13 July, 2015 13 July, 2015

The Hard Rules

Mauritius is home to a collection of world class waves, but the notorious locals dubbed ‘the white shorts’ have made things unpleasant for many surfers who have visited. Having recently returned from his ninth trip to the Indian Ocean island, Craig Jarvis shares a few rules that’ll make your next trip far more enjoyable.


THE HARD RULES – by Craig Jarvis


When it comes to localism and agro in the water, the answer is not always to eat or be eaten.

Whether we know it or not, our whole world is governed by rules. Whether they be put in place by the government, the police, society as a whole or our better half, we all have rules that we have no choice but to adhere to.

Some people think that they’re rebels and rule-breakers, and that can be noble and just, but you still need to stop at red robots to prevent yourself from killing people or getting killed. You still need to try and not steal money, to pay for the water and electricity you use, to use the bathroom and not a public place when you need to relieve yourself, to respect your elders because they have been on this planet longer than you. Basic stuff.

In a surfing perspective we have similar basics. Do not drop in. Do not paddle for the shoulder when faced with a surfer on a wave, do not be a pig in the water, do not use a SUP or a jet-board when amongst paddle surfers, do not phone all your mates when you come across a cooking line-up on the coast. Also pretty straight forward, if you understand the luck that has been gifted to you by simply being a surfer.

There is another set of laws though, and they are a bit harder to deal with. They are the localism systems in place all over the world.


One of the strictest places is Hawaii. It’s very difficult to get any waves there when the locals are out, the heaviest locals in the world. There they have a basic rule: respect the locals. In other words, don’t paddle past them, don’t hustle them, don’t drop in on them, and don’t ever take cameras when you travel east or west of the North Shore. It’s very hard to get waves there if you’re not famous. I remember showing the locals – kids and their dads – all the respect they could get at Velzyland. The net result was that I was given zero waves as everyone paddled past me with a grunt. I eventually went over to FreddyLand and got a few.

It’s similar in Bali, especially if you’re going to surf congested line-ups like Bingin, Padang or Keramas. There are locals who surf there, all day, every day. They do not want you to paddle past them and they do not want you to hustle them on small take off zones. At Keramas they go one step further and block for surfers who have paid them to get a few waves. The rule is to identify such a local surfer blocking, and not get in his way. He sees you as a rich traveller, interfering with the job he is doing to get food on the table for his wife and kids. See, it gets a bit harder…

Ever been to JBay to surf recently? It’s an amazing place, incredible waves, and rules. Same as other destinations that attract a throng of locals and hordes of travellers, the rules are to be aware of the local surfers, give them some room, and not be a pig in the water. If you paddle around the back and hook into a set at Boneyards and come screaming past the crew who have been waiting, it’s not seen as cool. If you paddle up the point and paddle past the locals, you will most likely get addressed or dropped in on. If you decide to wait further down the point and take a chance and drop-in on someone coming down the line, you will be dealt with. Simple point-break rules, with the locals getting precedence. We all know this stuff.


Ever surfed Off The Wall in Sea Point when the boys are out? How about Kalk Bay Reef? Even the Hoek can be a challenge when a few of the hardcore locals are out. Llandudno is another case in point for local surfers and their rules. As a surfer there is no excuse for not knowing the rules.

One of the destinations that have received loads of negativity with regard to locals and localism is Mauritius. There are constant reports of agro in the south, and around Tamarin.

It exists.

Many people have encountered hostility in Mauritius, and there’s no denying. Yet many people have scored firing waves with nothing but hooting and waving from locals and travellers alike. While it’s always going to be an inexact science, the rules in Mauritius work something like this:

Monday morning to Friday lunchtime is usually cool to surf wherever. Most of the locals, who are sometimes loosely referred to as The White Shorts, all work and have jobs and responsibilities. They knock off at about lunchtime on Friday, and head out to hit the waves with vigour and some sense of frustration after a week of slaving for the man. They paddle out with entitlement, and it’s best to not be around. To be safe, finish your last surf down there at about 2:00pm in the afternoon.


Avoid the two main spots from Friday 2:00pm until Monday morning. They become pretty intense during that time. There is an outlet at the next pass up from One Eyes, for a bit less agro in the water, but there are still locals.

If an aggressive local confronts you, go in, no matter how difficult it is. If you get into a fight and get injured, the legal ramifications of getting it dealt with will be endless and costly. It’ll also ruin your holiday. It’s so not worth it.

