The 7000 km coastline in India is still being explored by surfers, but with a little time and dedication it’s easy to find the best surf spots.
Kovalam, a point break (waves hit a point of land or rocks jutting out from the coastline) surf spot is probably India’s most well known surfing destination. “There are no monster waves here as in Australia and Hawaii, and is an ideal place for beginners,” says Tamil Nadu based Madhumathi Ravi of Bay of Life Surf School. Near Kovalam Beach, is Varkala, a beach break (waves break on a sandy seabed) surf spot. Apart from surfing, there is also the ancient temple of Sri Janardhana (Vishnu) just off the beach as well as several ashrams
Coconut trees and a backdrop of rocky mountains, inexpensive hotels and camping; Gokarna, is a haven for back packers and surf wanderers. Good waves form several times a year, at the Gokarna Main Beach (near the Mahabaleshwar Temple).
When the waves are six and eight feet at Jagannatha Puri, a beach break, getting through the strong currents is a challenge. The tallest temple in India, Jagannatha, is more than a thousand years old and is another attraction besides the surf. Sanjay Samantaray, founder of Surfing Yogis, recommends Paradip Port for experienced surfers as it has the longest swell and you can cover 1 km in one catch.
At Manapad Point, you can expect upto a 400 meter ride, when the waves are at their best. This lava reef isn’t easy to find and surfing here shouldn’t be tried by amateurs. “Surfing in the monsoons, at Manapad Point is good fun,” says Gaura Nataraj from Mantra Surf Club.
The swell is always good in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerela, but only seasonally in Goa. It’s best for beginners to start in Karnataka and progress to more challenging waves in the South. Kerala is a good location for point break surfing, while the Andamans and Lakshwadeep islands are excellent reef breaks. It’s safest to learn on a beach break because if you fall, you will hit the sand and not hard rock or sharp coral.
There are many secluded spots, but these take time to explore with no guarantee that the right wave will hit. “It’s like spotting a tiger in a jungle,” says Madhumathi. But for Tushar Pathiyan of The Shaka Surf Club, Karnataka, “The fun is in exploring remote spots and hitting the waves with the perfect conditions in place.”
Surfing has caught on with people from Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore, apart from the local, express most surf schools.
Surfing is popular in the US, Australia and several countries, but the shores of India are still relatively unexplored as Indians rarely swim in the ocean. “Surfers across the globe travel to India to explore our beaches, to learn about the Indian surf culture and to exchange ideas. Surf Tourism is now growing,” informs Kishore Kumar from Mantra Surf Club.
Know The surf spot— its currents, whether there are rocks or not and how to enter and exit.
Ideal Conditions: Offshore winds, shifting from high to low tide and a good swell, all at the same time in a day.
Best time: May-June and September-October (West coast), June-August and December (East coast). Anytime as long as you get a good swell, except in the monsoons when the water is choppy.
Precautions: Surf in a group. Always ensure that someone who knows that you’re in the water, is around. If the surfboard hits your head, you may pass out in the water. You may need to be rescued.
Know your capabilities and gradually progress to more challenging waves.
Inputs on surfing from Tushar Pathiyan, Gaura Nataraj, Madhumathi Ravi, Sanjay Samantaray, Showkath Jamal and Kishore Kumar.