The Ultimate Guide to Surfing in India

by Surf Atlas

Surfing in India is pretty darn cool. Okay, so it ain’t Indo but this land of palm-threaded beaches and empty lineups has decent waves and fantastic conditions for complete beginners.

surfing in India

Surfing in India at a glance

We might use affiliate links in this post. Basically, you click em’ and we get a little something from your booking or purchase. They help us keep offering more and more in-depth surf guides to awesome places all around the globe. So, thanks for that!

The good:

  • Fantastic waves for beginners
  • Empty surf spots – this isn’t as popular as Indo or Sri Lanka!
  • Amazing culture and food to get stuck into after your waves

The bad:

  • Not uber consistent
  • Some pollution in the water at certain spots
  • Not a great surf infrastructure yet

This is just one part of our guide to surfing in Asia

What will I find in this guide to surfing in India

An introduction to surfing in India

India is still pretty untrodden territory in the world of surfing. Look at it on the map and you can see it’s got potential in an instant. Poking out of South Asia into the Indian Ocean, it clocks up a coastline of more than 4,600 miles. What’s more, it’s super close to some of the region’s mainstay surf meccas – especially Sri Lanka, which sits just 16 miles from the south coast of Tamil Nadu, India’s southernmost province.

However, having a long shoreline isn’t the only ticket to glory for surf destinations. You also need the geography and the swells. That’s where India falters a little. It’s mainly S-SW and SE swell directions that power up the beaches, and there are few big ocean trenches to give the same walloping walls as, say, Bali. We’d say the most defining spots in India are river mouths and sandbank breaks. They excel when things are around chest high, when mellow, cruisy waves are the name of the game. There are some gnarlier spots, but India rarely gives barrels and beasty walls to rip – it’s sort of a beginner’s mecca.

Of course, one of the most fantastic things about surfing in India is the basic fact that you’re surfing in India! Spice-infused curries and centuries-old Mughal culture makes this a place for those looking for a real adventure. Then you’ve got the wild Western Ghat mountains (often not too far from the west coast beaches) and uber-cool resorts in Goa and Karnataka. It’s cracking stuff.

Where to surf in India

As we’ve already said, there’s not an overload of surfing in India. The scene is growing but it’s still limited to just a few beaches and beach towns. We’ve listed the best of them below, but remember that this country is all about adventure – there’s still bound to be countless secret spots (we’re not gonna’ spill the beans on em’ though!) in hiding for those willing to do the legwork!

surf beaches in western india

Goa

If we had to pick the bona fide capital of surfing in India, it would have to be Goa. This small state is famed around the globe for its beaches, and for good reason – they are stunning. For waves, it’s also got a good west-facing shoreline that attracts regular 3-5f foot swells in the monsoon seasons. Beaches in the north are among the most popular for starters, and the have neat nightlife scenes too. To the south are places like Palolem, where bodyboarders take to the whitewash waves most of the time. There are also some smaller little resort towns. But there’s not much left hidden in Goa – it’s pretty developed.

We’ve got a whole guide to surfing in Goa

Gokarna

Gokarna has established itself as the hippy go-to in Karnataka state. We love the vibes. Yoga in the morning, dal breakfasts, swims in the afternoon. A few surf camps have popped up in these parts in recent years, too, despite the fickle nature of the waves. Some of them are brilliant places to stay to get a feel for India. You’ll be riding mainly open beach breaks that are prone to close outs. Generally, it’s good for beginners who love to see unspoiled coastlines. Also great seafood!

Varkala

Varkala is the premier beach resort in the region of Kerala. It’s about 47km north of the city of Thiruvananthapuram, opening onto a series of lovely, beige-sand beaches backed by lush jungles. The problem here is that the surfers who’ve passed through int he past stuck largely to the main beachfront. That’s okay, but it’s limited to beginners only. Ask in the local surf schools and you could find yourself a set of point breaks and smaller coves that pick up better SW swells.

