Six waves that will keep you enamored until the end of your days

| posted on October 15, 2012

Photo: Black Pearl Photos

“I remember coming out for the first time and being on the bow of the boat before dawn as the outline of the Mentawais came into view,” recalls Ray Wilcoxen. “By the time we pulled into the Playgrounds area, the sun was shining and it seemed like we had found paradise: blue water, empty white beaches, coconut trees swaying in the wind, little waves bending in every direction. I was in love with the place before I ever caught a wave.”

Three years later, Wilcoxen found himself shuttering his business in California, selling everything he owned, and moving to that very spot to build a luxury surf resort. But the romantic dream of relocating to a tiny, off-the-grid island—complete with warm barrels, white-sand beaches, and hammocks rocking in the breeze—was far from the reality.

“Looking back at it, we really didn’t know anything, and should have been road kill,” says Wilcoxen. “None of us had spent time on land there. We didn’t know the language; we didn’t know the culture. Everyone told us we were going to die of Malaria or Typhoid or get swept away by a tsunami.”

Jordan Heuer, another one of Kandui Resort’s founders and more recently the founder of Kandui Villas on the other side of the island, can also attest to the harsh realities of the island: “We’ve gone through so many trials and tribulations to get the resorts off the ground—from being completely broke, penniless, and not knowing where our next meal would come from, to having our lives threatened, and more. We have had hoards of locals with machetes, hassles dealing with authorities, earthquakes, tsunami scares, and even a bomb thrown at me once when we tried to get some photos of some dynamite fishermen destroying the reef.”

The complications are now mere speed bumps in the rearview mirror, minor distractions from the dangling carrot out front: a right and left that offer up the kind of perfection generally reserved for daydreams.

“It’s no coincidence that my house faces Rifles at just the right angle so I can sit on my rickety balcony with all the spiders and geckos to watch the waves spin down the entire reef,” says Wilcoxen. “You can’t tell how ridiculously fast and long that wave is from the boat angle. All you do there is go Mach 10 and look for the barrel. My kind of wave. Sometimes I’d like to trade in my 53-year-old body for a younger version of itself when I’m out there, but it’s all good. I had no idea I’d be this lucky to be getting so much tube time at my age.” —Janna Irons

  • Mange mongland

    I live in Hossegor and you really can’t compare it to desert point or cloudbreak! Seriously! It looks like the picture once every other year. It’s crap more often than not

  • Whamo

    “Freedom has a 1,000 charms to show, that slaves, however contented, never know.” — Mickey Dora —

    I have a lot of respect for Jim Banks and the hotel night manager at Mundaca. Not many people pursue their dreams like these two did.

  • gannysesh

    Does Banks have some family cash keeping him going? Or does he take jobs that give him just enough to get by? or what?

  • Meatball

    Hello to all,,,some of us from S.Fla. in 1978 flew into Acapoco,,then took 14hr. bus ride south to get to Puerto,,,the lack of people,the offshore winds in the mornings,the sound of the police band music in the line up & those XLg. Barrels rides !!!! Just spectacular views,times & memories for all of us !!!!!

  • Eric

    Putting ‘Rifles’ on that list is asinine….Great wave, but hundreds of better waves that people try and score, and return to year after year. There are 50 waves in Indo alone to hit before that one.

  • http://any mark connolly


  • Freddy

    @Eric if you scored this wave you would know why its on the list. One 12 day boat trip to the ments ain’t going to do it. I have been to the playground area of the ments 10 times for months at a time and have scored riffles one time. It went off for 10 straight days best waves I have ever seen and surfed. Its 600+yard backdoor barrel every wave. Surfed it other trips but not proper. If you go to this area thinking your going to score riffles think again. It is a VERY fickle wave and any signs of it being good you can assure the resorts are on it dumping on average 20-40 guys in the line-up. But dont worry there are several other world class waves very close by.