Writer Joel Sappell in the Mentawai Islands
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Surfing Indonesia

Writer Joel Sappell in the Mentawai Islands
Writer Joel Sappell in the Mentawai Islands: “As the sport’s popularity has brought more crowds to well-known breaks, surfers are searching the globe for bigger and better waves they can ride in relative solitude.” (Allen J. Schaben / LAT)
Leo Howard, 28,
Leo Howard, 28, surfs one of Indonesia’s best waves, known as Telescopes, named for its long, cylindrical-shaped waves. (Allen J. Schaben / LAT)
Indies Trader II
Indies Trader II captain Albert Taylor, 43, surfs a break called Thunders. (Allen J. Schaben / LAT)
Children paddle
Children paddle on broken boards left behind by visiting surfers in Padang, Sumatra. (Allen J. Schaben / LAT)
Mike Gable
Mike Gable, 25, surfs a break called Telescopes. (Allen J. Schaben / LAT)
Steve “Google” Schnepf
Steve “Google” Schnepf cuts across a wave near the charter boat Indies Trader II. (Allen J. Schaben / LAT)
Brian Gable
Brian Gable, 27, rides past his uncle, Joel Sappell, right, and cousin, Mike Gable, 25, while catching a wave at Thunders. (Allen J. Schaben / LAT)
Vasily Rickerson
Vasily Rickerson, 27, surfs a little-known spot in the Mentawai Islands. (Allen J. Schaben / LAT)
Leo Howard
Leo Howard, right, pushes off with one arm on his board as the other hoists a beer on a wave shared with Vasily Rickerson. (Allen J. Schaben / LAT)
Mentawai Islands villagers
Mentawai Islands villagers in canoes watch as Californians Brian Gable, left, Bobby Rickerson and Mike Gable wait in a skiff that will take them out to another surf break. (Allen J. Schaben / LAT)
premier destinations
The exotic and primitive Mentawai Islands have emerged as one of surfing’s premier destinations - without the crowds. (Allen J. Schaben / LAT)
Al Schaben
Los Angeles Times photographer Al Schaben, right, shows curious Mentawai Island villagers video of themselves. (Steve Schnepf)
Bobby Rickerson
Bobby Rickerson, 54, gets covered up at Telescopes. (Allen J. Schaben / LAT)
Captain Albert Taylor
Captain Albert Taylor plays a blues guitar between surf sessions. (Allen J. Schaben / LAT)
Brian Gable
Brian Gable cuts back at Lance’s Left. (Allen J. Schaben / LAT)
Surfer
An unidentified surfer holds up a finger sliced on the coral reef at Lance’s Left. (Allen J. Schaben / LAT)
Bellmen
Bellmen lug boards into the lobby of the Bumi Minang Hotel in Padang, Sumatra. (Allen J. Schaben / LAT)
Joel Sappell
A helmeted Joel Sappell takes a steep drop at Thunders. (Allen J. Schaben / LAT)
Thunders
An empty barrel at Thunders. (Allen J. Schaben / LAT)
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