In this quick guide you'll learn about surf in India.
INTERSTING FACT: The word SURF originates from India.
The word ‘surf’ came into use in 1685. The word ‘surf’ was derived from the Indian word ‘suffe’ meaning the coastline. This word was further used by Portuguese sailors in the 1600s. Which resulted in ‘suffe’ becoming ‘surf’.
Literally, surfing came form India. However, India is one of the last areas of the world to have an establish surfing culture. While still in it's infancy India is producing some interesting surf projects.
Surf in India is starting to get on the radar.
In fact, the neighboring Sri Lanka has been a long established surf mecca for years.
Watch these films to get a better idea about surf in India
A Rising Tide
A Rising Tide is one of the first short films about surf in India. Produced by Shaka Surf Club and Mosambi Juice Production in 2013. The film showcases everyone who is currently trying to build a name for surf in Inida.
Mother India, Father Surf
The 52 minute non-profit documentary by French filmmaker Kévin Perrée was about travelling 2600 kms across India to discover different surfing spots.
Beyond The Surface
Ishita Malaviya, India's first female surfer, along with a bunch of foreign surfer girls travel southern India documenting the ways in which surfing, yoga, and ecological creativity are bringing hope and fueling change for local people and the planet.
Covelong Point, the first surfing village in India, and the story of Murthy, a fisherman who inspired change within the village via surfing after the 2004 tsunami disaster.
Surfing Possibility: Surfer Girls of India.
Women in Polynesia were the first surfers EVER. Brown Girl Surf, the project which produced this video, is named in honor of them. This film showcases insights behind the challenges Indian girls have to deal with in order to pursue surfing.
Spots to surf in India
India has 7,000 kilometers (4,349 miles) of coastline. While most of it hasn't been scouted out for surfing, much exposure to the Arabian Sea, the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal and with nothing off the southern tip of India to block the any swells
May – September: All year round, there are 3 to 5 foot waves. But May through September, waves can reach 8 foot. During monsoon season waves can reach 8 to 15 feet or more.
October through December the big swells decline and it gets back to normal (3 to 5 feet). From January through April, there are sometimes bigger swells both on the east and west coasts created by small storm systems and somedays we will get waves up to 6 and 7 feet, depending.
The biggest swells of the year are almost always on the west coast from Dwaraka in the northwest to Kanya Kumari on the southern tip. June of 2007 saw outside breaks up to 20 feet at our home break and at the Mangaluru Jetty which breaks one kilometer out to sea.
Surf in India can create some big waves during the monsoon season.
Shivas is a popular Hindu holy place situated on a small peninsula jutting out into the Arabian Sea at Murdeshwara. As with all of South India the place is intensely tropical with thousands of coconut, mango, and banana trees growing along the beach.
On the peninsula is a huge statue of Shiva. Everything that happens at Murdeshwara happens under the watchful eye of Shiva, the master of meditation.
On either side of the peninsula, there are large sheltered bays that make for ideal surfing conditions even during onshore NW or SW winds. This place breaks from one foot to 10 feet depending on the time of year. Murdeshwaraha’s great hotels and several vegetarian restaurants, one of which is built on pilings raising out of the ocean. This also makes for a great place from which to do some surf photography on big days.
Kapu Beach Lighthouse
Kapu Beach Lighthouse is a great spot that breaks best at low tide with four feet and bigger swell. The stretch of beach runs for about one kilometer and there are several places where nice shaped peaks with lefts and rights swell up.
“At the north end of the beach is the Kapu lighthouse perched on a huge granite boulder. On the south side of the rocks is a right-hander that is a short but fast ride. Watch out for the rocks underwater.
Ten Thousand Peaks
Ten Thousand Peaks is one of the most unique surf spots on the west coast. Located in South India at Maravanthe.
The beach stretches for about six kilometers creating all sorts of wave possibilities. There is a two-lane highway that runs parallel to the ocean. Within 15 meters of the water’s edge and on the opposite side of the highway is a big freshwater lake. In the lake are several islands with villages on them and there is an ancient 2,000-year-old temple of the Sri Narasimha avatar, the incarnation who destroys evil and protects children.
Cliffs is a couple of hours drive north from our home break to Bhatkal. Wow, this place is paradise! Four consecutive coves, white sand beached, isolated area, cliffs, no sharks, no people, and lots of opportunities — rights, lefts, inside, outside and it is all yours. All you have to do is get there! No maps to guide you so call us first.
Kanyakumari is the southernmost tip of India. Known for the wind which caused the waves to become blown out. When there is an offshore wind you can expect nice waves. Probably a better place for windsurfing than anything else.
Alwars is potentially the best surfing spot in India southeast coast at Manapad Point. Not the easiest place to find. The point is beautifully formed by millions of years old lava flow that extends into the water. When the rights are working you can expect up to a 400-meter ride. When it is on, there might be a few surfers appear from Kovalam or the west coast, but only a few.
Rameswaram is better for wind surfers and kite surfers because there is so much wind here.
The surf is usually not that good in this area, known for an unforgiving shore break. The water is as good as it gets on mainland India, clear and clean. There are plenty of offshore islands that have yet to be explored for surf. Maybe you will be the first to do it.
