A Guest’s Perspective

The first inkling of what’s to come will probably strike you when you’re standing on the dock in Padang, Sumatra. You’ll see a group of tanned, tired, hairy individuals getting off the boat that will take you to Pitstop Hill, and you’ll think, ‘they look completely surfed out, and almost too happy to talk.’

The three hour boat ride out to Pulau Nyang-Nyang is all about building anticipation. Speeding towards the islands, you’ll be outrun only by the flying fish as they skim the surface of the Mentawai Straight. You’ll see the cloud-covered mountains of Sumatra disappearing behind you, and feel a gently reassuring swell, rolling relentlessly below.

Late in the afternoon, you’ll arrive at Pitstop Hill. With a bit of luck the scenic cove will be the glassiest patch of ocean you’ve seen since leaving the mainland. It’s tapered reef might be offering up playful little wedges or might be just the right size to be draining it’s way along the adjacent sand bank. Once you’ve made it to the top of the hill, marvelled at the stunning jungle view and met the friendly Pitstop Hill team (and animals)… just try to avoid the temptation to grab a pair of board-shorts from your bag, and paddle out there for a couple of waves on sunset to wash off the travels.

Then again, you might crack the top off a cold Bintang, stand on the hill watching the sun drop with typical tropical haste to the horizon, and be mesmerised by the endless parade of waves reeling across the epic little set-up below.

No doubt you’ll check out your home for the duration – a collection of tasteful, architecturally-designed hardwood structures that sit among manicured gardens which roll across the top of the coastal ridge.

Depending on your choice back when you booked your trip, a time that now feels like an age ago, you’ll either be staying in the main guest house or the bungalow that sits a little higher up the Hill.

But it’s the surf you’ll come for. It doesn’t matter if you’re after user-friendly ‘rippable’ waves, or well overhead caverns that grind down the line with the kind of speed reserved only for flawless coral reefs, the Pitstop Hill guys will take great pleasure in getting you there at the right time.

Often in the mornings, things get moving at island pace. There will always be a couple of early birds getting out for the dawn patrol at Pitstops, but most are content to wait for the first hilltop gathering of the day. Wind speed and direction, swell direction, size and period, the tides, and your own preferences will all be taken into account, and the surf guides will offer some options. You may want to split into a couple of groups, with one boat looking for size, the other looking for a playful session. Or maybe one boat looking for lefts, and the other searching for rights. Whatever the combination, you’d be hard pressed to find another place that can produce the goods, so reliably.

And that’s the way it will be for the duration of your stay. Surf yourself silly, feast on three fantastic meals, enjoy stunning views and great friendships, and get up the next day and do it all again.

Then one morning you’ll get on a fast boat back to Padang, and you’ll be the tired, tanned and hairy ones stepping onto the dock with that surfed out, dazed look on your face. It happens every time.