Planning a surf trip is a bit of an undertaking, even for experienced surfers, and it can be absolutely harrowing. There are plenty of facets and details to get caught up on or simply forget, all of which can lead to you getting skunked! These are some of the basic tips that will help you plan your first surf adventure!
Location Location Location
The first and most important aspect of your surf trip is choosing the destination. There are many factors that go into this process and it is well worth doing your research to ensure picking the right spot. Be honest about your ability (beginner/intermediate/advanced) and then look for surfing areas that have spots suited to your level. If you learned how to surf in the last couple years, Pipeline will not be the surfing destination of choice.
You also need to take the time of year into account. Is it the prime swell season for the spot or will you be surfing the scraps? What about the predominant winds? Try and learn as much about the region you’ll be heading to beforehand in order to make the most out of your surfing time there. Take into account budgetary needs as well. Cost of living, accommodation, and miscellaneous expenses are all important to consider. Check out our Budget Friendly Trip article here.
There isn’t too much difference between packing for a regular trip and a surf trip, you just need to bring all your surfing supplies! Check out our Packing Guide for more information. In general, look to bring extras of everything. Research will also play a role here: Does the area you’re going to hae a surf scene/surf shops? If so maybe you don’t need to stuff that surf wax into your carry on (although it couldn’t hurt could it?). One important piece of gear that people almost always forget is swag from your local surf shops! Some stickers go a long way toward endearing yourself to the local groms who can be your best or worst friend in the lineup. One other thing that might just save your life: A first aid kit! Check out our First Aid Kit packing article here!
Surfers are well known for a few general traits, but attention to detail generally isn’t one. Take care to do enough research to understand what kind of travel documents you need with you and if you need to do any work before your trip to ensure entry and stay in the country you are going to. Make sure that your stay is covered in the visa you will be receiving and ensure that you have a passport on you at all points of entry/exit to ensure that everything goes smoothly. Don’t be the one at the airport with all your bags packed getting put on the first flight back to where you came from because you didn’t fill out required form before attempting entry to a foreign country.
The eternal question of whether or not to bring your own boards on a trip is one that has puzzled surfers for decades. The choice is only available if there are surf shops where you are going, so if not bring your own sled. However, if there is the option to rent/buy at destination, read on. If you are riding a foam board, do not bring it. This is the most universally available rental in the world, and you will not have a problem procuring one for cheap.
Once you get to surfing hard top boards then it gets a little trickier. Take into account the waves you will be surfing and if you will need/want your own equipment. Call up local shops and ask what they have on offer to rent/buy during your stay. Cross reference airline baggage fees (longboards are super expensive to fly with!) with local rental rates. A tried a true method is to buy at destination and sell used before heading home. Better yet give the board away to a grom!
The best way to make enemies in a foreign place is not showing respect for the local customs and people. This goes for both outside of the water and in, but with a few general guidelines you should be able to avoid problems. If the local language is different than yours, take the time to learn some useful phrases and sayings. A “Good morning”, “Sorry”, “Please”, and “Thank you” will help you out a lot in most situations, especially the “Sorry”. Respect for the locals also means respect for the local economy. You are visiting and should make a point to spend at locally owned stores and shops. On top of this you should be tipping well (within local customs) and often. In the water this respect needs to continue. These are not your waves and one needs to be aware of their place in the lineup. Let the locals get the good ones, be friendly, and don’t paddle for waves that are already being paddled for. Of course all the regular etiquette rules apply, it’s just important to be extra careful when you’re not on your home turf.
At the end of the day all of the above guidelines should be utilized to ensure an epic trip. But the most important tip of them all is to use Yeeew.com to book! From accommodation and local information to all the surf research you could ask for, it’s all here.