INDIA ISN'T ON THE MAP FOR SURFING, YET.
In comparison to its longitudinal neighbour and better known eastern wave mecca, Sri Lanka, it's more likely to attract folks to its lush shoreline for a relaxed combination of yoga, ayurvedic treatments and blissed out sun-drenching. This little gem of a coast has so much more to offer though.
Setting my sights on Kerala, the final pull-factor for my trip was the thought that I could score daily tropical surfs, a dream since I started surfing at sixteen and first fell for Kelly.
As a Cornish maid, learning to surf on its feral Atlantic coastline meant that there was no option but to be hardy.
If you want to surf, put on some neoprene, get ready to paddle, lots, and have a thermos and a pair of Really thick socks in the car for your return. Needless to say I was more than a little excited to surf in 26+ degree water temps. My board, Sea Biscuit, was bubbled-wrapped within an inch of its life and served as a trusty travel partner despite the attention drawn and disruption caused. Totally worth every huff, puff (from me) and stare.
Varkala was my base. Soul & Surf was my home. I was working to live in a little slice of Indian paradise where the ebb and flow of locals, staff and guests formed a patchwork quilt of personalities as beautiful and delicate as those that caught my eye on every stall corner.
Rising at 5:5oam to drive up the coast or surf on our doorstep became the norm. Sleep was something I dearly longed for but often never came in the stifling heat, the thought of getting in the water to clear my head was enough to start the day, albeit blurry eyed. Fuelled by sweet bananas and chai tea the sessions were challenging, fast but always progressive and full of positive energy. Nothing can be too wrong when you're greeted by miles of white sand and palm trees as you glide ashore.
What I surfed in those seven weeks, were consistently fun waves. Whether onshore afternoon slop or glassy morning perfection, it was quiet and the company inspiring. I found my eclectic surf family in the form of locals and travellers alike; there to hoot each other into shallow close-outs and reward with high-5s.
Did it live up to my expectations? The answer was, I had none. I just went out there to have fun, improve and feel free in the warm arabian sea. Three things that you can't fail to do if you allow yourself to let go and enjoy paradise.
Those weeks passed too quickly and the full beauty of my time surfing in India has taken a while to process. Having returned to English soil and surfed again in chilly Cornish waters, rising temperatures and the promise of summer is attractive. Sadly as this comes, so the swell goes but looking forward to South West sea-bound adventures, there'll be plenty of fun surfs ahead. I just quietly hope that I'll need to buy more bubble wrap soon.