If you thought you can’t catch some serious waves in India, think again. From late September, right up till the end of May, you can try your hand at this Indian outdoor activity almost everywhere along the south and west coasts. With over 7,000kms of coastline to access, there’s a lot of surf spots to choose from. Here’s a low-down of everything you need to know about surfing in India.
What’s the surfing scene like?
With the Indian Surf Federation rallying for home-grown talent at International games, we are seeing surfing become more than just a leisure activity. Recognised schools like Mantra Surf Club – Surfing India and many more are thriving across the country. They are the go-to centres if you’re looking to get your feet wet. And if you want to turn pro, there are some rad surf festivals like the India Surf Festival at Ramchandi Puri in Odisha and Covelong Point Festival at Kovalam in Tamil Nadu, where you can test your skills.
Scoring at these festivals gives you a chance to represent the country at the Asian championships in Bali and Sri Lanka, and International-level surf championships in Hawaii and Australia. India’s first female pro surfer Ishita Malaviya and India’s Top Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) surfer Sekar Pachai are epic examples.
How do I start surfing in India and what does it cost?
You must go meet Murthy Megavan – one of India’s first surf boys. The son of a fisherman, from a young age he had dreams of riding the waves. He started off on his own in his early twenties using styrofoam boards and went on to become a pro surfer. After years of riding with international surfers, who were amazed by his skills, and teaching youngsters from his village to ace the game, he launched the Covelong Point Surf School in 2004. Taking his legacy forward, today, there are some super surf schools you can head to all along the southern coasts of India. Sessions typically cost Rs500 for one day and go up to Rs3,000 for five days; a surfboard is usually included in the fee. Other gear, such as wetsuits and accessories, is easily available at most school shops.
Here’s a list of our favourite surf destinations and the schools where you can learn the basics:
- Goa, Ashwem Beach: Vaayu Ocean Adventures and Surfwala
- Kovalam, Tamil Nadu: Covelong Point
- Auroville, Tamil Nadu: Kallialay Surf Club
- Mulki, Karnataka: Mantra Surf Club
- Udupi, Karnataka: The Shaka Surf Club
- Varkala, Kerala: Soul and Surf
- Virar, Mumbai: Mumbai Surf Club
What about fitness levels?
Surfing is all about killer core strength. The balance you need to stay on your board and ride the waves, the strength you need to climb back on your board if you are washed off – all of it comes from a strong core. While technique is something you will learn on the go, it’s a good idea to start working on those core muscles, with a 20-minute session, three days a week, of crunches and planks, a few weeks prior to your trip. It is best to consult a fitness expert before you switch up your routine.
Can I make money surfing?
Oh, yes you can. Once you have learnt the basics, you can work your way through the surf community by participating at festivals and score prizes for your moves. You could also volunteer at events so your lodging and boarding is taken care of. Another option is to work with surf schools around India – spend your days working at the beach, while you help organise surf events, manage international athletes, cater to guests or teach kiddies how to surf in shallow waters.
What’s More: Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP), SUP Yoga and the Surfing Community
Surfers love doing three things: Stand Up Paddleboarding, surfing (duh!) and eating. SUP is a more relaxing version of surfing, where you don’t ride crazy waves. Just stand on the board, find your balance and paddle till your heart’s content.
If you take to surfing, chances are you’re going to spend a lot of your time at the beach. So why not find ways to marry old loves with the new? If you enjoy a deep yoga practice, ditch the mat for a surfboard. SUP Yoga is a favourite amongst surfing yogis and a great way to challenge your core.
Surfers and schools are deeply involved with the local community. Look beyond the waves and immerse yourself in a truly outdoorsy, hyperlocal experience. Participate in beach clean-up drives, awareness campaigns and fundraisers, often organised by village locals and resident surfers.
Share your comments and feedback with us here about your favourite surfing destinations.