THE 6 BEST SURF CAMPS FOR BEGINNERS

BEST SURF CAMPS FOR BEGINNERS

THE 6 BEST SURF CAMPS FOR BEGINNERS

In this article “6 best surf camps for beginners destinations”  we are going to explore some of the worlds best surf destinations for beginners.

Before we started Swell in the Caribbean in 2009 we operated a surf travel agency and that face us the chance to visit over 25+ countries to see what the surf conditions were like, so we have a pretty good idea of the different surfing conditions in the various surf destinations listed below.

beginner surf camp

But first, we need to have a look at what makes a good or best surf destination.

There is no such thing as one destination that ticks all the boxes. For one, someone who is in the early stages of their surf career is looking for a very different type of wave than a seasoned pro.

In this article, we focus on a region that has ideal learn to surf conditions for complete beginners.
We could have included more countries and regions on the list, but we have focussed on what we consider the best destinations.
Next month we will also feature 6 surf destinations for intermediate surfers.

 

BEST SURF CAMPS FOR BEGINNERS

Experience level:
Between zero and 5 surf sessions in their life.

BEST SURF CAMP DESTINATIONS  FOR BEGINNERS LEARNING TO SURF

best surf camp for beginners

 

 

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

Dominican surf campWhere is it located: Largest island In the Caribbean, the North coast faces the Atlantic, the south coast faces the Caribbean.

 

Getting There: Short direct flight from Miami or 3-hour flight from New York and Toronto. Charter flights from Europe

 

Focus surf region: The north coast, 20 minutes from Puerto Plata international airport.

LEARN TO SURF IN THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

dr learn to surf holiday

What makes it a great surf destination for beginners:
We are biased since this is where we opened Swell in 2009, but we did so for a reason: we wanted a place where we can teach people to surf in a safe way. Playa Encuentro is the ideal spot, it has 350 surfable days in the year, with mellow reform waves on the inside breaking over a flat reef, deep enough to stand in the water (around chest high), easy access to the beach, no dangerous current or sea life. We have taught 5000+ guests over 10 years the sport of surfing.
There is no dangerous sea life present, nor are there dangerous rips or currents present. All this make it one of the best places for a learn to surf camp for beginners.
Best time to go: any time of the year

More info: See this website

PROS

  • Pretty white sand beaches, lined with palm trees.
  • Friendly Caribbean vibes, in and out of the water.
  • Budget-friendly
  • Close to an international airport
  • Warm tropical climate and water

CONS

  • Midday trade winds mean at times it gets too windy to surf after 13.00

 

Video of the Dominican Republic


SURFING COSTA RICA

 

Where is it located: In the middle of Central America. 2 coastlines, the West coast faces the Pacific, the east coast faces the Caribbean

 

Focus surf region: Pacific region of Guanacaste

 

 

 

What makes Costa Rica a great surf destination for beginners:
We have spent a lot of time in Costa Rica between 2014 and 2017. The waves in Nosara and Tamarindo offer a great playground for people new to the sport of surfing, and there are plenty of surf schools and surf camps in this area of Costa Rica.
Mostly sand bottom beach breaks make learning to surf in Costa Rica safe.

Best time to go: Smaller waves between November and March

costa rica surf camp

PROS

  • Safe country to visit in Central America
  • Plenty of surf camps and surf schools to choose from
  • Pretty beaches and wildlife

CONS

  • The most expensive country to visit in the region, expect North American prices
  • Domestic travel from San Jose international airport takes time and money
  • BBusy in the surf

VIDEO OF COSTA RICA


BALI, INDONESIA

Where is it located: Southeast Asia, north-west of Australia, Indonesia consists of 17,500 islands, of which Bali is one of them.

 

Focus surf region: West coast of Bali, between Seminyak in the north to Uluwatu in the south

 

 

 

What makes Bali one of the best surf destinations for beginners:
Having spent the last  4 years living here and having built our 2nd surf resort here, it’s no surprise that we love Bali and think it’s one of the best surf destinations in the world. It is actually one of the few places where surfers of all levels are happy spending their surf holiday. For beginners, the beaches of Seminyak, Kuta, Bingin and Baby Padang are ideal for someone who has never surfed before.

