Does the thought of spending your summer vacation kicked back on the hot sand, drinking a beer, and eating fish tacos in between epic surf sessions have you reaching for your phone to call in sick for the week? Do you spend your time dreaming of the perfect surf trip but never bring yourself to actually plan? Today we walk you through some of the top surf spots in the world and how to make sure your dream surf trip goes off without a hitch.
Pick a destination: Obviously this is going to be your largest concern. Different surf spots will yield completely different results depending on the season and gear you're running. Here are a few leads to whet your appetite.
Costa Rica (Central America): Exploding in popularity, Costa Rica boasts gorgeous black and tan sand beaches often frequented by an abundance of fish, colorful locals, and sometimes even the occasional sea turtle.
Best Time To Visit: Winter (waist to head high) & Spring (head high to triple overhead)
Local Hazards: As with all international destinations, you'll want to keep your wits about you. Sharks, mosquitoes, and thieves are amongst the hazards you should be mindful of, no matter how unlikely they are. These events aside, Costa Rica is a unique, idyllic, and an epic surf and beach getaway.
Cabo (Baja Mexico): Cabo's been on the greatest hits list of surfing for quite some time now as is evidenced by their large and fairly large lineup on an almost day to day basis. Nice toasty water, relaxed waves, and immediate proximity to deliciously prepared hamburger-priced seafood--it's hard to go wrong with Baja Mexico. If you're planning a trip here, chances are you'll be staying in San Jose del Cabo or Cabo San Lucas.
Local hazards: Include territorial locals, poisoned tap water, and all manner of biting stinging things both in and out of the water. Bring bottled water and watch out for sea urchins and sometimes jellies.
Best Time To Visit: Fall/Spring
Snapper Rocks (Australia): One if not the MOST crowded surf break in the world---with regular crowds weighing in at well over one thousand strong---and for good reason. Catch the right string of waves and you could be surfing for up to a solid mile of beautiful shoulder to double overhead. Expect to paddle like its your only form of entertainment, because the waves come in quicker than you expect and never stop rolling in.
Local Hazards: sharks (rare) and enraged locals (also surprisingly rare).
Best Time To Visit: Summer/Fall If these destinations don't catch your eye, head over to Surfline for some inspiration: http://www.surfline.com/travel/
Our Top 10 TRAVEL TIPS:
1. Rent or Buy? The hard and fast rule here is to rent if you're trying to learn how to surf or if surfing isn't the primary goal of your trip. Otherwise, pony up, armor up, and pray for the best.
2. Pick an Airline: A lot of airlines will try and rip you off or even refuse to transport your stick despite the fact that it's sort of their job. DO YOUR RESEARCH or pay out the nose. Virgin Atlantic, JetBlue, British Airways, Air New Zealand, and Aero Mexico are all very affordable ($0-$50 one way). United, Continental, Delta, and USAir will plunder your wallet for a minimum of $100-$300 each way. For a full listing of prices, make sure you check out our recent article on surfboard fees for airlines.
3. Protect Your Surfboard: This is absolutely vital. Most airline baggage handlers won't go out of their way to treat your board with the same painstaking care you do. Thankfully there's a lot you can do to keep your gear intact and surf ready. Here's our guide on how to ship a surfboard.
4. Interact: and we don't mean with your surf buddies. Everyone--locals, hotel staff, random strangers. If you aren't doing this already, you'll be blown away by the doors that some simple conversation will open. Seat upgrades, better rooms, secret surf breaks--talk with people, turn on the charm, and reap the rewards.
5. Surf Gear: Naturally, the most important part of your planning will be the gear you bring. If you want to keep your costs low, its in your best interest to keep a finger on the pulse of your destination. The more you know about the weather patterns, wave conditions, and what to expect, the less anticipatory gear you'll need to pack. In addition to your usual gear, you'll probably also want to bring a backup board and some booties just in case things don't turn out the way you expect them to.
6. Currency Exchange: Make sure you get all your money changed in one shot, preferably at your local bank or an ATM at your destination. Rates here are better, and getting it all done at once will save you on transaction fees. Your hotel should be your last resort as they will charge you a super premium for their services.
7. Eggs in a basket: Don't keep all your cash and credit cards in one place. IF something gets stolen or lost, you don't wanna end up stranded and strapped for cash.
Solarez or equivalent quick repair kit
Which will cover wetsuit and board repairs. Make sure you pack the fluid stuff in with your surfboard or check ins or suffer the wrath of TSA. Alternatively: duct tape will fix just about anything. One roll and you won't have to mess around with the other stuff.
9. Always get your money changed. You're much less likely to overpay when you've got the local currency on hand.
10. Scan your passport and email it to yourself. Just in case it gets lost or stolen. If you don't anticipate having internet access, print off a copy and store it separately from the real deal.
Got any tips that we missed? Be sure to comment below.