Category Archives for "Surf Travel"

Surfing Playa Avellanas in Costa Rica

Surfing Playa Avellanas in Costa RicaSurfing Playa Avellanas – The Basics 

Tired of sharing a lineup with hundreds of other surfers?

You want to surf with the locals and earn some Tico respect—then may we suggest planning a trip to Costa Rica’s legendary, Playa Avellanas.

Located just 2 kilometers from nearby and tourist trap Tamarindo, Playa Avellanas boasts some of the most consistent waves in the entire country.  This beach is gnarly for so many different reasons, the power, the height, the speed, it’s exactly what you’re looking for in a wave.

I’ve surfed just about every beach in Costa Rica and I would without a doubt say that if you want a consistent wave that won’t disappoint, then there’s no better beach than Avellanas.

The best part of Avellanas is the fact that there’s basically zero tourism in the town, I mean, there isn’t much at all in the town.  You have your standard surf hostels, a few taco joints, and whole bunch of badass expat surfers.  I’d been surfing Playa Tamarindo for months before I discovered this little gem and when I looked out at the breaks, I literally shit myself.  The beach is so incredibly vast that it’s able to deliver 7 different points, yeah, 7 different points to shred.

Because Avellanas receives such epic swells, you can catch a tasty right or left, the choice is absolutely yours.  My personal favorite (and the locals will agree) is the wave that pushes out from the river mouth. Here is a video to get you stoked.

Locals have termed this wave “Little Hawaii”, and you can honestly get barreled there almost 300 days a year.  What people forget about Costa Rica is that you can surf every single day, regardless what the wind decides to do.  Of course, an onshore or cross shore wind aren’t going to be ideal, but you can definitely find a few fun jibs regardless of the wind direction.

 Surfing Playa Avellanas in Costa Rica – The Waves

Tons of people flock to Costa Rica to do all sorts of surf related activities.  Whether you’re a first timer, intermediate, semi-pro, or SUP bro, you’ll find your happy place in Avellanas.  Unlike some of the local only beaches around the world, Ticos (Costa Ricans) are incredibly warm to foreign surfers.  As long as you don’t drop in on their waves or snag them in a lineup, you’ll keep your limbs—just kidding! Costa Rica is by far the safest country in Central America.

I can’t stress the abundance of surf points enough.  Because there’s seven points to surf, you rarely have to sit in the water and wait for some Chad to get his wave.  For the more experienced surfers, you should head north in the beach to the river mouth and catch the wave known as “Little Hawaii”.

If you’re entering the beach from the public parking lot, then just head as far right as you can.  Trust me, you’ll see that bad boy breaking in the distance.  Also, if you’re like me, and like to explore, you’ll find there’s a secret little dirt path that veers off the main road.

If you take that road (not fit for cars), you’ll find yourself right in front of this epic wave and definitely far away from the crowds.  I’ve seen this wave top 12 feet before, but most days you’re looking at a height anywhere between 4 and 8 feet.

Playa Avellanas Costa Rica

In addition, though most days the wave in front of Lola’s tends to stay pretty small, you can go barrel hunting steps from the parking lot.  This spot, known as “El Parquet”, normally adheres to a lot of the beginners and intermediates, but surely anyone can have fun riding that wave.

There’s a ton of surf lessons going on over here, so if you don’t want to dodge the New Jersey vacationers, then I would stay away from this break.

As you move down the beach, you’ll find a handful of other waves breaking, so you really can judge what you want to ride for the day.

La Purruja breaks over a reef and is popular with the more advanced surfers, El Estero is a consistent break and its peak allows for perfect lefts and rights.  There isn’t a strong current or a gnarly reef below where you’ll be surfing, so don’t be scarred to rip it.  Avellanas is always working, but the best conditions are going to be at high tide rolling in, or mid tide.

Nearby Beaches

  • Playa Tamarindo
  • Playa Grande
  • Playa Negra
  • Playa Langosta
  • Marbella (this place is epic)

The Town – Playa Avellanas

A few things to remember about Avellanas is that it’s not your typical lavish, all inclusive surf destination.  You won’t find Taco Bells or fancy resorts, it’s much more Ma & Pa vibe over there.

The majority of people who come and surf Avellanas for vacation find themselves either renting a beach house, sleeping in a hostel, or for the rich folk, staying at the JW Marriott just a bit north of Playa Avellanas.

Though the Marriott has its own private beach and a golf course, I’m a huge fan of supporting the local Ticos that are trying to fill their beds.  With smaller accommodation options, you’ll find that your dollar goes much further.

Local fruit and vegetable vendors will pull up their donkeys right on the beach and you can buy a backpack full of produce for under 5$.  But be careful, these guys will try to overprice some of their products if you look like a total Gringo, so try speaking a little Spanish.  Even if you don’t know any Spanish, you’ll get much more respect if you at least try to engulf yourself in the Tico culture.

As far as the town of Avellanas goes, there’s not much, but there is enough.  You can grab bite to eat at the famous Lola’s Bar & Grill, a place where almost everyone hangs out at after a day of surfing.

Beers are normally 1-2$, drinks are a bit more, and burgers are 5$.  The people that work at Lola’s are all legends; I’ve rolled in there with 25 cents and offered to tell jokes for beers, they’ll hook it up if you seem like a good person.

The Beach Box serves up organic breakfast and dinner tacos at about 2-4$/each.  Unfortunately there’s not much more food options in Avellanas, so family style dinners at hostels are huge here.

There are two market stores, where you can buy anything from pancake mix to toilet plungers, so don’t fret if you run out of something.

How to Get Here To Playa Avellanas

Due to its remoteness, getting to Avellanas can be challenging to some, but it’s easy if you know what you’re doing.  If you’re flying into San Jose, then either get a private shuttle (they’ll take you straight to Avellanas), or hop on a bus to Santa Cruz or Tamarindo.

From Santa Cruz, you can connect to the Avellanas bus, or take the 5$ shuttle from Tamarindo to Avellanas.  There’s a Santa Cruz-Avellanas bus early in the morning and one right before sunset.  The Tamarindo-Avellanas shuttle leaves every 2 hours from 8am-6pm.

Where to Stay in Playa Avellanas

Draco’s Surf Camp Costa Rica

JW Marriott:  This is a great option for families, or rich people, because you have all the amenities of a resort, but are located very close to an epic surf beach.  This hotel is going to run 400+/night, but worth it if you have the funds.

Draco’s Surf Camp:  This is without a doubt the best option for backpackers, families, or groups, because it has it all.  8+ bedrooms, a cooled pool, outdoor shower, lounge area, huge kitchen, air conditioning, basically everything you’d want when you’re in Costa Rica.

David, a great friend of mine happens to own and run this place.  Tell him that Jason sent you and I guarantee he’ll give you a little discount.

Generally, dorm beds are 15$/night and private rooms with A/C and bathrooms are 40$/night.  David runs this place like a bed and breakfast, so feel free to throw on your tunes, slice a mango, and lounge in one of the hammocks.

Hotel Mediterraneo:  Cozy little hotel/hostel type accommodation.  Fairly cheap, clean, and definitely safe.

