The sea, for many, is one of the strongest natural antidepressants there is. Getting on a scooty and riding out to the ocean for a swim, and maybe a surf (if you’re able) is a majestic little peek into paradise, where all the grit just washes away in a wave of euphoria. To that end, People hit up beach festivals like Outlook in Croatia and Boardmasters in the UK, but few know that there’s a homegrown surf fest right here in India.

The India Surf Festival. What is it?

Started in 2012 by a bunch of surf enthusiasts and free thinkers called the Surfing Yogis, this festival embodies the kind of chill vibe we day-dream about at work. Walk through a small patch of forest and land up on Ramchandi Beach in Konark, Odisha, where there’s miles upon miles of empty beach and curious backwaters all around, so you can pretty much wake up in the morning, zip your tent shut and spend the day in the water.

b’Surfboards at full mast!’
b”Jamin’ with them boys!”

There was also a sick AF DJ spinning tunes from 1 in the afternoon to 6 in the evening during this edition. If I can find his Soundcloud, I’ll be set for a year!

The art and the artists.

There’s some magnificent art installations set up all around the beach every year, and this time wasn’t any different. Hell, even the stage was a piece of art in itself, featuring a neo-Tiki head up top where the DJ played, as well as a stage closer to the ground, for the bands to play on (and drunk uncles to display the strength of their pelvic thrusts on).

A few of the standouts would have to be the ones by Vinay Pateel and Dibyush Jena. They were, to put it mildly, simply magical, especially at night time.

b’The Orifice by Dibyush’
b”Bamboo ballin’! Vinay Pateel doing a headstand in front of his wonderful installation.”

The music and the vibe.

A well curated lineup of artists is a must for any good festival, and this surf fest had it down pat. They brought down Thaalavattam, Sitarsonic (Paco) and Jewel’s Back – all great. Thaalavattam is a percussion-based project by Montry Manuel, where he uses instruments created from waste plastic and metal (I’m talking pipes and jugs) with the aim to inspire people to think creatively about waste. The show’s a total blast to watch, and super unique. Sitarsonic had some really interesting things floating around as well, mixing sitar with electronica for a chill-dub fusion vibe.

b”Don’t leave him around your plumbing!”

Extreme sports at it its best.

There’s a whole lot of surfing going on, but for newcomers, there’s stand up paddling (SUP) done on the calmer backwaters a little before the beach. It’s led by Spanish yoga instructor, SUP aficionado and all around baller Elena Perez. It’s harder than it looks, but also one of the most therapeutic and best ways to unwind.

b”Elena showin’ her moves!”
b’Winding down!’

Apart from the water, the Longboard Crew India also rolls its way down from Mumbai, and they’re a riot! Super helpful, but also totally radical. It’s a rush just watching them rip it on the streets, and you can try your hand at it too!

b’Basica, one of the first girls in longboard crew India.’

Music, food, art, and beer on the beach for 3 days straight might sound like a wayward dream, but honestly, it’s right here in Odisha. Also, the fact that ganja happens to be legal here might contribute to the fact that this is one of the most laid-back, chill festivals in India, albeit criminally underrated. Honestly, if you’re making beach plans, try to head down for the next one. It’s a total jam dudes.

Pictures by Sneha Mitra and Hungry Lens.