended periods of time. If you have an American or British passport, you can stay visa free for 30 days. You can also apply for a 60 day Visa online now. Like you used to have to go through like a a Visa agency to do this, but we applied for 60 day Visas online and we think we’re able to extend online as well. But it’s you come in for 30 days and you have the option to extend to 60 days. In the past we’ve also applied for business visas where we’re able to stay for six months. I also heard they have come out with like a digital Nomad visa where you can stay for like one or two years. So there are a lot of options, but most people I know they either stay for 30 or 60 days and then If, you want to go make a Visa run, like go to Kuala Lumpur or Singapore for a week or two.

You can also do that and then come back. So the plan right now is to stay for 60 days and we’ll see where we go after. We might come back, we might not. But the beauty of this type of lifestyle is we’re okay with the unknown. We like seeing how much we like a place and then deciding from there instead of having to have our entire year planned out. So I’m going to be recording episodes from the Mentawai Islands for the next few weeks. Guys, if you want to check out Villa Onu Mentawai you can email me at danielle@thewanderlover.com or DM me on Instagram for a discount code if you want to stay. I cannot recommend it enough and I really hope you are able to fly to this side of the world one day because it is absolute paradise. I will see you guys in the next episode and sending you so much love from the Mentawai Islands.

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Danielle Hu

Danielle Hu

Danielle Hu is a multiple 6-figure travel influencer, business coach, and Founder of The Wanderlover. She has traveled to over 65+ countries running her online business and surfing in remote tropical destinations. Her mission is to help creatives and coaches achieve time freedom, location freedom, and financial freedom through online entrepreneurship.

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My mission is to help you design a location-independent lifestyle through online entrepreneurship, to achieve time freedom, location freedom, financial freedom.

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