‘A distant sound of the ocean gently crushing the shores and the sea breeze cruising across my skin. Deeply breathing in this tranquil air, I grab my surfboard and run towards the glistening waves’ – Experiencing this should most definitely be on one’s bucket list! Surfing proves to be one of the most memorable and life-changing experiences, especially if you are one of those people who constantly thrive for bliss as well as adrenaline through extreme adventure.
The word ‘surf’ was derived from the Indian word ‘suffe’ that means the coastal outline. This word was picked up by Portuguese sailer’s within the 1600’s and ‘suffe’ before long became ‘surf’. India provides for great sea waves with its 7,500 km long coastline. Even though surfing as a sport is quite new, there are a lot of local surfers and surf enthusiasts in the country who are always eager to sway through rough and smooth, challenging and unique waves, trying out different moves and techniques. There are waves in India all year long averaging three to five feet however the season for big waves is may through Sep, the pre-monsoon and monsoon season. At this point the waves will range from eight to fifteen feet and greater — usually blown out and mussy but the conditions can be fantastic, super glassy with offshore winds that will make you feel every little movement of the surfboard in your turns.
Surfing got a boost in India in the late ’90s as tourism started flourishing and gradually a lot of surf enthusiasts came to be. They started dedicating their time and energy in making surfing an acknowledged sport in India and a few of them succeeded in accomplishing this goal and established the Surf Federation of India in 2011. We now have over 11 surf schools across the country and quite a few experienced professionals who will teach you how to read, catch and ride a wave perfectly while standing on the board till the end.
“The art of surfing waves allows me to tune in to Nature’s rhythms. The essence of my 20 years of experience is infused with freedom. A passion both solitary and generous that introduced me to sharing and adventures. – LÉA BRASSY
Course & Experience
There is no season stopping you from surfing! You can hop on a board and start surfing whenever you want to. During the rainy season, the weather turns rough with large and unpredictable waves and is not suitable for beginners. But this turns out to be a delightful challenge for the experts and highly practiced surf enthusiasts as pre-monsoon and monsoon seasons are the best time to find large waves in India, which are about 8-15 feet and sometimes bigger.
Coastal India is blessed with clear skies for the rest of the year, but December to March is the best time to surf for the beginners. You can buy or rent yourself a nice surfboard and explore the shores of India. However, learning to read the weather and adhering to safety rules is a must.
Tides play an important role in getting good waves and swells. Thus, one can expect exceptionally good breaks during new moon and full moon. That being said, the need for enormous waves to surf is a common misinterpretation and one can apply or improve their surf moves and techniques in other kinds of waves as well. Beginners are generally trained in the white waters and with practice and experience they move on to practicing this sport in larger waves.
Check out the windy application on the homepage to get current swell details and forecasts too!
Types of Waves
To get a better understanding of where to surf in India or rather anywhere in the world, one must understand the different waves required for surfing, as that is what makes a place distinctive for surfing. Identifying waves helps a person decide their suitability for a place and surfing as a sport depends on the type of break a particular spot has. Thus, it is important to identify the ideal swell and tide conditions.
They are mellow waves or swells which forms when the wave is already broken and form a ridge of foam as they rush towards the shores. This type of wave is ideally used to train beginners. The waters are plain and don’t have much depth so, are perfect to help them learn to identify and catch the right wave along with the basic techniques of surfing.
Beach Break is one of the various types of waves that one would come across while surfing in India. When waves break over a sandy bottom it leads to shifting of the sand and the shape of the seabed, this leads to a beach break. The nature of the waves depends upon the beach.
The type of wave that occurs when the waves collide with a rock bed is known as reef breaks. In this type of break, the shape of the sea bed remains the same, but the line-up changes according to the direction and size of the wave.
Caution is advisable for beginners; they should surf carefully. Bekal, Kovalam, and Puducherry have a mix of Beach and Reef breaks, perfect for beginners and experts.
Shore break is when the wave breaks directly on the shore or really close to it due to the steepness of the beach near the shoreline. They are just like beach and reef breaks but here the waves break near the shore.
When lines of a particular swell hit a stretch of land at a perpendicular or an oblique angle, breaking around and along with the land rather than towards it, is known as a point break. It basically creates longer and nicer waves and the point break lasts for a longer time compared to the reef or beach breaks. The islands of Lakshadweep have some of the most amazing point breaks to surf.
This type of wave can be perfect for beginners to learn, these waves can die down when hitting deep water and then break again or reform as a result of the varying depth of the bottom.