Kovalam

This Kovalam is not to be confused with the other Kovalam on the coast of Kerala. They’re actually on opposite sides of India, but we think this Tamil Nadu town has the far superior surf. The other is a glorified tourist resort, but this small fishing town breeds some of the best surfers in the country. You’ve got a speckling of both beach breaks and reefs, with decent swells pushing up the side of the Bay of Bengal in the same direction as they do to hit south Bali. Bigger in monsoon but usually it’s pretty chilled.

When to surf in India

India is all about two seasons: Dry and wet. Most travelers aim to come in the dry season, because it’s got WAY less rain. Surfers, on the other hand, will almost certainly, be better off matching their trip with the storms.

India waves in the monsoon

Dry season (October-April)

The rains start and stop like clockwork in India, and you can usually time the end of the downpours for November time. It marks the beginning of the beach season in Karnataka and Goa, but also the most popular time of year to visit. The best bet for bigger waves will be towards the end or the start, officially the shoulder seasons. Otherwise it’s possible to go days and days with lapping waters from Mumbai all the way around to Calcutta.

Monsoon (May-September)

It’s normal for the waves to level out at a steady 5-10 foot in this season. It’s not always pretty, though. Remember that the monsoon season is the storm season. There are choppy, windy days just as much as rideable ones. There’s certainly fun to be had for more advanced surfers, especially on the popular breaks of north Goa. Shortboards or longboards are doable, but don’t come expecting anything too cruisy.

The best surf camps in India

Surfing in India is starting to take off. In fact, we think we’re spotting a new surf camp almost every year in hotspots like Gokarna and Goa. So, here are just a few of the ones worth considering if you’re looking to explore the subcontinent via its waves…

Goofy Foot Surf Shack

Surf-hotel-top-pick

Goofy Foot Surf Shack is one of the original Varkala surf camps and it ticks pretty much all the boxes of why we love surfing in India. It’s chilled. The buildings are super colourful. There are hangout spaces where you can relax with other surfers. Oh, and the waves are close –

Pagan’s Surf Hostel

Best for: Trying something new

A relative newcomer on the surf scene in Varkala, Pagan’s Surf Hostel looks pretty darn awesome if you ask us. It’s got affordable bunk accommodation with privacy curtains, along with a fine location only a stone’s throw back from the main beach breaks here.

Mitra Hostel

Best for: Experiencing Goa

With its neon-lit live-music stage and open meditation garden, this cool and off-beat hostel is everything you’d expect of Goa. Don’t come expecting the Ritz. Do come expecting something a little different, close to the waves of Arambol Beach.

What to do when you aren’t surfing in India

Surfing in India is going to be fun. But don’t just say that because of the hippy beach villages and the cool beginner waves. We say it because there are also wild mountains, world-famous landmarks, and loads more to get through…

Udaipur, India

Hike in the Western Ghats

We did this back in 2013 and wow! This ancient mountain range strings the whole way up the west coast of the country. That means they should be pretty easy to get to if you’re coming straight off the surf beaches of Goa or Karnataka. We’d also say the best peaks are around Munnar, which you get to via Kochi. They have fascinating tea fields, waterfalls, and even wild elephants!

Udaipur

One of the undisputed highlights of any trip to India is the Golden Triangle area of the north. Just outside of that is the uber-charming town of Udaipur. We wouldn’t miss it for the world. The sunsets over the City Palace and the shimmering lakes are something totally special. In addition, it’s got some seriously romantic hotels – surf honeymoon anyone?

The Himalayas

We know that surfers are often adrenaline junkies, which is why the soaring Himalaya can’t be ignored. This mountain range runs all the way across the northern top of India. The foothills are good for seeing tea villages and old hill stations dating from the Raj. However, for real adventures, go as far as Leh and Ladakh, which is a trekker’s mecca.


If you’d like to add or correct any spots on this ultimate guide to surfing in India, be sure to get in touch. In addition, if you’ve got any questions about hitting the waves of the subcontinent, be sure to drop your thoughts in the comments below!

We might use affiliate links in this post. Basically, you click em’ and we get a little something from your booking or purchase. They help us keep offering more and more in-depth surf guides to awesome places all around the globe. So, thanks for that!

This is just one part of our larger guide to surfing in Asia