Thermal Travel Review: The MV Addiction - Stab Mag
Photo by Geni Larosa

Review: The MV Addiction

This elite Mentawais catamaran is now available to book on Thermal. We paid full price and gave it a whirl.

Words by Taylor Paul

All photos by Geni Larosa

Despite spending more than a decade in surf media, I had never been to the Mentawais. I always imagined it as overhyped, overcrowded and too expensive. It’s the same way I felt about the North Shore, before actually going there and learning that it completely lived up to the hype. Now I’ve been back a dozen times. 

This spring, I finally broke the seal on the Mentawais during a trip arranged for a buddy’s bachelor party, which was really just an excuse to rally some friends on a surf trip. There were no strippers. Just a bucket-list trip for a bunch of boat trip rookies who wanted to take advantage of Covid crowds. 

Initially, when choosing a boat, we narrowed it down to two and sent them to my buddy who lives in Indo, since knows most of the charters. “Those are literally the two worst boats in the Ments,” he said. 

Oops. We looked again and found the MV Addiction. I sent it to my buddy. “Now that’s one of the best boats in the Ments,” he said. 

mv addiction
Photo by Geni Larosa

Day 1, en route from Padang to the Ments. 

That’s all we needed to hear. We booked the trip and started working with the Addiction team to help us jump through the hoops to get all eight of us to the boat in Padang. After a few fire drills and one date change, we all made it. The next 12 days would be spent scouring the Mentawai Islands for the best waves we could find. The result? A legitimate trip of a lifetime. 

Below is a review of MV Addiction, and my experience as a first-timer in the Mentawais. I had a lot of questions going into it, which I’ll try and answer here, so excuse me if I’m stating the obvious. 

Oh, and to be clear, I paid full fare for this trip. This isn’t an ad for the Addiction, but rather a continuation of our partnership with Thermal, where you can book this trip and dozens of others with the ability to adjust your trip if your plans change. This flexibility is particularly important during Covid, and especially to Indonesia, when border and quarantine policies can change overnight.

The Boat

MV Addiction is an 80 foot (24m) high-speed aluminum catamaran. It’s known as one of the fastest and most stable boats in the Ments. Fast means a top speed of 18 kts, which translates to less time on crossings and between breaks. Stable means less vomiting. 

mv addiction
Photo by Geni Larosa

Make a boat a home.

It’s also got two support boats. One little yellow one (“3.3m tuff tender polycraft with 15 hp Yamaha”) that takes you from the Addiction to the break, and back. It’s amazing how quickly you get spoiled, and lean on the dinghy to save your arms. There’s also a little blue one (“4.5m drifter side console polycraft with 50 hp Yamaha”) that you can take if your group wants to surf different breaks nearby. 

Photo by Geni Larosa

Wave your board in the air and Yuri will come swoop you for a ride back to Addiction.

Sleeping

There are 5 rooms for guests. One upstairs with four bunks, and four downstairs with two beds in each. Ten is the typical max, but you can pay extra and bring 12. Just keep in mind that’s an insta-crowd.

mentawaiis
Photo by Geni Larosa

This is what you’ll see when you wake up from your nap. 

Each room has an AC that can get absolutely arctic, if that’s what you’re after. And all but the quad bunk has an ensuite sink for brushing your teeth, washing up, etc. I think the two best rooms are the two closest to the TV in the lounge area. The one I slept in was great but it was adjacent to the kitchen, and those guys wake up early.

They make your bed everyday and change the sheets halfway through the trip.

Common areas

MV Addiction is not hurting for places to relive your sessions with your buddies. Each night this happens in the form of a photo slideshow, on the TV in the lounge area inside. 

Photo by Geni Larosa

It takes about 3 sessions to stop pretending like you don’t care if you got a good photo.

Sunsets are best consumed al fresco on the top deck, where there’s a table to eat whatever fish you caught that day, and an L bench with a cooler full of Bintangs and Pocari Sweats as the centerpiece. 

If the boat is motoring and you wanna air out your pit rash, you can hang on the bow. Once a few people make their way out here, the staff is quick to set up a cooler and bring out the bean bag chairs. This crew knows what you need before you do.

The Food

One of the best parts of the trip. Tony, the chef, has his menu down to perfection. As Dickinson Antal, the Addiction’s co-owner / operator said, “[Tony’s] worked it out so he has 36 proven A-plus meals. Though he does get a little nervous if a trip goes more than 12 days.” 

Photo by Geni Larosa

Along with yogurt and granola, this is breakfast No. 1. Breakfast No. 2 happens after you surf. 

