In Memoriam: Jack Hebner AKA The Surfing Swami
Surfing Swami aka Jack Hebner, who recently passed away, leaving the entire surfer community devastated, has left a lasting legacy of the surf culture that lives on here in India. These are a few surf spots that have mushroomed over the last few years – a grand manifestation of Swami’s vision of a free-living lifestyle from when he first camped out at Mulki in the early 70s.
Earlier this week, the small, but strong community of Indian surfers mourned the loss of its father figure — Jack Hebbner aka the Surfing Swami. The incomparable Jack, born a Floridan, wandered the hippie trail in India during the 70’s, following the influx of foreigners coming in search of salvation to the country.
A follower of the Hari Krishna movement, Jack travelled the breadth of India, before settling down in the quaint town of Mulki, where he set up the country’s first surfing school to usher in a surfing revolution that has gone on to produce champion Indian surfers such as Murthy Megavan and Tanvi Jagadish.
The towering Surfing Swami’s Surfing Swami Foundation (SSF), which once trained and evangelised surfing and environmental awareness amongst the children of the local fishermen, today has left a very meaningful footprint. As the word began to spread, adventurists from all parts of the country trickled down to watch the US East coast phenomenon take a cultural rebirth here in India. His ashram promoted the free-spirited surfer culture and today many smaller surf schools dot the vast 7.516 km Indian coastline. From hotspots in Varkala, Kerala to Gokarna, Karnataka and Vizag in Andhra Pradesh, the Indian surfing culture has never been ever more real.
But there are still a few more surf spots yet to be discovered, where the culture once professed by Jack Hebner, can still be found to be kept alive true to its spirit. Here are a few of the lesser-known surfing destinations in the country that are to be discovered still—
Kadal Centre for SUP SURF YOGA
KADAL offers a safe haunt for those interested in learning SUP, surfing and SUP yoga. Located at Malpe on the beach town of Udupi in Karnataka, the beach attracts thousands of visitors every day for its white sands and scenic beauty.
While tourists often head out to the stunning St Mary’s Island, we propose a short trip down to Kadal at Malpe, known to be amongst the safest beaches in all of Karnataka. You can learn more here: http://supsurfindia.com/
Drifters Surf Club
The Drifters Surf Club here at Varkala offers people a chance to not just try out surfing, but also yoga. The destination offers learner lessons and surfing trips all around Varkala. As the waves get higher, so does the tempo. You can learn more here: https://www.drifterssurfclub.com/
Mangalore Surf Club
At Sahasea, the promoters believe non-motorised water-sports are a great way to get up, close & personal with the ocean. Sports like Kayaking, snorkelling, scuba diving, kite-boarding, stand up paddleboarding, surfing, sailing or even plain old sea swimming helps one get there.
And true to their word, the good folks here offer training sessions and experiential learnings on all of the above counts. Make this pit spot in Goa, the next time you are headed in that direction. You can learn more about their offerings here: https://www.sahasea.com/
Surf On a SUP
The surf school here allows for patrons to stay at the pristine Edava beach — a first for the destination. You can hang out with soulful people, enjoy standup paddle in the precious backwaters or surf on their unmanned beaches — life is blissful here.
You can find out more about the facilities offered here on their official website: https://www.surfonasup.com/
Moon Waves Surf School
Again in Varkala, this quaint surf school falls on the Papanasam Beach. The able coaches at the Surf School offer surfing as well as snorkelling, fishing and trekking trips for the ones in search of adventures.
Their beach barbeques are something of a local legend. You can learn more about the surf school here: https://www.moonwaves.in/
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