SUP is an incredible way to enjoy the oceans and waves of the world. But what if you find yourself land locked in a concrete jungle? Thankfully, Stand Up Paddling has wound it’s way into the fabric of cities big and small around the globe. Here are seven incredible urban SUP destinations that will satisfy even the most demanding paddler.
The vibrant downtown scene next to Lady Bird Lake (where smooth waters prevail because motorized boats are prohibited) offers a fun and relaxed SUP destination close to all the action with year-round smooth waters. Summer weekends in Austin can bring out over 100 paddlers to enjoy the great outdoors in the heart of downtown. If you want a bit more seclusion, try one of the dozen navigable creeks, lakes and streams within an hour’s drive of Austin.
When to go: Year round. Hot summers with temps over 100 are ideal for SUP sessions combined with cool dips in the rivers. Or try paddling during the mild winters to enjoy complete peace and quiet in the midst of the city. Each June, Austin hosts the Dam That Cancer charity paddle, a twenty-one mile fundraiser to support families coping with a cancer diagnosis.
Mission Bay, CA
Calm water and soft sandy beaches make these protected coves a haven for paddle boarding. As long as you don’t mind the cooler water temps and sharing the bay with an occasional sailboat, you’ll spend a worry-free day exploring the sandy banks, small islands and marinas all while enjoying city views. There are plenty of SUP resources in the area including SUP yoga classes and rentals.
When to go: Anytime of year is great in San Diego. Mission Bay generally has calm waters, especially in the mornings. The water is cold year round so just pick a sunny day in case you take an accidental dip.
Please read the remainder of the article here at SUP Connect
I recently ended a relationship that lasted almost 20 years. It was going strong, real strong.
We were high school sweethearts, made it through college together and then stuck by each other’s side through new jobs, moves, marriage, honeymoon, kids, and so much more. Then suddenly, abruptly and without warning it was over. In one day.
My Rainbow sandals had been replaced by Freewaters.
Honestly, I’m still a bit shocked. I thought Rainbow and I would be together forever. Heck, Gerry Lopez is their spokesman... he’s a legend! The Pipe Master himself.
Also you should understand a bit of my flip-flip philosophy. I had been a strictly one pair of sandals guy for almost 2 decades. My theory was to find a really good pair of sandals and be done with it. You wear them for 2-3 years then replace them with the exact same model. Only having one pair of sandals (like one pair of good jeans) reduces the daily need for wardrobe decision making.
Everything changed the day a pair of Freewaters arrived in the mail. I’d never heard of Freewaters, they were sent as a gift. I quickly pushed them aside thinking I’d put them in the goodwill bag for my regular donation delivery.
Then I made the fatal mistake, I tried them on. All it took was that one slide of my foot over the Thermarest foot bed and something changed. I cut the tags off and started wearing them around the house, you know, telling myself it was just for a couple minutes.
Next thing I new I was out the door on a walk to Whole Foods. “Wait a minute!”, everything within me called out. “I can’t be seen in public like this, I’m a Rainbow’s guy!”. Please understand I was wearing Rainbows long before they were sold in department stores, way back in the early 90’s! That’s ancient history for flip-flop wearing.
So what am I doing now with another flip-flop strap between my toes? Enjoying every step, that’s what.
Grab a pair yourself at Freewaters.com. And in case you're wondering, this is not some sort of paid placement. I've never met or spoken with anyone at the company... I just know a rad product when I step on it.
Need a place to try out your travel footwear... I suggest Saladita
So last month I got to spend some time in Playa Negra, Costa Rica. We arrived after dark in a hard rainy season downpour. So my first impression of the place was less than steller. Honestly though, over the years I've realized this is one of my favorite times to arrive at a new destinatin (in the dark with rain) because it makes the next morning that much more exciting. Sort of like waiting to wake up Christmas morning to see what Santa brought you.
That next morning Santa didn't disappoint.
Playa Negra really is a GORGESOUS area. The water, the mountains behind you, the lush plants, and the homes spread out along the cliff all add to the beauty. I've included two videos below for you, because nothing really showcases an area like video footage. Check those out and then read on.
