How to get to the Mentawai Islands from Bali

by | Aug 23, 2023 | Getting to Mentawai

Got a trip to Mentawai coming up? Maybe you want to book that trip but the information out there on how to get here is a little confusing.

Most of the information available online is a bit vague or out of date, so in this article, we are getting into detail on every step of the journey from Bali to Mentawai, with up to date schedules and prices, so that you can plan your trip knowing all the details. From airlines, routes, surfboard fees, what to do in the airports and more.

We try to keep this article completely up to date with changes to schedules and prices but things are likely to change at short notice, so please always double-check times and fees with the providers ahead of your journey.

The Mentawai Islands

The Mentawais are an island chain about 150 km off the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia. Made up of about 70 islands and islets, it’s a tropical paradise with some of the world’s best surfing and home to several of the world’s best waves. 

For years, Martin Daly and his small crew of surfers and sailors explored the islands on board the Indies Trader. Discovering flawless waves, without a sole around and keeping it completely secret until some time in the 90s. Daly is credited with discovering most of the surf in the region, a true adventurer, sailing from island to island hoping to find waves. 

Fast forward to today, there is still a big element of adventure when it comes to getting to the Mentawai islands. With no reliable direct flights and with planes, cars, ferries, and speedboats all having their part in getting here, you still get to experience a little bit of the sense of adventure and exploration Martin Daly must have felt as he sailed into the surfers paradise islands of Mentawai.  

However, this is now a well-traveled path, so your journey will be smooth sailing from the moment you leave Bali, all the way to your first cocktail on the white sand beachfront at Villa Onu. To help you plan ahead and so you understand the journey ahead, here is everything you need to know about getting from Bali to the Mentawai islands.

A quick note

Before you even begin your journey, please make your flight arrival into Padang aligns with the ferry schedule. You must arrive in Padang one day in advance of your ferry to Mentawai. The Mentawai Fast ferry operates four times weekly (Monday 7am, Wednesday 7am, Friday 7am, and Sunday 10am). So make sure your flight arrives in Padang, Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday.

What to do in Bali before your trip to Mentawai

Before you depart Bali, there are a few things you should do, and a few that we recommend. 

Pack essentials and medication

Before you embark on your journey to the Mentawai Islands, take a moment to consider your health needs. Take in mind that we don´t have any accessible pharmacies in the area.  While in Villa Onu we have a first aid Kit and other types of medications on hand. It’s wise to anticipate any potential health concerns you might encounter and pack the necessary medications.

Simple steps like checking your prescription refills and consulting your healthcare provider can help you gather the right supplies.

  • Prescription Medications: If you have any chronic health condition or require specific prescription medications, ensure you have an ample supply to last the duration of your stay. It’s always better to be over-prepared than to find yourself in a challenging situation without access to the necessary treatments.
  • Motion Sickness Medication: If you´re prone to seasickness or motion discomfort, packing medication to address this can make your boat journeys between the islands more enjoyable.
  • Sunscreen and After-Sun Care: We know that people here want to enjoy the waves and the island as much as they can, which normally means spending the whole day under the beautiful sun. Protect your skin from the strong tropical sun with high-SPF sunscreen. Aloe Vera gel or soothing lotion can also provide relief if you end up with a sunburn
  • Over-the-counter Medications: Common things like headaches, upset stomachs and minor aches can be easily addressed with over-the-counter medications. Having a small selection of these can be really handy.

Make sure you have travel Insurance

In addition to preparing your health supplies, It’s essential to note that Travel Insurance is mandatory for your trip to the Mentawai Islands. Travel insurance offers financial protection in case of trip cancellations, medical emergencies or loss of belongings. This coverage ensures that you can enjoy your vacation worry-free, knowing that you are protected against potential setbacks.

Book your hotel in Padang

As we already said in the intro, you must make sure you arrive in Padang the day before your planned ferry departure. Because the flights from Bali typically arrive late morning and through the afternoon, you simply cannot make the early morning ferry departures. 