River Mouth Waves
These kinds of waves are quite rare and are a wonderful occurrence for any surfer. They are quite similar to point breaks. As the river deposits the sand, a well-defined sandbar is created and along that point, the waves peel off in a predictable and neat manner, this is known as the river mouth waves. North Mumbai, Kovalam, and Mangalore have such a neat formation.
Double-Up Waves are formed when two waves combine themselves, forming up a huge ultra-hollow wave which is very dangerous when they start to break. Advanced Surfers have a hard time with this kind of wave, so one shouldn’t venture on his own if he or she has just learned. Such waves are only observed in the southernmost coastal areas of India that fall in the equatorial pressure belt. Monsoon winds also tend to create such conditions.
Checkout this awsome video by Surf Rat as he explains surf breaks
Here is a list of some of the well-known surfing destinations in India which accommodates different types of waves mentioned above and surf schools, where one can learn to surf through these waves.
Covelong Point, Tamilnadu
Covelong Point is a beautiful beach in Tamilnadu with a motivating surf village. It accommodates one of the best surf schools and some of the best surfers in India. Most of the local surfers here are from the fishing community.
This beach has great waves with dependable beach breaks, reef breaks and right-hand break points. If you’re a beginner you can take surfing lessons away from the rocky ridges where the waves are high. It also hosts a surfing festival every year called the Surf, Yoga and Music festival.
Kovalam Beach, Kerala
Kerala is admired for its serene tropical atmosphere and has some of the magnificent beaches in India, one of them being the Kovalam Beach.
This 17-kilometer-long beach has breaks which are perfect for beginners wanting to learn surfing, but one can find point breaks towards the lighthouse part of the beach. It is also a great tourist destination with plenty of activities, cheap hotels and friendly locals.
Vizag, Andhra Pradesh
Vizag is the second largest city in Andhra Pradesh. It has large, outspread beaches that provide a lot of spots to surf at, five of which are the best for surfing.
Vizag has a lot of good point breaks and the waves here have great force but are not too highly risen, so it is well suited for beginners. There are some well-known beaches here, explored by many surfers because of its vast and diverse nature.
Goa is a tourist hotspot being the ideal place to spend one’s holidays at. There are many extreme sports available here along with surfing. It has several surf spots with exquisite waves and provides mellow waters perfect for beginners. North and South regions of Goa have some really good breaks for surfing throughout the summer season. However, north Goa is more suitable for surfing during the dry seasons as one can find favorable wind and Isolated beaches.
Amongst the busy metropolitan lives, one may ask, “Surfing in Mumbai? Is there even a well accommodated and clean beach that could support surfing?
Considering the popular beaches in Mumbai are known for being over-crowded and polluted this verdict is raised. But on the contrary, Mumbai does have good beaches where one can find great waves with clean and suitable waters.
Due to the two river mouths in the vicinity, the sea waters tend to be proper for surfing. River mouth breaks are created when the tides are good. And as for learning, a surf club in the north of Mumbai provides surf lessons to beginners who want to learn surfing and have a nice active weekend hobby.
Along with the popular and magnificent pilgrimage of the Jagannath temple, Puri also has beautiful blue beaches. It is a place where one can spiritually connect with nature while feeling the adrenaline rush through them as they surf.
Beaches here have wide and brow beach breaks. During the high tides, one can find tough shore breaks and strong waves, which are more challenging. Surfers come here to practice, experiment and improve their surfing skills. The waves here are isolated and one can have the pleasure of solitude while surfing, making it a wild adventure.
Little Andaman, Andaman Islands
Andaman and Nicobar Islands, amidst the Bay of Bengal, proves to be the best place for water sports. Even though these islands provide us with a great coastal scene to indulge in various extreme sports, it is very new in establishing and accommodating them due to its remoteness.
Little Andaman. is the fourth largest and also the farthest inhabited Island among the Andaman Islands. It has long swell wavelength perfect for intermediate to advanced surfers, as one can find huge waves and reef breaks. The biggest wave occurs from March to early May due to distant storms.
Other surf spots in these islands require boats to reach and a lot of surfers visit these islands for a solo surfing adventure in the untouched waters. However, Little Andaman is slowly establishing a surf community and has a surf school to provide boards and conduct lessons.
It is the home to India’s very first surf school, Mantra surf club and is also the birthplace of competitive surfing in India. It is not so crowded, and one can find gentle waves suitable for beginners throughout the year. This is definitely one of the places in south india you should consider visiting, to learn surfing from certified and experienced surf instructors.
