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Kustom

Stormrider Guide to surfing Andaman Islands

India, INDIAN OCEAN


Kumari Point, John Callahan

Summary

+ Virgin coral reefbreaks - Onshore in swell season
+ Kumari point - Short ideal season window
+ Few boats, no crowds - expensive boat only option
+ Untouched paradise with wild tribes - Oppresive humidity

Dubbed “The land of the head-hunters” by Marco Polo, who was the first Western visitor to this chain of 572 islands, islets and rocks, now commonly referred to as the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Geographic isolation, heavily restricted travel, mysterious Stone Age culture and totally uncharted waters characterise this zone. Whilst foreign tourists are permitted to visit the Andaman Islands, the Nicobars are only accessible to Indians and tribal areas are restricted. With only 36 of the 239 Andaman Islands inhabited, the dense tropical forests support an exotic, fragile ecosystem of unique flora and fauna, preserved and protected in 96 sanctuaries and nine national parks.

When to Go

These islands receive a combination of long range groundswells and shorter fetch monsoon swells, which both arrive from the SW. Unfortunately, most of the breaks are directly onshore in the SW winds, so therefore, the season is a short spell from Mid-March to Mid-May when N winds prevail. Rough seas with constant 15-25 knot winds, make navigation difficult in the heart of the swell season. Semi-diurnal tidal phases are small, but affect some spots heavily.

Surf Spots

Close to Port Blair is the main tourist beach of Corbyn’s Cove, where the beachbreak is generally flat or a tiny closeout. There are no reliable breaks on the tiny Twin Islands off Rutland or the Cinque Islands. An exposed, wide reef pass on North Sentinel Island has been surfed, but these areas are off limits and the Sentinelese locals have a habit of attacking any strangers with spears and arrows! Little Andaman offers the best swell exposure from the S-W, as it isn’t blocked by the Nicobars, sitting a little to the SE. Jackson Creek offers a safe anchorage inside a large shielding headland fringed by a wind and swell exposed reef. It is an excellent left, but needs E-S winds to be offshore and a decent swell to wrap so it’s quite inconsistent. Totem Reef needs the same SE wind to be perfectly offshore, but can still be rideable during the NE monsoon. The SW tip of the island should show the most swell, especially at Muddy’s, a solid, wedgy lefthander that works in NE winds and barrels hard in sections. Around Sandy Point is the main event, namely Kumari Point, which was the fastest and longest right pointbreak/reef in the country. Unfortunately, earthquakes have lifted this most photogenic of reefs out of the water and the line-up is now broken up into shorter peaky sections. It still shows some above average form when there’s enough S-SW swell and winds from the N quadrant. The inside section has got even hollower as it spins down to the creek mouth channel in the reef. Most surfers concentrate on the reliable left reef up the east coast on the northern headland at Butler’s Bay known as Jarawa Point, named after one of the indigenous tribes. Its positioning leaves W swells out of the equation, but anything S will hit a rocky, limestone shelf that curves into the bay, turning any N winds offshore. When it’s on, a fast jetting left sucks up and peels from start to finish, with the chance of a few cover-ups at bigger sizes. Even when it’s smaller, it still offers fun-park walls that tumble down the reef in sections, offering hits and shoulders. Most Andaman waves are fairly easy with good shape and fantastic colours on the reef below. Further south across the 10º Channel, the Nicobar Islands are off limits, protecting their undoubtedly high surf potential and their unique indigenous population from outside interference.

Statistics

J
F
M
A
M
J
J
A
S
O
N
D
dominant swell S -SW S -SW S -SW S -SW S -SW S -SW
swell size (ft) 2 3-4 4-5 5 4-5 1-2
consistency (%) 40 70 10 10 20 30
dominant wind N -NE NW -NE SW -W SW -W SW -W NE -E
average force F3 F2-F3 F3-F4 F4-F5 F3-F4 F3-F4
consistency (%) 76 60 73 83 51 66
water temp (C) 27 28 29 28 27 27
wetsuit boardshorts boardshorts boardshorts boardshorts boardshorts boardshorts

Travel Information

Weather
During the SW monsoon from mid-May to October, heavy rains flush the islands, often bringing violent cyclones that leave the west coast beaches strewn with fallen trees. In November and December, less severe rains arrive with the NE monsoon. The driest period is between mid November and April, but humidity is high.

Lodging and Food
Butlers Bay has tourist huts available on the shore. Surfers have camped on the point, but prepare to be eaten alive by mosquitoes and sand flies. There’s guesthouse and government accommodation in Hut Bay. The only boat charter is the family run, sailing yacht Scame (www.surf-sail.com) also bookable via soulandsurf.com (2500€ 10 day).

Nature and Culture
Home to stone-age tribes (Onge, Jarawa, Sentinelese) these reclusive aboriginal people live in impenetrable jungles, and still practise age old rituals. Little Andaman has elephant safaris through the rainforest. Trek to the White Surf and Whisper Wave waterfalls. World-class diving zone with large pelagics and amazing visibility. Great fishing.