India’s original discovery, the Andamans burst onto the scene via Jack Johnson and Chris Malloy’s video opus Thicker Than Water, which featured the first known surf trip into the area after decades of government restrictions were finally lifted. Most of the Andaman Islands still require a yacht for easy access, but Little Andaman has a fledgling land-based surf scene and makes for a convenient little side trip, as well as a well-needed reprieve from the chaos of mainland India.
The Surf: The Andamans are tropical islands in the Bay of Bengal, and most waves break over shallow, sharp reef. With both high performance and barreling waves, this region is suitable for intermediate to advanced surfers.
Five Waves Worth Surfing:
- Kumari Point: The original Andaman discovery, Kumari Point is a long, fast righthand barrel over reef in an isolated location on Little Andaman. Check out the boat trip segment of Thicker Than Water to get your froth factor up.
- Muddys: A long, rippable, punchy lefthand reef break first surfed by the Thicker Than Water crew in 1998.
- Jarawa Point: Another wave pioneered by the Thicker Than Water crew, Jarawa Point is a rippable lefthander with limited land access on Little Andaman.
- Jackson Creek: Another lefthand reef break on Little Andaman.
- Explore: The Andaman and Nicobar islands are still largely protected by the Indian government, and for the most part unexplored. With a charter boat and a bit of patience, one could discover all kinds of waves in this area.
The Water: Whereas mainland India has some of the worst water quality in existence, the Andamans are extremely isolated and undeveloped, and enjoy the crystalline water that has come to be expected in a tropical island paradise. Water temps hover in the low 80s F (upper 20s C) year round.
The Season: South swells start to pump around March, but the monsoon brings constant onshore winds near the end of May, which means you only have a two- to three-month window for quality waves in the Andamans.
The Vibe: A few surfers make their way to Little Andaman each year, and there are rumors of a surf camp in the area, but crowds are never a factor. On any of the other islands, you’ll be the only surfer.
Things To Do: Not much to do in the Andamans besides surf, dive and fish. But mainland India is a short plane ride away from Port Blair and contains one of the world’s most vibrant cultures. India is a must-see for any hardcore traveler, so plan your cultural excursions for the mainland and your surfing for the islands.
Where To Stay: Check out the Little Andaman surf camp, which may or may not be open for business at any given time. Hut Bay on Little Andaman has sparse accommodations available. For any of the other islands, you’ll need to charter a yacht.
What To Bring: A shortboard and a step-up. Any surf accessories you can imagine needing, as there is nothing available in India. An open itinerary—India has a lot to offer and can’t be seen in a week. Sun and reef protection. Antibiotics with antiparasitics for GI tract infections. A copy of Thicker Than Water, one of the best surf films ever made and the only one to feature Andaman waves.
Getting There: Chennai and Calcutta are your best options for entry into India, as both have weekly flights into Port Blair. You can also take a boat from either of these cities, but this involves a multi-day ride and conditions are said to be horrendous. Once in Port Blair, you will need to arrange transport to Little Andaman. If you hope to explore the lesser-known islands, your best bet is to charter a yacht in Thailand and make the crossing from that side. Indian visas must be arranged ahead of time. Airport codes: MAA (Chennai), CCU (Calcutta) and IXZ (Port Blair).