Don’t bother retaliating. They will outnumber you quickly. Don’t bother shouting and screaming in the car park. They will outnumber you.

If there are small numbers in the water, like two locals and you on your own, you can usually pull it off by sitting a little bit wide and getting the extra waves and being cool.

Do some serious Mauritian homework. There are waves in the south that don’t have to have a northerly wind to fire. There are waves in the north that don’t have to have a cyclone swell to fire. If you start getting the gist of the workings of the other waves, you will start realising that the localised spots are not that important on the grand scale, and are just the most well-known. All of this info is available on the internet. Ask Mr. Google.


We just returned from our ninth trip to the joint. Scored waves again, followed the rules, had a grand old time. Didn’t even encounter a local. Surfed to exhaustion in warm water. Total awesomeness.

Finally, let’s not ever forget that we all have local breaks; we all have our own rules, kind of. If you surf New Pier there is localism. If you surf one of the points on the south coast there are systems in place. Ever surfed Kirra? How about Duranbah? Both are heavily regimented. If you surf Victoria Bay you will most likely receive some instruction from local surfers. Paddle out on Durban’s Bluff and someone will likely tell you where to sit and which waves aren’t yours. If you surf Plett, there are local rules in place. Don’t be naïve to any of this. We are all surfers.

It’s simple, work with the rules and get a few perfect waves, or suffer the risk of getting a board to your side, a hand to your face, or spending an uncomfortable amount of time underwater that will most definitely ruin your day.

The choice is always yours to make.


Our adventure was called #MauritiusEscape
We traveled with All Aboard
We stayed at St Regis
We stayed at Westin Turtle Bay


  1. Teddy Allen
    13 July, 2015 at 9:13 pm · Reply

    and why do all of these stupid conventions exist? Simple, because most surfers are complete a-holes. Solution, don’t be a greedy a-hole.

    • cj
      14 July, 2015 at 12:16 pm · Reply

      It is what it is, attitude/respect determines how you are treated in the water. Mauritius does not have that many consistent setups hence the necessity for localism. If you can’t accept this go somewhere else…fact is you may find the same situation elsewhere

      • Teddy Allen
        14 July, 2015 at 12:24 pm · Reply

        necessity for localism is a function of number of a-hole surfers, not the number of set ups. Don’t be an a-hole and localism will vanish. I don’t accept localism because I am not an a-hole, thus have no need to “go somewhere else”….

  2. reg
    14 July, 2015 at 10:26 am · Reply

    ja,well said…
    if youre a weekend surfer and/or dont live across the road from the sand ..then youre not a local …full stop
    obey the laws

    • Jaden
      14 July, 2015 at 2:49 pm · Reply

      What I have seen is that there are only a couple of locals that are really good surfers on the peak the rest hang out is the pussy zone where your average tourist would hang… That means too many people in one place. The white shorts are rude, aggressive, hit girls, kids and get in anyone’s face no matter what day of the week it is. They have the audacity to travel to indo and expect to get waves there. The two main idiots are Xavier the midget french guy and Bruno the old guy… The interesting thing is the white French origin locals are the trouble causers, the true dark locals are cool and very nice people… Up tight white man with a group ego…. Squash the them and eradicate this shit conduct… Respect the locals…impossible to respect idiots like this.

      I can respect any human that is willing to share and enjoy more than their own satisfaction. Due to all the trouble down there the Government is now watching the situation… They need tourists more than a bunch of idealistic greedy white locals.

      • Brynn Jones
        13 August, 2015 at 12:11 pm · Reply

        Yeah I was on honey moon there and they tuned my wife in the car park that I was not allowed in the water….Huh …after a near break up to get my board on the plane …this is the kind of localism kak that makes you boil over -it is simply not needed.

      • ouver lizié
        28 July, 2016 at 7:41 pm · Reply

        Dude stop talking kak and spreading propaganda as this will only discredit you and your objective.

        I personally know the so called white shorts, they don’t take shit from rude and impolite surfers and don’t like sharing waves on week ends but stop saying they hit women as this is a fabricated lie and

        you know it!
        Now if your woman interferes and gets all agro on them smacking them and scratching their faces to save your ill mannered ass then it is understandable she will be pushed back! If she charges again like a wounded buffalo they might have to push her back with a bit more vigour BUT they do not hit women! Unless you consider yourself a woman in which case you would be the exception!

        Go change your nappi and start playing minigolf, I hear chicks love playing that

        • Name (required)
          21 September, 2018 at 5:22 pm · Reply

          The new breed of “man”, Homoagro.

