If you are considering booking a surf camp so that you can learn to surf or improve your surfing then read on. We’ve been there and done that.
We are experts at advising beginner and intermediate surfers on exactly what to look for when booking a surf camp. In this surf camp guide for beginners we cover all the aspects you’ll need to consider before deciding on where to learn to surf.
This beginner surf camp guide covers 7 key regions across the globe which are best suited for those learning to surf. Certain criteria such as seasonality, water temperature and type of waves will help determine which regions are best suited to you.
There are many reasons why going to a surf camp as a novice in the sport is a good idea. Firstly surf camps provide the much needed knowledge and resources relating to their local surf area.
Surf camps have 4X4’s and the local knowledge on which surf spots are going to be working based on different conditions. They’ll take you to the most suitable surf spots everyday based on the conditions.
Secondly, they usually have a team of really strong surf instructors, ensuring that you can improve your surfing through lessons each day. By staying at a camp you’ll have access to these instructors both at the beach but also in the down time when you’re chilling at the camp.
Finally, surf camps are a great place to meet other cool, likeminded people. Because they usually accommodate up 25 guests, surf camps tend to have a really nice social atmosphere to them. At the same time they usually also offer people the option to have space to themselves.
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3 things to consider before booking your first surf camp
If you’ve never been to a surf camp before it’s important to consider a few key factors before booking your flights and joining a surf camp.
1. Water temperature
It’s important to know what kind of water you’d like to learn to surf in – warmer or colder water. Both have their pro’s and con’s. Warm water surfing conditions are great because you don’t need to wear a wetsuit which makes paddling and popping up on a surfboard a lot easier.
Warm water surf conditions also mean that you can stay in the water longer, meaning more time to learn and get better. Cold water conditions mean wearing a wetsuit, which although can restrict your movement a little, does provide you with added buoyancy in the water.
This is noticeable when you’re learning and often spending more time off the board than on it. A wetsuit also provides nice padding around your ribs, which often get bruised when lying on a surfboard for extended periods of time.
2. Type of waves
Broadly speaking there are 4 types of surf breaks – beach break, reef break, point break and slab (which in concept is the same as a reef break). All these different types of breaks produce very different waves. As a beginner surfer you’ll need to find a break which which is conducive to learning on.
In most cases beach breaks tend to be the best type of wave to learn to surf on. There are of course exceptions to this like Hossegor in France which has one of the gnarliest beach breaks in the world.
Beach breaks are good to learn on for the following reasons:
Sandy bottom: More forgiving than a rocky reef if you wipe out. More importantly, you’ll be able to stand up between catching waves.
Multiple lines of waves: Which means multiple take off points so you won’t be getting in the way of more experienced surfers. On reef and points breaks there is usually only one peak which creates a competitive wave catching environment. You’ll also be able to practice your duck-diving which is a key skill to learn for when you become a more proficient surfer
Good whitewash in the shallows: In your first few hours or days of learning you’ll most likely be catching broken rather than green waves. It’s a real plus to have easy access to broken waves that are close to the beach.
The surf across the world changes according to the seasons. Larger waves tend to arrive in the winter or rainy season (in the tropics) and smaller waves are usually associated with the summer months.
Remember that as a beginner you’ll want to choose a location which is experiencing smaller swell size when you go. When waves are at a size that is too big it can end putting a beginner surfer off the sport altogether.
Or course it’s not a deal breaker if you end up booking a surf trip when the waves are really big as there is almost always options to find smaller waves in the area. Good surf camps will know where these spots are and will advise beginner surfers accordingly.