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The One-Way Surf Trip

Find New Waves in Your Own Vehicle - All the Fun and Half the Hassle

Road tripping old school with surfboards
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?

Beach Campgrounds With SURF

 

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.

Playa Viva... From a Surfers Point of View.

Playa Viva... From a Surfers Point of View.


Beginner Surfers at Playa Viva... not ideal for beginners but on small days it can be really fun

 

I just finished 4 days of surfing Troncones Point (Manzanillo Bay) and La Saladita and considered my surf trip over. My wife flew down so we could enjoy three nights relaxing without the kids at Playa Viva, an all inclusive boutique eco-lodge 1 hour south of Zihuatenejo.

We arrived late one afternoon to a gorgeous property styled in the popular Mexican open air architecture. The beach was expansive and empty with white sand and clear blue water. The waves however were blown out as could be expected in the afternoon and the sets were closing out.  I hadn’t brought a board with me and it looked like a good choice at first.

The next morning dawned bright and clear and the ocean was glassy with clean shoulder high waves peeling in. I was able to rig up one of the liquid shredder boards being used as pool toys into something at least “surfable” and headed into the water about 7am.

Once I got past the breakers the water was Caribbean blue with visibility of around 30 ft (really clear).  Most of the waves coming through were closeouts but I caught one right away that had a nice shoulder. I dropped in, bottom turned and then gave all my effort to steer the water logged, single finned, 5’8” foam board down the line. The ride was short but fast and fun.

I caught several other fun shoulders and even tucked into a few closeout barrels that offered a moment of green-room glory. So while Playa Viva’s surf can’t compete with Loma Bonita a mile to the south or the famous surfbreaks an hour north - Manzanillo Bay and La Saladita - there is a possibility of beach break waves when you come. What the waves lack in quality they make up for in beautiful surroundings, clear water and no crowds for miles around.

 

More stories from Playa Viva - READ HERE

Couples Surf Trip to Mexico - part 4

Thursday – La Lancha

It was time to step up.

We were each getting up pretty easily and riding waves into the beach. The Chica Surfista had her running route down, my spanish was becoming muy buen, and we met a couple more great bartenders here in Punta Mita. Maybe a little more on that later. We even kind of sometimes knew what time it was. And the Chica even laughed when we saw a Chihuahua trying to saddle up a pit bull but couldn’t get past the knee joint.

It was time to go to a real surfing break.

La Lancha is a point break a little more than a 5 minute drive outside of Punta Mita. It’s the kind of place you think about when you think of a surfing spot: rocky landscape, surfers bobbing up and down in the water, random surfer stuff laying around on the beach. It also has a beach break that beginners can ride without having to get in the way of real surfers. It’s the real deal and the reason you would travel all the way to Mexico. But, this being Mexico, there’s a little catch.

According to my spanish translator app “la lancha” means “the boat.” Not so. It actually means “5 minute walk to the beach down a mud caked path through a rain forest populated with any number of bugs you wish you never knew existed but the ones you are certain that exist are the thousands of mosquitos that are flying around and biting you relentlessly that you can’t swat away because you’re carrying a surfboard and you’re afraid of falling and never being able to get out of the mud because it’s so thick and you really start to think you’re the guy in the boat who was sent to get Colonel Kurtz in “Apocalypse Now” except instead of bullets and arrows mosquitos have been sent to kill you and you’ll never see your kids again and why in the hell am I doing this.” Yeah, I wish I would have known this when I tried my translator. I better get my money back.

So our man Jesse has taught us to gather ourselves when we get to the beach and spend time looking out at the ocean evaluating the waves. Look for where the waves are breaking. See when the sets are coming in and get a feel for their rhythm. I only pretended to do this. Instead I took a deep breath, took in my surroundings, and then tried my best to figure out where in the hell a helicopter could land to get me out of there so that I didn’t have to walk back to the car. Then I wondered how much it was going to cost me. Not that I wasn’t going to pay any amount. I just needed to know so I could start to figure out how many pesos it was since I always freeze at the cash register and when the clerk says “two pesos” and I say “Lo siento, no hablo espanol” and she repeats “two pesos” and everyone in line laughs well the whole pesos thing is a problem “Okay let’s get in the water.” What? What?

Oh, and by the way, there was no chance I was going to look at the Chica Surfista. You know how a dog always looks away when it knows it’s in trouble? Exactly.

With my helicopter plan foiled I strapped on my leash, grabbed my board and headed into the water. The difference between La Lancha and Higuera Blanca was pretty significant. At La Lancha we needed to know and use the skills Jesse had talked to us about and you really got a sense of the ocean’s power. One of the first things Jesse taught us was knowing how to either push up or turtle roll when a wave is coming at you. A push up is self-explanatory and it basically keeps the wave from smacking you in the face. When it doesn’t look like you can push up and get over the wave and the wave is going to break on you then you need to turtle roll. Now, the Chica had been a little freaked out when Jesse was going over the whole bottom of the ocean thing. When he explained the turtle roll I kind of hesitated. The turtle roll isn’t hard to understand. Before the wave breaks you grab the board by the rails and flip over so you’re under the board as the wave goes over you. So the concept is pretty simple. What isn’t simple is the reaction your mind has to being instructed to do something completely opposite of what a million years of evolution have taught it to do. Ok, let me get this straight. I have a potential safety issue in the water and the solution is to capsize myself? Huh. That’s like your mom yelling at you to run faster with scissors or your driving instructor passing you a cold one.

But it works and a couple of times at La Lancha I needed it. The waves were bigger and longer which meant the rides were faster and longer as well. That’s the fun part. It also means the paddling is much, much harder and the wipeouts just a little more hairy.

The folks at Wildmex give us a rash guard, which is basically like a skin tight athletic shirt, to put on each day. It’s not mandatory but it’s a pretty good idea unless you don’t care if your nipples are scraped off the rest of your chest. At La Lancha I noticed another couple with the same rash guards and realized they were also there learning to surf.