Mahabalipuram (Shore Temple)
Shore Temple is well known on the India surf tour for some great hollow rights located at Mahabalipuram.
In Tamil Nadu is an exposed beach break that has fairly consistent surf. Offshore winds are from the west northwest. The best swell direction is from the east southeast. The beach break provides left and right handers. An uncrowded break, even when it is working.
Tiruchendur is a temple town and has some good little waves breaking over a rock shelf just 200 yards south of the temple.
Pilgrims gather at the beach near the temple to have a dip in the ocean and to them, this is a spiritual experience, a cleansing of the soul. An exposed beach and reef break that has quite reliable surf. Autumn and winter are the favoured times of year for waves. Offshore winds blow from the northwest. Waves just as likely from local windswells as from distant groundswells and the ideal swell direction is from the south. The beach breaks offer lefts and rights and in addition there are both left and right reef breaks. Good surf at all stages of the tide. An uncrowded break, even when it is working. Watch out for dangerous rips.
Varkala is not far to the north from Kovalam Beach. Located in the state of Kerala, this surf spot is an exposed beach break that only works every now and then. Offshore winds blow from the east northeast. Windswells and groundswells in equal measure and the ideal swell direction is from the southwest. Waves at the beach are both lefts and rights. Good surf at all stages of the tide. An uncrowded break, even when it is working. Take care of – Rips / undertow – Pollution.
Mahe is a place in Kerala that sees consistency and size improve plus the appearance of more piers and jetties which may provide stormy surf protection around Mahe from Thalassery to the big rivermouth at Talakkolattur.
Not very popular because it's so hard to get to. The Krishna River enters the Bay of Bengal and divides itself into many streams. The area is marshy and difficult to access but has many good waves in store for those who are determined to get there.
Located in Andhra Pradesh, it's an exposed river break that has consistent surf. Ideal winds are from the north. Tends to receive a mix of groundswells and windswells and the ideal swell angle is from the southeast. The river breaks offer lefts and rights. Good surf at all stages of the tide. A remote wave spot that never gets crowded.
Krishna River is 35 km (22 miles) from Repalle. If you plan a holiday in Andhra Pradesh, look for hotels and other accommodation in Repalle. Repalle has rooms for a wide range of budgets as well as car hire and transport links.
Big Rock [south of Chennai] is located off the point at Fisherman’s Cove. The point itself is the most consistent break in that area but when the wave height is there and the tide just right then a submerged rock shelf in the cove produces a one really awesome left barrel.
The ride isn’t long but hang on for dear life because this wave gets as hollow as they come.
Auroville, located near Pondicherry, is a very unique place. With a mix of Indian and French. This surf spot is your typical beach break with a river mouth. Which sometimes works just south of the town. The swell is usually blocked by Sri Lanka but the place occasionally does get a few good waves.
There are surfers in Pondicherry. If you go to Auroville the locals will point you in the right direction for some waves.
Vizag (Visakapatanam) – If you are traveling or staying on the east coast of India then you should definitely check out Vizag — a place with big beaches, good hotels, a commercial harbor and some really nice point breaks with good surf— about five in number.
This surf spot was explored a couple of years ago by Anthony Yep Colas [publisher of the popular book “World Storm Rider” and an operator of Surf Tours in the Maldives] along with his friend and accomplished photographer John Callahan. Anthony says they got “epic waves” at Vizag and he has some photos to prove it [see the next edition of “World Storm Rider”]. So this spot is certainly worth a visit.
Dwarka is the quintessential experience of the Arabian Sea. At Dwarka, you will find some of the clearest water along the India coastline. The town is very ancient and is said to have existed for the past 5,000 years. Parts of the old city are now submerged below sea level and can be seen while scuba diving.
Famous for its temple of Sri Krishna, Dwarka receives several million pilgrims each year. Just north of the temple is a small point break that produces a nice left-hander when the swell is strong from the south. Unique to Dwarka alone, hundreds of pilgrims wander the beaches every day looking for gold nuggets — and they find them! I guess that’s one way to finance your next surf trip!
Jagannatha Puri: The beach at Puri is known for the massive amounts of pilgrims who gather everyday who have come to see the temple of Jagannatha. Jagannatha is the tallest temple in India and is several thousand years old. Puri is a beach break that stretches for as far as the eye can see with some nice outside peaks. The currents can be a challenge here.
Gokarna is beautifully situated with a foreground of coconut trees and a backdrop of the Sahyadri Mountains. If you love Goa you'll love Gokarna. Waves can get good here throughout the year. Avoid the shore break during low tide.
Only at the end of May or the beginning of June will you be able to find any surfable waves. Which can get at that times between 5 feet and 10 feet or higher.
The Andaman Island Archipelago
The Andaman Island Archipelago is engulfed by the crystal clear waters of the Indian Ocean and although far from the mainland is owned and governed by India. The outer Islands of the Andaman Archipelago are the real find for true explorers. Most surf spots in Andaman Islands are reef breaks. However most of those waves are perfect for beginners thanks to the forgiving reefs.