Cabinas Las Olas: A tiny surf camp, located about a 5 minute walk from the beach.  You’ll be able to meet a bunch of other surf travelers and hot yoga girls here, if you don’t stay at Draco’s this is the place to be.  Dorm beds are between 10-20$/night.

Los Altos de Eros: A more luxurious and romantic option, probably not the best for surf bums. They say on their site, “We are hurricane proof and we don’t have drug wars. Good start!” They claim to be a 5-Star Costa Rica boutique hotel & spa resting on a 27 acre estate atop a small mountain with stunning views to the Pacific Ocean.

To Sum it Up 


If you love surfing, hate line ups, and aren’t afraid to get frog house barreled, then a trip to Playa Avellanas is definitely a good choice.  There’s a ton of surf able beaches in the vicinity, so if you want to switch things up, it’s more than possible.


Surfing in Peru

Peru – A Goofy Footers Dream Surf Destination

My bro always dreamed of going to Peru, he is a goofy-footer and he mainly surfs rights in California. I myself loves rights but once I ventured down to Peru my vision of going left changed and once I left that country I had a new fondness for the going backside.

If you are going to Peru on a surf trip I’d recommend taking a few days to  head into the mountains to visit Machu Picchu—now look I am a lover of the ocean, but I highly recommend that you take some time and visit this magical place.

Machu Picchu is one of those places but you’ll never forget, you’ll be transported to a different time, and the feelings that you’ll have while walking to the ruins we’ll remind you of the history of humanity.

Peru has mainly three surfing areas, the points in beaches to the south, the waves around Trujillo (this includes Chicama, sump report to be the longest left in the world, which I would agree with), and the third area is to the far north and include the beaches of Mancora.

Here is a quick map of Peru from Lonely Planet to get a view of the country.

I personally like the beaches around Trujillo, which offer a nice selection of beach break and point break. Trujillo is a short flight from Lima, that you should book as part of your original trip. Once you get to Trujillo, you need to take a taxi to Huanchaco—a town full of plenty of great places to eat and inexpensive accommodation right in front of the surf break.

There are several breaks to the north including Chicama and Pacasmayo, which serve up excellent waves and plenty of cultural distractions. The jewel of Peru is Chicama and any surf trip to Peru should be focused on this excellent wave.

We got very lucky on our trip because a major south swell slammed into the Peruvian coast and Chicama lit up like a Catholic Easter service and a Latin country. See the picture below.

Surfing Peru

Surfing Peru, the world famous Chica.

Surfing is a very popular activity in Peru especially after the emergence of the Peruvian Surf Champions. It has produced world wide champions such as Sofía Mulánovich, 2004 female world champion, Luis Miguel “Magoo” De La Rosa ISA World Masters Surfing Championship 2007 leader, and Cristobal de Col, 2011 World Junior Champion.

Best Time To Visit Peru – When The South Swells Fire.

All south and south West spots have very reliable swell from April to October. And from October to march north swell hit the coast. This means that during the south swell season you’ll be surfing around Lima or Trujillo and during the north window you’ll want to head to the northern region. The Main Surf Areas Of Peru

During spring and fall, short sleeves are fine, although long sleeves will work for the early or late sessions.

During winter time a 3/2mm rubber is OK. Booties are a great help to keep feet warm and protect them from rocks and shelves. Water temperature is not as cold as northern California but cold enough.

From Trujillo down you’ll want a 3/2 and if you get up north to Lobitos or Mancora you can shed the suit and surf in your shorties.

Surfing Peru – Where To Go?

Going north or south? There’re tons of waves around Lima, but I wouldn’t hang too long in that city, it’s kind of a shit hole. No offense to any Peruvians that might be reading this, because you have so many beautiful places in that country, but Lima isn’t one of them.

If you do get stuck in Lima, There are some waves in the city, but the water is nasty and the crowds are horrific. Now once you get out of the city and drive to the south you’ll find yourself in an entirely different situation with tons of surf along beautiful shoreline scattered amongst the small villages of the countryside.

My advice it to get the fuck out of Lima as quick as possible. You should always be prepared to charge large waves if you are going south of Lima, but if you do not surf this size, still there are many breaks with fun waves.  South of Lima is a perfect party place during summer and weekends are really busy.

If you wake up early, you can go surf while everyone is going back home after the nightlong party. Your main decision when visiting Peru, is to either go north or south.

Well actually, the decision is to either go south to the southern part of the north section or to the extreme North.

If you’ve read this article you know that I favor the beaches around Trujillo, but if you decide that you want a different kind of trip (and one not including Peru’s best wave) then you can decide to go South of Lima or to the beaches around Lobitos.

Side Trip To Machu Picchu If I were you, I would try and plan my trip for a 3 to 4 week window and leave a few days to fly back to Lima and up to Cusco which will put you at the doorsteps of Machu Picchu.

It’ll cost you a couple hundred dollars to get to Cusco from anywhere in the country by plane.

Once you’re in Cusco, Machu Picchu his a few hours away. You could do the whole trip in a few days and get back to the coast if you see a swell coming. For a complete breakdown of the specific waves in Peru:

Current Conditions:









North of Peru is one of the best places on earth to surf, many of locals from Lima have moved to the North for this purpose. In the North there are plenty of warm water waves, excellent seafood and not as many crowds as around the big cities. However, there are few beaches were crowd can be extreme like Cabo Blanco, and Máncora.

If you avoid the high seasons, you will be surfing great waves with only a hand-full of surfers. If you happen to be surfing during a very well publicized swell during the hight of the surf season then you will have lots of company including gangs of Brazilians—not something you want to see when you and your bro are surfing solo on that middle peak at Pacasmaya.

Chicama has good waves whenever a big south shows up. Some people swear that the extreme north of Peru is pure magic, but I love the waves around Trujillo.

Getting There

Peru enjoys a privileged location in the heart of South America, turning International Airport Jorge Chavez in Lima into an international hub for tourism and several airlines that reach many destinations in South America.

There are several domestic flights connecting the local destinations. There are direct and stop-over flights to Lima from the main capitals of the world. From LAX I’d get a direct flight to Lima and connect to Trujillo, not even stepping foot in Lima.

When you decide to visit Cusco you can book your flight online when the swell drops, no need to lock everything in before your trip—leave some flexibility for swell conditions. The entry points by land are:

  • From Ecuador: Aguas Verdes (Tumbes) via the Pan-Americana Highway and La Tina (Piura) from the city of Loja (Ecuador).
  • From Bolivia: There are two crossings, Desaguadero and Kasani, for travelers coming from La Paz and Copacabana respectively.
  • From Chile: Paso the Santa Rosa (Santa Rosa Pass) (Tacna) via the Panamericana Highway.


Peru has accommodations to suit every budget, especially in tourist hubs and cities.

There are several hostels at affordable price and on shared basis. But when it comes to surfing, you would always want to stay in close proximity to beach that offers good waves and are less crowded and in such cases it is best suited to go look for surf camps who will better understand your surf needs.