Here’s the thing about surfers – they’re in great shape. I mean great shape. Old or young they’re almost all ripped. I’m not, and neither was this guy. If I was going to leave Mexico with any pride left I was at least going to out surf the only other guy like me out there.

Who knows if I did. In the end it doesn’t really matter. What did matter was that the imaginary competition in my mind covered up some of the fatigue I was feeling in my body. After a brief break for some water I paddled back out but my arms felt like cement. I had a goal of five more waves and then I’d be done. I caught one wave but fell over pretty quickly because I was just too tired. Pissed, I paddled out again. This time I caught my best wave of the trip and rode it all the way into the beach.

I would have walked an hour in that jungle for that one ride.

READ EARLIER ENTRIES FROM MEXICO:
Day one arriving in Mexico - Part 1
Sunday's surf lesson - Part 2
Surf, Paddle board and Snorkel - Part 3
 
 

Couples Surf Trip to Mexico - Part 3

Monday, Wednesday, Tuesday- Surf, Paddle, Snorkle, Surf, Eat

Half the fun, ok maybe most of the fun, has been taking the opportunity to live as much as we can in the town and not in our hotel. We were driving by this monstrosity of a half built development when I asked Jesse what the Mexicans think of this stuff. He said it was a complicated issue. On the one hand development brings jobs and economic benefits but on the other had it often shuts out Mexicans from being able to enjoy their own country. The town of Punta Mita used to be in what is now the Four Seasons development. They moved the whole town to the other, less desirable part of the peninsula and effectively closed the best beaches to the locals. We’ve stayed at the Four Seasons. It’s really nice but it ain’t Mexico. There are no dogs there and the clocks work.

Hermosa Chica Surfista is training for a marathon so I picked a place to stay that had a treadmill so she could keep running during the week. Of course we get here and the treadmill doesn’t work. Which was irritating. We went through the options. We could order one from Dick’s and have it shipped here. Not going to happen. We could find another one in Mexico that doesn’t work. Highly likely but still a problem. Or, she could run through and outside of town.

I wasn’t going to run with Hermosa Chica Surfista but I did want to keep her company. She was going to do her four mile run while I followed behind walking in sandals.

Whenever you go somewhere there’s an internal scale that ranges from completely comfortable, like when you go to a friend’s house, to a little uncomfortable, like at a dinner where there’s awkward silences, to “holy shit what am I doing here and when am I getting out of here?” Or, at least that’s where I thought the scale stopped. It actually goes further to “Holy shit, there’s a rooster in everyone’s yard!”

But, it turned out to be really cool because, you know, it’s Mexico. Everything right turns out a little wrong and everything wrong is actually a little right. I’m sure it was just as weird for the school kids on their way to school and people waiting on the highway for the bus to see some white dude in a visor and flip flops go strolling by. You got a stone face stare but if you said “Hola” or Buenas dias” first it was like you met a new best friend. I’m sure it was my awesome spanish. Well, that and my bronzing.

FYI, on her run the Chica got to see her favorite canines doing their thing. Hmmm. Let’s see. Dogs can’t see color and these two can’t stop having sex. I’m betting large that there’s a Spanish version of “Fifty Shades of Grey” somewhere in Punta Mita.

We went back to Litibu which was the beginner’s beach and this time were were actually prepared. We knew what the drill was and we knew what to expect. Plus, we had water because I might have been dehydrated. We spent a solid two hours in the water catching wave after wave. What’s crazy about surfing is that the hardest part is not actually surfing. The Chica Surfista and I probably had a little head start. We snowboard and paddleboard and I wakesurf so the whole balance and moving the board thing came pretty quickly. What’s hard as hell is paddling and picking the right wave.

It’s so much different than snowboarding that way. When you learn how to snowboard you’re basically learning how to slow and control the energy that results when gravity meets snow. And although there are steeper parts of a hill and parts where the snow may be a little more icy, those two things are constant and usually consistent.

Not so with surfing. You have to propel yourself with enough force and at the right time to then tap into the energy of the wave and each wave is different. Once you get the wave the hard part is done.

Which is why it’s is so damn fun when you do catch a wave.

Except it made me nauseous. It turns out I wasn’t dehydrated.

Have you ever really, really wanted to go out with someone and, once you did, had a great time but there was just something that wasn’t right? Have you ever gone out with them a second time and in the middle of talking with them thought to yourself “Wow, I wish I didn’t know that about her” or “I hope she doesn’t laugh because it hurts my ears.”

My hot new mistress was making me seasick. Aarggghhhh. She’s giving me the Mexican head fake!

Our man Jesse must have sensed something was up or, more accurately, figured I was some lame ass middle aged softie because he suggested that we paddle board and snorkle the next day. I actually thought that was a pretty cool idea. And, how was I going to defend myself against him thinking I was soft? That it wasn’t that I was soft but that I got seasick when I surf? That’s like fighting the accusation of being a clown by arguing that you’re in fact not a clown but actually a mime.

Paddle boarding was cool. And so was snorkeling for that matter. We didn’t have a lot of sun so the colors weren’t as vibrant but it was fun to hang out in the coral and swim with the fish. I had never snorkeled before but I figured it was just a matter of relaxing and floating around in someone else’s neighborhood. Some of the fish check you out while most others just go about the business of being a fish. I thought it was the perfect metaphor for our trip to Mexico. I was lost in that thought when I got water in my tube and choked on some seawater. And I was reminded that the word perfect has a different meaning in Mexico.

