Surf Trips for Dummies

By Matt G – 21/09/2015 

Finding a surf holiday to suit your needs can be a mission in itself, with a brutal amount of variables to consider: From location and budget, to services provided and surf quality. Here’s a quick guide to help you find the perfect trip and score value for your money.

So, you’re keen to get away and take a vacation dedicated to surfing, but aren’t sure how to battle through all the online advertisements and find the perfect trip? The surf holiday market is huge and as clever as online search engines are these days they don’t know exactly what you’re priorities are. So resorting to a google search to help you decide on the most suitable style of holiday can easily leave you more confused than when you started. To save time and cut through all this crap, the first thing to decide is: “Which style of surf trip would suit me?”

We can categorize the options into three different styles of surf holiday, all of which have their own benefits and drawbacks:

There’s no doubt that chartered boat trips are almost every real surfers dream. Luxury boats, kitted out with full accommodations and entertainment facilities, taking you along the coast and dropping you out the back of the best surf available. Guests get to tour the coast, enjoy an adventure and experience top quality surf.

These charters are mostly found in the Indian Ocean, enabling guests to island hop through Indo and Bali and uncover some uncrowded and otherwise inaccessible breaks. On the rare occasion that the conditions aren’t suitable, the chartered boats are able to cover long distances, chasing the swell and keeping you in the right place every day.

Of course, this comes at a hefty price and you’ll need to either be a big shot banker or take tips from the characters in Point Break if you want to make these a regular feature in your diary.

Pros: Surf quality / luxury
Cons: Price tag

Surf camps and hostels are popping up in their masses at every surf destination around the globe. Morocco is a great example, with Taghazout, its small village which has become a surfers heaven for winters. Ten years ago Taghazout was a quiet fishing village accommodating just a handful of European surfers that were keen to enjoy the top class point breaks available. Fast forward ten years to present day and the village is packed to the brim with surfers and even beginners from all over the world. There are over fifty surf camps in the area and thousands of travelers flock to the village in the winter season.

There is a good reason why these camps are so popular. They’re absolutely ideal for beginner surfers who want surf lessons in the sun, while still having nice luxurious accommodation to come back to each afternoon. If guests decide that surfing isn’t actually for them, it’s not a wasted holiday. They can still kick back by a pool, sun bath on a roof top terrace and enjoy the group atmosphere.

For experienced surfers though, these camps often aren’t quite so suitable. Guests are usually restricted by set schedules and find themselves surfing around the fixed meal times and travel plans rather than the tides and conditions. Since almost all camps work on roughly the same schedules, when you arrive at a break you’re greeted by a big crowd of other enthusiastic travelers, equally keen to paddle for waves. Unlike charters and the van travel lifestyle, these camps have a fixed location and will only ever be willing to venture an hour or so from base in quest of the best conditions. This limits your options when the conditions aren’t so great and can often leave guests having to accept low quality waves.

Pros: Group atmosphere / Luxury / Price
Cons: Surf quality / lack flexibility


Sometimes ditching the fancy boats and big crowds is the best call you can make. Photo: Shutterstock

Of course there is the option to avoid all the organizations by just hiring a car and renting an apartment, or taking a tent. This can be the ideal option for groups of surfers who want to have some exclusivity and avoid sharing a house. You don’t have a fixed meal plan either so you’ll enjoy the local cuisine and soak up some culture – It is meant to be a holiday after all.

The huge benefit with going at it alone is the flexibility. You have the freedom to surf on your own schedule, enabling you to make the most of dawn and sunset sessions, avoiding the crowds and freeing up more time to either surf yourself to death or enjoy some other local attractions. Of course this flexibility is only of use if you know the area well. If you’re new to the area or don’t know all the breaks as well as the locals you may find yourself going to the wrong spots entirely and soon end up with a holiday spent sweating in a sun scorched rental car, on the hunt for decent waves.

Pros: Flexibility / Potential surf quality / Price
Cons: Potential lack of surf quality

These three “styles” of surf holiday cover the majority of options available, but are by no means an absolute list of availability. There are some businesses that are created to try and bring together the benefits of these options, while avoiding the cons. You need to consider what qualities are important to you and decide which of the above options is most suitable. Then it’s just a matter of picking the best location (which should be determined by the time of year and level of ability) and checking out the reviews to decide who to book with.

Hopefully this guide makes the decision of choosing a surf vacation a little bit easier and you’re able to find the perfect trip for you. Now get your trip  booked, chase the waves and enjoy an adventure.