The North Sentinel locals make the Da Hui look like Christian Surfers
The Dunny Bowl at Maroubra? Protected by a bunch of bad-inked, tiny testicled pussies. Jakes Point? More friendly than a Christian camp after the GI cordial has been spiked with ecstasy. Pipeline? A veritable free for all where you are greeted with a kiss, a lei and any wave your heart desires.
No, if you want real get-shot-in-the-heart-with-a-bow-and-arrow-localism then North Sentinel is your go to place. Located in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, the archipelago that strings up from north of Sumatra towards India, it has recently been in the news following the death of American missionary John Chau.
Chau had travelled to the island to preach to the Sentinelese tribe, in breach of Indian law and advice that exposure to foreign pathogens could kill them. The 30,000 year old tribe is one of the most isolated, and untouched, communities left in the world. Fewer than 100 people have met the locals over the last century and many, like Chau, haven’t lived to tell the tale.
Still, there are definitely waves, potentially world class ones, on the island. The Andaman and Nicobar chain have been surfed for decades. It’s best and most well-known wave is Kumari Point. That featured in Thicker than Water that was released in 1999 with Chris Malloy, Aaron Lambert and Tamayo Perry surfing and Jack Johnson on the camera. This very amateur footage (after you skip through the painful 60-second intro) shows just how good the righthand point is.
North Sentinel however offers even more potential. It lies due west of the larger South Andaman Island and the chain’s capital Port Blair, directly in the path of the Indian Ocean swells that hammer the rest of Sumatra. A Google Earth search sees the island’s coral reefs punctured by at least seven major passes on its south and west coasts and many more other potential setups. Being close to the Port Blair it is also relatively easy to get to.
However while it is illegal to go there it is the locals that provide the biggest obstacle to getting tubes on your own. It’s always had a bad rep. It was dubbed “The land of the headhunters” by Marco Polo, who was the first Western visitor to this chain. More recently in 1974 the Indian authorities attempted to gain the trust of the Sentinelese people by offering cooking pots and tethered pigs. These were met with arrows through the thighs of the givers. In the 1980s a fishing boat was shipwrecked on the reef and the crew had five days of sustained attacks before being rescued. As recently as 2006 two Indian fishermen strayed within arrow range of the coast and were killed. A helicopter attempted to recover their bodies but was kept at bay with a volley of arrow fire. Indian authorities have refused all attempts to retrieve Chau’s body or start any criminal proceedings against the tribe.