That’s three full sized, balanced meals everyday. (There are plenty of veggies, and they’ll cater to your food allergies if you’re a food allergy person.) A welcome mix between western and Indo food. The Beef Rendang was next level. So were the breakfast quesadillas. There’s dessert every night. 

Yes, Tony’s trying to make you fat.

They also set out a light breakfast of cereal, fruit and yogurt to fuel up pre-surf, then they cook brekky for you on demand after your first surf.

Coconuts are available at any time. I liked ‘em post-surf to help rehydrate. Snacks, candy, juices, sodas are in the fridge for you to pillage.

Your group gets 20 cases of Bintangs per trip. Anything more than that you pay for.

We surfed 2-3 times everyday, and every single person on the trip gained weight. You will not go hungry or thirsty. 

The Crew

Your surf guide is Dickinson Antal. Born and raised in Hawaii, he traveled to Indonesia in the late ‘90s for empty surf, met a girl, and never left. They have two kids together now, and Dickinson has been in the surf charter game for more than two decades, and knows the islands off Sumatra better than most of us know our homebreaks. 

mv addiction
Photo by Geni Larosa

Zac was gonna get this wave, but he broke his board. Cap’n Dickinson took it. 

He’s the perfect guide. Direct, clear and patient. His superpower, besides putting you in the right spot on the right day, is to give his guests context. Whether that’s as simple as, “Don’t drag your feet getting out there, more boats might show up,” or, “don’t paddle out now, you’ll be tired by the time it gets good,” he doesn’t assume you know what he knows, which is massive.

thermal travel
Photo by Geni Larosa

Your new best friends. 

As for the rest of the crew — captain, chef, cook, engineers, deckhands — I’m not exaggerating when I say they were the highlight of the trip. The best I can describe it is that these guys, who have worked on the Addiction together as a team for years, are already a well functioning family and they’re quick to invite you into the fold once you get on board. I know, I know. That’s their job. And no, I don’t think strippers love me, too. But in speaking with friends that have sampled many boats in the Ments, there are lemon crews out there, and they have the ability to wreck a trip. On the Addiction, the crew makes the trip. Dickinson says he has countless guests that come back just to see this group again.  

The Surf

It’s as good as they say it is. Of course, Macaronis was a highlight and likely the best wave I’ve ever surfed. While we didn’t score HT’s, its potential was clear. 

Photo by Geni Larosa

Macaronis was the best wave we got by a long shot. Though it looks empty here, the camp was nearly full, so there were plenty of people out. Still, it was very easy to get waves. Trevor got this one. 

But I think what surprised me most was the caliber of waves that I’d never heard of. We anchored in front of a left called Thunders for two days, getting barreled off our heads completely by ourselves. Actually, there was the guy who owned the camp on the island, who came out and said we were the first people he’d surfed with since October 2019. And there were three or four other waves that weren’t on my radar that we scored as well. Best advice I could give is to leave your expectations on land and just go where the swell and conditions dictate. You won’t be disappointed. 

mv addiction
Photo by Geni Larosa

We surfed this wave alone for two days straight. Christian, the bachelor, logged the most tube time.

Miscellaneous Intel

  • There’s no WiFi and very little cell reception. If you want / need to communicate with the outside world, best to get an Indonesian SIM card.
  • The crew will fix dings — well — for Indo prices. Usually finished the same day if it’s sunny. 
  • The crew can do laundry for $3-5. 
  • You can arrange to have a photog on the trip. His name is Geni and is an absolute pro. He shoots from water, land and boat and will give you a thumb drive of all your photos from the trip for $200. You want this.
mv addiction
Photo by Geni Larosa

Ali caught us an appetizer. 

  • There are two private showers on board, but most people just soap up and hose off on the back of the boat with the fresh-water hose after the last session of the day.
  • There’s a DVD player and about 500 surf and blockbuster DVDs to choose from. Helps kill time during crossings.
  • They have board games like backgammon, chess and checkers on the boat, as well as cards.
  • They have masks, snorkels and fins if you want to dive.
  • They’ll put lines in the water and trawl as you travel between breaks. If there’s a fish on, you can reel it in. Or just eat it when they’re done.
  • Yes, you can jump off the upper deck.
If all your friends jump off a boat,or anything, really, you should, too. 

One of the most surprising things I found on this trip was that while on the Addiction, I felt like a pro surfer. Every meal, drink, stretch, nap, etc. served only to recover from or prepare for surfing. With transport, food and lodging sorted, it’s literally all you have to think about. It’s a feeling I think everyone should experience at least once in their life. Although, after seeing that it really does live up to the hype, once probably won’t be enough. 

To book the Addiction, or dozens of other trips around the world, visit Thermal. Plus, if you Book MV Addiction in June for anytime within 12 months and Thermal will cover round trip airfare for one person in your group.

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