Video overview of Hotel Playa Negra
Video Overview of Casa Luna Miel, a Playa Negra Vacation Rental
First of all, where is Playa Negra? Well it is about 30 minutes south of Tamarindo by car if the roads are good. Where is Tamarindo you may wonder? It's on the northern end of the Guanacaste Peninsula on Costa Rica's Pacific (West) Coast. Tamarindo is only 1 hour from Liberia airport, a small but modern and recetnly renovated internatinal aiport (Costa Rica's other airport is in San Jose). So once you land at Liberia Playa Negra is about an hour and a half away, if you fly into San Jose it's closer to 4 or 5 hours depending on your route.
Playa Negra surf break is a rocky right hand reef break that works for most of the year. It's not for beginners but intermediates and up will have a lot of time and maybe get some serious barrels. A local restaurant in town has a wall covered in impressive photos of Playa Negra really going off.
About 5 minutes up the road is Playa Avellanas, a great beach break that is suitable for all levels and can produce world-class waves. Tamairindo and it's beginner waves are just 30 minutes north and you can also catch a boat from there to surf Ollie's Point or Witch's Rock.
Playa Negra has a really nice beach, especially in front of the surf spot and Hotel Playa Negra. The sand is not white like you'll find in the Caribbean but that is the case for most of Central America's Pacific Coast. For Costa Rica standards, it's gorgeous. At low tide on the north end of the beach - beneath all the vacation homes- the beach is smaller but there are great rocky slabs to walk out on to do some tide-pooling.
Playa Guiones is definitely a special place. Consistent waves, breathtaking views, responsible development and a friendly vibe make this a great Costa Rica surf vacation for anyone. Here's a video giving you a better feel for the beach scene in Playa Guiones.
So who would I recommend visit Playa Guiones? Almost anyone. Backpackers, solo travlers, honeymooners, young couples, retired couples, families with young kids, families with teens, surfers, paddleboarders, non-surfers, nature-lovers, explorers and just about anyone else I missed.
Who would I NOT recommend go to Playa Guiones. Only those who are looking for a very upscale experience or who don't want to drive on bumpy roads to get here. There are some VERY nice hotels to stay at (like Harmony Hotel or L'acqua Viva) but you won't find fine dining, paved roads or fancy cars. If you're after those things, go elsewhere, if you're after great surfing, friendly locals, like-minded travelers and fair prices, come to Playa Guiones!
Oh, and forget about the hassle of brining your own surfboard, there's plenty of surfboard rentals in Playa Guiones. Personally I rented from Coconut Harry's. They have two location, great boards, huge variety and really fair prices. Check them out for sure.
Last fall I went down with some friends from Texas to K38's in Baja to stay at the Club Marena vacation rental - Villa Endless Summer. If you've never been to K38, the setup is incredible. As you'll see in the video, there's a beautiful condo complex sitting on the cliff looking down on the wave. I know the old days of camping on the bluff are gone and that is a bummer, but it's hard to complain when you can be sleeping in complete comfort and enjoying hot tubs with perfect surf views.
We had shortboards, longboards and SUPs that we all rode and shared. It was such a great time with warm weather, head high waves and hardly anyone else out in the water. Check out the video to see some of the surf shots.
To see all of the great Wavecation places to stay at surf breaks in Baja, click here please - Wavecation/Baja
Surfing in Kansas....
Or anywhere else for that matter may soon be the norm. It appears the age of high-quality artificial wave surfing may finally be upon us. Now we could go on endlessly debating the philosophical concerns of mimicking mother nature and creating perfect waves on demand without having to wait for the elements to align... but let's not. Setting aside those issues I don't think there's a surfer alive who doesn't get excited watching the new video put out this week from Wavegarden.
The implications for the growth of surfing are pretty mind-blowing. Check the video out and just imagine one of these in every medium sized town in America. Oh, and pay attention at the 4 minute 25 second mark, does that not look like your peaking into a surfer's mind while he's dreaming.... UNREAL!
I must say, Tamarindo impressed me. Plenty of surfers had told me about how crowded it was, overdeveloped, dirty, etc. But what I found was a charming little surf town that was much more pleasant than other Central America surf hubs such as La Libertand in El Salvador or San Juan del Sur in Nicaragua. Tamarindo seemed more along the lines of Sayulita Mexico. A fun, funky beachfront town that appeals to a wide range of visitors.
Driving into town the first thing I noticed were the streets were clean and there were many tall trees and green plants everywhere. The town has a very lush feel to it (I was there in late May, beginning of rainy season). My first stop was Witch's Rock Surf Camp where I grabbed a board and hit the surf right out front. The waves were small and unimpressive but any surfer visiting Costa Rica for the first time has to be stoked just to be in the water.
