Derek Dodds

Author Archives: Derek Dodds


Panama Surf Trip with Beach Break Surf Camp

The Beach Break Hotel and Surf Camp has everything you need to enjoy your surf trip. We provide a comfortable and friendly atmosphere as well as a quality service. All our rooms are equipped with AC, hot water and Wifi. You can also take a nap next to our beach front pool or simply relax in one of our hammocks.

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Playa Venao is located on the West Coast of multicultural country that is Panama in the heart of the Azuero peninsula. Venao is a premier surf destination that features waves for all levels due to its unique sand bottom. Depending on the tide you can have slow, softer waves or fast hollow waves.

The Beach Break Hotel and Surf Camp has the largest available selection of boards in Venao, giving you a chance to find a board that best works for you. We have boards that allow you to have fun in all conditions, ranging from foam boards to high performance shortboards and even stand up paddle boards, we have something for everyone. Let our experienced staff and surf instructors advise and help you find a board that will fits your skills and level of surfing experience.

At Beach Break Surf Camp we believe everyone should have the chance to live the surf Life. At Beach Break every guest will have the opportunity to experience the joy of surfing regardless of level. Our camp offers quality instruction for all levels of surfer ranging from beginner to advanced. It is our hope that we will have the opportunity to share this amazing wave with you! Here at the Beach Break Surf Camp of Playa Venao, we propose 3 different options for instruction and coaching. Intro, Intermediate and Advanced Guided tours of the different amazing spot that compose the Azuero peninsula.

The Beach Break Surf Camp is owned and operated by surfers for surfers, so feel free to ask any of our team members about more information or inquires. Our goal is to share our passion for the ocean and surf around the world, come join us!

Live the Surf Life ! Vive la Vida de Surf !

Check out for more information.

Three Tips To Become a Better Surfer

I drove into a parking lot in southern France last month. I knew the Quicksilver Pros had a rest day and I was hoping that not too many of the surfing superstars would make their way up north.

The sandbanks were really good this year and the swell was solid. I grabbed my board and started walking toward the break. I ran into John John Florence kicking with some of his pro homies all decked out in custom Hurley wetsuits trailed by a stream of photographers.

I am never quite sure how to act around pro surfers. They probably get sick of people going gaga over them (unless you are a hot French chick, which I am not) and so as I passed him I gave him the ‘what up bro’ head nod. He was cool and nodded back. I was just another piece of human seaweed floating by his awesomeness.

I got to watch him surf the peak next to me later that day and realized he deserved more than a nod, he likely deserved the double nod with a shaka thrown in—next time.

These young guys are so impressive, Gabriel Medina and John John are barely though 20 years old and are already becoming surf legends. I was never really into contests growing up, but with all the new technology these days it sure is fun to watch the best surfers in the world surf the most challenging waves in the world.
My bro Franco said to me the other day that he thinks his surfing gets better after he watches a contest—he might be right, let’s examine why.

Malcolm Gladwell talks about the ten thousand hour rule in his book Outliers: The Story of Success, which he proposes is required to master any art form or sport. The Beatles, for example, used to play clubs Germany for 8 hours a day for weeks on end before they got famous.
Gladwell writes that they played for 1200 hours in the span of two years. That’s more time than most bands play in their entire career. The Yellow Submarine does kind of have a German Polka feel to it, doesn’t it?

Tip 1: Spend More Time Surfing

What I am trying to get at here is that if you want to do anything well in life you need to put in the time. So the first thing you need to do to become a better surfer is to spend more time in the water. If you want to surf better, then you’ll need to surf more.
Be the last one of your bros to get out of the water and catch as many waves as you can per session. When you are in the water concentrate on surfing. You can talk about that new hot chick you saw at Mondos in the car on the ride home.

Tip 2: Surf With Someone Better Than You

If you surf with kooks all the time then you will remain a kook for longer. There is this awesome saying that you are the result of the five people you spend the most time with. Hence, your surfing is the result of the five people you surf the most with.

Surf with someone who is better than you and spend some time watching them surf:
  • Ask them questions about how they do various maneuvers.
  • Ask them to honestly critique your surfing.
  • Listen to what others say about your surfing.
Tip 3: Have a Bro Take A Video Of Your Surfing

You remember those Facebook pictures of people thinking they were surfing one way and then the cold reality of what their surfing is really like?

Watching yourself surf on video is a great way to analyze your technique. Where is your front and back foot placement? Are you bending your knees and extending in your turns? What is the angle of your board on takeoff? How deep is your bottom turn and how vertical is your off-the-top?

These are just a few questions you’ll need to ask while watching your personal surf movie. Don’t lose sight of the real reason most of us are in the water—remember to have fun.