So once you arrive in Padang you are going to need a hotel for the night. We recommend Santika Hotel as it is a nice hotel and close to the harbor, perfect for your early morning ferry. 

Santika Hotel is used to people traveling through on their way to the Mentawai Islands, so they are able to help you out with transfers and questions you might have. 

Remember, Villa Onu can organize all of the transfers and accommodation requirements in Padang for you with our VIP Transfer Service. Or if you are traveling in a group, you can even opt for the Private Speed Boat Transfer Service, which skips out the overnight stay in Padang entirely and brings you directly from the airport, onto your private speedboat and to Villa Onu. 

Withdraw some cash

There are no ATMs close Villa Onu, so if there is anything you need to pay or purchase locally, you are going to need cash.

You will also need to have cash on your journey to pay for things such as surfboard fees at the airport, tips for taxi drivers and luggage porters, and ferry luggage fees. We will get into these bits in more detail in this article. But it is worth withdrawing some IDR before you begin your journey from Bali.

There are of course ATMs at Jakarta airport, and in Padang.

Flight options from Bali to Mentawai

Currently, there are no direct flights from Bali to the Mentawai islands. So to get here you first have to fly to Padang, in Sumatra, where you will spend the night before catching a ferry to the islands early the following morning.

From Bali, all flights to Padang transit in one of Jakartas 2 airports. Soekarno–Hatta International Airport (CGK) or Halim Perdanakusuma International Airport (HLM)

  • Bali (DPS) – Jakarta (CGK or HLM) which is a 1 hour 45 minute flight
  • Jakarta (CGK or HLM) – Padang (PDG) a 1 hour 30 minute flight. 

There are several airlines that fly this route at different times of the day and pretty much every day of the week (Just remember to match with your ferry schedule). Airlines flying this route include:

  • Garuda Indonesia 
  • Citilink 
  • Batik Air
  • Super Air Jet 
  • Lion Air 
  • Indonesia AirAsia 

We recommend booking your flights through Traveloka or the respective airlines’ official websites. Traveloka offers a range of airline options tailored to your preferred timing and budget

Airline wise we always prefer to take Garuda Indonesia Airlines. Garuda is Indonesia’s flagship carrier and one of the main airlines in the country. While slightly more expensive than some of the other options, Garuda provides a service that is well worth the investment. Their flight times are often shorter. The total flight duration from Bali to Padang is 5 hours and 15 minutes, including a 1-hour and 25-minute layover in Jakarta.

Flying with surfboards from Bali to Mentawai

If you are bringing surfboards there may be some additional fees to consider, and as with most things, being prepared can save you hassle at the check-in desk. This information commonly changes, and is often down to the discretion of the check-in staff so while this is correct at the time of writing it may not be at the time of your travel. Please check with your airline. 

To help you out in making your decision here are some of the main airlines surfboard fees, and links to their websites so you can confirm.

Garuda Indonesia Surfboard Fees

Garuda Indonesia offers complimentary carriage for a single piece of sports equipment, which includes surfboards weighing up to 23kg, and with dimensions of less than 300 cm. 

It’s important to be aware that surfboards weighing over 32kg or exceeding 300 cm in dimensions cannot be accommodated on your flight. In such cases, you will be directed to arrange for transportation through GA cargo services.

More info on Garudas Surfboard Policy here.

Citilink Surfboard Fees

If you are not a Citisport Member with Citilink, there will be an additional fee for surfboards. There is also an excess fee for bags over 30kg. 

These are prices for domestic flights and do not include VAT

  • 0-5kg IDR 111,000
  • 6-10kg IDR 166,500
  • 11-15kg IDR 222,000
  • 16-20kg IDR 277,500
  • 21-25kg IDR 333,000
  • 26-30 kg IDR 388,500

More info on Citilinks Surfboard Policy here.

Batik Air Surfboard Fees

Batik is part of the Lion, Wings, Batik group and so has the same surfboard policy as Lion Air. 

