Good Friday weekend was coming up, and my university friend Anirudh & I decided to go on a surfing trip for four days.
Mantra Surf Club, which is located quite close to our alma mater NIT Surathkal, became our first choice for surfing. Such an irony, that we lived so close to Mantra Surf Club during the four years of our college and never went there, and had to make a trip all the way from Bangalore after we graduated.
- The weather’s extremely hot from March to May, making it difficult to go on a trek. Hence surfing is a good holiday plan.
- It’s quite cheap to take a few beginner lessons in India, and then try out surfing in the beaches of Thailand, Bali etc. Indian shores are relatively calmer and ideal for beginners.
- To cross an item on your bucket list :- When you do something that scares you, you’ll always come back with stories worth telling.
When is the best time to go for surfing?
October to May.
During the monsoon, the waves are quite strong, making it difficult for beginners to learn.
Towards the end of May, there are some surfing competitions held for professionals, and most surf schools don’t have any lessons at that time. So it’s ideal to plan your trip before mid-May.
Where can you learn surfing in South India?
Karnataka has three surf schools. One each in Mangalore, Udupi and Gokarna. Mantra Surf Club was the first surf school in India.
We chose Mantra Surf Club since it is situated at a 15 minute distance from NIT Surathkal campus. Shamanth & Kiran are the best instructors here, and you should opt to learn from them.
Where to stay?
All the surf schools have accommodation facilities, and there are low cost options outside too.
– If you’re going to Mantra surf club, then there are a few good hotels in Mukka and Surathkal. An AC room would cost around INR 1500 per night. However, the surf schools have some adventure activities in the evening, and I’d recommend you to stay there if you’re travelling solo or in a small group.
We wanted to meet our college folks and chose to not stay in the surf ashram.
– For Shaka surf club, hotels close to Manipal would be ideal.
– Varkala, Goa & Kovallam are touristy places and there are a lot of options for stay. Vedanta Wakeup is a budget backpacker hostel in Varkala, & there’s Zostel in Gokarna
What to carry?
– Carry a full sleeved polyester t-shirt like this one.
– Board shorts, Swimming goggles & Sunscreen
The surf schools will provide all the surfing equipment, and its rent is included in the session price.
Do I need an instructor? How many lessons should I take before jumping into the water?
- Hire an instructor for atleast 3-4 days to get a hang of the sport. An instructor would be able to correct your techniques and teach you how to catch the wave.
- At Mantra Surf Club, each day’s session goes on for 3 hours. At the end of your third day, you’ll be good enough to stand on the board atleast for a few seconds, and surf all the way to the shore. After that it’s all about practice.
- Since three days is a very small duration, watch a few theory videos on youtube before you go for your first lesson, so that you can quickly grasp everything that the instructor teaches you.
I’ve found a pretty good youtube video that explains how to paddle and pop-up.
Here’s a video of me & Anirudh learning to pop-up, before we went into the water.
Check out the video of these 10 year old kids surfing at Mantra Surf Club. Looking at these kids surf so well should inspire you to make your first surfing trip.
Do I need to know how to swim?
Not at all.
As a beginner, the water will only be at waist height, so it isn’t necessary to know how to swim. Knowing how to swim becomes critical, only if you’re going deep into the sea.
How deep is the water? Is it risky? Will I drown?
You’ll be in the seas, but only upto waist height. We had to carry our surf boards into the sea and then ride along the wave back to the shore.
The surfboard always floats in the water, and since the waves always push you towards the shore, there isn’t any real risk of drowning.
A few waves are quite high (>7ft), and might topple your board and throw you in the water. But that’s the fun in any adventure sport. Isn’t it?
- The long surf board is your best friend. I first used a shorter one, and found it hard to pop-up. With the longer board, the difference was evident – it became a lot easier to stand.
- Beginners are usually given softer boards, which is made from soft foam, since it doesn’t hurt much if the board accidentally hits your head or face.
- A little bit of fitness helps, since paddling requires sturdy arms.
* * * * * * * * *
Well that’s all with the ‘beginner gyan’.
Learning to surf requires patience. It’s okay if you miss catching a wave or lose balance whenever you try to pop-up. It’s okay if a strong wave topples your board or pushes you to the shore.
Because the best surfing holiday isn’t about catching the most number of waves – It’s about having the most fun.
What more questions do you have? Comment on this post, and I’ll answer them 🙂