In 2021 Swell has opened it’s door to a new Swell Bali Surf camp

bali surf camps

 

Best time to go:  Any time of the year.
More info: https://www.swellbali.com

PROS

  • Close to Denpasar international airport
  • Budget-friendly
  • Great Balinese culture
  • Ideal surf conditions
  • Warm tropical climate and water

 

CONS

  • Kuta region traffic can be a nightmare
  • Air travel from Europe and North America is lengthy, although once landed at Bali it is a short trip to the surf beaches.

Video of Bali


PORTUGAL

 

portugal surf destinationWhere is it located: Southwest corner of Europe, bordering Spain to the east.

 

Focus surf region: South Western tip of the Algarve and Alentejo

 

What makes Portugal one of the best surf destinations for beginners:
A mild climate makes Portugal a great places to visit for about 9 months of the year where the outside air temperature is  20° Celcius (69° Fahrenheit). Lots of open beach breaks mean there are not many days where the surf is too small to learn to surf.
A large variety of surf camps in schools catering for people between 18 and 24 years old.

Most teaching is done by qualified surf instructors

learn to surf in portugal

More info: coming soon

 

PROS

  • Lots of budget hostel style surf camps  in Portugal to choose from
  • European culture

CONS

  • For most of the year, you have to wear a full wetsuit since the water is chilly
  • In the summer months of July and August, the beaches get very crowded

CORNWALL, ENGLAND

 

england surf school

Where is it located: SW tip of England.

 

Focus surf region: Cornwall

 

What makes Cornwall a great place for learning to surf
Cornwall has some of the most stunning beaches and coves of England ( and even Europe). Being well exposed to the Atlantic ocean means that Cornwall gets plenty of waves. White sandy beaches make it a great place for your first surf lessons.

 

surf school cornwall

One of the surf school companies that we can highly recommend is Cornish Wave. Owned and operated by Jorrin, who also worked at Swell for a winter.

Highly professional, knowledgeable and friendly!
More info: Cornish Wave

PROS

  • Stunning scenery
  • Sandy beaches
  • Friendly locals

CONS

  • Expensive destination
  • Busy in European summer months

Video of Cornwall

 

AUSTRALIA, BYRON BAY

 

top surf camps

Where is it located: Easter tip of Australia

 

Focus surf region: North coast of NSW

 

What makes Byron Bay a great place for learning to surf?

Byron Bay has stunning white sandy beaches with a large variety of different surf breaks. There are a good amount of different surf schools to choose from. And if you are between 20 and 30 years old there’s a variety of different hostels/backpackers to choose from. If you want private accommodation, there are some very good hotels.

best surf camps

 

PROS

  • Sandy beaches
  • variety of different surf spots
  • Great beach culture

CONS

  • Busy year round

Video of Byron bay

 

We hope you enjoyed our “Best Surf Camps For Beginners” list. Next month we are focussing on surf camp destinations for intermediate and advanced surfers.

If you have any questions about this article and want to join us in the Dominican Republic for a unique surf holiday:  do send us a message!

beginner surf camp

 

 

 

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SURF ETIQUETTE: THE GOLDEN RULES

THE GOLDEN RULES OF SURF ETIQUETTE

SURF ETIQUETTE RULESLearning to surf is far more than starting a new sport and acquiring the skills necessary to compete.

It’s about learning the culture, participating in the lifestyle, and having the time of your life.

However, surfing can be a bit intimidating at times, and even dangerous if done incorrectly.

We’ve all have heard stories of “surf rage” and “locals only” spots, and we’ve all seen gruesome surf injuries.

At Swell Surf Camp, we want you to be well rounded surfers that could fit in at any break in the world at the end of your surf holiday.