CONTNUE READING ABOUT OUR MEXICO SURF VACATION

Day one arriving in Mexico - Part 1
Sunday's surf lesson - Part 2
Stepping it up, surfing La Lancha - Part 4

 

Couples Surf Trip to Mexico - Part 2

Sunday - Surf Day

We got picked up for our first surf lesson by Jesse, who was driving an enormous green van with a couple of surfboards on top. He seemed to be a half hour early or so which turned out to be a half hour late or so because we crossed a river into a new time zone except people don’t like changing their watches when they cross the river so they just use the same time zone. The Mexican space time continuum.

Talk about being completely unprepared.

When you prepare to go snowboarding, even for the first time, you become mentally prepared if only because you go through a process of armoring yourself. Baselayer? Check. Warm socks? Check. Second layer? Check. Outer shell? Check. Boots? Check. Gloves? Check. Helmet? Check. Goggles… It takes a good half hour before you can even think about putting on a board.

Surfing? Ok let’s see. Sunscreen? Check. Board shorts? Check. You’re ready to go. And just like that you’re in a van driving into the Mexican countryside to go surfing.

Jesse is American which is nice There’s only so many times you can say the 5 Spanish words you know just so people here don’t think you’re an asshole. I never say hello, or good afternoon, or friend, or thank you to anybody really. But, if you’re brown and I’m in your town, it’s “Hola, Buenos Dias, amigo, gracias” as soon as you glance at me.

We drove to the other side of Punta Mita from where we’re staying. Driving is a relative term. It’s basically a process of going as fast as you can between speed bumps otherwise known as “Mexican radar guns.” It’s like the whole country is a parking lot except with enormous potholes. We made our way on the main road to Sayulita and then turned off onto a cobblestone road that was the entrance to a little town called “Something Blanca.” Not my words but somebody described it as driving into an old Western. True, but even more than just any old Western I expected to see Clint talking to an empty chair. I thought if you listened closely you could hear the theme song from the “Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” whistling under the sounds of roosters, the shock absorbers of a van under duress, and my nervous chattering/interrogation of Jesse.

From the cobblestone street we turned onto a dirt road which, again, is a relative term. The dirt roads that we’re used to seeing the Amish build? Those things are like Interstate 71 compared to these dirt roads. But just as Mexico can be perfect but flawed it can also be flawed but perfect. This road led us to the coolest beach I’ve ever seen.

Ever watch an episode of Gilligan’s Island and think “Man, that’s a cool setup. Why do they want to leave?” (You know you did. Admit it) That’s what I was thinking as we carried the surfboards to the beach. We were at the apex of a gentle curve of beach that was bookended by two giant rock formations. Like being the queen on a chessboard. We set up under a (insert the whatever the hell the Mexican word for a shelter that’s made from sticks and that has old palm fronds for a ceiling) for a little shade and began our lesson.

It didn’t start well. And we weren’t even in the water yet.

Truth is that Cachorro de Gato (my wife) wasn’t really that thrilled to go surfing. She’s a gamer so she got on the plane but as we were standing there on the beach, feet and minutes from heading into the water her reservations were pretty clear on her face. It didn’t help that Jesse started our lesson with the suggestion that we shuffle our feet at all times because the ocean floor has all kinds of dangerous things on it. He might as well have said we were going to saddle up some spiders and ride them out to the waves.

Ever want to smack someone who’s completely innocent? It’s such a raging personal conflict between doing what you really want to do and needs doing versus the pain of having to explain your actions. Oh, yeah, and there’s the whole morality part of it.

In the end, I didn’t really want to explain myself. Plus, I was betting long. I was betting that despite being away from the kids, despite the travel, despite the Mexican head fake, despite the dogs consummating their relationship without, you know, at least taking their action behind a car or something, that as soon as she rode a wave that it would all be worth it. I was betting that there are transcendental moments in life and surfing was going to be one of them.

She got up the first time and rode the wave all the way into the beach.

READ MORE ABOUT OUR MEXICO ADVENTURES:

Day one arriving in Mexico - Part 1
Surf, Paddle board and Snorkel - Part 3
Stepping it up, surfing La Lancha - Part 4

Guest Post by Dan from Ohio - read more details about his Mexican surf trip on his blog

 

Couples Surf Trip to Mexico - Part 1

 

Saturday - Travel Day

We found our driver or, more accurately, he found us. Rico. Nice kid. He took us to our “2010 or better Suburban” which looked suspiciously and identically like a 2005 white Ford Econoline cargo van. I love the Mexican head fake. It’s what make this place so charming. Paradise but not quite. Perfect but flawed. The athletic facility with a treadmill that’s really a street. The condo with a full service kitchen that has a Viking range but no toaster or sharp knives. A washer, but no dryer. Two chairs, one cushion. Going to Mexico is like getting into the ring with a great fighter. You keep looking for the left hand and you get hit with the right.

Cachorro de Gato and I made our way to the grocery store which was a lot of fun. The Mega looked like any grocery store in the states. Produce section, rows with dry goods, meat section. Some things even looked familiar. But everything is in Spanish and you have to fumble your way through. It’s strange to walk into a place that your mind first goes into auto pilot because you recognize everything but then it slowly switches into survival mode when you realize you don’t have a clue. It’s like when a big storm blows a river in the opposite direction. instead of getting calmer as you’re exposed to a situation, you get more rattled. Is this really butter? How much is 80 pesos? Why is the orange juice in a box? Who is Tony Tigre and are those really Frosted Flakes or are they going to be mini-corn tostadaenchilacotillas with jalapenos?

Have I mentioned the dogs yet? They’re everywhere.

The Hotel Cinco is a great place. After a long day of traveling we were met by Horatio and Rodrigo who couldn’t be nicer. It strikes me how similar Mexicans are to the Irish. They both live next to rich neighbors who look down on them. They love God just as deeply as they love their music, dancing, and their big families. And, my favorite part, they’re incredibly warm and welcoming and funny but in the back of your mind you know that they know that they could kick your ass anytime they wanted to. The Mexican head fake. 

I’ve learned from Ricky that no matter where you go in the world you have to find your spot. Here’s the thing about a spot: it only has to have one thing to qualify. That one thing? Great bartender.