Other surf spots in India with great surf breaks are at Puducherry, Dwarka, Mahabalipuram, Lakshadweep Islands, Kanyakumari and Rameswaram.
History and Development
The practice of riding waves started, since swimming in the ocean came to be, making body surfing the oldest type of wave catching.
According to the data collected through different research conducted and myths surrounding surfing history, this sport originated from the ancient Hawaiian and Polynesian culture. Even though the exact commence of this sport is uncertain, the art of surfing also known as he’e ‘ana (Hawaiian language) was discovered during the first recorded European visit to Hawaii by James Cook in his ship, HMS Discovery. It was recorded by Joseph Banks during the ship’s stay in Tahiti.
Surfing was a sacred and central part of the ancient Hawaiians but by the end of the 19th century, it was only occasionally practiced in Hawaii. However, surfing revived in the early 20th century as Hawaii developed as a tourist destination and soon after this sport spread in Australia and California.
Surfing gained recognition and officially became a sport in 1953 when the Waikiki Surf Club hosted the first International surfing championship in Makaha, Hawaii. The international Surfing federation was later formed in 1964 and took the responsibility of hosting world championships. Now in 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Surfing is debuting for the first time.
Techniques and Style
The primitive surfboards were inconvenient for steering and were hard to manoeuvre. They were made of solid wood and weighed 45 kg (100 pounds). They were long, wide and thick. The evolution of surfboard played a very significant role in the development of surfing. The contemporary surfboards, however, are made of polyurethane and fiberglass. The surfboard is 6-6.5 feet long, 2 inches thick and 17-19 inches narrow along with being lightweight (2.3-2.7 kg) making it easier for surfers to move freely along the waves. Today’s surfboard has precisely shaped edges and tails with three fins to have perfect control over the movements and techniques made by the surfer.
There are different techniques by which a surfer moves along and rides a wave such as:
The surfer lies on the surfboard properly balancing and positioning themselves and swims or paddles towards the oncoming wave in order to catch it. This technique is known as paddling.
It is when the surfer pops up or jumps out of the lying position in order to stand up on the board.
This is an important technique, considered to be the spine of manoeuvring in waves. Here the surfer makes a turn at the bottom of a wave and sets the stage for performing other techniques.
The surfer turns by cutting back towards the breaking part of the wave or curl using the rails of the surfboard forming a wide ‘S’ line across the wave. It helps them carve through the waves while going too fast in order to reach the power source or the steepest part of the wave.
It is the technique of diving under an oncoming wave. Here, the surfer paddles towards a breaking wave and ducks under it.
Floaters is when the surfer rides along and on top of a breaking wave. They are used to pass through a wave without losing speed (sometimes for gaining speed) and helps a surfer ride a wave longer.
It is when a surfer rides a wave with speed and flies above the face of the wave and rapidly changes the direction while coming down to the face of the wave.
It is a technique wherein the surfer turns the surfboard at a 360-degree angle while on the face of a wave.
This is a technique where the surfer enters the tube/barrel from the backside of its peak.
Competition & Festival
Surfing is one of the most popular competitive sports and the main surf competitions are organised by the ISA and World Surf League. The International Olympic Committee officially recognised and admitted International Surfing Association into the Olympics movement in 1997 and after decades of struggle, it is finally going to be a part of the 2020 summer games which will be held in Tokyo.
In India, surfing festivals happening every year since 2012, where surfers from all over India gather and showcase their skills. Lately, these festivals have gained a lot of traction among the youth. The main idea behind these festivals is to promote surfing as a sport in India and attract more people to the surfing community. Surfing competitions and festivals are held across India, throughout the year and are also gaining popularity internationally.
Covelong Surf, Music and Yoga Festival
Every year, national and international level surf competitions are organized, in collaboration with the Surfing Federation of India at the Covelong Point. This festival is about celebrating music, art and yoga along with surfing. It is an event with plenty of different activities and has a carnival like atmosphere.
The various activities conducted are mentioned below:
- Surf lessons, Surf competition, kayak & catamaran races, SUP.
- Slacklining championship, beach volleyball, ultimate frisbee, kabaddi matches.
- Music – acoustic & beach stage.
- Different disciplines of yoga, meditation, holistic healing workshops, sound therapy, masseuse specialists, alternative healers, martial artists.
- Art workshops and installations, food and flea markets, festival merch stalls.