  3. Richard
    15 July, 2015 at 10:08 am · Reply

    Hi Craig, nice article. You know when I am in JBay the locals are pigs. I understand that they get masses of people coming through annually but they blatantly paddle round you.
    I have had a few occasions where I have priority (after letting the locals go), waited my turn only for them to paddle back up the point and snake me. It works both ways. (one time I waited 40 mins for a wave only for a local to come down from magnas and within a minute gone on a pearlier set)
    Been going there for 20 years, do my best to keep things amicably and yet they still just do what they want.

  4. Mouse Billson
    16 July, 2015 at 7:32 am · Reply

    Hey penis Richard respect the locals at J Bay – how would you like to go surfing in your back yard with every tom dick (you) and who ever paddling around you as if they own the break – this does not happen anywhere else in the world that I have had the pleasure of surfing – never mind the kooks they surf there so next time you in the line up and you a decal with a BUFFALO or LOCALS ONLY back right off or get dropped in on.
    Mouse Billson
    J Bay and Magnas Local

    • Name (required)
      21 September, 2018 at 5:24 pm · Reply

      You shouldn’t be allowed to surf anywhere but home with your shitty attitude.

  5. Mouse Billson
    16 July, 2015 at 7:33 am · Reply

    Maybe we need a few more ZOO KEEPERS THERE

  6. Craig Drysdale
    16 July, 2015 at 2:23 pm · Reply

    I recently hit the water for the first time in 25 years. I was exhausted by the time i got to the back. If it was a beachie it would have been impossible for me to make it out. The spot os on the north coast of natal called tiffineys. I was immediately welcomed by the locals and even offered the next wave that came through. What a great experience and an awesome bunch of guys. I did manage to catch the next wave and was nailed shortly after take off. Ended up being to exhausted to get another wave but had a blast.

  7. Cremoux
    10 April, 2017 at 9:15 pm · Reply

    Tamarin white shorts is a reality but they are bluffing. If you go there, they will tell you to go back on the beach but if you say no, they won’t fight. At the end, this will not be the best friendly surf session but anyway you could get some waves.
    And anyway, localism is useless. More and more people are surfing today, even locals, so anyway famous spots are over crowded all over the planet ! The best strategy I think is to learn how to paddle and get right on the peak…

  8. Julz
    8 May, 2018 at 9:17 pm · Reply

    I was in Mauritius in December 2017. Didn’t take my board – went for a family holiday, plus I was a bit unfit for surf. On one of the last days, I went to tamarin bay and decided to go for at least one paddle. Figured I would sit way inside and snag a couple small ones. Rented a board at the place on the corner and paddled out. Despite the online warnings about the so-called “white shorts” and 2 particular guys (Bruno and Etienne), I figured showing respect generally works most places. .I sat inside for at least 30 min watching all the “locals” catch waves and kick out early. Waves were ok, nothing special. Then….out of nowhere, thus craggy old nutter paddles up to me and says “this place is not for tourists, get out of the water. So I say to him..tell me, do you ever travel- he says yes. I then asked him if he’s ever been to South Africa? He says Yes, many times. I then ask him, so why the F*&K do you get to come to my country, surf my waves, but I cant surf your waves, never mind the fact that I’m sitting far away and showing respect. I haven’t even paddled for a wave, I’m not in anyones way – whats the problem? So he tells me that’s not the point and that I have disrespected everyone by paddling out a locals only wave and that when he comes to SA he doesn’t surf because he respects the locals. I then asked him if he was Bruno, cause I’ve read about this dick that bullies people at this spot….he confirmed it was him. 🙂 Anyway, I told him he’s a P&#S and that he can come meet me in the car park – and I meant it – and I didn’t care if all the locals came… I don’t do bullies. So I paddled back in, went back the surf shop and demanded my money back. The Guy at surf shop laughed at me like I was kidding, so I started barking real loud, told them their vibe is shite and that Bruno is going to pay for my board hire – get the money from him. Don’t rent boards out to tourists if they’re not welcome. Don’t tell me to surf the 1 ft closeout shorebreak either…Got my money back. Adios Tamarin, kak place, kak vibe. I’m waiting patiently for the day I spot Bruno in the surf somewhere in Cape Town – I will chase him out of the water…turning the other cheek is what allows bullies to get away with their mindless kak.