PS. I hope you enjoyed these tips, grab some eco surf gear at Wave Tribe which will also help your surfing. We got free shipping right now and a few other rad specials:


Top 10 Must Surf Spots In Portugal

I know that Portugal has been showing up on the international scene for the last few years with all the big waves riding that has been going on at Nazare (loco bastardos).

Let take a quick look at those dudes pulling into so monsters . . .

Ok, let's get back to reality.

Don't be fooled by all the hoopla, there are tons of fun 'normal guy' surf spots around the country that deserve a surf trip or two.

Just a few years back I did a trip to southern Portugal and explored the cork forests while researching and developing the world famous cork traction pad.

While on that trip I stumbled upon Sagres and thought you should know about it before planning your trip to Portugal.

Algarve: The Southern Jewel of Portuguese Surfing

The extreme south of Portugal is one of my favorite areas—why?

Surfing Southern Portugal

Surfing Southern Portugal

The answer is simple, exposure to two swell windows (which you know I love) which means that if one window shuts down, you are an hour away from another.

The west coast picks up the NW swells that hammer this sea faring nation in the winter and the south coast can have epic surf when it's too big on the west side homeboy (and yes that happens often).

The end result is that there is always a waves somewhere within a short driving distance.

Home Base - Sagres

You can base yourself in Sagres and venture out to the coves and inlets of the south or explore the beach-breaks around the northern cape.

This is a terrific surf spot, with waves that tend to be best in spring, autumn and winter. It's a small town with lots of charm and some great exposure to surf on all sides.

Sagres itself pulls in most of the swell, a beautiful wide bay that reminds me of Palos Verdes in California (but without the stink-eye locals).

There are tons of hotels situated near the water, surf shacks on the cliff and plenty of good restaurants to fill your post surf crazed hunger.

If you plan on hanging in this area fly into Faro and rent a car at the airport, you'll be in the surf in a few hours after landing which is always a huge bonus.

Are you coming from France or some other European location?

Not to fret senior jet setter; within Europe you can fly cheaply to Faro on a number of discount airlines. But don't forget that they will charge you dearly for your surfboards (check out our online boardbag airline fee schedule).

Here are few links to help you find your way around and to check the forecast:

If you are  up to exploring the rest of Portugal (which I highly recommend) then check out this breakdown of some of my favorite spots which are easily assessable by car.

Surfing Portugal

Wave Tribe Eco Rad List

Wave Tribe team wants to introduce YOU to this Eco Rad List we’ve humbly put together, honoring more than two decades of ‘living green’.

1989 –FIRST ever known use of the word ‘Eco-friendly’.

Yup, sure enough, 25 years ago.

We remember that year very well.

The first signs of the negative impact of global warming, recycling, and CFC’s from aerosol and fridges were the talk of the moment.
Trending: Harmful aerosols…Recycling aluminum cans, plastic…remember?

LOTS has been going on since then…A wide variety of ‘green’ businesses and products began surfacing and blooming.
Especially, in the last decade, eco market has been exponentially growing, every year. Pretty cool.

In honor of those 25 years of ‘eco-friendly’ power.

We’ve casually been stumbling upon these eye-catching green products randomly, while doing our normal day-to-day work online.
These products or services, have caught our attention for their positive-generating energy and vision.
Small to medium businesses wanting to ‘break the mold’ in fun, creative, out-of-the-box ways.


Zeal Optics.
Biodegradable sunglasses! How rad is that? 100% cotton. Crazy stuff 🙂


Surf Mud.
Organic sunblock. Organic Ingredients such as: coconut oil, cocoa butter, cocoa powder, beeswax, tea tree oil and zinc oxide. We want this now!


Eco friendly yoga mat and cork block. 100% recyclable and reusable yoga mats.


Ocean Green.
Eco friendly surfboards. Shapes designed by our world class shaper Frank McWilliams and Nicaraguan balsa wood.
You’ve got to check these guys out, they even use organic cotton cloths while working!


The Cruel Sea.
Vintage style canvas surf board bags, 1940’s Singer machine sewn. Have we mentioned the word Awesome, yet?


Surf board bags canvas (recycled?)


Bureo Skateboards.
Upcycled skateboard decks made with sea trash!
Rad product, and even-radder cause. Please take a minute to look at these guys’ bio, everybody, it’s well worth it. Double shaka!


Run with the Tribe.
Conscious couture by Alana Rose Abbott. We love the name!
These eco rad organic garments are hand dyed and entirely hand-stitched. This girl rocks.


Beatnik Trading.
Surfboard bag that turns into hammock. Need we say more!? 🙂


SUP yoga school.
Yoga on the water?! Yup. Stephanie, owner and operator at Suptopia, will show you how. Check out her website for more of her amesomess.


*Short disclaimer:
We want to let you know we haven’t used or reviewed these products/services yet, but we would MOST definitely want to in the near future, and vouch for them 99.9999%.