We found our spot. Sam and Emma. He tends bar and she cooks and they both do it really well. After a long day of traveling, and grocery shopping, we were looking forward to a cold cerveza. We made our way to the rooftop bar at the hotel which is unbelievable cool. Sam gave us the lowdown on where to go and where to eat and Emma made us these awesome lobster tacos and this shrimp cerviche that was killer. Gave us a chance to collect our breath and get our bearings because we then…

…took a walk in Mexico!

So Punta Mita is a tourist town but not in the traditional sense. It’s very small with a couple of hotels and restaurants. There’s a surf shop and a place you can rent bikes and that’s about it. One block from the beach is safe but definitely not touristy. We forgot sunscreen so we decided to go out and grab some. We headed to a little store a couple blocks away on a nice romantic walk. Mexico and a couple cervezas can do that to you. As we were dodging rain drops we came across the archetypal symbols of Mexico: kids playing soccer barefoot in the street, men drinking cervezas in a open air bar, beat up cars avoiding being beaten even more by giant potholes, soldiers in fatigues walking down the street with semi- automatic weapons, dog..wait..WTFa Are those guys really carrying…? Holy shit. Now I’m certain even my gun loving friends would have thought twice about a couple of guys walking down the street with rifles. The Mexican head fake.

 

READ MORE

Sunday's surf lesson - Part 2
Surf, Paddle board and Snorkel - Part 3
Stepping it up, surfing La Lancha - Part 4

{This has been a guest post from Dan}

 

Wavecation T-Shirts for Sale



 
The new Wavecation T-shirts are here and everyone is loving them!  The classic VW bus design, ultra soft tees and Wavecation logo on the back make this a must have wardrobe essential! 
 

Price - Only $20

Color
Size


Free shipping in the U.S.  Contact us for international shipping rates (it's usually only $5 or so).  We're fast too!  Order today and you can be wearing the shirt a few days from now.
 

Satisfied customers:


Those shirts of yours are Gold. I'm wearing mine as we speak!!!
- Travis, GoPro.com

 We're so stoked on the new shirts!
-Josh from Pensacolasurf.com
 
 
Awesome T-Shirt, love the vintage look. Went surfing yesterday morning and used it then!
-Florent from Casahop.com
 
 
You're right! I love the shirts!  Turns out my son also loves the shirts.  So much in fact that he took mine for himself so I will be getting another one.
-Kimberly, Florida surfer
 

 

 

Boys are very stoked with t-shirts...  BOTH boys wore them to school today
-Susan from Two Brothers Surf Resort
 
 
Hey Matt thanks again for the awesome shirt!
-Joe, Bay Area surfer
 
 
The new tshirts are rad!
-Kylie from Spritz Visuals
 
 
amazing!  - thanks so much! 
-TJ at Zozi.com
 

The shirt rocks!  Thanks for the stickers too!! Here's a picture. :)
-Jonette, Colorado

 

MORE STOKED CUSTOMERS!

travis from GoPro wearing a Wavecation t-shirt in California

wearing wavecation t-shirt in front of river in Colorado

Ben from Texas wearing a Wavecation t-shirtKyu wearing a wavecation t-shirt in Korea

Dan from Canada wearing a Wavecation T-shirt in Saladita, Mexico

MORE GREAT FEEDBACK!

Dear Matt, Thank you for the lovely T-shirts; we have worn them already! Soft and good quality, great advertising too.
-D'Arcy, Owner of Beach Bella Vista in El Salvador

Love it... very comfy!
-JImmy and Kiristin, Florida

Got the shirt, it's perfect. Love it, great stuff. And thanks for the stickers.
-Brian, Texas
 
Just got back and found your sweet shirt waiting in the mail for me. Thanks!

-Randy, Utah
 
I received the t-shirt, thank you so much! I love it!
-Paige, Oregon
 

Private Waves - Okay or Not?

 

Maldives - the land of private resorts and private waves


Have you ever thought much about the issue of “private waves”? 

 

In researching locations for Wavecation every now and then I’ve come across a surf camp or hotel that claims to “own” a wave and the decision is usually made to not include them on Wavecation.  Something just doesn’t sit right with me about the concept of owning a wave - the ultimate form of localism.

So in researching the Maldives recently I was taken back to learn that almost ALL of the main breaks in the North Male Atoll - the most surfable Atoll in the group - were privately “owned” by hotels and resorts. And not only that, some of the resorts won’t even allow their own guests to surf the waves right out front unless you buy a surf pass, almost like a ski lift pass. The Chaaya Island Resort is listed on Expedia but if you book the hotel there you’ll see a message alerting you to the fact that if you are a surfer you have to book elsewhere if you want surfing privileges during your stay. Is it just me or is that crazy?

Apparently there are only 4 public breaks in the region and local surfers are up in arms because there is talk of a new surf resort that would own 2 of the last remaining 4 public surf breaks? Though the new resort said they would open up 1 or 2 times PER MONTH to let the local surfers surf a few waves.  WHAT!  In fact the whole situation is so incredibly confusing about where to stay to get access to which waves I found myself drawing a map just to keep it all straight.

 

I’ve never even been to the Maldives, I don’t know the history there or who all the players are in what is surely a complicated issue. But how much would it stink if the next time you went to Hawaii or Costa Rica you had to stay at a certain hotel to surf a certain wave... that would really bite!

Tavarua in Fiji has long had access to “private” surf breaks and for some reason that never bothered me as much. I think because you only went there to surf and other resorts weren’t around. In the Maldives you could show up for a family vacation or a dive trip and then see a perfect wave in front of your resort but be barred from surfing it.

Like I said, I haven’t been there and don’t know all the facts. Maybe you’ve surfed there or have looked into it? What are your thoughts?