More info on Batik Air Surfboard policy here.

Super Air Jet Surfboard Fees

Super Air Jet DO NOT count surfboards as a part of your luggage, and so there is an additional fee. 

The fee is 200,000 IDR per board, per flight. So bringing 3 boards from Bali to Padang will cost you 1.2 million IDR. 

The maximum weight for your board bag is 23 kg and can`t be longer than 230cm.

Lion Air Surfboard Fees

Lion Air DO NOT count surfboards as a part of your luggage, and so there is an additional fee. 

The fee is 200,000 IDR per board, per flight. So bringing 3 boards from Bali to Padang will cost you 1.2 million IDR. 

This can only be paid for in cash, so make sure you have some on you when you get to the airport, otherwise, you can end up losing your place in the check-in line while you go find an ATM. 

A cheeky trick here is to pack your board bags light! Avoid stuffing in clothes and extra bits, because if the bag feels slim and light, you can often get away with paying a single board, or maybe 2 instead of 3. If the bag is fat and heavy they will probably check inside and count your boards. If you keep your bag light and slim, have the cash in your hand for 1 board for 2 legs, 400k, and you are polite, smile you can often get away with an extra board or 2 in there. 

More info on Lion Airs Surfboard Policy here. 

Getting to Denpasar Airport in Bali

Allow a decent amount of time to get to the airport, as depending on where you are traveling from in Bali, traffic can be a big problem. It’s better to have too much time on your hands than not enough. 

It’s always worth organizing your transfer to the airport in advance, and often the hotel or accommodation you are at in Bali can help you here.

BlueBird Taxi has an app where you can book a taxi in advance, just don’t expect them to be ready with roof racks and straps. If you are traveling solo and a normal-size board bag they are usually happy to put a seat down, or squeeze it in, but if there are a few of you traveling with a few board bags it’s better that you organize a private transfer.

You can also use Gojek/Gocar and Grab in Bali to book transport. 

Once you are on your way, remember to let your taxi or driver know you are traveling domestically so they take you to the correct terminal for your flight.

Have a small bit of cash to tip your driver, especially if they are helping you load and unload surfboards. A little tip around Rp 20.000 or more goes a long way and will be highly appreciated. 

Inside Depnasar Airport

Inside the airport, you will check in and drop off your baggage, paying for surfboards at the check-in desk unless you were able to prepay. Remember cash for this. Then you are free to roam the airport until your flight departure. 

There is a small VIP lounge in the domestic terminal called Concordia Lounge, and is airside, second-floor opposite gate 2. You can access it with Priority Pass or other lounge programs or if space is available you can pay on entry, usually 120k-150k per person. There’s no beer or alcohol in here, so if you are craving a cold Bintang, you are better off elsewhere in the airport. 

Outside of the lounge you will find several food and drink options including Starbucks, and Revolver Coffee. (Yes, the same Revolver as in Canggu).

Stop over in Jakarta

All flights from Bali have a short stopover in Jakarta. We recommend that you book flights with at least a 60-minute layover to allow for any delays on your first leg. If you booked your journey as a single journey your baggage will be checked all the way to Padang so you do not need to collect or recheck anything in Jakarta. 

Just follow the transit signs and you will re-enter the departures lounge, where you just need to check your screens to get to the gate for your next flight to Padang. 

If you travel with Garuda Indonesia or Citilink

Garuda Indonesia and Citilink both transit in Terminal 3, often referred to as “Terminal 3 Ultimate,” at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport. This terminal, officially inaugurated in 2016, has visibly improved since its initial opening to the public.

Terminal 3 at Soekarno-Hatta stands out as a modern, environmentally friendly, and spacious facility in comparison to Terminal 1 and Terminal 2. It serves as the present hub for all Garuda Indonesia flights, including both domestic and international routes. Furthermore, Terminal 3 boasts enhanced security systems relative to the older terminals.

