Posted by: smithdavid | November 29, 2015


The theory behind coming to Crete is that it’s a warm place (even in September), with a warm, calm, Mediterranean Sea. Perfect for snorkelling, not surfing. I’ve made peace with the fact that the only ocean time I’ll have is a swim like the one I did this morning at Kolymbari Beach – starting at the point where the restaurants end and the pensioners wade in, going past the Avra Hotel deck chairs and on to where the power lines start; then turning around and swimming back, the only excitement having to swim around stray waders.

So I’m expecting more of the same as we walk from the car park down to Falasarna Beach in the 28 DegC, five pm sun. But as we near the beige sand I see a familiar motion out in the sea – arms stroking the water, a slight raising of the chest and then the spring up. I keep watching to make sure – the guy rides for a while and then turns and rides backwards, then twists again.

‘They’re surfing,’ I say.


Falasarna Beach

Hatije looks on, possibly not quite as ecstatic as I am. This is her Mediterranean holiday – surfing was not in the script. But she finds a quiet corner of the beach to go and snorkel and leaves me to go and hunt for a board.

I walk past the rows of deck chairs and umbrellas, speeding up a little as I get closer to the surf zone. The waves look very small and don’t seem to have much power but there are a couple out there – one of them the guy I saw riding backwards earlier.

I come at last to a moveable beach hut of timber slats – there are foamy boards and SUPs stacked around it but no-one to help me. I walk around, hoping I’ve missed something. When I get back to where I started from, the guy who was surfing backwards has come out of the sea.

‘I’m Kostas,’ he says, ‘you want a board?’

He explains how things work in Crete (where you cannot hire surf boards) – I need to buy the board from him for €200 and then sell it back to him in an hour’s time for €180. I only need to pay him €20 now.

‘What’s the longest board you have?’ I ask, looking at the tiny, but clean, waves.


Sunset at Falasarna

Soon I’ve got an 8’ neon green foamy board and am paddling out (though you can hardly call it a paddle as it only take a few strokes to get out ‘back’). I try to recall the last time I was in water warm enough to go out in a rash vest and boardies – must’ve been one of those hot days in Gonubie last December.

A line of swell approaches, I turn and paddle – the board takes just enough and I pop-up and am riding a wave in Crete, something I thought impossible an hour ago. It’s probably the slowest, shortest ride I’ve ever had. But it’s still a ride.

Again I paddle out, again a slow, short ride. I do this for an hour and when I go back in, instead of telling myself that it wasn’t a proper surf and it doesn’t count, I smile at the fact that I found a wave at all.

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