Ever heard someone say, “Your first few surf lessons are always awful”? Horror stories from beginner surfers typically range from falls and cramps to endless hours spent trying (and failing) to stand on their boards. This is why it is of utmost importance to carefully choose where to learn this exhilarating, rewarding and fun sport.
Great surf isn’t restricted to one part of the world, which is one of the best things about it. From tropical Bali to not-so-tropical Bundoran, you can go as near or as far as you please in order to take the first steps toward your boarding adventure. Surfing aside, the only things these dream destinations have in common is that they are all bodaciously worthy of being included in your BUCKiTDREAM planner.
So grab your board, throw on your wetsuit and get ready to taste the saltwater, because surf’s up, BUCKiTDREAMER and the next wave is yours!
Hop in Your VW Camper and Head to Byron Bay Now we can’t talk about surfing without paying tribute to the ultimate surfers’ paradise. Since wave devotees first arrived in the Aussie town in the 1960s, it has overtaken Hawaii as the modern surfer’s Mecca. First instinct might lead you to follow the vibes to the main beach, but seasoned surfers and their often cranky attitudes toward innocent beginners make learning here more of an exercise in diplomacy as opposed to a session in perfecting your technique.
Try moving west along the coast and avoid the crowds at the stunning Wategos Beach with the Black Dog Surf School. Black Dog are renowned for their friendly, patient staff who are a popular with beginners. They may be in demand, but with their excellent teacher/pupil ratio of 1:7, they guarantee that you’ll get standing on the board on your first lesson or else the next one is free. When you’re done, be sure to head back to the Black Dog HQ, curl up with the school dog George (yes, he can surf too!) and cringe or beam at the slideshow of professionally shot photos of the lesson.
If you’d like to get even further off of the beaten track, make your way down the Seven Mile Beach Road, take the dirt road and you’ll find yourself at White’s Beach, arguably the most beautiful beach in the whole area. Make sure to bring a bottle of Imogen’s Farm wine from the Byron Bay farmers’ market, throw off your shoes and take in what is bound to be the most awe-inspiring sunset of your life. Romantic interest optional!
Follow the Wild Atlantic Way to Bundoran
In a country as rain-sodden as Ireland, it’s unlikely that you’ll be topping up your tan when you visit Bundoran. What you will be doing is catching some of the best learner waves that Europe has to offer. While Ireland’s popularity on the worldwide surf scene is relatively recent, surfers from all over the world are flocking to its western coast to enjoy the type of waves that only the Atlantic can offer. There are wild breaks for the experienced surfer as well as simpler waves for those less seasoned.
You should maximize your time in the water by heading to the Bundoran Surf Company, who offer impressive three-hour-long lessons, which give you ample time to learn how to pop up like a pro. Surfing is majorly addictive, so we’d suggest going for the five-day Surf and Stay course.
While you’ll be busy surfing all week, the next question is what will keep you occupied at the weekend? As well as being Ireland’s answer to Byron Bay, Bundoran is also home to a number of industry renowned music festivals. Sea Sessions takes place on the last weekend of June each year and is an electrifying mix of music and surfing. It adds up to the perfect combination of surfing by day and listening to world-class musicians such as Primal Scream, Bastille and Tinie Tempah by night.
When you’ve finished taking in all the surf the north shores of Ireland have to offer, why not travel down the stunning Wild Atlantic Way and take in some of the breathtaking panoramas, stopping to surf in all the best stops along the way.
Bask in the Winter Sun in Taghazout
Surfing is the perfect hobby, regardless of weather conditions; but sometimes you just need to be enjoying the sun while catching some waves. With 320 days of the sunshine per year, the fishing village of Taghazout in Morocco is the ideal winter surf break.
Located on Morocco’s west coast, 20km north of Agadir, Taghazout enjoys the straightest swell in all of the North Atlantic – that’s a group of unbroken similar waves moving together, for those of us not yet versed in surf lingo! As traveling to North Africa can be a culture shock for Westerners, it’s wise to leave the logistics of your trip to Said and his crew at Surf Taghazout, who’ll look after everything for you as soon as you land in the airport.
Surf lessons are included in all week-long packages as well as seven nights’ accommodation and meals in the dreamy Taghazout surf house overlooking Anchor Bay. You can venture further than the surf house for meals if you fancy a change, but when the resident chef is cooking up gorgeous tagines, hariras, and pastillas, all included in the price of your stay, you might prefer to stay put.
If you’re looking for a more chilled-out stay, go for the surf and yoga package where you’ll reinvigorate yourself pre-surf with some early morning chakra-cleansing overlooking the North Atlantic. Once you’ve mastered the waves in Anchor Bay, be sure to head to the aptly named Paradise Valley, where the idyllic surroundings will have you longing for another week.
Hang Loose in Waikiki Beach
Duke Kahanamoku, known as the father of modern day surfing, was born and bred in Waikiki. While all of Hawaii has excellent surfing, Waikiki Beach sees surf the most consistently and has breaks to suit all experience levels.
Due to the variations, it’s best to have your wits about you and know which waves suit your level. While you’re perfectly suited to easy and slow waves like Canoes, which is perfect for stand up and balance practice, you’ll have to steer clear of more tricky waves like Ala Moana Bowls, Kaisers or the ominously named Suicides.
If you’re in danger of riding something outside of your expertise, the locals, known for their hawkish attitude towards tourists infringing on the harder spots, will be sure to warn you. There are no shortage of surf instructors vying for your business in Waikiki, but it’s wise to steer clear of hotel-provided lessons as you’ll only have a very limited time in the water and it will likely be in large groups.
The best instructor on the beach is no doubt celebrity surf instructor Ivan at Hook Up Surfing. Although Ivan isn’t as expensive as his past clients would suggest, if you’re looking for something a little more pocket-friendly, you can visit Big Wave Dave’s surf shop (pssst. they can often be found on deals websites). Dave Carvahlo is the quintessential surfer dude and guarantees that he’ll have you riding a wave in your first lesson. The best thing about learning to surf on Waikiki Beach is the infectious enthusiasm of the surfing instructors. They really want you to love surfing and will do everything in their power to make sure it happens.
Chase the Waves in Canggu
In Bali, Kuta is the most popular destination for tourists, but far from the tropical paradise it claims to be, Kuta is actually a run-down, underdeveloped tourist trap that is more filled with lairy, drunk Western tourists than it is with genuine surfers. For surfing, travel north up the coast and land in Canggu, the real surfers’ wonderland of the Island of the Gods.
When you get there, head to Echo Beach, an expatriate favorite and home of The Chillhouse where their seasoned surf instructors will assess your level and bring you to an appropriate beach to suit your needs. After you’ve claimed the last wave of the day, stay on your board and marvel at the blaze of the panoramic sunset on Echo Beach. Finish your night by heading to a warung (local restaurant); there are plenty of them dotted along the beach and they serve up the most delicious indigenous cuisine that would be enough to sate the hunger of even the most ravenous surfer.
As surf culture evolves in search of new waves, the list of great surf spots will continue to grow. It’s up to you as a newly addicted surfer to expand the list. Help inspire fellow surfers by using BUCKiTDREAM’s planner and always remember to share your dream lists across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Happy surfing!