Everyone has their surfing bucket list. Places you just seriously want to get to somewhere along the line. Am so stoked to finally be heading off to what was probably one of the first on my list when I started surfing. Remember turning the page of a Surfer mag back in the mid 90's and getting blown away by this double page spread of an incredible right point just barreling down a deserted jungle fringed beach. It was captioned Tropical Jbay. I was hooked.
Nearly 20 years later and it's still one of the more remote surfing destinations on the planet. A handful of magazine articles, and a short segment in a single surf video. It's not an easy place to get to. Put it this way, if you have to apply for a Restricted Area Permit and arrange to have a "fixer" meet you at the airport to get you through, you know it ain't mainstream. Which is good. It means you're unlikely to spot another surfer other than a handful who may be living feral in huts at one of the reeling left points. But they're stuck there cos there no roads going anywhere else! If you're in a yacht like we are......empty beaches and waves await.
You have more chance of getting dropped in on by one of the swimming elephants than another surfer.
Another reason for it remaining off the surf map is that it has a really, really short surf season. Basically April or bust unless you happy to put in a bit of time to make sure you score. It works on the same groundswells that feed Indo, but the SW monsoon is onshore at most of the best spots. So you gotto catch some early season swell before the winds kill it.
Luckily there are 2 nice looking red blobs lurking in the Southern Indian Ocean right now, which will make their way northwards just in time for our trip.....
It was dubbed “The land of the head-hunters” by Marco Polo, who was the first Western visitor to this chain of over 500 islands, islets and rocks. As with most places, the British pitched up and annexed it, and used to dump Indian convicts sentenced to life imprisonment there. Geographic isolation, heavily restricted travel, mysterious Stone Age culture and totally uncharted waters are what this place is all about.
Home to stone-age tribes that still practise age old rituals including some cannibalism, means you definitely don't go ashore in the restricted area's....unless you like the prospect of being dinner. Unwelcome visitors are generally greeted by an arrow or two. Seriously. Gotto hope you don't break a leash, as fetching your board on the beach might turn into a Survivor episode.
Remember reading a story about how the UN aid helicopters flew over the villages to assess damage after the Boxing Day tsunami, and the locals shot arrows at the chopper! Local is lekker!
Besides the tribes not being keen on outsiders, other hazards include salt water croc's. That moment as you realise the log in the line-up you've been looking at is staring back at you....
It's not a cheap trip. Boat costs are high as there's no local live-aboards, so your yacht has to sail there from Thailand...which takes a good 5 days, so factor that into the cost. Two weeks here will easily get you 6 months styling in Bali for the same price. And don't think you'll be able to sneak in there under the radar with a mate's boat. The Indian Navy patrols the waters and normally checks in on all vessels twice a day to make sure you're legit. And being legit there costs cash. Plenty of it.
The heavy military presence is a good thing, as the whole area is a non-commercial fishing zone and they make sure that's adhered to. Which means the fishing is positively off the charts. Huge GT's will smash your poppers and big tuna will chow down on your lures. If you're in luck you'll hook up a marlin or two. So even if the waves aren't co-operating, the fish certainly will. We're lugging over as much fishing tackle as surf stuff!
This place is as far off the grid as you get. There's basically no cell phone signal, and absolutely zero internet connection, other than at the main port. So advance apologies for no updates to the site for the next 2 weeks, other than one day mid-trip where we go back to port for provisions.
Remote, uncrowded surf. Warm water. Jungle fringed beaches without a footprint in the sand. Epic fishing.
To say my froth meter is off the charts would be an understatement.