These two definitely make the list of the BUCKET LIST for waves, i.e. places to surf before you die. Both are lefts, breaking fast over shallow reef, and break ideal between about 1 and 3 m swell from the S to SE.
Tamarin in Tamarin Bay, Mauritius
St. Leu in Reunion
In Mauritius, we were very fortunate to be staying at the Hotel Tamarin, which is approx. 23 meters from the spot where you start paddling out to the Tamarin wave. In Reunion, I was very fortunate as the local French madman Jean gave me a board and took me out to breaks at Trois Bassins and St. Leu.
So we just paddled out and caught some waves? Not exactly!!!! These waves are absolutely beautiful, but come with a few serious challenges:
- the wave breaks over a really shallow sharp reef, depending on the tide you have between 20 and 100 cm of water
- the reef is decorated with beautiful sea urchins
- there are strong currents pulling you in the general direction of Africa or Antarctica
- the waves break fast and hard, you need to escape to the left quickly
- big sets come out of nowhere and have a tendency to clean you up over the reef if you are an unsuspecting tourist
- bull sharks have a tendency to be territorial and even swim up the rivers here, the water is very dark once you paddle a little bit from the reef
- the locals are trained in various martial arts and have a tendency to be very clear about owning the spot, i.e. never even think about getting close to a wave when they are around, or better yet, just go back to the beach
Particularly the last challenge caused us to display maximum respect and surf in the second row, i.e. catch the wave at a later stage of its long turning travel along the reef. I became a little too friendly with the good old sea urchin in Tamarin (10 sticks) and a week later in Reunion (11 sticks). Let’s just say I am a master at operating out these black urchin sticks – as thick and sometimes as long as a match – with needle and pinchers (the truth is: I only got 20 out and after 2 hours of trying 1 was cut out at a Mauritian community hospital, free of charge, on the spot). It takes hours and should be followed with some good antiseptic / antibiotic ointment. The good news is that I was back in the water within a day.
When you are charging down the face of one of those waves, looking down at the razor sharp reef, and cutting back up to the lip with a clean bottom turn, you forget about all those challenges. You are in the flow…