You can get a trip with Waterways for a two week stay out of NYC for about $4500. That was a couple years ago, might be more now for fuel. You fly into Padang, then get a 40ft catamaran with about four/five other people, and live on the boat. Excellent, no bugs, air conditioned, first rate food. You can pay more for a bigger yacht, but then you might have 10 or more people, and that's like having your own portable crowd.
It's better on a smaller boat. The captain always tries to get you reefs alone if he's any good. Waterways does it all for you.
I went with four of my friends, so we had the boat all to ourselves.
Total cost for trip just to Mentawais figure about $5,000. There are about 30 boats working now out of Padang. I would recommend Kandui hands down over any boat though. Uma for 2 people larger than all but the largest boats. Plus you have the island to explore and many other features including no sea sick nights. They have speed boats that can move you from break to break much faster than most boats. We would pass boats on the way to a break only to have them show up at the break an hour and a half after we were surfing it.
Crowds really were not a factor though. If we did encounter other surfers, it was usually very friendly and everyone would rotate turns with plenty of waves to go around. Many days we surfed waves by ourselves, just me and my son. Keep in mind that some waves were so long that it took a long time to paddle back to the take-off area and you would want to rest a couple of mins. anyway. We surfed one particular break where rides were as long as 600 yds. and you could hardly see someone when they kicked out.
I did encounter a couple of guys that were staying with locals in huts close to certain breaks. I know the accomadations were very cheap, but they did have to bring in thier food and it was crude living conditions. Most of these guys were staying for months. If you can only go for a couple of weeks, one of the boats or camps is really the only realistic way to go. Keep in mind that the area is still very remote and getting in and out can be sketchy. We had to exit in a local "speed" boat because the scheduled plane was grounded. My understanding is that this sort of thing is a very common occurance.
Would I go again? In a second...................I met guys that left everything here in the states to live there permanently with nothing so that they could have everything. If waves are all you need, you can gorge yourself allmost everyday.