Surfers walking along Tamarindo beach with small waves in background. This is an excellent beginner spot.
The vibe in the water was great, everyone from local rippers to young kids with their dads were out having a good time. After getting out of the water you can rinse off at the great outdoor shower in front of Witch's Rock, leave your board and wet items on right on the grass (or shrubber) and dine on a huge breakfast or lunch at Witch's Rock beach front restaurant. Even if you're not staying here, it's pretty easy to make it sort of a home base for the day. They have boards for rent, food to eat and a surf shop on site, what else do you need?
Boards and rash guards hanging out on the bushes at Witch's Rock Surf Camp while the owner eat breakfast.
Maxi has been renting out boards at Witch's Rock Surf Camp for over 15 years!
Heading up and away from the beach there are many homes and condos on the hillside with truly spectacular views. Don't go without taking time to hike or drive up a few hundred yards, then turn around and be amazed at the ocean views around you. Heading a little further into the main part of town (this means walking another 2 minutes from Witch's Rock) you'll find plenty of surf shops, restaurants, tour agencies, hotels, even upscale boutique shops and cafes.
View from the hill in the Las Mareas development. Definitely a nice place to stay.
Tamarindo then officially ends and Playa Langosta begins, but the transition is mostly seamless. The coastline takes a bend here which is a plus for surfers as you have more options for finding favorable swell and wind conditions. The Playa Langosta side is dominated by newer upscale condos and hotels. The Villa Alegre has been there quite a while and has some charm. At the end of the road is a great surf spot at the river mouth. There is the huge and sprawling Barcelo Langosta sitting right on the surf break. This resort would be good for a family, especially if you're used to staying at larger resorts with huge swimming pools and lots of people about. I took a quick peek, though it's not my style the place actually looked very nice and you can't beat the location for surfing.
The pool (and surf in background) at Barcelo Langosta. Big resort, good for families or a first time Central America traveler.
The gorgeous Hotel Capitan Suizo in Tamarindo. If you need beachfront upscale accommodations, stay here.
Great opportunities to combine surf trips with volunteering your time and abilities.
More and mores surfers and other travelers are finding great ways to give back to local communites while enjoying a unique travel experience. These volunteer travel or "voluntourism" experiences allow you to get to know the locals, their personalities and the specific challenges they face. Don't worry, you'll still have plenty of time for surfing and relaxing as well. Below you'll find a working list of Surf Voluntourism opportunities throughout the world. If you know of others, please share!
Hang with the surf kids at Mision Mexico orphanage, they'll redefine your idea of "Stoke".
Operation Amped - Free surf camp for wounded and injured vets
Sustainable Surf - All things sustainable and surfing
Surfing for Change - Professional surfer Kyle Theirmann working to make the world a better place by tackling environmental and social issues
Surfers Medical Association - Organization for surfing doctors committed to serving locals and travelers in underprivileged areas
Surfers Environmental Alliance - Committed to conserve the quality of our marine environment, preserve or enhance surf breaks, safeguard beach access rights, and protect the coast from over-development.
Center for Surf Research - Surf tourism program at SDSU. Focus on working with students, travelers, governments, communities and private companies to improve the sustainability of surf travel.
A Walk on Water - provides water therapy via guided surf instruction to children with special needs.
Surf for Life - Educational and community driven development projects in coastal communities throughout Central America
Valpo Surf Project - Uses surfing instruction and academic mentoring to encourage English language skills, personal character development, and environmental consciousness among underprivileged and at risk youth in cities across the Globe.
Waves of Health
Surfers for Autism - The Surfers For Autism mission is to unlock the potential of people with developmental delays, support advocacy for autism issues and scientific research
Stoked Mentoring - Using surfing and action sports to instill resilience & self reliance in low-income youth. You can help out by mentoring a kid, volunteering your photog services or just raising awareness with a twitter shout out.
Christian Surfers International - Spreading the gospel to other surfers and locals around the world. Join in on a short or long term mission trip, or learn how to be a better witness at your local surf break.
Save the Waves
Waves for Water
Surfers for Cetaceans
Surfers Healing - Set up by Izzy Paskowitz for his Autistic son Isaiah. Surfers Healing runs camps each summer across the U.S. and can always use some great volunteers who don't mind getting wet and loving on some kids for the day. Volunteers with surf experience are a plus.
