Tips for Surf Travel
Whether it's a trip around the world in search of the perfect wave, or loading a van full of friends and surfboards to drive down the coast to a prized surf spot, surfing and travel have been inextricably linked for the better part of the last century.
Exploration and discovery are a part of the overall surf experience.
Showing up to a brand new surf spot—whether its a world class wave, a poorly kept secret spot, or a marginal 'tweener spot, requires some consideration.
Watch Before Paddling Out
Both to study an unfamiliar lineup and take the temperature of the crowd.
Before enthusiastically suiting up and paddling out, you should watch for a while. Where is the best place to paddle out? Where is the best place to sit where you can pick off a few corners?
You're excited, you've been traveling, but that's no reason not to ease your way into an environment that has been operating without you in it.
Don't misunderstand this as some case for—or against—localism. It's simply a reminder to be a thoughtful member of society in any new space you enter.
Find The Proper Takeoff Spot
Every spot is different. If you're at a beach break, there might be waves breaking all over, but if you're at a spot where a wave is breaking as it hits a reef, there really is a right and wrong place to sit.
You need to have a keen eye and some general common sense so you don't get caught inside, get in the way of surfers taking off at the peak, or get washed across the rocks when a set wave rolls through.
Be Respectful of the Locals
Part of any travel involves being respectful of the people whose home you are visiting. The same is true with surfing. Be an ambassador of your hometown—and the sport of surfing—and be curious about the local culture and people. That will ensure you come home with far more than just a good surf experience.
The more remote your surf destination is, the more planning is required. I had a friend who scoured Google Earth in search of remote places that had a high likelihood of fun waves breaking, with the intent of going to visit those places in person in search of surf. Just remember the saying "it's not a trip until something goes wrong" and try to plan for all the conceivable situations you might face.
The further you are traveling for waves, the more varied the conditions might be when you get there. Plan your travel quiver for maximum versatility and ensure that you have the highest likelihood of being able to enjoy the waves once you arrive at your destination.
Surf As Much As You Can
If you're traveling to get waves, don't stay up late drinking beers. You can drink beer at home. Surf until your arms fall off, that's why you loaded board bags, booked a flight (or planned a road trip) and headed off in search of adventure.
Ultimately, just enjoy surfing a new spot and have fun.