As the weather turns grey and melancholy during the winter months, dreams include the following: hot temperatures, a beach, a towel, and a frothy alcoholic drink morning to night. My fantasy is to try something new like surfing, though I’m not willing to go it alone. Here are a few global destinations where you can book a surf camp or lessons:
Sayulita, Mexico. 35 minutes from the Peurto Vallarta airport on thePacific coast of Nayarit, Mexico, lies this laid back destination and popular spot for beginner and advanced surfers alike. Sayulita Surf Camps (sayulitasurfcamps.com/index.html) offer a variety of packages from 1 day surf camps for $95 to 3 day getaways including one trip and two surfing lessons (from $225). This destination also enables you to sneak away for a long weekend or stay for a week and slink into a hammock and gorge on some fish tacos like the infamous Sayulita fish tacos (sayulitafishtaco.com/index.html).
Mal Pai and Nosara, Costa Rica. Pura Vida Adventures rides the wave of female-only surf vacations. Loosely translated the term “Pura Vida” means “Life is Great,” which is what the owners intend for their clients. The seven-day and six-night adventures include surf instruction to secret surf spots, three meals a day, yoga sessions and a 1 hour massage. Beachfront Accommodations (also included) can be shared or private and are mix of modern facilities and rustic décor. Packages from $2195. Another option is Surf Simply, which just re-opened for their winter season on November 13, featuring four new chalets and a yoga/massage room. Located in Nosara (2.5 hours from Liberia Airport and 5.5 hours from San Jose Airport), the resort offers a variety of affordable packages (from $1200). The packages also include the extras- like training with a woman’s boxing champ and making your own surf videos- at no extra charge.
Montanita, Ecuador Recommended by pro surfer Kimball Taylor, this rustic village has consistently good waves. Bohemian backpackers may get the best deals by booking their surf lessons while in destination, as rates are as cheap as $15 for a two hour private session. As for accommodation, Cabanas Pakaloro is simple but a steal at $8 per night in high season. That’s as much as a combo at McDonald’s!
Nadi Island, Fiji. Situated on the western side of the main island of Viti Levu, Nadi is a bustling town fit for any traveler from the backpacker to the upscale client. The Fijian Surf Company offers lessons and tours from Nadi (or transportation can be arranged). Class sizes are limited to three people for and last for three to four hours. Tours are also personalized and avid surfers are taken to the best breaks, regardless of levels. Lessons are priced from $200; tours are priced from $100 (based on two or more people). Island hopping/snorkeling tours as well as fishing tours are also available.
Tamraght, Morocco. Tamraght, a small surf town approximately 100 km away from Marrakech on the Atlantic coast of Morocco, is an unlikely and tranquil place to learn to surf. At United Surf Camps, five hours of instruction are included in addition to meals and a video of your experience. One day surf school package, including accommodation, starts at 55 euros.
San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua. Located in a quaint fishing village, all-girls resort, Chica Brava not only offers beginner, intermediate and advanced instruction but also offers lessons specifically for women aged over 40 and other customized packages. The Cloud Farm package includes three healthy meals from farm to table. Chica Brava offers the chance to go horseback riding, zip lining and partying in town for additional costs. The owners don’t sugar-coat the realities of living in a small village in a third world country. Packages start at $990 per person (based on double occupancy).
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Gap Adventures offers a four-day Learn to Surf program on the beach of Praia Arpoador situated in Rio de Janeiro between Ipanema and Copacabana. The short getaway includes accommodation and a chance to explore Rio before taking off on subsequent travels. This stellar deal runs from $219 (for 2 adults) and $359 (for one adult).
San Diego, California and Baja, Mexico. Pacific Surf Schools offer a five day package with two day instruction on the shores of San Diego before traveling south to Ensenada on the coast of Baja, Mexico. The trip includes all transportation and luxury meals, costing $1750 for the five day trip; however, costs are lowered to $1250 for the trip for groups of six or more. The school has lessons and overnight camps if you want to stay in San Diego. Another option for female travelers is Surf Diva (surfdiva.com), which offers 2 day surf clinics in Los Angeles and La Jolla, California. Stand Up Paddle Boarding is another service that is offered, if you wanted something different. These lessons are a great way to combine some adventure with sightseeing along California’s coast if you are planning a longer trip to the state.
Byron Bay, Australia. Although spots like Surfer’s Paradise and Bells Beach are synononymous with surfing in Australia, Byron Bay is the ideal place for beginners. Byron Bay Surf School offers both lessons (from $65) and surf camps (on request) which incorporate a hostel stay for the rugged, younger traveler. Other activities such as dophin kayaking, skydiving, or yoga can be organized by the school’s staff. Combined with a vibrant nightlife and a number of festivals throughout the year, this is an ideal spot for a vacation. Your surfing expedition can also be incorporated with other adventures such as hiking nearby national parks such as Arakwal National Park or Cape Byron State Conservation Park.
Ouahu, Hawaii. Hawaii is one of the most popular surfing spots in the world. Beginners can practice hanging ten on the gentle shores of Waikiki. Hans Hedemann Surf, named after the pro-surfer, is one of the many suppliers on the beaches offering surf lessons. You can surf with a pro or Hedemann himself. Girls can partake in lessons with Roxy Surf Camps (the famed surf retailer) and if you want something different, you can get the ultimate ab workout with Stand Up Paddle Surfing. If you want to watch the pros, a lot of them are on Oahu’s North Shore. Group lessons start from $75 per person. Additionally, Hawaii’s tourism site, gohawaii.com, is chock full of information on the islands.