SURF VACATIONS: WHERE TO START
Whether or not you are a new surfer looking to experience the sport in an exotic, adventurous fashion, or a seasoned boarder looking to plan the getaway of a lifetime, planning a surf vacation can be a truly daunting task. From arranging countless international flights to figuring out exactly what to pack, simply figuring out the logistics can become overwhelming, let alone picking the right spot, and securing the best guides and accommodations once you’re there. After all, the perfect trip takes planning, and the devil is in the details. But before you get dissuaded from heading out on your next adventure, take a look at the guide below. While there are certainly many components that together make for a life-changing surf vacation, with a few tips and the proper guidance it is more than doable.
STEP 1: DETERMINE YOUR PRIORITIES
First things first, if you’re going to plan your dream surf vacation, you have to figure out exactly what you are looking for. Is the most important factor world-class surf guides? Do you need all-inclusive accommodations? Or maybe your biggest determining factor is the novelty and remoteness of the destination you are visiting? Answering the above questions, and actually taking the time to crystallize the answers in your head – or, even better, write them down on paper – will save you a bunch of time in the long run, and will ensure you know the right questions to ask when you reach out to resorts. This step may seem obvious, but we guarantee that if you take the time to separate your absolute essentials from your auxiliary preferences, you will end up much happier in the long run.
STEP 2: WHERE DO YOU WANT TO GO, AND WHEN?
Perhaps the biggest decision you will make when planning out your trip is determining the geographic region you want to visit. There are quite a few factors that might go into making this decision. To start, you are going to want to decide how far you are willing to travel and how much you are willing to spend on flights to and from your destination of choice. It’s important to remember that if you are traveling to a remote destination abroad you may have to pass through several countries. While this is part of the excitement and exploration for some, for others it is overly stressful. So we recommend you not only take into account how much it will cost you to reach your final destination, but also the amount of travel-based logistics is acceptable.
With that said, if you are looking to plan a truly memorable surf trip, we suggest you explore some place completely new. The discovery and adventure associated with traveling to new destinations around the world is an amazing thrill, and will go a long way to making your ultimate surf getaway unforgettable.
If you aren’t an experienced surfer, you might not know that surfing conditions can vary tremendously with the seasons. One spot that is calm and user-friendly in December could be roiling and intimidating in August. As such, once you have picked your dream destination, you should consider the season that is best suited to your schedule and your skill set.
STEP 3: CHOOSING THE RIGHT ACCOMMODATIONS
The quality of the waves, and your overall surf experience are probably your greatest factors. However, the quality of your stay can turn a good surf experience into one that is downright unforgettable. Yet, there are a lot of features that go into making your stay at any locale comfortable and intimate that are often overlooked by guests. Here are a couple details that our guests have said make their stays all the more enjoyable.
First things first, you can’t maximize your surfing experience if you don’t get quality sleep. Waking up refreshed and energized will ensure you can take full advantage of your vacation, and will keep you relaxed and happy throughout the day. So, in order to ensure your sleep leaves you well rested, make sure that the resort you are staying at has comfortable beds. While this may seem obvious, many more remote destinations will not provide a full suite of modern accommodations. Frequently, linens will not be changed as often as you would like, so it is a good idea to ensure the resort you are staying at provides daily housekeeping and has a stellar record for cleanliness.
Second only to the comfort of the rooms is the quality of the food. If you are traveling abroad, it is important to know that some countries have lower sanitation standards. For this reason, it is a good idea to stay at a resort that provides meals made in house with fresh ingredients and high standards of cleanliness. Additionally, if you go abroad, you will most likely be eating cuisine that is different from your normal diet. As such, you need to call ahead to ensure that you are not allergic to any of the foods, and to verify that the meals served suit your tastes. This is especially important since you will be surfing heavily, because if you do not get the proper nutrition your energy will wane and you will end up with less time on the waves.
A third consideration that doesn’t cross the mind of many guests are the transportation services offered by the resort. Getting to and from different breaks is difficult while hauling a quiver of boards, so it is essential that the resort provides trucks to reach more remote destinations. Equally as important, the resort should provide multiple boats to transport you to different breaks, and to help you get to off-shore breaks. If you are travelling with a group of friends, you should also make sure that the resort has multiple boats. That way, your group can have its own boat, providing you with freedom and ease of travel.
A note on personal attention:
I’m sure you’ve all been there before. You get to a large hotel or resort, and it takes many minutes to find an employee, and when you do it takes even longer to get the help that you need. The solution to this is to find out what the guest to employee ratio is at your accommodations. Every accommodation should be able to provide you with this number, and it is a great way of gauging how important personalized guest service is to that locale. For general staff, its good to find a place that has a 10:1 ratio (10 guests for each employee) or less. For surf guides, 5:1 or less is ideal, especially for less experienced surfers. With anything more than 5 guests per guide, it will be very difficult for the guide to be able to spend adequate time teaching you and helping you grow as a surfer.
STEP 4: BOOKING YOUR TRIP
At this point you have your priorities set, you’ve researched the best surf spots and best times of the year to go. Given the considerations mentioned above, you should also have a good idea of what accommodations are available at your destination. Depending on where your priorities lie, you’ll need to be realistic about your budget when selecting your accommodations.
If your travel dates are flexible, you may want to focus on your search for flights first. Be sure to check with your travel agent so you know the dates when accommodations are available, then try to find the cheapest flights among those dates. Depending on the time of year, peak season or off, you may have more options to choose from. Scott’s Cheap Flights is a great mailing list to join; multiple times per week they email subscribers about flight deals, and you might be able to score a deal just by keeping an eye on your inbox.
There are plenty of resorts, hotels, fales and more to drop your bags at while you hit the surf, however some will offer a better experience than others. Be sure to do your research on the place you’d like to stay – read reviews from past travelers, check out their social media, and give them a call to get an idea for the type of service you’ll receive.