         

 
 

5 Beginner Surf Spots Close To Home

 

When it comes to surfing, some surf breaks are made for beginners. Think of these as the bunny slopes of the surf world. You’re no doubt familiar with many of them. Waikiki beach in Hawaii is one of the best. Tamarindo in Costa Rica is also popular. Both offer warm water, tropical surroundings, gentle waves and plenty of options for surf lessons and surf board rentals.

But what if you’re not in Hawaii or Costa Rica? What if you’re looking for a surf experience closer to home? Well, you just might have better options than you thought.

Here are five great beginner surf breaks you probably haven't heard of, close to home:

· Galveston Island, Texas
Everything’s bigger in Texas, except the waves. Though Galveston isn’t your traditional surfing hotspot, this island off the Texas coast produces small waves almost year round. With a sandy bottom, warm water and plenty of room to spread out, it’s an ideal beginner surf spot. Several local shops offer board rentals and surf lessons and being less than an hour from Houston, it’s a great family day trip. Or rent on of the hundreds of vacation homes on the island and make a week of it.

· Folly Beach, South Carolina
This popular beach vacation destination lies just outside of Charleston. Folly Beach is home to a few miles of surf spots including The Washout—a favorite break for the more experienced surfers. The novice wave rider can paddle out almost anywhere else along the beach and find suitable beginner waves. Be sure to check the pier—there’s usually good surf on both sides, but the water is off-limits to surfers during peak summer hours so go early or catch a sunset session.

· Tofino, British Columbia
If there is a cold water Waikiki, it may be Tofino. This drop-dead gorgeous stretch of coastline in Canada is a surfer’s dream, even if it is a bit chilly. With a good wetsuit and booties (available for rent at any of the town’s surf shops) you’ll forget all about the cold water and be swept away by the fun waves and incredible scenery of mountains, islets and temperate rain forest. Tofino is a tourist town so you’ll have no shortage of quaint places to stay right on the beach. You’ll be sipping hot coffee by the fire while watching the waves. Try the Wickaninnish Inn for a luxury surf front retreat.

· Ventura, California
Located in the tiny community of Faria Beach, Mondos is one of California’s most beginner friendly waves. The toughest part about your day will probably be climbing down the rocks to the beach—after that it’s smooth sailing. Waves break far out and then slowly roll to shore creating long, predictable and relatively gentle rides. Bring your towel and a lunch because you may want to stay all day. Mondo’s is about two miles north of Ventura or about one and a half hours north of Los Angeles although it feels world’s away. The best way to experience Mondos is to rent one of the beach homes overlooking the waves—then surf to your heart’s content all week.

· Pacific City, Oregon
Kiwanda Cove is a breathtaking setting that is popular for weekend getaways, hang gliding and, of course, surfing. This area is perfect for the beginner surfer who doesn’t mind donning some rubber to stay warm. The waves are soft and rolling and there are no big rocks to worry about. Your best bet is to visit in the summer when waves are smaller, warmer and better for learning. After your surf lesson warm up by hiking the monster sized sand dune at the north end of the beach and enjoy the views from the top.

Even though your schedule or budget may not allow for a tropical surf getaway this year, don’t let that stop you. Check out one of these nearby beginner surf spots and give surfing a try. You’ll be hanging ten before you know it.


 

Article written by Matt at Wavecation and originally published by our fiends at Jaunted.com, check out their cool travel site.

 

6 Beginner Tips to Start Surfing

 
 

Is “learn to surf” on your bucket list? If not, it should be. Not only is surfing one of the world’s most popular sports, it also enjoys an extremely high “cool factor” which keeps the newbies flooding in. Before you frolic out into the waves however, here are a few things you should know about surfing:

· Do take a lesson
Sure you can figure it out on your own, just like you can spend all day at the ski slopes flailing down the mountain, but why would you? There are professionals to help with this. The art of surfing requires an understanding of numerous nuances and subtleties that demand years of practice. Learn some pointers from someone who’s already paid their dues.

· Choose a good beginners area
Just like ski spots have bunny slopes, the surf world has waves for beginners; Waikiki Beach in Hawaii, Tamarindo in Costa Rica, or Tourmaline in Southern California are three excellent starters. Check out a few more in our earlier article. You should look for easy breaking waves, plenty of room to spread out and a forgiving bottom surface.

· Bigger is better
Learning to surf on a longboard (usually 8-9 feet long) is much easier than the speedy and sharp-nosed short boards. Save the short boards for advanced surfers who need maneuverability. You need stability.

· Don’t turn your back on the ocean
Waves come in sets of three to four, usually followed by a lull of a few minutes with smaller or no waves. A rookie mistake is facing the shore while waiting for the next set. If and when you do, you may be too far in when the set arrives and you’ll get caught in the crushing whitewater of the waves. Face the horizon and keep looking around to stay aware of your surroundings.

· Give in to playtime
If you haven’t spent much time in the ocean, give yourself some time to swim around in the waves and bodysurf. Leave the board on the beach and feel the way the waves push and pull. It’s easier to pay attention to what the waves are doing when you’re not concerned about wrangling your surfboard.

· Know the code
There is a “surfer’s code” comprised of many unwritten rules that apply in the water. The surfer’s code protects the safety of everyone involved and ensures fairness based on seniority. A few of the more important guidelines include:
1. Paddle wide around the waves—not through them—on your way back out so you’re not in the path of surfers.
2. If someone is already on the wave, it’s their wave. Don’t catch the same wave and get in front of them, that’s called snaking.
3. Don’t hog the waves. Share. Smile. It’s called the Aloha spirit.

The best thing about surfing is it’s fun from day one! Don’t worry about riding the tube, or perfecting a roundhouse cutback. Just stand up, yell “Woo-hoo” and enjoy the ride!


