BY: Victoria Heath
It’s 10 a.m., and you’ve been catching waves since sunrise. You lick the saltwater off your lips and rub your shoulder. It’s sore, but that’s just proof you’ve accomplished something. A week ago, you couldn’t even stand up on your board while it sat on the beach. Today, you’re riding waves like Jimmy Buffet.
Did he surf? You don’t know and you don’t care—because you surf. Last Friday you were sitting in a suffocating office listening to Sheryl talk about her cat’s first birthday party. By Saturday night, you had booked your flight to Costa Rica. Sure, your friends thought you were having a mid-life crisis at 28, but you needed a break.
You needed to recharge your mind, body and soul. You needed surf camp.
Now you’re chatting with your instructor (a Hemsworth look-a-like) during the day and salsa dancing with your bunkmates at night. Your skin constantly smells like a mix of cocoa butter and Aveno sunscreen. You’ve had sand in your hair since Monday, and all of your clothes stink of tequila and sweat. But you don’t care, because you needed this.
Surf Camp: The Vacation You Never Knew You Needed.
These camps started popping up in the 1990s mainly in Portugal, but now they’re in many countries, including Australia, Philippines, Costa Rica and even Morocco. (SurferToday has a great list to peruse.)
Most surf camps offer all-inclusive packages at various prices and levels, and campers usually stay anywhere from five days to eight weeks, either in private accommodations or shared rooms. Want to go solo? Cool, you can make friends from all over the world. Most campers are not only there to learn how to surf, but to also meet new people, travel and enjoy the local nightlife. Or maybe you’ve got a friend who also needs a break—bring them too.
Of course, there are some things to keep in mind before you make an impromptu decision. Dominical Waverider suggests potential campers ensure that the surfing instructors are certified. You don’t want to learn how to surf from an instructor who doesn’t know first aid. It’s also important to consider how much one-on-one time you want during lessons. So find out the student-to-teacher ratio. Probably most important, however, is learning what the surf spots are like. If you’re a beginner, surfing on the Banzai Pipeline in Hawaii, one of the most dangerous spots in the world, isn’t your best bet. One of the more popular spots for beginners is Costa Rica’s Shaka Beach Retreat. Check it out here.
Ultimately, surf camp isn’t just a vacation. It’s a unique chance to accomplish something while having the time of your life. You’ll return recharged and discover with a new passion.
Like the legendary surfer Kelly Slater once said, “It’s like the mafia. Once you’re in—you’re in. There’s no getting out.”