Surfing in Nicaragua

The best things about surfing in Nicaragua

Nicaragua is a top surf destination because of the general consistency of the waves and good weather conditions. There are ride-able waves almost every single day.  In the southern region, offshore winds blow all day long for an average of 300+ days per year.  Spots in this zone are greatly preferred for surfing, but there are waves up-and-down the coast.

Nicaragua has some of the best quality waves in all of Central America, mainly due to the long sweeping beaches and rivers. Some waves are just better than others, but the better waves attract more people. Like in many other countries, the best and most popular spots are the most crowded.  While it might not matter to a pro surfer, most of us would rather not fight for waves.

Nicaragua has so many surf spots which offer quality waves with less crowd compared to it’s cousin Costa Rica to the south  Nicaragua offers plenty of waves that appeal to a wide range of skill levels. For many a hollow wave is better than a mushy wave, and hollow waves are the trademark of Nicaragua.

Top Surf Spots of Nicaragua

There are many major surf spots in Nicaragua among them are some popular spots that are listed below:

Playa Hermosa


Playa Hermosa is one of the best kept secrets South of San Juan Del Sur.  Playa Hermosa is over 1 mile long and is accessible only by boat and features lots of empty peaks with no local surfers!

The wave quality is better than average and features lots of peaks, long walls and the occasional barrel.   This spot is fun for almost all skill levels.  Because it is located South of SJDS, Playa Hermosa needs more swell than others to break, but this touch of inconsistency is more than offset by the lack of people in the line-up.  You will never have to share a peak here if you don’t want to.

Surf  Tips: If you are coming to Nicaragua to surf alone, stay in SJDS and take the short boat ride to surf Playa Hermosa.  The best months are April through September.  Mid to High tides are best. Please be cautious while travelling in these beaches.

WATCH OUT FOR: Empty peaks.



It is a lesser known spot located in Central Nicaragua.  It is a consistent beach break, located just outside of the offshore wind corridor and only 1.5 hours from MGA International.  As such, it’s best to try and surf it in the mornings when the winds are light.  The wave is fun and rip-able and occasionally lines up for some sick hallow sections off the river mouth.  If you want fun, but non-threatening waves and absolutely no crowds to hassle with, this is the wave for you.

Surf Tips: Access the wave through Gran Pacifica and make your way North.  The best peaks can be found a short walk to the North of the parking area, in front of the river mouth.  It’s best surfed on a lower tide. You can also drive straight to the beach by paying the guards $5 at the entrance.

The two best places to stay are Gran Pacifica or the Los  Cardones Eco Lodge down the road. For more amenities closer to the break the Grand Pacifica is the spot. There is a good wave right out front or you can walk to Aschunchillo. I stayed at Los Cardones once, it is very rustic compared to the Grand Pacifica. There are a good group of people that hang out there but the rooms are sub-par in my opinion. If you are going to stay there grab one of the rentals on the property.

WATCH OUT FOR: The black sand beach can get very hot in the sun.

Astillero Beach Break


At the end of the road, in front of the river mouth, lies one of the best and least surfed beach breaks in Nicaragua.

Astillero is a small fishing village, but it is also known for it’s hollow waves and lack of crowds.  It’s best surfed when there is a little bit of swell in the water as it is usually a bit smaller here.  The rights are usually better than the lefts and there are multiple peaks to choose from – Works best when it’s double overhead or less and around a mid-tide.

Surf Tips: Get a 4wd and drive down the beach – you can park in front of the wave and avoid the long walk.  Be careful not to get caught by the high-tide.

WATCH OUT FOR:Dirty water during the rainy season and petty theft if you leave your vehicle unattended.



As the name indicates, this spot is one of the most fun and rippable waves we have in Nicaragua.  Breaking across a cobblestone reef, Playgrounds is often compared to a warm-water Trestles.  The left is usually longer than the right, but you can easily go both ways.  Equally fun on long boards and short boards, Playgrounds is a wave that a broad range of people can enjoy.  This wave starts getting fun at about chest-high and holds size up to double-overhead.

Playgrounds is a boat-only spot and while there can sometimes be a few people in the line-up, you can also surf here by yourself. Stay anywhere in Tola with boat access.

Surf Tips:To score it without the crowds, try surfing Playgrounds in between swells during the season.  It’s usually better in the morning or with light winds.

WATCH OUT FOR: The rocks!  Don’t put your foot down unless you want to  take home a battle scar.

Playa Colorado

If you want to get barreled, Playa Colorado is the place to visit in Nicaragua.  The secret is out and you won’t be surfing this spot alone but if it turns on, you will likely get one of the best barrels of your life.  Playa Colorado is a private beach and is accessed by either staying inside Hacienda Iguana (a private beach and golf resort) or by boat.  This wave can work on all tides, changes personalities frequently and can dish out a beating.

Surf  Tips: Stay inside Hacienda Iguana if you want to score Playa Colorado – if you can time the boats and the crowd you can still score an empty line-up here.  Bring your paddle arms and an extra board or two!

WATCH OUT FOR: Boats, Santana Walkers and other eager surf-trippers who will all paddle out and sit right next to you. 

Playa Santana

playa santana

A  wedgy beach break that almost always has a fun peak.  Playa  Santana is best known for  its Consistency and Wave Quality.  On small swell pulses, this break is punchy and rampy. When the swell get’s bigger, it’s a full-on barrel-fest.  If there’s one bummer about Playa Santana, it’s the crowd of locals that live in adjacent Limon. It’s rare to surf this spot alone and if it’s good, you could be battling 40 heads for a peak.

Surf TipsThe wave turns on at mid to high tide and stays fun until about mid-tide going out.  If you want to beat the crowd, try waiting until after high-tide to paddle out.  Early season, when the water is cool, also cuts down some of the crowd. 

WATCH OUT FOR: Other surfers!

Playa Maderas


Playa Maderas, the most popular surfing beach near San Juan Del Sur.  Playa Maderas is predominately a beach break and breaks year-round.  It’s a rippable wave that caters to a variety of surfing abilities.  Maderas is famous for its Consistency and Wave Quality .  San Juan Del Sur is home to many local rippers as well as busloads of wannabe surfers so expect to share the line-up when you are here.

Surf TipsIf you zig when all the other’s zag, you can still get fun and uncrowded waves at Playa Maderas.  When the swell is small, try showing up at low-tide.  You’ll most likely have the beach to yourself and there will be some fun corners to ride.  This also works when the swell is BIG, when most people go surf somewhere else and it’s too much for the casual surfer to handle.

WATCH  OUT FOR: Other surfers and submerged rocks!



Popoyo is a staple and it’s the wave that put Nicaragua on the surfing map.  This powerful reef break goes both left and right (the left is usually better) and offers long, powerful walls and sometimes a thick barrel section.  It’s very consistent and magnifies even the smallest swell.  As you might imagine, there is a pack of locals and ex-pats alike who have this place wired.  It’s a shifty wave, but it’s only one peak so competition for your daily quota is guaranteed here.  This wave breaks over shallow reef, so take that into consideration as well.