 

This post was written by Matt at Wavecation and orginally posted by our friends over at Jaunted.com

   

Panama Surf trip report from Swell Manget

 

PANAMA
(Guest post courtesy of Swell Magnet)

If Topanga is “On the beaten path”, and K38 is “Off the beaten path”, then the only way to describe Morro Negrito Island in Panama is “DEEP REMOTE”. I recently returned from a week’s stay at Steve Thompson’s surf camp and I can truly say that he has found some real secret-spots. I went down there with ten buddies and guess what??? There were a total of 11 guys surfing and not another surfing soul to be found for at least 50-100 miles. While I did not like every break we surfed and we did not get perfect surf every day, the travel and adventure experience was a priceless.

Morro Negrito Surf Camp is located on a small island called La Ensenada off the Pacific coast of Panama. To get there from LA, you need to fly 6 hours to Panama City; take a 6-8 hour bus ride to a launch not to far from a town called David, and get on a ponga boat for an hour boat ride to a serene beach that flanks the camp. Now that does not sound to time consuming on the surface, but you also need to hit the launch on a high tide. Tides in Panama are a 17-foot swing! Arriving on a low tide turned the above journey into a two-day trek. While we did enjoy getting some time to explore Panama City, the anticipation was too much for some of the guys who were a bit cranky about the delays.

 Lodging: bunks and mosquito nets, electric fans for the evenings. Restroom: manually flushing toilets and bucket showers. If you go during the less arid season that starts in the end of May, you will get fresh spring water showers and all the pure island water you can drink.

Stayed at Morro Negrito? Leave a review

Staff: friendly and helpful, Antonio is a master at opening coconuts and Jeff the surf-guide was great and always was looking out for us.

The Surf: To start off, the water is 80-82 degrees, the sun is intense. Bring a long sleeve rashguard and some good facial sun block. While there are a few sandy breaks, the real surf can be found with a rocky bottom, boils and tabletop reefs that keep you on your toes. Also, the tidal swings of around 17 feet can have a drastic effect on any break, your surf guide can help you with the right break for each tide and swell condition.

My favorite break is called Left-Overs. It is located off of the neighboring island, Silva. Left-Overs is a wave that sets up next to/over a rock pile and bends around in a perfectly shaped left that is like a little machine. We surfed this break only a few times, but got it from shoulder high to well over head. If you cannot surf and enjoy this wave you should pick up a new sport. This wave is made for cutbacks, floaters and off the lip snaps.
 

Next to Left-Overs is P-Land. This is undoubtedly the heaviest barreling wave at Morro Negrito. We caught this break on a rather big and harry day. It is also a left and while there were no serious injuries at P-Land, it did claim one board and scared the crap out of myself and most of the crew. It breaks over a gnarly tabletop reef and is unforgiving if you get stuck on the inside. Later during our visit we caught it on a smaller day we had a bit of fun (less adrenaline), but still very challenging.

 

Please visit Swell Magnet's Surf Travel page to finishe reading about their Morro Negrito trip.

See more photos and inquire about booking a surf trip at Morro Negrito

 
 

Nicaragua ISA World Masters Surfing Championship

 
 

PRESS RELEASE

As ISA President Fernando Aguerre likes to say, there's a before and after to ISA events. This idea applies to both the host country and the organization that works "For a Better Surfing Future." Empirical expansion of surfing isn't the intention. Surfing, as it has proven over decades of existence, has the ability to bring people and countries and cultures together. It has transformative powers. Through the ISA, surfing brings dozens of nations and hundreds of athletes together multiple times a year to compete and connect and continue to spread the spirit of Aloha.

Nicaragua was the newest frontier. As the hosts of the 2012 ISA World Masters Surfing Championship, the Central American country welcomed nearly 150 athletes from 26 nations to come and witness the natural beauty of its landscape and experience the world-class waves it has to offer. At Colorado Beach at Hacienda Iguana, a place where the jungle met the sand and the Howler Monkeys offered early-morning wake-up calls, the visitors to Nicaragua had a first-hand opportunity to see and be a part of a surf culture on the rise.

"Nicaragua proved to be the ideal partner for a successful event. In this, their first surfing world championship, the organizers provided an impeccable event from all operational points of view, coupled with the warmth of its people," said Aguerre, after the Closing Ceremony. "On top of that, we experienced some of the best waves in the ISA's history, with 24-hour offshore winds during the duration of the event. This was an A-class event from all points of view."

This was the fifth edition of the ISA World Masters, an event that showcases the talents of over-35-year-old surfers. Historically, the event has been blessed by epic waves everywhere it has gone: Rincon, Puerto Rico to Punta Rocas, Peru, a barreling reefbreak at Santa Catalina, Panama, to head-high pointbreak waves at Punta Roca, El Salvador. Though the conditions were good, it was a modest turnout for the inaugural event in Puerto Rico in 2007, with 60 competitors from 12 nations. The final day of competition saw overhead barrels, and with that, the aura of the event was established. The seeds were planted. It would grow.

The popularity of the Masters event is only increasing. Big names with sterling credentials still have a desire to travel and surf and reclaim some of that fire that made them some of the best surfers in the world. Last year in El Salvador, three-time ASP World Tour champion Tom Curren added another world championship to his resume, winning the Gold Medal in the Kahunas division; so too did seven-time Women's ASP World Tour champ Layne Beachley, who won Gold in the Women's Masters division. This year, former Pipeline Master Robbie Page (AUS) came to compete, along with Brazilians Armando Daltro and Jojo de Olivenca, who were ASP World Tour competitors for years. Hawaii's Rochelle Ballard and Kaipo Jaquias were among the top surfers in the world in their prime, and so too was their teammate, Sunny Garcia. This year was the first ISA event for the 2000 ASP World Tour Champion and six-time Triple Crown winner - and his impressions surprised even him.