In order to maximize the fun, minimize the risks to yourself and others, and progress your abilities on your surf holiday, you must familiarize yourself with

The Golden Rules of Surf Etiquette.

1. KNOW YOUR ABILITIES

While this may sound a tad condescending, understanding your own abilities in the water and humbly accepting them could save your life. If you’re still learning and you paddle out at an advanced wave, whether that’s a shallow reef break or any break on an overhead day, you run a high risk of injuring yourself and endangering those around you.

When you surf breaks within your ability, you can learn and progress, so that you can eventually surf more advanced breaks. When you learn to surf at Swell Surf Camp, your lessons will always be taught at breaks that reflect your ability.

One of the best things to do when arriving at the beach is to observe the waves for 10-15 minutes to make sure the surf spot is right for your abilities; just because the wave at a certain spot were great yesterday for your ability does not make it safe today.

2. PADDLE OUT WITH CAUTION

The most important thing to know when paddling out at a crowded line up is that the paddler yields to the riding surfer.

Meaning that if your paddle trajectory has you colliding with a surfer who is riding down the line of a wave, it is your responsibility to yield to that surfer, not the other way around.

In this example, Pete might be able to get back into position quicker, but he is also potentially getting into the way of the surfers on the wave. You don’t want to slalom through surfers when you are surfing. For safety and courtesy to other surfers, paddle wide of the surfers, back to the line-up, like Jim is doing in the picture.

CAUGHT INSIDE?

If paddling wide is not an option, then aim for the white water of the wave, instead of going and aiming for the easier option of the shoulder of the wave ( where the surfer is)

 

3. BE POLITE & SMILE

Whether you’re paddling out to a line up with 5 people out from your surf camp or 50 strangers, the rules are the same. Be polite, smile, and say hello. It will bring a feeling of levity to everyone around and it will likely put you in the good graces of local surfers.

4. UNDERSTAND PRIORITY

priority surf etiquetteNo, you’re not surfing a WSL heat, but priority still exists at every surf break. To put it simply, the surfer closest to the peak of the wave has priority over the surfer who is farther from the peak or on the shoulder. Understanding priority is key to existing peacefully in a crowded lineup.

  • The surfer who is closest to the curl, the peak or the breaking part of the wave has the right of way and priority over all other surfers;
  • The surfer who is farther outside and away from the shore has priority over all other surfers sitting or paddling on the inside, even if closer to breaking part of the wave; (This rules is often ‘abused’ by stand up paddle surfers, since they can pick the waves up further outside than regular surfers, if they get too greedy catching all the set waves, the Paddle boarder can expect the stink eye or aggro vibes from the rest of the line up)

5. DON’T DROP IN ON OTHER SURFERS

surfer etiquetteThis may seem like a no-brainer, but it happens often. A surfer is riding down the line when all of the sudden, another surfer appears on the wave and tries to hop to their feet.

Dropping in on other surfers is what usually leads to conflict in the surf world, thankfully it’s easily avoidable. It starts with understanding priority, if someone inside of you is paddling for a wave, then you shouldn’t even try to paddle for it.

Awareness plays a role as well, even if you don’t see anyone near you paddling for a wave, as you paddle look to your left and right to ensure no one is riding down the line that might have dropped on at another peak.

Being a snake – ‘snaking’

Being a snake, dropping in on others, aggressively jockeying for position in the lineup, or any other act of being a wave hog is considered rude. When you paddle out don’t immediately paddle outside past everyone else and try to get the first wave that comes in. Wait for a few waves to break first. Before you know it, the lineup will have been shuffled around a little bit and you will be in position for a wave. Just because you can catch all of the waves doesn’t mean you should (this applies especially to longboarders and stand up paddlers).

 

Communicate

When a wave breaks both left and right, two surfers can happily ride the same wave, just make sure to communicate by announcing if you’re going right or left, even if you think it’s obvious. A little communication in the water can do a lot to keep everyone safe and having fun.

