If you want to surf the finest waves in the Indian Ocean, with just your mates, and share those moments that not many people could ever understand, you can do it in Madagascar…..but your going to need some help.
This dude is located in the south west, in and around Toliara. Your going to need a guide to get the best waves in this region as the reef is vast, and conditions are forever changing. He is one of the pioneers of surfing in Madagascar, he knows where to be when the swell is from this direction, and the wind is from that direction, and its a high tide range today and the tide has just started to ebb. Its local knowledge at its best. Here is his story.
I first heard about the surf in Madagascar back in the early 90s when i was living in Reunion Island. A south african friend who was one of the pioneer surfers to discover Tamarin Bay in Mauritius and Saint Leu in Reunion had mysteriously bailed ship to Tulear, Madagascar. You didnt have to be a genius to figure he wasnt leaving perfect uncrowded Saint Leu for no good reason and I was keen as to find out for myself exactly what it was!
Rumours amongst others were that hed discovered a perfect left hand reef break over 500m long. Several failed attempts and a couple years later I eventually mustered a small crew together and we set off in search of our long lost mate. Arriving in Tulear was a total culture shock to say the least. At first appearances it is a dirty dusty little town that looks like something out of an old cowboy and western film, mixed in with a touch of modern technology and all set deep in the heart of a third world african country, the best way to describe it would probably be the 2nd world, a mix of both ancient traditional and modern cultures, freaky place!
Tracking down the rat wasnt so hard, we just set out in search of the biggest watering hole in the joint and sure enough there he was propping up the bar pillars at his old faithful. After some serious catching up and a whole lot of local brews later we eventually set in motion a serious plan of attack on the waves for the rest of our stay.
The next couple of weeks were spent cruising the coast on his cat surfing perfect waves on the most insane reef breaks, passes, atolls and outer islands you could ever imagine and for the entire duration of our stay we didnt come across even one other single surfer, the place was totally deserted, like absolutely perfect waves all over the show and if we hadnt been there not only would no one have been surfing them, but they wouldnt even be seen, perfect waves peeling off into the sunset without even a person to lay an eye on them!
All that was like 15 years ago now and after numerous return trips I eventually ended up setting camp here around 5 years ago and old matey has been my faithful partner in crime ever since. The basic run down on surfing around here is fairly simple yet quite complicated at the same time. More perfect uncrowded waves you would be hard pressed to find anywhere else in the world yet surfing here is extremely fickle due to the remote access of most breaks which are reachable by boat only. The tides, winds, and swell direction are also key factors in determining which breaks are best on any given day. It can be a long and frustrating boat ride if you rock in just as the trades start blowing the back off it. The flip side of the coin however is the shear number of perfect waves on offer and youre not sharing them with Joe Pro either, its just you, your mates and Huey so individual wave counts are huge, zero crowd factor bonus plan!
There are left hand reef breaks which are twice as long as Saint Leu, a right hander that looks like a replica of Kirra back in the 80s, and for the brave (or fool hardy) there is a screamimg left hander that does a sick impression of Teahupoo. The 60km stretch of Tulear coastline between Mangily and Anakao lays host to more than 18 breaks with at least 12 of them being world class and all pratically never surfed. If there is one thing that hasnt changed since my first visit here its the crowd factor. We actually have a like reverse crowd factor problem, most of the time we re searching for a buddy to surf with cause as ironic as it may sound, its not that much fun surfing perfectly flawless waves all to yourself. Half of the amp you get out of scoring a classic session is the vibe created by sharing it with a mate and being able to hoot each other on. Luckily nowadays theres usually two or three of us to share the love and enjoy some epic sessions together.
I can always remember thinking how cool it would have been to be one of the first pioneer surfers in Bali back in the 70s, and today I can fairly much say I think i know how it must have felt and if you were to offer me an all expenses paid surf trip to anywhere else in the world, Id probably just smile and tell you ” Hey Im sitting on Kuta Beach back in 1973 here and I aint going nowhere, thanks all the same !!!”
Blair Rogers, Tulear, Madagascar – April 2014