There’s never been a better time to learn how to surf in India, with a wide variety of surfing schools having come up on both coasts.
Gone are the days that we spent ogling at screens, as a bikini-clad Pamela Anderson ran to the rescue in Baywatch, or a ripped Patrick Swayze, in Point Break, carved out a beautiful swell whilst igniting in us a deep sense of jealousy. Why couldn’t we do what they were doing in their oceans? Well, India’s shores can’t really promise the former (not yet, at least) but they’re most definitely making strides with the latter. From fishermen switching their modes of transport to students switching careers, India’s thriving surf culture is making ripples globally, with an array of surf schools springing up all along its coasts. Here’s a glimpse of a few.
Kallialay Surf School (Pondicherry)
“The surfing culture is one of live and let live”, says Juan, one half of the two brothers from France who’ve set up the Kallialay surf school by the coast of Thandryankuppam, in Puducherry. Offering various packages catering to the needs of newbies to pro surfers, the Kallialay Surf School is strictly a surfing institution, which also organizes an annual Summer Swell Challenge, with international competitors coming down for the swell to help promote the surf scene. Self-sufficiency and making sure that the surf scene stays true, rather than being taken over by the mainstream business firms is what the brothers believe and are striving to achieve. The Pondicherry waters offer the perfect conditions for beginners to start off with, and the school is home to a number of national level surfers.
Contact: 097873 06376
Shaka Surf Club, (Kodi Bengre, Udupi, Karnataka)
The Shaka Surf Club, run by Tushar and Ishita, is a perfect example of how, if you follow your dream and have the drive for it, beautiful things can happen. Both are students of Manipal University who got stoked during college and haven’t gotten off the board ever since. India’s first female surfer, Ishita has proved to be an inspiration for a number of younger girls now taking up the sport. With surf lessons for all age groups and camps by the seashore at any given chance, the duo love to explore the unexplored and are always busy doing something extra at the club. Having played a major role in educating and bringing a positive change to the lives of the local folk of Kodi Bengre with their love for the sport, you can be sure you’ll be in the hands of two very passionate surfers.
Online: https://theshakasurfclub. wordpress.com/about-us/
Contact: 099867 42710
Mantra Surf Club (Mulki, Karnataka)
This is the school that spawned all the rest. It was started by Jack Hebner, an American man who’s also called Surfing Swami. He’s been a surfer for over 40 years, and after surfing all over the world, he arrived in Mulki in 1976, where he set up an ashram. This is where the Mantra Surf Club is also located, and it’s a place where you can go to stay and hit the waves and to take lessons, if you’ve never surfed before. Jack is a Krishna devotee, so there are some rules that have to be followed here – no smoking, no drinking, no meat eating and dressing keeping local sensibilities in mind. You can also volunteer here, and it’s a great place to set foot into India’s surfing scene.
Contact: +91 966314114
Mumu Surf School (Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu)
Raised in a fishing family in Mahabalipuram, Mumu was always a child of the ocean. An environmentalist and true soul surfer, he was one of the first to get hooked onto the surf scene, way back in the early 2000’s. His school is run by a passionate and very grounded group of surfers. A PADI-certified scuba diver and an ISA class surf instructor, Mumu and his team also conduct the Ocean Alliance Project to clean up and spread awareness about the ocean.
Contact: 097898 44191
Kovalam Surf School, (Kovalam, Kerala)
The Kovalam Surf Club is what one would call ‘For the people, by the people’. It’s an institute that branches out into various entities, like the Sebastian Indian Social Projects (S.I.S.P), which aims to build a community of educated individuals within the poorer strata of society. Providing free education and using sports for recreation, the Kovalam Surf Club helped build a school and skating ramps for the youth, while running a surf school along the way. Organizing kite and windsurfing tours, the club boasts a massive following and producing a large number of surfers currently in the scene. And for those who don’t like to get wet, the club and its members have also branched out into the SISP Kovalam Skate Club and the GSI, the latter being India’s first girl skater group. Given its vibrant roster of activities and the individuals backing it, Kovalam offers lots to do and even more to take back.
Contact: 098473 47367
Lonely Surfers (Vishakapatnam)
Andy started Lonely Surfer six years ago in Rushikonda, Vishakapatnam — as the name suggests, he spent days surfing solo way back in 2007. “I was the only surfer in my state and had to travel long distances to meet up with fellow surfers,” he says. Inspiring and teaching kids who watched him by the shore, the idea of setting up a surf school branched out when he realized that sharing one board among ten others was a bit of a hassle. A sailor by profession before hitting the board, Andy’s school offers a wide range of courses in surfing, kayaking , stand up pedal (SUP) and even snorkeling, between the months of November and March.
Contact: 096420 86790
Bay of Life, Kovalam (Fisherman’s Cove ,Chennai)
Nestled within the Fisherman’s Cove in Kovalam, this ISA certified surf club boasts a set of records reflective
of the quality present at the school. Run by a passionate team of individuals from diverse walks of life,
visitors here can be sure to learn much more than to just surf. With courses in swimming, standup paddle
and even snake workshops, there’s something for everyone. And for those of you who get ‘stoked’, their
surf shop is the place to be. With surfboards and everything in between, it serves as the perfect place for
beginners in picking out their first boards.
Contact: 099404 88880