I was going to write a complete beginners guide to surfing and surf camps, the best spots to go to globally and also what to eat to stay healthy. I was also going to recommend some surf camps for you in those spots, but obviously they would be ones that I could somehow get a financial kickback from or at least a free stay. A guy’s gotta eat.
However, after a lengthy dump (poo) and a couple of thousand slaps around the face with a wet cod I decided (a) that might have been done a few thousand times before, (b) I would get better karma if I kicked my gran in the shins and (c) I could write something a bit more constructive to give you the power to make your own choices. An ‘anti guide’ of sorts shall we say.
Why am I writing this and who cares?
The idea of honesty is one we hold very dear to our hearts here in the SB office (unless we are talking about how good the waves were yesterday) and we remain vigilant to any threat that might try to ‘tractor beam’ the cash from you wallets in the name of surfing. It follows then that this article is well overdue. Surf Camps have been in our cross hairs for some time now and rightly so in my opinion.
Over the past two weeks I have had a few people send me articles that perhaps I might want to publish, suggesting that these could be seen as ‘guest’ pieces. They were along the same lines as I have described in the first paragraph of this very piece of writing. The artcies were informative, well written and then, right at the end was the sell. Book now. Here. Now. Upon further investigation, the author worked for one of the slimes of our industry, the Air B&B of surf camps. Those that list your surf camp and pimp it out only to take a not so modest fee, bumping the price of your surf holiday up by some %. Nice huh. Book now. Here. Now.
We all know how the world works and are not trying to start a revolution or fire hatred around, but if someone asks us to be a part of it, and a few times, sending follow up emails. Well, erhum, then that’s different. We will name no names but instead rise above this quagmire and maybe offer a more constructive way to choose your surf camp or yoga surf thingy.
A Word on Surf Camps
The words surf and camp together are one of the most popular searched for 'phrases' on Google and rates above the words surf and board. Organisations that are not surf camps call themselves camps as they believe they have to. A camp to me involves camping, tenting or outdoorsness. How many surf camps do you know that include accommodation in a permanent dwelling? If you are being honest, probably most of them. So let’s look at what a surf camp usually involves.
- surf lessons, private surf lessons, video coaching, parties, organised trips, surfboard rental, drinking, other outdoor activities, transfers, boat trips.
Other things that could be involved include :
- Flights, yoga, Pilates, organic food, vegan food, locally sourced food, firepits, bongos, some twat playing a guitar that thinks he is Jack Johnson and members of the opposite or same sex (shagging).
I like most of these things as I am a surfer, but why let someone else organise it? It seems to me to be a modern ‘package holiday.’ A lazy man’s holiday that might involve the popular world of surf. Do you really want to surf, meet new people and have actual experiences, and educate yourself on what it means to be a surfer? Maybe not, in that case surf camps might be for you? Everything has its place in this world.
However, if you like to blaze your own trail or just meet people out of a controlled environment, learn something other than what is pushed on you, may I suggest a ‘surf trip’ with some other surfers? Crazy idea, I know. But I digress, I promised this would be a constructive narrative, so allow me to change my tone.
How to know the best place to go in the world ever, definitely for you for definite to surf.
You don’t, nobody does, it’s not possible. Surfing (apart from the wavepools) is reliant on weather which is out of the control of mankind and especially so of those people that pretend to tell you the best ever holiday for sure. Buy. Now, book now and get 20% off. Now. Do it.
Saying that, there are trends in the weather and swell that mean you might be able to pick a more reliable time of year to visit a country or specific spot. This also depends on the conditions you want, depending on your level of surfing and also depending on what kind of surfing you want to do.
As far as where to go and when, there are a number of resources I might recommend:
- Refer to publications such as ‘The Stormrider Guide’ or ‘Footprints’
- Websites with no angle to sell you holidays.
- Post questions on surf forums like Magic Seaweed and get answers from your piers.
- Phone a friend who knows more about surfing and travel than you.
- Try and find websites that are owned by the ‘camp’, ‘hostel’ or ‘accommodation’, most hosts can recommend times of year to visit, schools, board rentals etc.
- Surf Worldwide make maps and infographics (we have one in the office on the wall) that tell you on average what to expect conditions wise throughout the year all over the world.
Planning a surf trip on your own
As with most things in life, if you want to be a surfer, you have to put the effort in, learn about waves, tides, boards, spots and all of the other nuances that make our pastime great. The greatest single thing about our sport (apart from slidding down waves) is the challenge of getting to the aforementioned point. The sliding part. It’s about the knowledge you have to accrue and the simple fact that you never stop learning. There is always a better wave, a greater challenge, new boards to ride and new feelings to have. What I am trying to say is that you need to make mistakes, thats how you learn.
By getting out there and mixing with locals and people you don’t normally mix with, you are making your surfing world bigger. You hear stories, talk to interesting people and most importantly pick up information that might otherwise be hard to come by.
Do the research, make the leap and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Get outside of the ‘protected environment’ of the all inclusive and chase down what it means to surf.
WARNING : We take no responsibly if you get hooked and end up changing you life for the better or worse (undecided).
Decent Surf Camps
Reading back through this article it looks like I am slamming surf Camps. That was not my intention as there are some stunning Surf Camps that are owned by surfers that really just want to share their passion with the world. The trouble is finding them through the ever increasing haze of 'top 10 best ever' or '7 best places to surf as a beginner' type articles out there. We could (and later might) try and bring some places that we (members of Surf Bunker) have tested and been to before.
Normally the really great places rely on a big number of return guests or personal recommendations, if they are advertising heavily maybe there is a reason they need to.
Try and find the actual webpage or social media page of that company. Speak to the owner and get a feel for the involvement factor.
Avoid the big companies that take a percentage to book you into a place that might well be great, go direct and get a cheaper and maybe better surf holiday.
Make sure you check to see if there is a guitar or bongos that might be high-jacked by a Jack Johnson wana be (nobody wants that).
I am a believer in the old saying ‘you get back what you put into life’, this is so with surfing too and surf trips. Get out there and find your own way, make mistakes, meet people and surf some waves. It’s not really that difficult, it just requires a bit of effort.
Right, now that's out of the way, I am off to write some ‘paid for’ SEO nonesense that will be read by no-one and is as useful to you humans as a chocolate teapot. As I said, a guys gotta eat. Brrrruupt.