Soul People – Rakhul
24th October 2016

What makes Soul&Surf tick? The amazing bunch of people that work with us of course. Soul People will introduce you to some of the incredible people we work in both Sri Lanka and India.


Photo: Steve Coombes

Name: My name is Rakhul, find me on Facebook
Age: 25
Where’s Home? I’m from the Western Ghats
What’s your role at Soul&Surf: 
I’m working as a surf instructor in Varkala

How did you start surfing?
I came to visit a friend at S&S and I started to work in the café. I’d seen surfing before but when I got here I had free time so I went for a surf lesson, it was the first time in my life on a surfboard, I was so excited but a bit scared.

I’m from the mountains so I’d never had experience in the ocean or with waves. My first lesson was terrible, I couldn’t even lie on my surfboard but I loved it so I started surfing with the other guys at S&S. On my 6th lesson I stood up and was so excited I fell off. I was fist pumping and telling everyone I got a green wave and was so happy that I didn’t eat all day.

From then I went out whenever I had free time, to catch waves and wipe outs, and when a guest gifted me a surfboard I felt braver to go out on my own. I went for every wave so I learnt how to read the ocean and helped out the surf team whenever I could, going with them and watching what they were doing. I joined in helping people and they liked me so the next season I applied to work as an assistant surf coach. I did half and half café and surf. Then after a while I moved to the surf team full time and went for my qualification. I’m now the 9th person in India to have qualified as a surf instructor. 


Photo: Steve Coombes

What does Soul mean to you?
Soul is your attitude, your personality, soul means to become a nice good person which is what I try to do.

What inspires you about your work?
I have a lot of fun and I get to meet so many cool people, I have friends all over the world. I get to have fun with the waves, it makes you feel happier being in the sea and being a part of what’s going on.


Photo: Pete Chamberlain

What’s your goal for the future?
I want to make a rap album and I’d love to keep teaching surfing. It’s a new thing in India so I’d like to be one of the leaders in that for my country. I want to travel and surf in different places, I went to Bali and Sri Lanka for the first time this year and I loved it.


Photo: Pete Chamberlain

Soul People – Varghees
16th October 2016

What makes Soul&Surf tick? The amazing bunch of people that work with us of course. Soul People will introduce you to some of the incredible people we work in both Sri Lanka and India.


Photo: Steve Coombes

Name: My name is Varghees
Age: 26
Where’s Home? Kovalam, Kerala
What’s your role at Soul&Surf: I’m a surf instructor


Photo: Steve Coombes

How did you start surfing?
I dropped out of school when I was 14 and a year later met a Belgian guy called Paul who runs a charitable school for dropouts. I started there and every weekend there were outdoor games which the volunteers there helped with. We used to play football and go the beach and one day one of the volunteers Jelle who knew how to surf offered to teach me. I’d never heard of surfing before because it’s not a thing in India. I trained really hard and loved it, it’s so much fun and really frees your mind. I got a job at the Kovalam Surf Club and became an ISA Surf Instructor. Ed & Sofie visited my school one day, spoke to Jelle about my story and offered me a job at Soul & Surf.

What does Soul mean to you?
Soul means respect and a peaceful way of living



Photo: Pete Chamberlain

What inspires you about your work?
I love surfing because its so much fun. If you’re feeling anything; sadness or frustration or anything like that you just take your board, go surf and it refreshes your mind. It’s different every time you go out, every wave is different to the last and the feelings you have change all the time.

What’s your goal?
I haven’t thought about my future too much, I just want to keep surfing and teaching people how to surf.  One day I would love to set up my own surf school and teach other kids like me how to surf.

My life has completely changed because of Paul, Jelle and Ed, I would have been a fisherman still if it wasn’t for them. I’ve met lots of people by being at the beach and have got to travel to Portugal, Sri Lanka and the Andaman Islands. My favourite place to surf is probably the Andaman Islands and a secret spot near to my home town.


Photo: Steve Coombes

Stuff We Like – All for a few good waves
2nd October 2016

David Carson – All For a Few Good Waves from Dress Code on Vimeo.

David Carson is arguable one of the most famous graphic designers in the world. After serving as art director for iconic magazines, Transworld, RayGun and BeachCulture, he set up his own studio and now live and surfs in the BVIs, and despite being over 60, he still rips.


Stuff We Like – The Tempest
1st October 2016

Stephanie Gilmore – The Tempest. from Monster Children on Vimeo.

