While there is reticent charm in the fact that the West Coast of Karnataka has been relatively unexplored by travel buffs, it is slowly crawling up as one of the top destinations for water sports. Unperturbed by the cultural and spiritual milieu of places like Udipi, Murudeshwar and Gokarna, these adventure hideouts are tucked away the edge of the sea, invisible to the temple hopping devotees or on islands which are boat rides away into the sea. Infact, from the entire fringes of India’s vast coastline, it’s the edge of the Arabian Sea that has bolstered the cause for relatively new adventures like scuba diving and surfing in India. If you are enthralled by the mysteries of the ocean, read on:
Island hopping off Udipi
Off the Malpe coast in the temple town of Udipi, the months from October to March give you access to a short excursion into the sea. Here you can see a cluster of islands, 3km from the coast, which have been christened Dari Bahadur Garh, Coconut Island, South Island and North Island. Together, these are called St. Mary’s Islands and are made of basaltic lava, possibly emerged after severe volcanic activity on the earth. Get in touch at 9740981755 to book a trip which costs anywhere between Rs 100-200. Ensure that you stick to the time between 8am-5pm.
Sceptic travellers, who doubt the presence of dolphins in this region, often return thrilled from a boat ride with Mani, 8 km off the Kaup beach to the New Clean Island. Call him on 09916773834.
Riding the waves
There is no better place to whet your surfing skills other than the Ashram Surf Retreat in the unassuming village of Mulki, 32 kilometres from Udipi. Mantra Surf Club was established with a view to let travellers get a wholesome experience of yoga, meditation, simple vegetarian food and, of course, learn how to ride the waves. The residential experience is led by experts Jack Hebner and Rick Perry, who help you manoeuvre surf breaks like Baba’s Left and Swami. One can also indulge in kayaking, body boarding, wake boarding and more.
Another 48 kilometres North of Mulki, another surfing club promises an intimate and exclusive learning experience in the backdrop of a small fishing village on the coast. Shaka Surf Club in Kodi Bengre, can be reached on 09986742710 for group lessons to swimmers only.
Unknown colours of the sea
Diving enthusiasts do not have to plan for the Andamans or distant seas anymore. 134 km north of Mulki make Murudeshwar your pit stop and veer off 20km into the sea to the Netrani Islands. Let Dream Diving introduce you to a world of vivid colours and creatures under the sea, in daylong-instructed scuba/snorkeling activities. The day starts at 8.30am and ends at 4pm, in which you are given training and then made to dive with an instructor upto 18meters. You are likely to bump into red snappers, angelfish, butterfly fish and more. Get in touch at 09740752480.
Blue Matsya at Udipi: The self-catering beach house is still a well-kept secret just ahead of the Kaup beach, near the lighthouse. The soothing white walls, splashed with bright yellows and blues enclose two double rooms and a large airy living room that opens into a sit out facing the sea. The windy verandahs brightly furbished comfy rooms and well thought out instruction guide by the owner, Swati is all you need to enjoy your coastal holiday. 09820770427; www.bluematsya.com; Lighthouse Road, Kaup Beach
RNS Residency at Murudeshwar: Though the rooms at the RNS are not as atmospheric, the view of the sea and the famous Shiva temple dwarfed by its many storeys provide the hook for the best hotel in the vicinity. Ask for sea facing rooms. 08762471842; www.naveenhotels.com; Murudeshwar