Tamarin Bay, the tropical island’s marquee spot, is so rare but so good that a typical Mauritius surf trip is like lounging and blowing cash at Cheetah’s or Déjà Vu—please look and spend, sir, but you will not touch the girls. In Tamarin’s case, it’s usually: Please look and spend, bro, but you will not surf the world-class wave you came for.
For the traveler, it requires luck. Amid an Indian Ocean island-hop, my timing was perfect. Poised to meet sun and a large southwest swell—ideal for Tamarin—I arrived and surfed Macondé Point, a punchy lefthander on the southwest side of the island. The waves were chest-high and fairly consistent with the pushing tide, a decent cushion over the sharp coral reef. Surfing backside, the lefts were challenging, also quite fun, and it was sublime to surf a foreign wave alone at the edge of the Indian Ocean, wide open, with only the Kerguelen Islands between me and Antarctica.
Later, I was collected by a Dakshesh, a fat 46-year-old Indian and a fifth-generation resident of Pointe aux Piments, a town in the island’s northwest. His ancestors had arrived as slaves to the British. He was friendly and chatty, spoke excellent English, and had driven taxis for 27 years.
“Many people here have no work,” Dakshesh said. “Is global economic crisis, you see? But I thank gods every day. I lucky—very lucky.”
It was Saturday, just before sundown, with lovely orangey-hued views, some rain squalls, but general clarity in the darkening sky. Trailing smelly, diesel fume-spewing trucks, we retraced the route to my hotel, across wide verdant spaces and through the cane fields and several small towns. Indians were everywhere—working in shops, walking or cycling on the road, idling in doorways, fishing from rocks, drinking beer beneath palm trees. I saw no tourists. Dakshesh stopped for me to buy bottled water and a case of cold Phoenix beer; he then deposited me at my seaside hotel.
“You come from California,” he said. “I know that snow there.”
“Only in the mountains. I live at the beach.”
“I want to see a cold place. Maybe go to see the snow for one week, just to see what it is like. Is my dream.”
“My dream is to surf Tamarin Bay.”
Hours later, after dinner and several beers, I clicked through television channels and found a “breaking news report” about a high-surf advisory, something about the waves at Flic en Flac—a beach north of Tamarin—being “unusually high today” and that “such waves aren’t abnormal during the winter months.” Authorities had advised the public to avoid the ocean.
This new swell was from a powerful anticyclone beneath Madagascar: four to five meters at 15-second intervals, heading straight to Tamarin. It was a nice predicament. Because tomorrow on Mauritius, like Dakshesh, I too would be lucky—Vegas lucky.