Surf Tips: Popoyo breaks at all tides but most people tend to prefer high tide.  Give low tide a try, with a smaller swell, and you will be rewarded.  Otherwise, try Popoyo during a long stretch of good surf (the crowd will be tired and Panga Dropsmellow) or in the off-season.

WATCH OUT FOR: The reef!

Panga Drops

If you want a solid wave across all of the criteria, look no further than Panga Drops.  This isn’t the best wave in Nicaragua by any means, but if  you value a wave that is fun most of the time, doesn’t really ever get too crowded and can be enjoyed by most skill levels, you have to consider Panga  Drops.  Located at the North end of Playa Colorado, this wave is a deep-water, horseshoe reef which magnifies swell and throws shifty lefts and rights at you.  It breaks at all tides, on all swells and all times of the year.  You should definitely try it when visiting Nicaragua.

Surf Tips: Panga Drops breaks pretty far out and is affected by strong offshore winds, most common in the off-season.  Try checking it out on a solid swell with light or no-wind and you’ll be trading big, shifty peaks with just a few friends.

WATCH OUT FOR: Stingrays  and strong currents!

Best Places to Stay and Surf

Casa de Safari

This house is located within easy access to most surfing beaches. They arrange airport transportation, arrange for surf lessons, board rentals and more.

Popoyo Surf Lodge


Popoyo Surf Lodge is nestled into the valleys of Nicaragua’s southern Pacific coast in Playa Guasacate. PSL rests on on a 14 acre spread of tropical gardens, amidst  a surfer’s paradise, intimate and personal, with access to a seemingly endless supply of world class surf breaks. These breaks receive year round swell from the southern hemi’s and the waves are groomed to perfection by the consistent, prevailing offshore winds. Here you get to experience an unparalleled knowledge of the waves, the breaks and the the local community.

NSR Surf Reports

NSR has scoured the coast of Nicaragua to find the very best places for surfers to stay. All rental properties include access to killer waves. They are perfect for all surf trips. If you’re looking to minimize your travel time and maximize your surf time, stay with Nicaragua Surf Report (NSR) – beach  rentals with waves!

Villa Pinolera

Villa Pinolera is a beautiful private residence located in trees, only steps from Maderas Beach and 15 minutes outside San Juan Del Sur. You can be here within 3 hours of  arriving at Managua International Airport. Villa Pinolera is a full  service rental, complete with housekeeper, 24 hour security guard and even a meal plan service providing three delicious and freshly prepared meals per day.

Villa Pinolera provides the perfect, private retreat that is close to everything and yet quiet and secluded. This option is ideal for families, long boarders, novice surfers, beach lovers and groups that want to mix surfing in with taking in the sights, lounging in the  hammock and on the beach.

Surfari Charters


Surfari Charters provide professional guided transportation on the Pacific Coast of Nicaragua for hard core surfers and fishermen, with a family style twist.

Casa Cantamar

Casa Cantamar is one of the few truly beach front homes available for vacation rental in this area. It is situated on perhaps Nicaragua’s most beautiful stretch of sand, and is conveniently located right between two premiere surf breaks. This property is  located near Panga Drops, Playa Colorado and Los Perros. Board rentals available on request.

Getting There

If arriving  on an international flight, you’ll land at Augusto C. Sandino International Airport (MGA) in Managua. As well as  flights from neighboring capitals such as San José and San Salvador (served mainly by COPA and TACA), Managua receives direct flights from major US hubs Atlanta, Miami and Houston through Spirit Airlines, Continental, American Airlines and Delta.

You  can enter Nicaragua by land from Honduras and Costa Rica. International buses pull into Managua, often via Granada and Rivas (if coming from the south); it’s also possible to take local services to and from the border. There is  a water crossing from the border at Los Chiles, Costa Rica, to San Carlos; from here it is a five- to seven-hour bus ride or an hour-long plane ride on to Managua. It is also possible to cross from La Unión in El Salvador to Potosí in Nicaragua, either by arranging  to cross with local fishermen, or with the passenger service Cruce del Golfo.


Most budget travelers to Nicaragua  at some point find themselves in a Nicaraguan hospedaje – a small and usually pretty basic pension-type hotel, most often family-owned and run. Simple hospedajes charge around US$5–15 for a double. For this you get a bed and fan; in many places you’ll have to share a bathroom, and breakfast is not normally included. Hostels (US$5–10 for a dorm bed) are common in backpacker hot spots like León and Granada but rare elsewhere.

Hotels (from US$20) tend to be more luxurious, with air conditioning, cable TV and services like tours and car rental; you are less likely to see these in very small towns. Camping is pretty rare, thanks to the low cost of accommodation. If you’re determined to camp, the most promising areas are beach spots around San Juan del Sur, Isla de Ometepe and the Corn Islands.


  • Derek’s Brain


6 Tips To Going Paperless On Your Next Surf Adventure

6 Tips to Going Paperless On Your Next Surf AdventureHave you wanted to go paperless, but were unsure where to begin?

If you have been hesitant to start your eco hero’s journey into the world of digital documents, don’t worry, you’re not alone.

In fact, there’s often a strange sense of comfort that comes from having information printed on a piece of pristine paper. How many times have you sent your travel itinerary to your phone but also printed it on paper for a backup?

The advantages of having everything stored in a digital format are hard to ignore when getting ready to fly across the planet to submerge yourself in saltwater bliss.

•    save effort with less paper to store and carry around (more room for surfboards and beer)
•    save stress by avoiding losing important documents (always available online)
•    save paper and carbon emissions associated with mailing paper documents
•    save time by having access to your documents anywhere (except that boat in the Mentawais)

Digitizing your paper system is especially useful for traveling surfers.

Getting your documents in order may be the underlying resistance to leaving the country for that epic surf vacation you have been dreaming about.

Good News: substituting your messy paper system for an eco-friendly, sharable, portable, organized system is as easy as paddling out at Mondos in Ventura, California.

6 Tips To Going Paperless On Your Next Surf Adventure (Really 3 tips and 3 action items)

To jumpstart your soon-to-be paperless path to increased efficiency, I’d like to share a simple, three step guide to going paperless.

1. Reduce Your Paper Input For Easy Travel Organization

You may be ready to start scanning up a storm, but before you do that, what if you could drastically reduce the amount of paper you receive in the first place? While you are basking on the beaches of Bali you’ll want to be able to manage and pay your bills online.

Top paper kooks that can easily be switched to electronic documents are:

•    credit cards
•    monthly bills (cell phone, utilities, rent/mortgage)
•    bank statements
•    tax documents

Sometimes you can get discounts or rewards for switching to the paperless option.

Action Step: Take an hour to automate as many bills as possible, receive digital bank and tax statements and stop unsolicited mail form cramming your mailbox.

2. Choose Your Document Management System.

You’ll want something that uses cloud storage to store your important documents. That way, if something should happen to your computer or hard drive, you still have all of your documents safely backed up.

Opting for cloud based storage also makes the information accessible from virtually anywhere in the world via wireless internet connection.

The two best cloud storage options are Google Drive and Dropbox.

Action Step: Open a Google Drive account and learn the basics of using this free cloud resource.