So, that said. Tribe Family, if you feel the need to give us your feedback, please feel free to do so, tell us what you think, we’ll be happy to acknowledge your opinions and update our info.

Btw, we will update info and add to this list every month or so.


Want a Rewarding Surf Trip? Go with the Flow

flowGuest Post By Walter Gault

What’s your perfect surf trip? Good waves go without saying, and a lot of us, if we travel far, are looking for empty breaks.

I tend to meticulously plan my routes. Using my local knowledge and resources online, I tailor the route to the breaks that I expect to pick up the swell the best.  But I’ve followed my plans so closely, it’s to a fault.

Two years ago, my friend Chris and I planned a Baja mission past San Quintin. There was some south on the way, and a northwest to follow as the weekend progressed. We researched all the spots that we would check along the way. The truck was laden with beer, boards, and water and we were in high spirits. The morning we crossed the border, we saw rifling lines at La Fonda from the road, and we we’re soaring. Our thinking was that it could only get better the farther we went south. Two days and a lot of driving later, we didn’t see good waves again until we had returned to K-38.

We were so stoked on going “deeper” into Baja that we blinded ourselves to what was given to us that first day. Other memorable adventures ensued in that pursuit, but in hindsight we wished we stopped at La Fonda and posted up. No regrets, but it was pumping.

We are challenged with opportunities each day of whether to keep striving for something better or realize a good thing when you have it. Surfing, and my friend Chris, have taught me to relax, go with the flow, and don’t stress the details. The whole point is to get away from the grind and have fun. But bigger waves at better breaks, deeper in Baja, are always calling.

My most recent excursion to Baja was a much pleasanter and relaxing experience overall, despite a couple debacles.  We left Santa Barbara at noon on Easter weekend, and spent hours in LA traffic.  We had already lost the longboards to a strapping malfunction earlier, and they were damaged, but not beyond the help of duck tape.

The plan was to push to Baja and camp somewhere along the coast north of Ensenada, but with sunset approaching, all we wanted to do was catch a couple waves. We pulled off at Trestles and scored clean shoulder-high waves to ourselves for over an hour. The first, and maybe the last, time I’ve surfed there with hardly anyone out.

Part of me wanted to push on to Baja to get there, but I remembered that one of the most enjoyable aspects of a surf trip is how the course can change, often for the better. Recognizing those changes and following them is something I’ve slowly learned, despite years of stubbornness. The decision to stay at Trestles for the night put us on the right path for the rest of the weekend. Had we not stopped, we would’ve carried our frustration into finding a camp at night; instead we were relaxed, refreshed and ready to charge across the border early the next morning.

Two days later, I locked my keys in my car—we knew the boards weren’t the last debacle, but I was thinking a flat tire was next…After nearly two hours of finagling, we got inside. But not before I had enlisted the help some fellow surfers at the beach. We met a rad couple down for the weekend from Huntington, and we hit it off sharing waves and hanging out at the break over cans of Tecate. It was great to make friends who were just as enthusiastic as we were to surf and take missions to Baja. You never know when the events of the trip will take or who you’ll meet because of it.

Go with the flow.


I Got Robbed in Rio Brazil


Surfing In Rio, Brazil

Ok, I know I usually write about green business and everything ecological, but let me start by saying there is nothing more organic than staying alive (keep reading).

I have been through some crazy situations in my life but this hits the top three for sure.

I have lived through a category 5 hurricane in Jamaica, I was chased by armed bandits by car through corn fields in the hills of Puerto Escondido, and I was on a boat in Indonesia (returning from G-land) when ‘the’ tsunami hit. However, the event that happened a few weeks ago in Rio, Brazil, in some ways trumps all of the aforementioned.

I am still unraveling the feelings around the experience and not sure where those disjointed perceptions will land.

While on a surf trip to Brazil this summer my partner and I went to dinner down the road from our apartment in Barra, a suburb of Rio. This particular restaurant had the best pizza I have ever had in Brazil: the cheese tasted like it’s flown in straight from Italy and the garlic was fresher than a northwest swell in October.

During dinner we spoke a lot about our stay in Rio, in fact we were leaving the next day so it kind of felt like a review of the last few weeks of our trip. The conversation was super positive, people had been so gracious to us, kind and helpful—everyone from the bus drivers to other surfers in the water.

We finished dinner and went to take a bus home. We discovered that you can take a bus for $2 or a taxi for $20 and as we’d learned the lay of the land, we had tried to take more buses than taxis.

Unfortunately we got on the wrong bus. Once we realized it, we got off and tried to figure out where the next bus stop was. We saw one a few hundred yards down the road and walked to it to wait for our ride home.

We stood there alone and I had a strange feeling inside, like something was not right or was about to happen.

And then it did.