Stephanie Gilmore oozes style and class in this beautiful short from Monster Children. 

Kelly Slater put it best:

“Stephanie is an original badass. She surfs like people should surf and plays music from her soul. She’s interested in a variety of topics outside of riding waves. She’s got an eclectic and diverse group of friends and followers all around the world. She’d be just as comfortable in her skin if nobody knew who she was. My mom wrote me yesterday and said she is a Stephanie groupie and she just loves her whole deal. You’d be hard pressed to find anyone who has anything but praise for her. She’s not complicated like most women seem to be and knows how she wants to live and what she wants. What else can I say?” Kelly Slater.

Water4Waves in Varkala
1st October 2016



Soul&Surf India is situated on beautiful cliffs overlooking the Arabian Sea in the small coastal town of Varkala.  This area is known to be one of the cleanest and most beautiful regions in India.  However, access to clean water is still a significant issue for many people in this region of India.  Most of the water in this area comes from the government run water system but many people have wells that supply their water for drinking, bathing and cooking.  Although the quality of the water is unknown, there is a high potential for bacterial contamination and transmission of waterborne illness.   Those that have money in Varkala either buy bottled water or install their own filter systems.  However, the vast majority of people cannot afford these systems and therefore they do not have clean water.

Waves for Water  is a non-profit out of California that distributes water purification systems around the world.  These systems provide clean water for up to 100 people for 5 years.  W4W’s “Clean Water Couriers” program is a “do it yourself distribution network” that empowers travellers to bring these small, water filters to communities that they visit and connect with locals to get the filters installed in areas where they are most needed.




Last year, Soul and Surf got involved in the W4W Clean Water Couriers program by supporting volunteers who fundraised and donated their own money to buy water filters to distribute to the Varkala community.   

S&S volunteers began with one water filter.  The first water filter installation was at the school right next door to S&S.  The school didn’t have clean water for the students to drink.  Instead, each student brought one bottle of water from home which was supposed to last them through the whole day in a very hot and humid climate.

Coordinating the installation of the water filter at the school next door took a little more effort than we initially imagined (it was not as simple as just assembling the filter and dropping it off for the students to use). A group of volunteers from S&S worked on getting permission from the principal, redoing the piping and then coordinating a time that we could install the system and show the kids and teachers how to use it.  




The day we installed the filter at the school and showed the kids how to use it, everyone – students, teachers, and S&S staff – was stoked about the project.  At first it was mass chaos with the kids all wanting to fill up their water bottles.  Then one student took charge and got everyone into a line to fill their bottles one by one.  They were quite excited to say the least.  After we left the school, the S&S staff started talking about how great it was to do something positive for the school next door and new ideas started circulating about other ways we could connect with the school and local community.


After a few weeks, we went to check with the principal to see if the filter was working properly and to see if it was actually being used.  She told us that it was working well and she asked if we could install another one in a nearby school where she was also the principal.   

We started brainstorming ideas on how to raise money for more filters and our head surf coach, Nick Kelly donated the money to buy 10 filters and get more S&S staff, as well as the local surf club, involved in the project.

So, in the beginning of 2016, the Soul and Surf staff and the Varkala Pirates Surf Club spent about a month setting 10 filters at various spots in the community.  Water filter locations included three schools, a Hindu temple, the community where S&S chechies (local women staff) live and the fishing village at Edava where we always surf.  These filters are providing clean drinking water for 1,000 people for at least the next five years.  Kids can fill up their water bottles throughout the school day.  The fishermen can fill up their water barrels to take with them out to sea.  The chechies will have clean drinking water for their families.   




There were many different people that were involved with bringing these filters to people in need.  Many of the S&S staff, as well the local guys from the surf team, were involved with setting up the filters; asking around within the community to see where we should install the filters; and teaching people how to use the filters once they were installed.  

It’s called Waves for Water because the act of providing one filter to a community in need can build energy, like a wave, and bring people together to work toward achieving a greater collective impact.
While these filters aren’t a perfect solution, it’s definitely a start.  Hopefully someday India will be able to provide clean water for everyone across the country.  But these water filters will make a difference for some of the people in the Varkala community.




All Photos : DTL Photography

Guest Reviews

Back in Manchester now and its hard to believe two days ago i was swimming in an infinity pool overlooking Koggala lake, after an amazing surf followed by breakfast whilst watching monkeys swinging in the trees, looking forward to lunch, followed by a yoga session on the veranda, then another surf, a beer at the […]

David Phipps