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Just because you can catch every wave, doesn’t mean you should. If you’re on a large foam board or longboard that catches waves easily, it doesn’t mean you always get to take the wave from the shortboard next to you that’s looking to practice turns and airs. Always keep in mind that the ocean is for everyone and act accordingly.

6. BE CONSCIOUS OF YOUR EQUIPMENT

don't let go of surfboardMost surf injuries are not caused by the seafloor, other surfs, or wildlife, they are caused by surfboards. Surfboards are rock solid and have sharp fins, they can do some serious damage.

To avoid unnecessary injury to yourself and anyone else around you, be responsible with your board. Don’t just let go of your board when there are other surfers around you. ( in fact unless you are surfing 20′ waves, don’t ever let go of your board)

That means using a leash, not abandoning your board during your paddle out or after a wipeout. If your board is near you and you have a tight grip on the leash, or your board is under you, it won’t hurt you or any other surfer in the water.

7. KNOW THE BREAK

This is a crucial step for surfers of any level, but it is often skipped. If you’re about to surf at a new break, take a while to watch the waves. Notice where they are breaking, where the channels are, and what the current / rip tide is doing. If you can, take it a step further by asking another surfer about the spot.

Chances are, they will be helpful and tell you where to paddle out, where the peaks are, and more! At Swell, we teach you everything you need to know about our local break before we paddle out ( including Surf Etiquette)

8. RESPECT THE BREAK & BEACH

This one is obvious. Don’t litter, don’t’ leave anything behind. Pack in and pack out. You can even take it a step further and pick up any litter you might encounter. We love our local surf beach, and we do everything we can to keep it beautiful.

9. APOLOGIZE IF YOU MESS UP

We get it, accidents happen. You messed up, and that’s okay, as long as you apologize. It may seem trivial but making amends and making your intentions clear go a long way in a crowded lineup.

10. FORGIVE AND FORGET

Lastly, if someone else in the water wrongs you, if they burn you, drop in on you, or send a board flying at you, forgive and forget. No one likes to surf mad, and no one wants to be around an angry person.

 

TIPS FROM LAIRD HAMILTION

Be Aware. Laird Hamilton recalls, “I got run over by a guy when I was sixteen and he broke my leg. A guy ran me over with a giant longboard, and it compounded my leg, and that was one of those things that you learn, like, ’Don’t trust that the guy sees you and that they’re going to avoid you.’ Just remember that they’re probably going to run you over if you don’t watch where you’re going.”

Be Decisive. “I think the biggest mistake any beginner makes is hesitation,” says Laird. “You need to be deliberate with your actions, and if you’re going to paddle out of the way, just paddle and keep paddling. I think a real common mistake is people being indecisive in their movements, whether it’s trying to catch the wave or get out of the way.”

 

 

The above surf etiquette rules all apply for our local surf spots. At Encuentro there are 2 other rules that any traveling surfer should be aware off:

  • No Stand Up Paddle surfing (SUP) at Playa Encuentro

There are numerous off shore reefs that are ideal for Stand up paddle surfing, in and around Cabarete, so there’s no need to bring a dangerous SUP board & paddle into a lineup where there are kids and learners. Find the open spaces up and down the coast. This also applies to the new sport of foiling. Too dangerous to other surfers at our local surf spot.

  • No motorized watercrafts at Playa Encuentro.

No JetSki’s anywhere near Playa Encuentro, they are noisy, smelly and dangerous to the other surfers.

 

Surfing is more than just a sport, it becomes ingrained in us the moment we catch our first wave. In order to enjoy surfing to its fullest potential, stay safe in the water, and share it with others, we must stick to The Golden Rules of Surf Etiquette. We have travelled to a lot of different countries and have seen 1000’s of different surf spots & one of the things that really makes our local surfing beach stand out is the mellow & friendly vibe between locals, expats and visiting surfers.

Let’s keep it that way, let’s all stick to the surf etiquette, so we can all leave the water after a surf session with a big smile on our faces.




More info: https://www.surfgirlmag.com/2018/07/surf-etiquette/
Surfing at Playa Encuentro with Swell’s Romy


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