West Bengal surf season and best spots
West Bengal is home to one of the most famous rivers in the world, the Ganges. As this river approaches the ocean, it splits into two, creating the Padma and the Hooghly rivers. Both go on to enter the Bay of Bengal near Sagar Island in wide, shallow estuaries.
The monsoons in the Bay of Bengal run wild April through June and then again September to December, often coming ashore with disastrous consequences. However, the extended shallow estuaries at the mouth of these rivers deflect the power of incoming swells.
But don’t worry. There are ways to keep your stoke in West Bengal. The Hooghly river has a tidal bore called the “Baan”, or “Holy Wave”, that peels upriver for miles. You’ll need a full or new moon, boat, guide and strong legs to surf this wave which can stand two-meters high and barrel. It’s a dangerous wave and there is no infrastructure of surf tours surrounding it. It’s the Wild West of river bores. But if you do go through the trouble to make a session here, you’ll be surfing next to cargo ships, fishing boats and funeral flotilla.
Other than surfing the tidal bore, rafting, kayaking and waterskiing make up the other watersports in West Bengal.
West Bengal surf and kayaking lessons
About 10 miles from downtown Kolkata, New Town Eco Park offers leisurly water sports including kayaking. When you tire of exploring the river, the park has a miniature instalment of the 7 Wonders of the World. It’s a unique place, kind of like Disneyland without the rides or Mickey Mouse. It’s $2US for a half hour kayak rental.
If you need a break from the urban congestion of Kolkata, try whitewater river rafting on the Teesta River through the Denzong Leisure company. A popular activity with Kolkata’s adventure set, trips down the river start at $13. But you can also opt to stay overnight with the raft and camp package. For $21.50 you can camp out along the river with a guide who will prepare the meals and light that cozy campfire.
If you’re surfing the tidal bore, which runs through the center of Kolkata (or Calcutta to your grandparents), there are heaps of places to stay. If you time your stay in September through October you can also enjoy uber-colorful Kali Puja, Durga Puja and Laxmi festivals.
Hotels for surfers in West Bengal, India
For $18US the Hotel Butter Couch offers economy rooms with standard hotel amenities. The building features beautiful wood furniture in their rooms and dining areas and has a low-key luxury vibe. You can also upgrade for a kitchenette or larger deluxe room.
We chose a few options if you get out on the coast close to the border with the Indian state of Odisha. There is surf here. It’s small, windswell meeting wide-open stretches of beach. While there are no defined “surf spots” by name or surf schools, you can go rogue and just paddle out. You might be the first person surfing there!
The Aqua Marina Inn sits right on the beach and for 22€ per night you can enjoy the surf out front with no crowds. Although nothing stellar, it’s a great beginner spot if you have your own gear.
For a more resort feel try the hotel Sonar Bangla. It’s a full-amenities facility with open lawn, pools and rooms with ocean views of the Mandarmani beaches. The low-rise ocean-front resort has rooms starting at 52€
Similar beach options in the area include Hotels Diamond Glory at 34€ per night and Kings Crown Resort at 22€.
West Bengal is a great vacation place for water sports activities.
West Bengal surfing guide and tips prepared by Bryan Dickerson (wavepoolmag.com) for Dailystoke.com’s surf guides.
Photo by Ammie Ngo