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Nine Surf Trips You May not Have Considered, Part 1

1) India: Not often considered for surf trips, India actually has thousands of miles of coastline facing into two distinct swell windows. Coastal access and pollution are problems, but empty lineups and one of the world’s most vibrant cultures make India worthy of a second look. Fly into Chennai and head straight to the Shore Temple righthander in Mahabalipuram to ease yourself into the culture, then head south to the French town of Pondicherry with it’s numerous jetties. Or, for a better shot at swell and a chance to discover new waves, head north to the less-explored coasts of Andhra Pradesh. If the perpetual chaos and foreign smells, sounds and tastes get to be a bit much for you, consider a quick side trip to Sri Lanka or the Andaman Islands, or north to Nepal for some trekking. Then, once you have recharged your batteries, return to the Indian mainland and check out the waves in Kerala and Goa on the west coast! (Bonus Tip: Many people are a bit put off by the noise, filth, and crowds of India, but find once they have left find that they miss the country and it’s amazing culture deeply. If at first India is a bit much for you, give it a chance—odds are, you’ll fall in love with the country as well.)

2) Malaysia: Although many of the countries in South East Asia are technically surfable, Malaysia actually has excellent setups and a fledgling surf scene, making it the de facto center of South East Asian surfing. Cherating is the hub, housing the country’s first surf shop, its only shaper, and a long lefthand sand-bottom point that can peel for over a kilometer. A number of other sand-bottom points can be found further north, including two excellent righthanders that are slightly more exposed to the wind. There are also a number of river mouths that have not yet been properly charted, as well as hundreds of miles of beach break and half a dozen islands just off the coast that have a wide range of reef-bottom setups. Swell on the east coast comes from storms in the South China Sea during monsoon season, which stretches from November through March. The West coast is less known, but gets pretty consistent swell starting in April, and is definitely worth a visit if you dig exploration. Sunway Lagoon waterpark in Kuala Lumpur also has a “surfable” wave pool, but it’s pretty gutless. (Bonus Tip: Although most of the locals ride shortboards, Malaysia’s points are actually epic longboarding waves, so consider taking some sort of alternative water craft.)

3) Alaska: The Last Frontier is as rugged as its nickname suggests, and in reality is one of the most difficult places on earth to score waves. But that is the whole point, isn’t it? Epic backdrops of unbelievable beauty frame a diversity of lineups still being discovered, and the ocean glows an eerie glacial blue while teeming with various forms of exotic sea life. With so much to look at, scoring waves is almost secondary—but there are waves to be had, as long as you are flexible, mobile, and willing to sacrifice quality for a lineup that is guaranteed to be empty. Start your trip in Anchorage and time your arrival with a full or new moon so that you can surf the bore tide at Turnagain Arm. Then head to Homer and hook up with the crew at Ocean Swell Ventures, who run tours in the MV Milo, a refurbished 55-foot fishing trawler they have turned into the ultimate Alaskan surf vessel. Mike and Scott are two of the most surf-stoked people in existence, and are always keen to explore new stretches of coastline. (Bonus Tip: Most people think that the water in Alaska is cold to the extreme, but a late summer/early autumn trip is actually relatively temperate, with average water temps hovering right around 50F [10C].)

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