Kerala is the ultimate away-from-it-all destination and, with its pristine waves and quiet beauty, the south Indian coastline is attracting soul-searching surfers, too.
Beneath a propped-up wooden fishing boat, colourful paint peeling off in strips, two men sit musing over a game of cards. The frenzied activity of Kappil beach swirls around them: fish are laid out to dry and bartered over, rickshaws and bicycles blow their horns, clothes are being washed, greetings, shouts – all a storm's outer rings to their eye. To the right, beyond the boats and fishing nets being laboriously hauled in by teams of men wearing bright kailis, the Keralan coastline disappears into sea spray, fading coconut palms the last visible markers of where ocean meets land.
India has 4,700 miles of coastline, but the way fishermen react with astonishment as you paddle out on your board is an indication of just how embryonic surfing is in the country. And that means empty waves and undiscovered beaches and a spiritual environment which taps into the heart of the ultimate soul sport.
Hotels can be booked as part of a tailor-made itinerary with Western & Oriental.