3. Scan Your Most Important Documents Pre-Trip

Our list of most important documents includes:

•    passport
•    health records (including pre-trip shots)
•    malaria medication instructions
•    birth certificate
•    social security card (or ID)
•    drivers license
•    travel insurance policies
•    airline ticket
•    car reservations
•    credit card replacement numbers
•    marriage license (in case you decide to marry that girl you met in the water at Ulu)
•    military service records
•    investment records (need to make a trade to extend your trip)
•    will (hopefully you won’t need this one)

There are a number of document scanning applications that will turn your smartphone into a high quality scanning machine. I like TinyScan and recommend downloading it from the app store.

Got More Paperless Tips?

Got any more tips going paperless before your next surf adventure, send them to or add to the comments below if you are reading this online.


Surfing in Ecuador

Surfing Mainland Ecuador vs. Galapagos Islands

Ecuador has many beaches to offer quality surfing. I took a trip there a few years ago and—of course–I took my surfboard.

The coast of Ecuador is 2,237 km (1,390 miles) long. Perfect waves are available in Ecuador all year-round, and surfers enjoy the mild year-round weather, especially in the northern region where the weather conditions attract many surfers from all over the world.

Surf tourism is very important to the local economy, and the beaches offer significant enjoyment because of top quality waves combined with affordable prices for lodging and food compared to other surf destinations in South America.

There's also a national marine reserve off the coast, which has a gigantic whale population—whales are cool!

Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands offer contrasting surfing environments. The Galapagos are remote, 563 mi west of continental Ecuador, quite fickle and rocky. It's an island—95% of it is national park.

Whilst mainland Ecuador can be party-mad and offers a multitude of accessible sandy beach barrels through to long points and reefs.

They do however share the same exposure to both north  and south swells; both will suffer decay before reaching their shores but what does arrive, as a consequence is of high quality, losing much of the short period associated with locally generated swells.

Best Swell Season

November to March being the primary swell season. Ecuador's surfing is focused around the northern reaches of the country and the famous surf town of Atacames.

Water temperatures between  the Galapagos and Ecuador are also divergent, the former being in the path of the Humboldt Current and a good few degrees cooler.

Trade winds blow from a southerly direction all year, swinging more easterly for the Galapagos and westerly for Ecuador, though mornings are typically offshore on the mainland. Ecuador is known primarily known for its right point breaks, but the country has a wide and diverse coastline, offering up hollow beach breaks and reef breaks as well.

Where to surf?

The North

This zone extends from Bahia de  Caraquez (about 1 hr north of Manta) through Canoa and north to the Mompiche area in Esmeraldas province.

Bahia is not a major surf town except on giant SW swells when it has one of the best left point breaks in Ecuador.

The  Canoa zone contains a series of river mouths and sand points that come alive on NW swells and produce fun rippable waves over a sand bottom that is more forgiving in most areas.

This is a great area for beginners and intermediates. Mompiche is Ecuador’s most famous world class left point break that comes alive on big NW swells which Ecuadorian surfers wait patiently for and then descend on it. Fortunately it is remote enough to still catch it and especially some of the surrounding waves reasonably uncrowded from time to time.  


This zone extends from Manta where the coastline faces due North with dead-on exposure to winter Northwest swells at several point and jetty breaks, out to the San Lorenzo Cape, a rugged zone containing a series of remote point and reef breaks which work on a wide variety of swell directions and tides with varying wind protection, and finally to the south facing end of the cape which contains some of Ecuador’s hollowest beach breaks and river mouths.

All in all the Central Zone has Ecuador’s most uncrowded surf. Here on any given day you can regularly expect to surf with almost no one, but this zone also has the most difficult access and hard to read conditions so that you could waste a lot of time here checking spots for nothing, making local knowledge and experience crucial to scoring.   

Baja Manabi Zone

This zone is located between the Central and Southern zones on a less populated stretch of the coastline. Wave hunters base camp and bungalows  are located here and the break out front is an exposed beach break breaking right and left depending on  the swell, offering a wide variety of options for all levels of surfers.

If a dominant North swell is showing, the beach lights up like a point  break with rights peeling on the outside for about 200 yards then to an inside section that barrels hard.

If you catch a South or West swell, the conditions will vary depending on tides with many empty left and right peaks to ride, but never the less the waves are rarely flat.

If you are learning with a surf school, they will take you out when the tide is low in the surf and close to shore to judge your ability.

However, if you are an advanced surfer incoming tides always bring bigger surf  with an outside peak just a short paddle away. The best part about this beach is  the lack of crowds due to our remote location in a very large mountain range. You will surf alone.  Our  beach breaks year round with little to no crowds.

Nearby Surf:

  • There is 1 reef break that is approximately a 15-minute boat ride away. This reef break is a hollow  grinding right-hander and breaks over shallow rocks (advanced surfers recommended).
  • The 2nd break is a rock point that sits in a bay and is a nice mellow left-hander that can get up to 12 feet and break 200 yards easily. This break has a nice tube section on the inside (Med-Adv surfers recommended).
  • The 3rd break is a remote left-hand rock break that is about a 20-minute car ride away with either a hike on foot for 15-minutes or a 25-minute boat ride from the bay (Med-Adv surfers recommended). All 3 of these spots are consistent and pick up swells from most directions.

 Southern Zone

This zone includes the popular beaches of Las Salinas and Montanita. These breaks are  best on SW swells but some also work very good on NW. Las Salinas is the  backyard for Guayaquil based surfers who are only 2 hours away.

The coastline around Las Salinas here is indented and contains a variety of points, reefs, jetties, and beach breaks with sometimes restricted access that has to be negotiated. Montanita is a Bohemian surf mecca and party town frequented by international youth and backpackers as well as active lifestyle South Americans.

Some of the more popular spots can still be surfed with reasonable crowd levels very early mornings (when a lot of surfers are hungover or just closing the bars). Surf guides can easily transport you away from the more crowded spots to surf uncrowded waves in and around this zone within a reasonable driving distance while you may enjoy the social atmosphere, beach activities, and nightlife. sz1








Popular Surf Spots

Some of the most popular surfing spots  in Ecuador, which also have links to their own Wikipedia pages, include:

Atacames – A beach town located on Ecuador’s Northern Pacific coast.

Galápagos Islands 

The Galapagos are an area of volcanic islands distributed around the equator in the Pacific Ocean and are 500 miles from the mainland coast of Ecuador mainland. San Cristobal is a favorite spot in the Galapagos for surfing, where the surf is from both the North and South Pacific, and the “surf season” is from December until May.

However, people surf all year round in the Galapagos & Ecuador. The Galapagos Islands stand ready, willing and able to funnel NPAC swells into perfect reef surf. Manta made a name for itself in the surfing world in 2004 by hosting the Body boarding World Cup.


Montañita – It is one of the better spots to surf  with waves in the months between January to March are as large as 2 meters.

Top View- Montanita

Top View- Montanita

Playas is a coastal city located in the province of Guayas, Ecuador.

Punta Carnero – is a popular surfing location, and the beach been chosen many times for national and international surf competitions.