"At the Opening Ceremony, having all those people cheering for us as we walked through the streets [of Rivas during the Parade of Nations], and to be carrying the flag for Hawaii - it was an indescribable feeling," Garcia said. "This event, it's just been amazing; everything has run so smooth. I guess the ISA is just one of those things - you don't understand how good it is until you're here."

Along with positive memories, good waves and a newfound love and appreciation for the ISA, Garcia is also leaving Nicaragua with his first world championship since 2000, having won the Gold Medal in the Grand Masters. He also finished runner-up in the Men's Masters division to Venezuela's Magnum Martinez (who won the first-ever ISA Gold for his country). Garcia's performance, along with the Gold won by Ballard, the two medals won by Jaquias (Silver and Copper) and the Bronze won by Mike Latronic led Hawaii to its first ISA World Masters Team Gold Medal.

In 2012, surfing's ability to reach an audience is greater than ever. Live webcasts are broadcast in hundreds of countries and are watched by hundreds of thousands of viewers. Viewers can interact with announcers, live scores are relayed immediately and the emotion of a big upset or joyous victory can be shared from thousands of miles away.

And these days, surfing and surfers have clout. Surfing's reputation as a rich culture, a solid industry and vehicle for change is being recognized. So much so that days before the 2012 ISA World Masters began, ISA President Aguerre was invited to a historic meeting with Daniel Ortega, the President of Nicaragua. The pair discussed the history of surfing, its health and environmental benefits, and the impact it can have on a country.

"I'm totally convinced that sports are a key component to bringing diverse people together in a world that needs all of us coming together," Mr. Ortega said. "I'm very happy to welcome ISA President Aguerre and the surfing brothers and sisters from 26 nations to enjoy Nicaragua, its people and its waves. I hope that this visit of Fernando is the first one of many more for years to come."

Indeed, Aguerre and the ISA will be returning to Nicaragua next year. At the Closing Ceremony, Aguerre and the Minister of Tourism, Mario Salinas, signed the documents for the ISA World Junior Surfing Championship to come to the country.

The legacy and history of the ISA World Masters will continue and expand in 2013. Also at the Closing Ceremony, Minister Salinas poured the sands from Colorado Beach into a vase being held by a representative from Ecuador, the future hosts of the event. That sand will be poured into the Sands of the World container during the Opening Ceremony of next year's ISA World Masters. The event will take place at the perfect right-hand pointbreak at Montañita.

In 2014, the ISA will celebrate 50 years of existence. The organization has come a long way and helped to grow and enrich the sport and share its importance around the world, with currently 71 member nations, but there is still so far to go and so much potential for greater and even more substantial change.

"Ecuador was the host of the 2002 ISA World Surfing Games and the 2009 ISA World Junior Championship in a great way," Aguerre said. "The agreement just signed between the ISA and the national government of Ecuador assures the proper hosting of the event in Montañita. We are looking forward to another iconic ISA World Masters in the warm waters of Ecuador."

Women's Masters (Over-35) Final Results
Gold - Rochelle Ballard (HAW), 8.90
Silver - Sandra English (AUS), 8.17
Bronze - Sonia 'Pucha' Garcia (PAN), 5.00
Copper - Lucila Gil (ARG), 3.83

Men's Grand Kahunas (Over-50) Final Results
Gold - Javier Huarcaya (PER), 14.67
Silver - Allen Sarlo (USA), 11.30
Bronze - Rod Baldwin (AUS), 10.10
Copper - Craig Schieber (CRI), 8.43

Men's Grand Masters (Over-40) Final Results
Gold - Sunny Garcia (HAW), 17.66
Silver - Kaipo Jaquias (HAW), 17.33
Bronze - Juan Ashton (PUR), 11.06
Copper - Mark Cameron (AUS), 7.10

Men's Kahunas (Over-45) Final Results
Gold - James Hogan (USA), 15.56
Silver - Ricky Schaffer (USA), 13.50
Bronze - Mike Latronic (HAW), 11.10
Copper - Cardoso Junior (BRA), 8.24

Men's Masters (Over-35) Final Results
Gold - Magnum Martinez (VEN), 16.66
Silver - Sunny Garcia (HAW), 14.10
Bronze - Kaipo Jaquias (HAW), 10.87
Copper - Armando Daltro (BRA), 9.50

Final Team Standings
Gold - Hawaii - 10,540
Silver - USA - 9,771
Bronze - Australia - 7,540
Copper- Brazil - 7.306
5. Venezuela - 7,303
6. Peru - 7,060
7. Puerto Rico - 6,753
8. Japan - 6,476
9. Argentina - 6,366
10. Costa Rica - 5,996
11. France - 5,850
12. Ecuador - 4,988
13. Panama - 4,916
14. Guatemala - 4,630
15. Mexico - 4,359
16. El Salvador - 3,950
17. Dominican Republic - 2,801
18. Chile - 2,250
19. Italy - 1,980
20. Tahiti - 1,750
21. Nicaragua - 1,070
22. Jamaica - 1,050
23. Uruguay - 720
23. Switzerland - 720
25. Germany - 660
26. Ireland - 413

ISA Aloha Cup Finals Results
Gold - Hawaii, 47.4
Silver - Australia, 44.68
Bronze - Costa Rica, 34.39
Copper - Puerto Rico, 30.11

Losing my GoPro in Mexico

 

Lost...

 

Here I sit scanning the ocean., feeling hopeless and angry at myself. My GoPro underwater camera is floating around out there somewhere filming a passing fish or a maybe staring at the sandy bottom.

My wife and I are at Playa Viva Eco Resort in Mexico checking out surf vacation spots. This morning we released hundreds of baby sea turtles from the sanctuary back into the ocean and I decided to film from the water. It was a magical experience with hundreds of tiny turtles bobbing around me in the blue sea.  I swam out past the breakers to get some footage in the clear water. The baby sea turtles were swimming through the clear waves, the visibility was about 40 feet and I was so stoked on the footage I was getting!  

