By Chad Underhill-Meras
It all started at 5 a.m., when two full-size trucks and a dump trailer made the rounds, acquiring a crew of intergenerational Santa Cruz legends and getting stacked to the brim with hefty board bags and luggage. Friends from Hawaii and Australia joined us as we made the long trek to our final destination—the Mentawai Islands, a group of remote, pristine islands in Indonesia.
Along the way, there were full-terminal Home Alone-style sprints with 50-pound board bags, stuffed busses and trams, and small propelled puddle-jumper planes. We made our way through Hong Kong, Singapore, and Kuala Lumpur before finally arriving in Sumatra, Indonesia, where we boarded our boat, the D’Bora, on a warm evening. On board, five fine Indonesian crewmembers and our guide Joey (whom we later nicknamed “MC Smooth”) greeted us. Soon, we set off into the pitch-black open sea for our first of 13 nights aboard.
Even with several full days of travel and time changes behind us, the anticipation of our first sunrise and views of the most beautiful, perfect islands and waves in the world woke everyone up before dawn. Still dark out, one-by-one the zombies arrived on deck for a cup of coffee. We watched as the sunrise bloomed in pink and orange clouds over the deep blue. As quickly as the sun had risen, the men turned to boys and let loose with a variety of hilarious, sometimes vulgar, next-level heckling that would have us all in tears of laughter the entire trip.
The islands were what we liked to call “postcard worthy” and “so tender.” Nothing was out of place. The white sand beaches were covered with palms, banana trees, shells and fallen coconuts. Surrounding the greenery were turquoise waters pumping with swell that kept us in the water every day of the trip. Our boat and the kind-hearted crew kept up with the beauty of the islands, providing us with amazing food, navigation, knowledge, and laughs. With their skills and plenty of planning, we were able to hit all of the islands from South Pagai up to Siberut, which was a difficult feat in the amount of time we were aboard. During our final dinner we exchanged gratitude, gifts, and hugs, making it known how thankful we were.