Salinas was the site of the ISA World Junior Surfing Games Ecuador in 2009.

Surfing Season

Ecuador’s prime surf season is from December to April. This is the season of NW swells generated by  winter storms in the North Pacific ocean and NW-SW combo swells (or West swells), transitioning into the Southern hemisphere swell season. Winds during this time of year are predominantly glassy to offshore along most of the coast resulting in often good to epic conditions.

During this season Ecuador is a world class surfing destination and one of the most consistent places to score tropical waves during the Northern hemisphere winter. El Nino Years (when the Pacific storm track drops further south) are particularly legendary in Ecuador.

May-November has dominant onshore winds (S-SW) along much of the coastline although mornings can still be glassy.  This season is very good especially for beginner to intermediate surfers just looking to enjoy some really fun uncrowded waves off the beaten track, or for someone passing through Ecuador or this part of South America who wants to drop in.


CaptureCapture 2

Probabilities for Ecuador to see swell over 3 ft and 13 ft between 280-315 degrees (top graph) and between 200 and 315 degrees (bottom graph).  January is the best month to see appreciable NPAC swell in Ecuador.

There are higher chances to see larger, more significant swell from the South Pacific from April through September, but winds aren’t as good then. Average wind speeds (top) and directions by month (bottom) for a point just offshore Montañita, Ecuador.

Notice the speeds diminish and turn more southerly during December through March. This suggests better potential for light offshore to variable winds in the mornings before afternoon sea breezes kick in.

Surf Variety

Ecuador has incredible surf variety. There are an equal proportion of rights to lefts, and an equal proportion of points, rock reefs, jetties, river mouths and beach breaks. Some of the breaks, depending on their  orientation, work best on north swells, others on south swells and others  on combo or “West” swells, making Ecuador a very dynamic surf destination.

In general the breaks are very tide sensitive. An approximately  2 meter(7 foot) tidal range will make or break a lot of the spots. Most spots are also heavily direction sensitive and swell dependent, some being magnets for swell and others  needing larger swells to turn on.

Wind is another variable to throw in as some spots are more protected than others. The vast majority of breaks are not visible from the main highways and require turnoffs at unmarked roads and some time to reach, which means you can waste an incredible amount of time looking for surf here if you don’t know  where to go and when to go.

The answers to these equations rely on a  combination of surf forecasting, years of local knowledge, and cell phone communications with friends (spotters) up and down the coast.

If you have enough time you could always discover many secret and semi-secret spots with no crowd factor. By contrast, if you go to Montanita, Ecuador’s best known surf spot, expect to find a few dozen surfers, mainly locals, hugging a tight take off zone on the point.

Getting There

Direct flights to Ecuador’s international airports in Quito and Guayaquil depart from a relatively small number of places outside of Latin America. In the United States, regular services leave from Miami, Houston and Atlanta; in Europe, they go from Madrid and Amsterdam.

Higher prices are likely in the July to September high season and during December. Popular combinations are Quito and Lima, or Quito and La Paz, and tickets cost about the same as a normal return.

Ecuador is too small to warrant its own airpass, but is included in larger networks, such as the LAN airlines Airpass , which links LAN destinations and offers further discounts if you have a transatlantic ticket with them.

Flights from the US and Canada

While there  are few direct routes to Ecuador, it’s easy to pick  up connecting flights to the main hubs. Approximate flying  times from the US to Quito without stops are four hours  from Miami, and around five hours from Houston and Atlanta.

Quito is about seven and a half hours  from Toronto and Montreal, or about ten hours from Calgary and Vancouver. Prices range from around US$450 return from Miami, US$700–900 from Houston and CAN $900 from Toronto, but shop around, as prices can vary  greatly.

Flights from the UK and Ireland

There are no direct flights to  Ecuador from Britain and Ireland, but there are plenty of indirect flights to both Quito and Guayaquil involving a change of plane in either a European or American  city. Typical journey times  are between fifteen and seventeen hours,  with Iberia and American Airlines offering marginally faster services. You can expect to pay around £550–800 return including tax in the low season and £650–900 in the high.

Flights from Australia and New Zealand

There are no direct flights to Ecuador from Australia or New Zealand,  though there are two main indirect routings, one via Santiago in Chile, the other via the US. The most straightforward is the Qantas/Lan Chile route from Sydney to Quito and Guayaquil, stopping in Auckland and changing in Santiago. Typical travel times are around  25 to 40 hours. Expect  to pay at least A$1700 from Australia, and  NZ$1800 from New Zealand.

Flights from South Africa

To get to Ecuador  from South Africa,  you’re best off flying to a South American hub, such as São Paulo, Buenos Aires, Santiago or Lima, from where there are ongoing services to Quito. Johannesburg to São Paulo with Varig is a ten-hour flight costing upwards of around ZAR5000.  From São Paulo there are direct flights daily to Quito with Taca, which take another eight to nine hours.

Surf Camps

Surf camps can offer a variety of  accommodation such as apartments, hotels, rooms, camping or dormitories together with food, surf lessons and group activities.

Often included are guided surf tours of the best local spots along with surf hire, videos, photography, professional coaching and even some night life. The prices offered by them are best in South America and it is also quite affordable. Some of the popular surf camps are Waterways, Live the Life, Bungalows La Buena Vida Surf and Stay , Galapago Surf Camp, Balsa Surf Camp.      


Surfing in Chile

surfing chileAbout Chile 

Chile is widely known as the goofy footer’s paradise.

Chile has some great surfing, especially in the northern region where the weather conditions attract many surfers from all over the world—Chile is the Northern California of South America and the home of my favorite poet Pablo Neruda.

Surfing in chile is possible all year except for the winter months, unless you bring your tow-in gear.

The water temperature ranges from 15 to 20 °C (59 to 68 °F).

The further south you travel bigger the waves and swell, most surfers concentrate on the central to norther parts of the country.


Chile has a very short surfing history. The first local surfer dates from the beginning of the ’70’s.

Chile has been increasingly in the international spotlight these last few years for its consistency, infinity of spots, huge, perfect waves (nearly all lefts), and crowds that some have compared to California in the ’50s. Led by three of the best Chilean surfers, Ramon Navarro and Cristian Merello, a local big-wave chargers from Pichilemu and Diego Medina, winner of the 2005 Billabong XXL

Paddle Award for a monster caught at Punta de Lobos, a solid Chilean scene is starting to emerge and progress at a quick pace.

Surfer Diego Medina

Surfer Diego Medina

Conditions 300 Days Of Surf Per Year

Chile can be separated roughly into three big regions.

The northern regions hold mostly Hawaiian-style reef-breaks. The north has the driest desert in the world, and its rocky bottoms produce some of Chile’s most powerful and hollow waves, which easily break a lot of boards, so be sure to bring a good quiver.

The central region, which is the most accessible for its proximity to Santiago, offers many spots that are for the most part friendly, but beware: 15-foot-plus days are not uncommon, and 25-foot-plus happens on a regular basis. The Central region mostly hold the left-hand point breaks.

