Writer Joel Sappell in the Mentawai Islands
19 Images

Surfing Indonesia

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, surfs one of Indonesia’s best waves, known as Telescopes, named for its long, cylindrical-shaped waves. (Allen J. Schaben / LAT)
Indies Trader II captain Albert Taylor, 43, surfs a break called Thunders. (Allen J. Schaben / LAT)
Children paddle on broken boards left behind by visiting surfers in Padang, Sumatra. (Allen J. Schaben / LAT)
Mike Gable, 25, surfs a break called Telescopes. (Allen J. Schaben / LAT)
Steve “Google” Schnepf cuts across a wave near the charter boat Indies Trader II. (Allen J. Schaben / LAT)
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, 27, surfs a little-known spot in the Mentawai Islands. (Allen J. Schaben / LAT)
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 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)
The exotic and primitive Mentawai Islands have emerged as one of surfing’s premier destinations - without the crowds. (Allen J. Schaben / LAT)
Los Angeles Times photographer Al Schaben, right, shows curious Mentawai Island villagers video of themselves. (Steve Schnepf)
Bobby Rickerson, 54, gets covered up at Telescopes. (Allen J. Schaben / LAT)
Captain Albert Taylor plays a blues guitar between surf sessions. (Allen J. Schaben / LAT)
Brian Gable cuts back at Lance’s Left. (Allen J. Schaben / LAT)
An unidentified surfer holds up a finger sliced on the coral reef at Lance’s Left. (Allen J. Schaben / LAT)
Bellmen lug boards into the lobby of the Bumi Minang Hotel in Padang, Sumatra. (Allen J. Schaben / LAT)
A helmeted Joel Sappell takes a steep drop at Thunders. (Allen J. Schaben / LAT)
An empty barrel at Thunders. (Allen J. Schaben / LAT)
1/19