In contrast to Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, Terminal 3 Ultimate does not yet feature an on-site airport hotel.

Terminal 3 offers an abundance of amenities, including restaurants, shops, lounges, and bookstores. This means you can comfortably wait near your boarding gate without having to worry about passing through security again, unlike in other terminals. All in all, Soekarno-Hatta Airport’s Terminal 3 presents a notably convenient and user-friendly experience.

If you travel with Lion Air, Super Air Jet or Batik

When you arrive at your layover in Jakarta – Terminal 2, seize the chance to grab some local food, try some Indonesian desserts or even look for a new book in one of their libraries. As with Lion Air, Super Air Jet or Batik  you will have one more checkpoint to go through. Once you pass this checkpoint, there is no turning back to the other side of the airport, and there won’t be food options available beyond this point. [

So grab the things you want or need before you go through this final checkpoint. 

Arrival at Minangkabau International Padang Airport

Welcome to Padang. That’s all the flying out of the way and things slow down a bit from here.

If you have opted for one of our transfer options, our dedicated driver will be waiting at arrivals with a Villa Onu sign, ready to help you carry and load your luggage, and transport you to your hotel in Padang. 

Please check our transfer options for more information on all our options.  

If you are organizing this part on your own, you will need to arrange with a local driver your price and they will take you to your booked hotel. It’s worth arranging with them there and then your transfer for the morning to the ferry port as it’s an early start, and there often are not many taxi drivers waiting around at that time of morning. 

Once settled into your hotel, take the opportunity to unwind or explore local Padang cuisine and attractions. We’ll provide you with a curated list of Padang must-dos.

Mentawai Fast Ferry

At 6 AM the following morning, our driver will collect you from the hotel lobby. It’s an early start so enjoy a quick breakfast or pre-order a takeout meal the previous night. You will be taken to the Mentawai Fast Ferry Harbour, just a short drive away from the hotel. If you suffer from motion sickness or sea sickness it’s a good idea to take some medication now so it has time to get to work before you get onboard the ferry. Grab a long sleeve shirt for your trip because it can get a little cold with the AC inside the ferry.

Once at the Mentawai Fast Ferry Harbour, our driver will guide you through the process, from ticketing and managing your surfboard bags to addressing the Mentawai surf tax. Unless you have booked one of our transfer services, you will need some cash at hand here to pay for tickets and additional luggage.

The fast ferry tickets cost 400K per person one way. Regular luggage is included in this fee.

For more information, we have written a detailed guide about the Mentawai Fast Ferry here.

Mentawai Fast Ferry Surfboard Fees 2023

Surfboard bags are charged by weight

  • 1-15KG – 230,000 IDR/bag – $15-17 USD/bag
  • 16-25 KG – 460,000 IDR/bag – $30-32 USD/bag
  • >26KG – 690,000 IDR/bag – $45-47 USD/bag

Please pay in cash, and you will need some smaller change for tipping the luggage porters, normally 20,000 IDR or so.

Remember our transfer options can handle this all for you, pre-purchasing tickets, and booking luggage for you in advance.

The ferry departs at 7 AM and is a 3-hour and 30-minute cruise from Padang to Tuapejat. It can be a little longer sometimes depending on the weather. You can purchase light snacks and drinks onboard.

Arriving at Tuapejat

Upon arrival in Tuapejat, our team will be awaiting you at the harbor, ready to assist with luggage and transfer to our speedboat for the last leg of your journey. 

This is by far the most beautiful part of the journey as you cruise along a tropical coastline dotted with white sand beaches, and towering palm trees, through perfectly clear tropical water. 

As you arrive into the bay, you pull up right next to Lances Right (Hollow Trees) to get your first glimpse of your new front yard playground. The Villa Onu team will be waiting for you on the beach with refreshing drinks, ready to welcome you into your new home. 

Go surfing, swim, crack an ice-cold Bintang, lay by the pool. The choice is all yours. Welcome to Villa Onu. Welcome to paradise.