Perfection in Costa Rica Photo: Carlos Palacios

The Inertia

Surf camps seem to have sprouted up in every corner of the globe. Does it all mean “the search” is dead? Does it mean there’s no more room for wandering the globe, looking for new and untouched waves?

Surfaris are still achievable, and necessary. There’s nothing better than pinpointing some remote dot on the map, getting there somehow, and scoring epic, empty surf. But what if you don’t have a month (or a yak to get you there)? What if you’re traveling with somebody who doesn’t surf, or your only concern is getting barreled for five and a half days and you don’t have the energy to plan more than the flight?

And this is where surf camps become relevant and necessary in the surf/travel experience.

Here’s Why:

Zero Planning

Surf camps offer the surfing traveler an easy road. Just book your flight and the camp will take care of everything else: airport pickup, accommodations, your own surfari driver (who can keep your camera and stuff safe while you surf), and delivery to where the waves are breaking best. During your stay, all you’ll have to do is get dressed and apply some sunscreen. No hassles, no research, no phrasebook, no car rental. You won’t even have to hassle with bringing a surfboard. Most camps these days own a decent quiver and the cost of renting a board is often included. One of the best things about a surf camp is surfing with a guide. This may sound like cheating but you’re guaranteed to get more waves. Your guide will share every nuance of the break with you, will bridge language barriers, and will also know where to find the best empanadas. Your guide just might also become a lifelong friend. After all, they are likely as passionate about surfing as you are.

They’re Great for Groups

Surf camps sometimes have an instructional program for beginners or even intermediate surfers. If you want to go shred but your boyfriend/sister-in-law/uncle Tito all want to learn to surf or need some instruction, a surf camp can take care of everyone, all under one palapa. Once it’s quitting time you can all meet up for pina coladas and talk story.

Family Fun Packs

Maybe your whole family wants to learn to surf. Attending a surf camp that offers instruction for newbies is a great family bonding experience. When was the last time you learned something new alongside your kids? And surf camps will be able to diversify their instruction so that all the learners in your group get what they need to be successful and have fun (read: your kids will soon be surfing better than you). At the end of the week, you will have learned enough so that you can plan future trips on your own.

They Satiate Wave Starvation

You’re wave-starved. You live in Nebraska and you get two weeks of vacation per year and you want to spend every minute of it surfing. Surf camps have done the work to find a great location with oodles of wave choices, so you can surf double or triple sessions every day—sometimes even starting on the day you arrive.

They’ll Ease You Back Into It

You’re recovering from being pregnant or some other surfing hiatus. Every surfer mom will tell you how much being out of the water pained her. Up your wave count and get back on your board with a bang at a surf camp. Look for camps with childcare (they exist!!) so that you and your partner can surf together again. If you’re re-entering the surfing scene after a break, a surf camp will offer you a wide range of wave choices and schedule options so you can take it as fast or as slow as you like.

Now, what to look for in a surf camp:

-All-inclusive packages: Staying at the camp is the ultimate goal so you’re part of the action and can keep abreast of scheduling shifts.

-Surfboard rental: Ask for an inventory and if you can try different boards throughout your stay.

-Instruction options: for the learners in your group or the pros looking for a tuneup.

-Number of tours or trips to the surf per day: Some camps only offer one, some will only go depending on conditions, and some guarantee a full day excursion every day.

-Location: will you be able to surf in between boat trips at the break out front? Are you stuck on some remote island with nothing else to do or is there nightlife, restaurants, a French bakery within walking distance?

-Demographics: Is the camp coed or does it cater to one gender? Is it popular with single travelers and if so, do you get a roomie or can you be solo? Is it more for couples, families? There’s nothing worse than booking a trip to get a break from your kids and then end up at a resort full of them.

-Other amenities: Do they offer visits to the turtle sanctuary? Zip-lining for kids? Sunset cruises?


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