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.