Surfrider Foundation - International body of surfers working for environment, access and social issues affecting beaches and surfing.
Beyond the Surface International
Surf Resource Network
Mision Mexico - Orphanage in Tapachula that takes the kids surfing regularly
WildCoast Protecting the Mexican coastline against development and pollution
Project WOO - Community based volunteer projects in Gigante
Monty's Beach Lodge - A beachfront surf camp in rural Nicaragua. Monty and his staff have developed deep relationships with the local Nicaragua schools and clinics allowing guests to immediately get plugged in. Spend one day volunteering and the next swinging in the hammock. There is never pressure to participate but always the opportunity.
Waves of Hope - Non profit community development program in Nicaragua. Internships available.
Papua New Guinea
Know of other surf volunteer agencies? Let us know and we'll add them to the list.
Traveling Surfers helping out in the local school near Monty's Beach Lodge in Nicaragua
When Killer Whales Enter the Surf Lineup
While Orcas aren't known to hunt humans (no known deaths though a few attacks) they are HUGE creatures and these surfers were wise to give the animals plenty of room to hunt seals. Though one would have to question the decision to even stay in the water surfing while wearing black neoprene, closely resembling the seals you see frantically swimming away from the hunting Orcas. Tofino is known for it's natural beauty, and this is a wonderful example of it!
Looking for places to stay in Tofino, here are some great beachfront hotels and vacation homes - Tofino Wavecations
Where should I stay... Troncones or Saladita?
Often I’m asked about how the Mexico surf destinations Troncones and Saladita compare to one another. The two “towns” are only a few miles apart as the crow flies (15-20 minutes driving) but offer very different experiences. Here’s my take on Troncones vs. Saladita
Troncones has some shops and nice restaurants/hotels. Troncones is a few miles of mostly non-descript beachbreak with one really good, though quite rocky, point break. This point break is called Troncones Point or Manzanillo Bay. Manzanillo Bay is a beautiful beach for walking, swimming, spearfishing, etc. The wave breaks over a rocky ledge with urchins so it’s best for intermediate to advanced surfers. I surfed it for two days, with head high waves, clear water and never more than one other guy out. Two incredible places to stay right on the point are the small boutique surf resort - The Inn at Manzanillo Bay or an incredible vacation home - Punta Pelicano.
Troncones is best for families or older travelers looking for a taste of “real” mexico or surfers looking for a nice place to stay (two above mentioned) that will please your spouse as well and don't mind driving 30 minutes for surf if it's not breaking at Troncones Point.
Saladita is best if you want to get away from everything else, be in a very rural setting and have incredible waves at your door step but you don't mind having to drive 30 minutes for shopping, dining or nightlife.
IN SUMMARY: Saladita is best for great waves, Troncones is best for nicer places to stay, restaurants, etc.
La Saladita's surf break is great for beginners and intermediates both. The point break offers a really long consistent ride. You’ll find cheaper beachfront places to stay in La Saladita than Troncones. Be advised there’s not much else to do but surf and swing in the hammock. The surronding mountains are beautiful and are reminiscient of a lush Southern California. The wave - Saladita Point - is often called a reverse Malibu for good reason. It breaks long and consistent over a forgiving cobblestone bottom but instead of going right like Malibu, Saladita breaks left making it a rare goofy foot paradise
Saladita's long crescent shaped beach is nice for walking. Overall you’ll find more surfer backpacker types here renting one of the Valencia family places on the point (like Lourdes Place or The House of Waves - Saladita). There are some newer upscale homes and b&Bs (like La Chuparosa) a few minutes walk up the beach though as well. Even surf legend Corky Carroll after traveling the world to surf, has made Saladita his new home.