As we were standing there, two guys on a motorcycle rode up to us in the dark. I stepped forward to see what was up and once they got closer I noticed the guy on the back had a strange look on his face.

I looked down at the rider’s hands and he was pointing a .45 Magnum at me. You see, I know a thing or two about guns, in a previous life (earlier in this one) I would have been the one holding a gun (with a badge) and I put guys like this one behind bars. Maybe in some kind of twisted universe this was my karma.

A .45 will rip a hole through you big enough to put your entire arm straight through the exit wound. As they approached the gunman said something in Portuguese but even if he had screamed in my ear I wouldn’t have heard what he said, my whole world and all my senses were concentrating on that gun. In what seemed like a nanosecond

I told my partner to run and we bolted out of there like lightning running toward the oncoming Brazilian traffic. We didn’t turn around until we had sprinted quite a distance, there was no sign of them following. We ran across the road and flagged down a taxi to take us home.

There is nothing like having a gun stuck in your face to get a little perspective on life.

It’s strange because in that split second that I saw the gun I had no fear, I knew exactly what I had to do and there was no question about intent or motive. The guy was too far away from me to charge him and I knew instinctively that it would be difficult for him to hit a moving target (i.e. us running) from the back of the motorcycle as they inched forward in the opposite direction.

Let’s be clear, it wouldn’t have been impossible, a bullet travels much faster than a human but I knew that was the chance we had to take. I also knew that even if we gave them our wallets and money they could still have shot us dead in the street, and I wasn’t going to test that theory.

 Cidade de Deus I know how ruthless Rio gangs are and if you haven’t seen the movie Cidade de Deus based on the semi-autobiographical novel by Paulo Lins, you must watch it to get an understanding of how easily a life can be taken.

I knew that I’d go down fighting or running my ass off, I hedged on the latter as our best option and somehow all my instincts knew this and I ran like a cheetah.

Of course later I doubted everything, I should have tackled the motorcycle, I should have gone Bruce Lee on them and done a flying Jeet Kune Do kick.

I should have taken the bullet for my lady as she got to safety, but the reality is that what happened happened, and nothing else matters. I never thought I would die taking a bullet in Rio, but damn, you just never know what life is going to deal you.

I wanted to write about this experience to help remind you of the preciousness of life and also to pass along a few tips if you happen to venture to Brazil for a surf trip:

    1.    Don’t hang out in dark places at night, stay in well lit areas.
    2.    Stay in a hotel close to the beach that has security.
    3.    If anyone approaches you by motorcycle don’t stick around to see what they want.
    4.    Don’t take a bus at night in Rio, grab a taxi.
    5.    Celebrate your life TODAY, you never know when it will be over.

Life is about clear perception and how you show up in each moment, it’s about the awareness surrounding your daily movements, and it’s about a vital living action. This is why we all love surfing so much, it puts us in ‘the zone’ with very little effort. I hope these tips will help you have a safe trip as you venture to unknown places in search of that perfect wave.

What Surfing Was Like Before Social Media


There are currently 1.28 billion Facebook users and over 255 million Twitter users.  I was thinking about what it was like before Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and all the other virtual worlds we live in today.

Before Go-Pro, before the waterproof Ipod, before streaming cams, before the 21 day surf forecast . . . back when it was you, one board and some stoke.

Remember those days?

I used to call the lifeguard stations at Huntington Beach and listen to the daily surf reports to try and get a glimpse of the swell. When I was a teen, those cats at Surfline started recording reports on 976-Surf and I’d call it as much as I could. My grandmother used to think I was calling porno numbers and I always got in trouble when the phone bill showed up.

Whether you called 976-Surf or not you would always call your bros on the landline and say “let’s surf.” He (your bro) would never respond, “let me check the cam” and would usually just say “pick me up.” I drove a VW bus in those days, so you can guess who did the driving.

We’d drive the coast, assessing each break along the way old-school style, using our five senses to understand the wind, swell, tide and kook factors.

We usually surfed no matter what and quite frequently had the wrong board. Back then most of us only owned one board, you made it work no matter, you had to do the “Huntington Hop” to make most waves into the inside section. I wish the younger me could see his garage now, he wouldn’t believe the wall of Mini Simmons and retro shapes, nor the hybrid shortboards and the classic guns in the racks. He would likely say, “dude, you only need one board.”

Back then after a surf there was no place to post that Go-Pro video of you paddling monkey style and then standing up swaying your hips like a drunk salsa dancer. There was no tweet to send to your 1000 non-listening followers and no Facebook post to make about how Joe passed gas in the van and we had to pull over and get out for five minutes.

The only thing that remained after those sessions was a deep appreciation for the sea, gratitude for your smelly friends and a longing desire to do it all again the next day. Please don’t forget that the most important things about surfing have nothing to do with your social media status.

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