Surfer - Explorer -Author

French surfer and explorer Erwan Simon just found old photos of his expedition to the mysterious Saint Brandon archipelago in April 2006.

The Inertia

I have always been most attracted to obscure destinations. I’ve traveled and surfed the waves in Mauritius, Rodrigue and Reunion islands. And through that, I realized there was still a group of unknown islands on the map – an archipelago located in the north of the Mascarene. Most people don’t know much of these islands. The very few who had heard of one particular island, Saint Brandon, told me there was nothing there. It was impossible to access the archipelago – sharky and too difficult to reach.

I recently found old slides of my expedition to find Saint Brandon, tucked away in a drawer. The quality of the photos are not great but it is a personal testimony. Ten years ago, a permit from Mauritian authorities was needed to go there but not impossible to get. No ferry, no planes, and nobody lives there except the few seasonal fishermen who stay on the island a few months every year.

“Pointe Requin” is a shallow and powerful wave located at the southern tip of the archipelago. Strong currents and sharks are waiting for you.

In April of 2006, I managed to convince some of these fishermen to bring me and my surfboard along. They hid in the bottom of their boat to avoid the coast guards when we left Port Louis and after a motor breakdown and one really long trip (almost 500 kilometers) we ended up in this glimpse of paradise. Saint Brandon, also known as Cargados Carajos Shoals, is a group of 30 virgin sandbars – wild, remote and gorgeous.

Saint Brandon archipelago is a group of 30 islets. The sand banks can be washed by the ocean during the cyclone season.

Saint Brandon is a 50 kilometers long reef with tiny islets and sandbars nestled in a huge turquoise lagoon. For one week I explored the islands – fishing and surfing the reefs and sandbars. It’s a wild kingdom of sharks and birds. I surfed four different spots, including one shallow and powerful left wrapping around the southern tip of the reef, all right smack in the middle of nowhere. The current is strong and yes, there are plenty of sharks. The waves near Chaloupe and Baleine islands are less challenging, but they break in a stunning landscape of white sand and turquoise waters.

Virgin waves in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Baleine island in Saint Brandon.

I kept these photos secret for more than 10 years now, but now there are rumors of tourism developments by the Mauritian authorities and private companies in these wild territories. Unfortunately, this little piece of paradise and wildlife that I stumbled upon with the help of some local fishermen a decade ago could be threatened by hotels, resorts, and mass tourism.

As a founding member of SurfEXPLORE, I am still on the road in search of undiscovered waves. From Libya to Bangladesh, from Sierra Leone to Algeria, I travel this beautiful planet, searching for the untouched and uncharted places just like Saint Brandon was a decade ago. There are waves to be found and we should protect these gems.

Only few seasonal fishermen stay in the archipelago during the few months every year. The camp is basic but the fishing is incredible – sharks are everywhere.


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