The best thing about Troncones and Saladita is that it doesn't have to be an either/or decision. They are so close to one another (only about 15 minutes apart with the new roads) that you can easily stay in one and surf at the other.
|3-4 restaurants||20+ restaurants|
|No need to get dressed up||A couple nice restaurants|
|Dirt roads||Paved roads|
|roosters in the street||roosters in the steet|
|A REALLY long left point break||Miles of mediocre beach break with 1 good point break at Manzanillo Bay|
|Lots of surfboards for rent||Some surfboards for rent|
|Majority of visitors are surfers||Majority of visitors are here for other reasons|
|Price range from cheap to high end||Price range from cheap to high end|
|Not much else to do besides surf||Shopping, Yoga, dancing, skatepark, scooter rentals, biking, kayak tours|
|About 45 minutes from the airport||About 30 minutes from the airport|
|Sandy beach with miles of walking||Sandy/rocky beach with miles of walking|
Manzanillo Bay in Troncones, one of the prettiest beaches in the area
Heading into Troncones, at the main intersection
Accommodations to suit the surfer and their guest in Troncones
The crescent shaped beach and surrounding mountains of La Saladita
Surfer and local Shaper Bruce Grimes on a long Saladita peeler
A surfer walking back up to the point in Saladita
Plenty of longboards and shortboards for rent in Saladita
There are a dozen or so homes and bungalows for rent on the point in Saladita.
LAST MINUTE DECEMBER SURF TRIPS
We've compiled a list of hotels, houses, surf camps, condos and villas that have last minute availiblity between now and the end of the year. Lots of you have been contacting us looking to book a trip around the Christmas Holiday.
Last Minute Getaway to PR
Oceanfront One Bedroom Openings in "Villa Quinones" Units: Q3 12/31 - 1/10; Q4 12/31 - 1/3; non-of studio Q5 12/31 - 1/16
Places offering a Wavecation discount:
10% discount Round House Barbados - Rooms from $95-165. Free b'fast and WIFI. Dec. 15-25.
10% off 7 days Casa Sueno - Incredible house & seculded surf. Open now through December 22
FREE SUP RENTAL Cinco Hotel - On the beach in PUNTA MITA. Rooms now - Dec. 25
Book online Sea-U Guest House in Barbados - Stay in front of Soup Bowls. Dec. 15-31
20% off Sayulita Beach House - Beautiful rooms on the point. From $50/night! Openings Dec 15-25
INFOGRAPHICS FOR SURFERS
Infographics are all the rage and the surf world has not been spared. Here's a collection from around the web of interesting, informative or shocking Infographics about surfers and the oceans we ride.
1. THE TOXICITY OF SURFING INFOGRAPHIC
We should be better stewards of our oceans! source: greensurfshop.com
2. THE ECONOMICS OF SURFING
source: Surfrider Foundation
3. WAX ON WAX OFF - THE HOW TO GUIDE
A Surf Wax Infographic by The Adrenalist, powered by Degree Men
Find New Waves in Your Own Vehicle - All the Fun and Half the Hassle
Recently I met a guy from California who is involved with the car shipping business. If you’re like me and own a business then you always consider whether a new contact could be a good business connection too. Well I quickly decided that international car shipping and surf vacations have nothing to do with one another and gave it no more thought...
But wait a minute! What was I thinking? Finally my creative side kicked in and I realized there is an incredible connection and it really got me daydreaming about the possibilities. On my surf trips over the years I’ve met so many people that drive down from the U.S. far into Central America. They scour the coast of Mainland Mexico looking for empty beach breaks. Then they drive like mad to pass through Guatemala (though you can surf there too) aiming for the point breaks of El Salvador and fresh seafood cooked by locals on the beach. Next stop is northern Nicaragua with it’s empty surf breaks to explore followed by the perfectly groomed offshore waves of southern Nicaragua. Lastly for many is Costa Rica which could easily eat up a month or two of a surfers trip but if they’ve planned well they make it into Panama for a final few surf sessions.
But then what? The trip is over, you’re surfed out and exhausted. What happens to your vehicle? Do you sell it, abandon it, trade it for a years worth of fish tacos or start the grueling 3000+ mile journey back north?
Tent + Beach + Surf Board = Good Times
There are few things as satisfying as spending time with friends or family at a great campsite. You remember just how little you really need to enjoy life. Simple and self-sufficient while enjoying the outdoors, that's camping. Arguably the best sort of camping is BEACH CAMPING and throw in a surfbreak in the mix and most of us couldn't be more stoked. Wherever you are in the world you can usually find a place to pitch a tent next to some great waves. The below list is a work in progress of some of our favorite beach camping spots with surf potential. One great beach camping resource we came across was campsitephotos.com, they have an incredible selection of campsite photos from all over the U.S. and the site is very well designed.
Beach camping is inexpensive, offers loads of freedom and makes for a unique and memorble trip whether you're with the family, friends or just flying solo.