Kovalam, Chennai, Tamil Nadu | Month: August/ September | Duration: 3 days
Indian Open of Surfing
In this festival, National Surfing and SUP Championship is organised by the Mantra Surf School. It is a three days long festival held at the Sasihithlu Beach, Mangaluru during the pre-monsoon season. This event aims at promoting surfing, SUP and other water sports in Karnataka.
The various activities conducted are mentioned below:
- National Surfing and SUP Championship
- Slacklining & Skateboarding
- Music festival
- Food festival
Sasihithlu Beach, Mangalore, Karnataka| Month: May | Duration: 3 days
India Surf Festival
It is a festival which comprises of different activities and workshops along with surfing and one can witness the finest national and international surfers riding waves. It also features other festive activities such as music and art.
The various activities conducted are mentioned below:
- Surf competition, SUP race, skimboarding
- Skateboarding, longboarding, slacklining
- Yoga, meditation
- Music & Art
Ramchandi Beach, Puri, Odisha | Month: November/ February | Duration: 3 days
There are several other festivals that started emerging following the rising popularity of the above-mentioned festivals. They are not very popular, but one interested in this sport must definitely not miss out on the following festivals:
- Summer Swell Challenge, Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu
- Surfing Federation of India Event, Vizag, Andhra Pradesh
- Spice Coast Open, Kovalam, Kerala
- Goa Surf Jam, Goa, India
For further details and to pre-book your passes, contact us!
If you follow the advice of your instructor then you probably don’t have to worry about safety, just be sensible enough to put their advice into use in any unwanted situation. Some of the tips which will help you get along and have fun practicing this sport are listed below.
Protect your head
You can’t wear a helmet while surfing, but during a fall to prevent yourself from serious injuries always protect your head. One should avoid falling headfirst and try falling onto their sides or back, to do this one must learn how to correctly position themselves on the board. Falling is inevitable when it comes to learning so it is better to do it right!
Tides play a huge role in defining the nature of the waves. Higher tides lead to strong current and unpredictable waves, this is not suitable for beginners. Thus, If you’re a beginner you should avoid doing surfing during a High Tide as waves are too rough to catch.
Don’t surf after having a meal and do light warm-up exercises before entering the water. This helps you be more active by increasing your heart rate and oxygenating your blood. Hence, it also prevents muscle cramps and fatigue while surfing.
If you get into trouble in the water, don’t panic. Raise your arm for help, float and wait for assistance. Also remember to relax before or while surfing, take deep breaths, stay calm and enjoy the experience.
Relax and go with the flow
Surfing can be difficult at first, as there are various dimensions to this sport. So, do not be hard on yourself and take time in understanding the basics. Start with sitting on the surfboard, getting yourself comfortable with balancing on the surfboard and paddling. In order to catch the waves first, you need to go against the current by paddling, the technique would definitely be explained by your instructor. Once you get a hold of it, you have climbed the first ladder towards surfing.
Surf at your skill level
A good surfer must be humble and accept that sometimes the waves are too big for them. Take on the waves which you are comfortable with. So, when a wave is too high probably above 10 feet, then rather than catching that wave you should learn to duck it. The perfect wave to catch and the one to avoid by ducking would be explained by your instructor during the briefing.
Pay attention to other surfers and people in the waters around your spot. A surfboard is a rigid object and can become a problem for you or for others if not handled with care.
Respect the environment
Don’t throw your rubbish on the spot and keep it clean. Don’t forget that you are a guest.
In the beginning, you will spend more time sitting on the surfboard rather than standing. So, for safety purposes, you should use soft-top boards for as they’re safer than the fiberglass and epoxy boards.
It is reckoned that surfing is a sport with different dimensions and takes time to adapt and learn. Hence, it is important to recognise your skill level, what kind of waves you like to surf on and where do you want to surf, while buying or renting gears and equipment for surfing.
Beginners are recommended not to buy the equipment as soon as they start surfing and simply rent them. Give it some time and learn the sport, buy the equipment when you become a regular at it. The equipment required for surfing is mentioned below.
There is a wide range of surfboards with different shapes and sizes. The main and popular surfboard shapes are shortboard, hybrid, fish, mini-Malibu, longboard and gun. One must buy a surfing board according to their skill level, location of surfing and individual budget. Beginners are recommended to rent boards which are larger and wider as it helps with paddling and catching waves.
A leash is a gear attached to the surfboard and is strapped to the surfer’s ankle while surfing. It stops the board from drifting away and prevent it from hitting other people.
A wetsuit is only essential in places with cold weather as it helps the surfer stay warm while paddling. A variety of wetsuits are available to fit different water temperatures, providing speed and smoothness while surfing.