Keen to get to the beach with your surfboard ? This guide has everything you need to know before you hit the waves in India.
Have you ever stared enviously at surfers riding the ocean swells and imagined yourself doing the same? If the answer is yes we have some good news for you!
This sport is not very difficult to learn and thanks to its vast coastline, India has plenty of surf destinations to choose from.
So if surfing is your thing, here’s everything you need to know before you hit the waves. From the best surfing schools and spots in the country to incredibly fun surf festivals, here’s where you need to go:
Surf Towns in India
A great surf town has consistent waves, friendly locals, and plenty of fun activities should you be in the mood to take a break from the ocean. With warm water waves rolling into gorgeous tropical beaches all year round, India has several destinations for surfing. The western coast is great for beginners to get acquainted with a surfboard, whereas the eastern shores have stronger currents and harder wave break points.
Some well-known wave-riding spots are Maravanthe, Gokarna and Manipal in Karnataka; Kovalam, Alwars and Varkala in Kerala; Mahabalipuram and Covelong in Tamil Nadu; Ramchandi Beach in Odisha, and Pondicherry.
Seasons for Surfing
Surf-worthy waves hit Indian shores all year round, averaging between 3 to 5 feet, but the season for big waves is from May to September. This is the pre-monsoon and monsoon season. At this time, the swells range from 8 to 15 feet, with the biggest waves rolling in almost always on the west coast.
Though there is a chance of storms and rain accompanying the swells, surfers often find the best breakers during these months.
From October to April, the waters become gentler and the waves get back to normal. Occasionally, bigger swells are created on both the coasts by small storm systems. This is the small swell season (also the peak tourist season) and it is the best time for beginners learning to surf.
What you Need to Know Before Joining a Surf Camp
Knowing how to swim is essential before you start learning to surf. This will help you feel comfortable while riding waves or when you are under water. While you don’t need to be an expert to learn surfing, you should be honest about the extent of your swimming skills with your instructors so they can give you the attention you need while you in the water.
Since the sport is not very well organized in India as yet with rules and regulations in place, talk to the surfing instructors before booking a spot to understand how they operate – make sure they are qualified in surf instructing as well as in surf-rescue courses. Interestingly, in India, some of the best surfing instructors come from the fishing community.
Group surf lessons in India generally cost around ₹1500 to ₹2500 per session on an average and include equipment and instruction. Other than teaching surfing, a basic introductory course should also include familiarization with the surf board, information about the surfing spot you are in, and basic surfing geography such as currents, sand bars and waves.
Tip: Surfing can be very tiring so don’t try to do everything during your first lesson. Instead, take time to understand how to balance on the board and learn how to paddle.
If you are an absolute beginner, your best bet is to borrow your gear from friends who surf or hire it from your surf camp. There are two reasons for this – the first being that the best board for a beginner is not small and sleek but a big one that ensures you catch the waves easily. A big board also ensures that you won’t get hurt during the initial days when you will likely fall of the board a lot while practising surfing. The best beginner-level surf board is the hefty Mini Mal that measures about seven to eight feet.
The second reason for not investing in surfing gear right away is that wetsuits and surf boards are a really expensive buy in India. So figure out if you really like surfing before buying a professional surf board. If you are sure, then think about the kinds of waves you like and where you prefer surfing before buying a board that suits your needs and skills.
In 2013, Mahabalipuram-based Australian surfer Dave Hearns decided to remedy this problem by setting up a surf board shaping workshop, Temple Surfboards. Under his tutelage, a local fisherman and surfer, Santosh Moorthy, became one of India’s first surf board shapers. Recently, a second surf board shaping workshop was set up in Pondicherry by Samai Reboul of Kallialay Surf School.
With interest in India’s untouched beaches steadily increasing, surf camps are flourishing in the country. With their beautiful locations, free-spirited vibe and brawny offshore waves, these Indian surf camps are becoming a preferred travel destination for beginners, intermediate and pro surfers in the country. Other than accommodation and training, many of these surf schools also offer yoga and beach barbeques.
• Kovalam Surf Club, Kovalam
• Soul & Surf, Varkala
• Shaka Surf Club, Kodi Bengre
• Cocopelli Surf School, Gokarna
• Mantra Surf Club, Mulki
In Andhra Pradesh
• Lonely Surfers, Vizag
In Tamil Nadu
• Covelong Point and Bay of Life, Covelong
• Mumu Surf School, Mahabalipuram
• Kallialay Surf School, Auroville
• Surf Wala, Goa
• Vaayu, Goa
In India, surf festivals are organised throughout the year. These festivals have catapulted India into the select list of the best surf tourism destinations in the world.
Held on scenic stretches of the Indian coastline, these festivals are not just about surfing but also about art, music and films.
You will see some very competitive action from surfers from India and abroad here. Offshore, the festivals have a charged electric atmosphere with international musicians, artists and photographers joining in.
Exciting workshops on kite-surfing, stand-up paddling (SUP), yoga on water, and long-boarding also take place here.
Here is a list of seven surf festivals in India that celebrate this fun sport. They are also the perfect place to be introduced to the surfing lifestyle!
• India Surf Festival, Puri
• Surfing Federation of India Event, Vizag
• Covelong Point Surf Contest, Covelong
• International Surfing Championship, Covelong
• Summer Swell Challenge, Pondicherry
• Spice Coast Open, Kovalam
• Indian Open of Surfing, Mangalore
Shaka Surf Club and Mosambi Juice Production have recently made India’s first surf film, A Rising Tide. It features all the people who’ve contributed towards building the surfing scene in India. Watch this interesting short film here.