Then there’s the south region, a pristine, green environment overlooking an infinity of left tubing point breaks waiting to be explored. Similar to that of Central region, South holds most left-hand point breaks.

[box type=”info” size=”large”]300 days a year of surf.[/box]

With a national average of 300 days a year of surf, it is very unlikely to fall on a long flat spell. Swells hit the 4,000-mile coast of Chile year-round, and they can hit hard. Respect the locals and the environment, be careful of Pisco intoxication, be curious, explore, and you’ll spend probably one of the best surf trips of your life here.

Climate in Chile

While surfing in Chile one should be aware of the different weather conditions that varies according to region. Chile has a variety of climatic conditions ranging from subtropical to tropical temperate and near polar due to its great lengths.

Chile can be divided into three climatic zones, (1.) the north which includes the Atacama Desert which is characterized by arid and dry conditions. (2.) The central region of Chile which has a Mediterranean climate with mild wet winters and long dry summers and (3.) the south which is cold and wet with prevailing winds of gale intensity.

Rainfall increases from almost nothing in the Atacama Desert in the north to 5,080 mm (200 inches) in the south. Average annual temperature ranges in Santiago are from 3 to 14 degrees Celsius (37 to 57 degrees Fahrenheit) in July to 12 to 29 degrees Celsius (54 to 84 degrees Fahrenheit) in January.

Surf  Tips

The cold waters of central and southern Chile can be brutal to surf, therefore, surfers adventuring into those areas are strongly advised on using a protective wet suit to protect against the elements.

Surf Lessons and Rentals

There are many Surf Schools around Chile and they are located in close proximity to the popular surf spots. The major surf school include Magic Chile International Surf School where Surfing lessons are taught to tourists with such a passion that you will want to surf all the more.

Surf Lodge Punta de Lobos is a stunningly designed lodge located on a hill top in the heart of Chile’s surf coast. If you stay there you will get to experience a wide choice of world class waves without the crowds. The stay at Surf Lodge will allow you to experience super consistent surf, world class big waves and abundant empty breaks.

Deep Connection Adventures aims to deliver a high quality experience for those who love the sea and its waves, who wants a unique experience, from the last corner of the world.  The surf rentals are way cheaper than anywhere else in South America.

Getting There

Comodoro Arturo Merino Benitez International Airport in Santiago is the main gateway into Chile. From there, you’ll be looking  at a road trip that could range from five hours (to Pichilemu) to 20 or more, depending on how far south you want to go.

Visa’s are available upon arrival, but be aware that citizens  of many countries will have to pay a “reciprocity tax” when they arrive in Santiago. Airport code is SCL.

[box type=”info” size=”large”]By Pablo Neruda

Whom can I ask what I came to make happen in this world?

Why do I move without wanting to, why am I not able to sit still?

Why do I go rolling without wheels, flying without wings or feathers,

and why did I decide to migrate if my bones live in Chile?


Popular Surf Spots

Some of the most popular surfing spots in Chile are:

  • Pichilemu
  • Ritoque
  • Arica
  • Totoralillo


Located south west of Santiago, Pichilemu is the number one surf spot in Chile.

This town is the host of the annual national championships and also known for hosting some Internationally Popular Surf competitions. Pichilemu offers something for every kind of surfer from Beginners, Intermediate to Advance level surfers.

Beginners usually try to catch their first waves at the beaches of Las Terrazas or La Puntilla. While more skilled usually hang out at Infiernillo, and only the most experienced surfers adventure into Punta de Lobos where the waves can get up to 6 meters high.

The Locals here are so courteous and always ready to offer help.



Ritoque is one of Chile’s most beautiful places for surfing. On the 13 kilometer long Ritoque beach waves can get as high as 7 meters. It is located just north of Viña del Mar.



Close by the city of Arica is the Playa Gringo, whereas the name tells many US Americans go to surf. Even though there are spots with rocks in the water, the qualification for the national championship takes place there. Waves can get up to 4 meters high.



Totoralillo is located 12 km to the south of Coquimbo and 450 km at the north of Santiago. This Tahiti style beach, white sanded and clear water, offers all level surfers 6 different waves to enjoy: Derecharcha, Punta, Cabañas, Muro, Cacho and Pipe, right and left waves. It counts with a surf school, and different cabins where to stay.





Surfing in India


India has over 7500 km (4600 miles) of coastline, including that of the island groups, and this provides many opportune places for surfing. The largest waves are usually seen between May and September, the pre-monsoon and monsoon season.

Some of the more well-known spots for surfing are Mahabalipuram, Kovalam(Covelong) and Manapad in Tamil Nadu, Murdeshwara and Kapu Beach in Karnataka, Kovalam and Varkala in Kerala, Little Andamans and Lakshadweep

Stand up paddling and surfing as in the current form was not a familiar sport to Indians, until recently when things started to change, starting with the coastal villages and the coastal communities. “The kids here are born and brought up around these waters and this sport comes too easily to them,” says Madhumathi of Bay of Life Surf School “You power the board. It does not need any mechanism”, And once you start paddling, you will be introduced to the vast Eco-system that is right in your backyard. There are mangroves, schools of dolphins; we’ve even spotted a whale shark once- says Madhumathi Ravi

“There are, it must be said, big pluses and minuses about surfing in India. The greatest plus point right now about grabbing your surf board and heading to the ocean anywhere in the country, is that you will not have too much company. That was a key factor that attracted Ed Templeton and his wife Sofie, the co-owners of Surf & Soul in Varkala. “The surf was good, the water warm, and the most attractive part was that there was nobody else in the water. Where else in the world do you get that?” says Ed.

Mahabalipuram Surf

Mahabalipuram Surf

On most days the waves are likely to be quite gentle—anywhere between 2 ft and 5 ft. The waters are good enough for most surfers. You can go stand up paddling any time of the year. The best time for surfing is between September and November and then again in March, April and May. June, July and August are only suitable for professionals.

India’s beaches does not have a consistent life guard program except few regions like Goa or Kovalam in Chennai ( run independently by Bay of Life Chennai) hence it’s better you surf with a buddy at all times. Try already explored surf spots first: It’s sensible to first cover familiar surf spots in India before attempting to search for new ones. This way you get familiar to Indian environments, currents and local knowledge before attempting remote locations. Watch out for Currents: It’s better to familiarize yourself with rips and currents pertaining to the surf spot by asking around and talking to fellow surfers, local fishermen of that area. Local Culture and Activities: Make sure you dress appropriately for different beaches in India, some regions are more orthodox than the others. Drinking on the beach, dressing provocatively might sometime invite unwanted trouble. Watch out for that fishing boat!

Surfing Federation of India is the governing body for surfing in India. The State Associations are:

  •        SWAT- Surfing & Watersports Association of Tamil Nadu
  •        OSA Orissa Surfing Association
  •        KSA Karnataka Surfing Association


Kodi Bengre, Manipal

The Shaka Surf Camp, Manipal.

