A few places in India to catch waves and soak up culture
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 22 March, 2016 - The surf culture was a little late coming to India- but as they say, better late than never. Surfing brings people together in a trusting community and as most surfers are eco-conscious they tend to bring peace and cleanliness to the areas they ride in.
There are 7,000 km of coastline in India and as most of it is undiscovered in terms of surfing, you often get the waves all to yourself, something which can’t be said about most surf destinations.
The waves in India have always been here, but it wasn’t a big part of tourism except in a few key places. With the arrival of more companies offering surf schools and India beginning to host surfing competitions, people are starting to work in surfing as a major thing to do during their time in India. You can follow the competitions on the Government surfing site who often sponsor food and accomodation for kids from neighboring villages to come in and compete. Even Taj hotels have sponsored surf contests in India.
Surfing in India © Kiran Kumar
It’s not the North Shore of Hawaii in terms of massive waves, and India also doesn’t have many reef breaks so beginners can find it a safe place to learn. The best times to surf tend to be just before and just after the monsoon- April, May, October, November. If you’re a great surfer, you can surf in the monsoon waves. One downside is the lack of proper lifeguard training so always surf with a friend.
Women's surfing is encouraged with projects like the 2016 India Surf Festival which is promoting “girl power” on their advertisements and is called the festival for change.
In fact, all extreme water sports are becoming more popular in the last 5 years. While before, it was difficult to get proper SUP (stand up paddle boards) now that are being imported along with Kitesurfing and wake boarding equipment offering tourists a wide range of unique water sports options not just on sea but in the backwaters. There is one place you can buy boards in India, Temple Surfboards where Australians taught local fisherman the skill.
Indonesia's Tipi Hendrik with the locals © Tim Hain/ASC
A few places to catch incredible waves...
1. Little Andaman, Andaman Islands
You can surf in one of the most beautiful places in the world with Surfing Little Andaman. You can venture to some outer islands but the waves are big and unexplored so you’ll need to be a professional for that.
2, Varkala, Kerala
Soul & Surf run retreats and do lessons for people passing through. This school is perhaps the most popular in India and was one of the first visionaries.
3. Kovalam, Kerala
The famous beach break is near the lighthouse and can get pretty high so it’s one to be careful on. Kovalam town is a surfers chilled paradise and lots of people come here just to watch others play on the waves.
Waves in Goa are much smaller but as it’s possibly the biggest tourism destination in India, there are many surf shops and it’s a great and safe place to learn.
Vaayu Watermans Village in Ashwem. A true “clan” of like-minded people, they often do beach clean-ups and have a go green Facebook page. This is a great example of surfers taking pride in their beaches and community.
Surf Wala in Arambol is constantly taking people out on the water and takes pride in getting newbies up on their boards their first time out. Their Facebook page is an inspiration for those who want to try.
5. Diu Island
Diu has been advertising and rebranded themselves as a hotspot in India, and for good reason as this less traveled destination is worth a visit. The waves here can get pretty big so if you’re a beginner, this isn’t for you. There are no surf shops and lessons here.
While here check out Kallialay Surf School for a variety of learning packages. It’s a very reputable brand in India. If it’s your first time, take a private lesson. Pondicherry is known for being one of the best places to surf in India.
7. Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu
Mamu Surf Lessons is run by a guy who was raised in the fishing village and has now not only become a qualified instructor but a PADI dive master, qualified surf rescuer, and Rescue diver. You’re in good hands here! Like most others, his program give back to the community with Ocean Alliance Project teaching kids about proper waste disposal.
8. Minicoy, Lakshadweep Island
Like Diu, Minicoy has incredible waves but no well known companies doing surf schools and no surf shops on site. If you’ve got some skills already, this would be a great place to take some waves which have possibly never been ridden before! The waves here are considered very challenging.