Mentawai

2018 National Geographic Photo Contest by Marc Llewellyn

National Geographic is currently running their annual global photo competition. And holy moly, the submissions are absolutely breathtaking.

I took a stab in the dark and entered in about 12 images….why not, eh? To my absolute surprise this drone image of a wave breaking over a crystal clear section of reef in the Mentawai Islands I took in April has made the editor’s picks. Fingers crossed for a victory when the winner is announced.

Pitstop In Paradise by Marc Llewellyn

Throughout April & May I was based in the Mentawai Islands, a chain located 150 kilometers (93 miles) west of Sumatra, Indonesia, on the edge of the Ring of Fire. This was my fourth time here, and I’m continually taken back by the incredible waves, unspoiled islands, and beautiful culture of the local island people.

My reason for being there was to work as a surf-guide and photographer with a land-based camp called Pitstop Hill on the island of Pulau Masokut. My days revolved around assessing the surf conditions, taking guests to the most appropriate waves, navigating for boat drivers, snorkeling, fishing, and coordinating local village visits to build awareness of the communities in the area.

Visiting the local villages is a beautiful and humbling insight into the people and traditions that are so far removed from what we’re used to in the developed Western world. I remember walking back to our boat in a village called Malilimok while an elderly man was sitting in his doorway soaking up the afternoon sun, watching as a group of Bule (the Indonesian term for “Westerners”) roamed around his village. He had a friendly and welcoming appearance, and he was more than happy to have his photograph taken.  To me, the contentment and peaceful nature exuding from this man struck me as though he’d lived a full, happy and healthy life by living closely with nature and reaffirmed that we do not need a lot in order to be happy.