On the west coast of Karnakata, this is the spot where Malayvia and Pathiyan set up the Shaka Surf Club. The beach is a great place to learn to surf, and, if you’re lucky, spot dolphins. “We rent out boards and have been doing a surf camp since Christmas,” says Malayvia. “We’ve got a campsite and one side looks over a river and the other the sea. It’s mainly a spot for beginners, and the waves are normally 3ft-4ft but in the pre-monsoon season the waves can reach 10ft-15ft. Over the monsoon season we close”.

Varkala, Kerala

Soul and Surf lesson in Kerala

“At this beach town there’s a great place called Soul and Surf which is run by a couple from Brighton called Ed and Sophie. It’s similar to west coast of Karnataka in terms of surfing but it gets slightly bigger swells. Soul and Surf, which was opened in 2010, is the first surf and yoga retreat in Kerala. Recently it has been running “pop-ups” in other locations, including Sri Lanka, the Andamans and even Devon, in the UK.

Surf and Soul Lesson, Kerala

Soul and Surf Lesson, Kerala

If you are very much interested in surfing or yoga  or better still a combination of the two– the only place you could think about is Soul and Surf, India. You can always surf at beautiful, tourist free beaches, points and jetties surrounding Varkala, Kerala each morning. You can also enjoy the sunset Yoga sessions each evening on the roof top.

Kovalam, Kerala

The Kovalam Surf Club

The Kovalam Surf Club at Lighthouse Beach was founded in 2005 to encourage local children living below the poverty line to stay in education. The main rule for the kids who wanted to participate in the surf lessons was: “No school – no surfing!”. The club also runs a surf school, rents boards and run tours for visitors.

Kovalam Surf Club,India

Kovalam Surf Club,India

Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu

Kallialay Surf School.

Kallialay Surf School

Kallialay Surf School

There’s also plenty of surf to be found on the south-east coast of India, with a couple of good places near Pondicherry where there are good waves, with stronger currents “and more barrelling”. The Kallialay Surf School – which opened in 2009 and is one of the first surf schools in the area – is a good place to get your gear and it offers rentals, lessons and courses.

Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu

Mumu Surf Shop

Mumu Surf Shop- Mahabalipuram

Mumu Surf Shop- Mahabalipuram

Also on the east coast, just south of Chennai, is another surf spot at the village of Mahabalipuram. This is a very hard point break, but it’s really nice to surf. The surf shop there is run by a local, Mumu, who was brought up in a fishing family but was introduced to surfing by visiting Australians. He runs a school as well as offers surf board rentals and repairs.

Ishita Malaviya- The first female surfer of India

When Ishita Malaviya first picked up a surfboard, she could count all of India’s native surfers on her fingers. Now, as interest in the subcontinent’s untouched beaches begins to swell, India’s first, and only, professional female surfer is at the heart of a flourishing scene she hopes can bring real social change to the country.

Ishita Malaviya

Ishita Malaviya

“I think surfing can be a very positive thing for India,” she says. “For the girls who start surfing it’s opening their eyes to a whole new world. There are so many barriers for them – especially once they reach puberty and their interaction with boys can become very limited – but when they’re in the water it can break down some of those barriers.”

Malaviya, who is sponsored by surf wear brand Roxy and runs the Shaka Surf Club on the west coast of Karnataka with her partner Tushar Pathiyan, first started surfing in 2007 after a chance meeting with a German exchange student at the university she was attending, who had a board.

Now, Malaviya and Pathiyan give lessons to travelers and – most importantly to them – the local villagers in Manipal. Over the new year they opened a surf camp –Camp Namaloha – that they hope will support their work to build a sustainable surfing community that’s shared and enjoyed by Indians as well as tourists.

Ishita and Tushar Pathiyan

Ishita and Tushar Pathiyan

While the Shaka Surf Club already runs surf lessons and hires boards, the camp now offers a place for visitors to stay in the otherwise remote location, with tents and a beach shelter where travelers can enjoy barbecues and bonfires in the evenings.

Pathiyan is keen to set up a Shaka Surf Club in India’s other surfing states, such as Kerala and Tamil Nadu, and they are also in the process of putting together the first Indian surf team. Last December, with the help of Quicksilver India, the pair released a short documentary: A Rising Tide. It tells the story of surfing in India and features many of the key characters who have contributed to its development.

“Indians are terrified of the sea,” says Malaviya, pointing to the thousands of drownings that occur in the country every year. “But now all the kids in the village surf with us. Before, none of them were even swimming. They’re conscious of the environment and know how to rescue people from the water. That’s the kind of change I want to see.”

According to Malaviya, too many Indians think of the ocean as a “dumping ground”. “I want people to have a healthier relationship with the water,” she says. “Once you start spending time in the water you develop a respect for it – you want to keep your beach clean.”

Of course, finding ways to get more women into surfing is always something on her mind. “I just couldn’t believe that in a country of over a billion people I could be the first woman surfer,” she says.

“But Tushar and I made a trip along the coast to meet other surfers at all the different spots and we asked if any other girls were surfing and they just said no. It’s very humbling. Now there are other girls surfing, I was just lucky enough to live near the beach so could go a lot; most of the girls don’t get the opportunity to come so often.”

Malaviya, who grew up in Mumbai, was inducted into the surf lifestyle after visiting the Surf Ashram in Karnataka, founded by American surfer Jack Hebner and run by a group of surfing devotees who have since become known as the “Surfing Swamis”.

“We couldn’t afford to stay at the ashram and the lessons were too much for us,” says Malaviya. “But we made a deal with them to bring groups of students from the university in exchange for a group discount. That’s where we came up with the idea of the Shaka Surf Club.”

For the next two years Pathiyan and Malaviya shared one surf board between them, learning to surf by watching videos and picking up tips from the Swamis. “We’d take turns; when Tushar was in the water I’d just sit on the beach and clap,” says Malaviya.

By the time the couple had graduated from university in 2010 they were completely smitten. “Our parents were like what? What is surfing?” says Malaviya. “They said, you can surf, fine, but don’t expect us to pay for it.”

The growing community of surfers in India (Malaviya estimates it is only 200-300 strong, excluding travellers) has steadily been catching the attention of pros from around the world. In 2013, Malaviya was joined by a group of female surfers, including Crystal Thornburg-Homcy from Hawaii, who travelled there to make a feature-length documentary about the scene.

Set to premiere at festivals this spring, the film, Beyond the Surface, looks at the ways surfing can be used to empower women in India and support positive change in the country. “It was very different to what we were used to,” says Thornburg-Homcy. “Women are often not allowed in the ocean for a variety of reasons: such as their dowry can be affected if they are injured or that families don’t want their girls to have dark skin. The cities are a bit different, but this is what we found in the villages,” she says.

Thornburg-Homcy adds: “I think when other women saw Ishita in the ocean that was really eye opening for them. She was breaking a lot of cultural boundaries.”

Both Thornburg-Homcy and Malaviya expect the coming years to see even more growth in the sport in India, as more businesses see the potential in surfing as an attraction for travelers, and more locals head out to the waves.

“I’m not expecting it to become a Bali: we don’t have such epic waves,” says Malaviya. “But I’m just happy with things starting out slow and growing organically. My hope is just that there will always be a nice vibe.”




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 !

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