    As for the article….so, let me localize the boardwalk at Muizies in Summer. When tourists come along, I will shout at them and say – NO WALKING ON THIS BOARWALK IN SUMMER ON DEFINITELY NOT ON WEEKENDS – I WORK DURING THE WEEK SO THIS IS THE ONLY TIME I GET TO WALK ON THE BOARDWALK!!! Pretty stupid hey….

    • Mr Brown
      20 July, 2018 at 11:30 am · Reply

      Fully with you bru! Maybe we should gang up and then we can start charging people to walk on the boardwalk. If they don’t listen, we beat them up. That’s about what I get from this shitty rhetoric.

  9. hugo
    13 July, 2018 at 12:45 pm · Reply


  10. Mark
    15 July, 2018 at 8:53 am · Reply

    Velzyland,named after a famous Hawaiian surfer?

  11. Melissa
    15 July, 2018 at 2:09 pm · Reply

    It is disgusting behavior. Especially the recent man being physically beaten in Tamarin Bay in Mauritius. No locals own the waves, the ocean was created by God for ALL to enjoy. The police should be arresting any locals who lay a hand, throw a punch or hit any person… as you would when there is a fight at a pub, so this should stand when it comes to surfing. It’s selfish Arrogant French Mauritians who are extremely aggressive and have no respect for others outside of their own pathetic network of ‘connections’. If the police do not do something about it, tourists should team together and teach them a lesson, they do NOT own the water, God does!

  12. Mr Brown
    20 July, 2018 at 11:37 am · Reply

    Yup. I found this at some “local” Cape Town spots as well. But they’re mostly runty little hipsters who run for cover the minute they realise I’m not taking any of that kak. You have mates? Mine are older, wiser, bigger and much better trained in the art of warfare. I don’t f@ck with you. Don’t f@ck with me. A little mutual respect goes a long way.

  13. oil
    4 September, 2018 at 4:26 pm · Reply

    Surfers that apply these local rules… do not deserve to do this sport.

  14. Mouse sounds like a douche
    2 April, 2019 at 10:27 am · Reply

    Lol, mouse sounding like juju. Mine, mine, mine. What do guys with buffalo on the boards do when they travel to other spots or do they not travel. Making life hard for themselves.

    Can’t wait to see them around.

    Penis? Lol. Demands respect but doesn’t give it.

    Mauritius was pretty chilled when I was there.

  15. Oliver
    29 August, 2019 at 3:32 pm · Reply

    I have experienced the Mauritian locals first hand. Its real there. Fear, violence and harassment. So much so that i wrote an article on the 4 places with the worst surf localism. It even has a case of surfers being shot at.


  16. Skids
    3 June, 2020 at 3:29 pm · Reply

    We should organise an anti localisation group loads of Surfers organise to meet at say tamarin and tell the locals to fuck off , localisation is the dumbest thing especially on a good long point or consistent spot

  17. Frewuigi
    31 August, 2020 at 8:04 am · Reply

    Hmmm its not an exact science all right .Im an inland surfer and I dont have a local break .Ive also been lucky enough to travel all over the world to surf .From awesome warm water tropical reefs to big cold Norcal points ,Firing Jbay & Mdumbi to lekker beachies in Uruguay .So localism I know .First up is respect the code when theres 5 surfers out to 275 (Uluwatu).Even if others dont it does in the totality earn you respect ,whereever you go .It also gets you less pissed off which then enables you to dial in ,to the spirit of the Ocean and to what the waves are doing .If you focus on the movements too much of other surfers hustling and bustling you miss the spot .
    I feel that respect is earned but should not be granted just because somebody claims he is a local .So if I paddle out ,give the benefit and give way but the surfer duffs the wave or fails to pick up on the good peaks repeatedly- for me the localism priveledge is null and void and we are the same .Not in a piggy kinda way but I am going to wait,be patient but paddle hard and work hard for the next wave and not just give it up because this ou is wearing pink fokken boardies.Generally though its all about howsit ,easy engagement and not getting on each others waves as there are sooo many .Also if someone doesnt want to engage or chat –los it .Its fine .
    Some people might disagree with all this but its seen me well around the world and Ive made some awesome buddies along the way .Ive been chased out the water once only .Tu Afuera!!Peru Ballies dont take well to being hustled on the set wave .And ja Id never surf Tamarin bay either .One Eye much better. .

  18. Laro
    18 September, 2020 at 6:01 am · Reply

    The white hair-I mean white shorts do hit girls and kids. Those old kooks are such pussies. They should stop bitching so maybe they can learn to pop up.

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