Best places to go surfing in India

Now’s the right time for that long-due surfing holiday
Image courtesy: ©Pete Seaward/Lonely Planet

The surfing scene in India is slowly picking up, enough so that the Surfing Federation of India, recognised by the International Surfing Association, has been talking to the governments of coastal states (like Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu) to transform their beaches into international surfing destinations. And, hold on to your seats, they have got cricketer Jonty Rhodes as the surfing ambassador of India. This sport seems to be taking off in a big way.

Now’s the right time for that long-due surfing holiday. And here’s where you should head to spend days filled with the surf, sun and sand.

India Surf Festival, Odisha

Odisha is fast turning into a hub for surfing thanks to this annual three-day festival and competition event. The fourth edition held last year had over 2,000 visitors and 60 surfers from India and abroad. Visitors could either take part in the relaxing yoga on water sessions or the solar clay therapy sessions. There was also surfing and kite boarding sessions and workshops on Stand-Up Paddling (SUP) from UK-based SUP outfit Active 360, to choose from.

Exhibits by artists, live music, jugglers, fire dancers, hair braiding, tattooing and clothing stalls added to the buzz. Last year’s theme was ‘Girl Power’ and a workshop with women surfers from Portugal kicked off the event. The paddling workshops were followed by an SUP Championship trials and a finale race the next day. India is the third country in the world to host the game after the UK and Australia.

Mahabs Surf Classic, Mahabalipuram

Partnering with Temple Surfboards, Mumu Surf School, Holystoked (a skateboarding collective from Bengaluru) and the village community of Mahabalipuram, the two-day competition at this heritage town includes surfing, skateboarding, catamaran racing, biathlons and live entertainment by local rock bands.

Covelong Point, near Chennai

The Covelong Point Classic Surf Contest and Music Festival takes place in September at the Covelong Point Social Surf School. Line up for water gun fights, beach volleyball tournaments, kayak races and rangoli.

Spice Coast Open, Kovalam, Kerala

Enjoy surfing in the calm waves of the Arabian Sea in Kovalam in November. Organised by the Surf Federation of India (SFI), the festival featured some great surf and stand up paddle action.


(Meet Ishita Malaviya, India’s first pro surfer girl)

(8 new skills you can learn while travelling)


Summer Swell Challenge, Pondicherry

The Kallialay Surf School’s Summer Swell Challenge started in 2012 with art and music elements. Holystoked Collective from Bengaluru built a ramp for skateboarding. Behind it are brothers Juan and Samai Reboul. Check them out here.

India Surf Pro, Vizag

This three-day surfing event also has a photography contest, and sports competitions like longboarding. The competition is being held in collaboration with Surfing Yogis from Odisha and Mumbai’s Longboard Crew India. GoPro, the US-based camera manufacturing company, will be supporting the event.

Goa Surf Jam, Goa

This is a one-day affair on Arambol beach. The event includes surf lessons, soft-board expression sessions, slacklining, indo-board and longboard workshops. Keep tabs on dates here.


AUTHOR'S BIO: Anuradha Sengupta is a freelance writer and founder-editor of Jalebi Ink, an award-winning media collective for children and youth. A compulsive city-walker, she loves exploring urban cultures and is a columnist for NY-based Karta, a collaborative urban mapping project. Her most memorable adventure was in Afghanistan as digital media advisor, setting up citizens' media centres.