As a surfer I couldn’t resist body surfing a couple waves as they came through. The sets were large, mostly closeout beach breaks that were creating mesmerizing tubes. After the turtles dispersed I caught a wave to body surf back to shore. The wave was big and beautiful and I was trimming down the steep face, the wave sectioned and closed over me, ripping the GoPro head strap right off my head.


Baby turtle in front of Playa Viva... oh the photos that could have been.
 

My hand reached for the top of my head... nothing there. I was under water being tossed about like a rag doll thinking, "Surely the camera will be floating on the surface when I return."  Swimming through the white water I surfaced and looked around... nothing. I began frantically swimming in circles, knowing that these first few seconds were my best odds at locating the camera, trying to catch a glimpse of anything in the turbulent water. The great visibility was gone now that I was in the impact zone. My wife was on shore and saw me swimming round and round ducking beneath oncoming waves. I raised my hands to show her “NO CAMERA” so she began scanning the water from shore.

For several minutes I was just treading water and diving below the surface groping in the dark, hoping beyond hope to bump into the camera. Finally I swam ashore and began the first of about dozen walks up and down the beach.  For two days I walked that beach, a half mile in either direction, straining to see my camera in the water or washed ashore. I hoped and prayed and imagined I saw things. Twice I even joyfully plunged into the water after a floating object... both times it was a stick.

I knew I should’ve been more careful, I knew I shouldn’t depend on the head strap in rough water, I knew I should’ve bought the floaty back... Those decision cant' be made after the fact though. Such is life, there is no rewind button, no reply, no redo. Kind of shocking actually. We live in a world of gadgets and electronics that allow us to feel like masters of our domain. Obviously the ocean didn’t get that memo. And as terrible as the experience was (worst of all because right before paddling out I changed memory cards and inserted a weeks worth of unsaved surf photos into the GoPro) it was also very humbling and somehow, even a little refreshing.  Yes, I can lose a great camera and a weeks worth of photos and life still goes on.

I think that’s why many of us go to the ocean. It forces us to remember we’re not the boss. Sure you can have your fun on the waves but at the end of the day the ocean will get what she wants. I guess that day she wanted a GoPro, I can't really blame her.

Read about some of the better experiences on my recent Mexico Surf Trip

 
 

Day 2 in Troncones Mexico

Day Two in Troncones:

I woke up on day two after a decent nights sleep (still adjusting to sleeping with no a/c) and immediately starting shooting some photos of the waves while the light was good. Staying at the Inn at Manzanillo Bay you have such perfect views and access to the point, it’s really my kind of place. Nice enough to be comfortable but not pretentious, and a perfect surf front location.
 

 Surf view from the pool at Inn at Manzanillo Bay in Troncones
Incredible surf views of Manzanillo Bay from the hotel lawn - book a stay for yourself

 
There were a few other surfers staying in the hotel as well but none of them surfed the point that morning, opting instead to drive to the Ranch. A common behavior of surfers is to ALWAYS want to check the other spots first, even if waves are great at the current location. Why do we do that? I notice this habit most whenever I travel. Being raised on the sloppy waves of the Texas coast certainly encourages appreciation when one travels. The great thing about subsisting on a steady diet of bad surf is whenever you get halfway decent waves the stoke factor is off the charts!  I'm usually first in the water with a huge smile on my face while other guys are debating whether to paddle out or not because it's less than head high?

So, back to the story - after shooting photos and video for a while, then eating breakfast and trying desperately to get online to post a blog (Troncones Day One) it was 11 am before I paddled out, 4 hours later than my usual! I rented one of the boards on site, a new model Surftech Xanadu 5’10” swallow tail that looked really fun. I felt like a kid again, running across the hotel lawn, new board under my arm, waves rolling in and no out around! The paddle out was dreamy; warm water, clear as can be and a warm sun in a cloudless sky shining down on me.

If you’ve never surfed Manzanillo Bay (Troncones Point) you should know that on smaller days - chest to head high - it breaks very close to a rocky ledge inhabited by urchins. It’s still very surfable, you just need to know what you’re doing and be aware of your location.  I paddled out to the point, smiling as the pulsing sets passed under me. Finally arriving at the take off zone it took a few waves  before I lined up correctly since I was the only guy out and had never surfed this break. I caught a nice set wave that sucked up steeply, for a moment I was worried as I could see straight through the clear water to the rocks about 2 feet below the surface. I dropped in, bottom turned and then arced back up the face of the wave carving a nice roundhouse. It felt exhilarating to surf such a good wave (remember I surf the Texas Gulf Coast regularly). The wave lasted for a few turns then moved too close to the rocks requiring a kick out. It was a short but fun session with no one around, one of those moments where you suddenly remember WHY you take surf trips.

Right now is the beginning of the rainy season, or off season (also euphemistically called the “surfer” season) in Troncones. Most hotels and vacation rentals had vacancies. The weather was hot and humid, but so is much of America right now. Everyone told me the weather is much better later in the year around October or November until May. Personally I enjoy traveling in the “surf seasons” because the lack of crowds and cheaper prices although cooler, drier weather would have been a welcome change.
 

working on laptop in paradise, restuarant at Manzanillo Bay in Troncones
Morning routine in paradise - smoothie and blogging
 

view from the room at Manzanillo Bay looking out to the ocean and beach

The morning view from my bungalow, see the wave!  Inn at Manzanillo Bay
 
A surfer riding a small wave at Manzanillo Bay
Surfer finishing up a ride at the point. This wave is great for spectators since it hugs the beach at an angle
 
Two surfers at Manzaniloo bay with medium sized waves and rocks in foreground
 Nice wave, light afternoon winds and only 3 friends out

Surf photographers in the water at low tide, Manzanillo Bay, Troncones Mexico
Guys from California filming their buddies surfing at Troncones Point
 

Read about DAY ONE IN MEXICO

 
 
 
 

 
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