The Best Surf Camp Destinations in the World

Surfing is one of those things that you KNOW, if you could JUST master it, would automatically make you cool. Just as cool as speaking 10 languages and somewhere on the path to rock-star status.

If you’re a complete beginner, surf camps are a great way to get proper coaching whilst having everything organized for you. Their staff will take you to the best waves for your ability, get you standing up on a board, provide you with equipment and even cook your meals for you. Surf camps provide a crash course in surfing, whilst allowing you to meet new people. But camps aren’t just for beginners- more advanced surfers choose a surf camp so they’re guaranteed to overlook the best waves, get a good meal, great accommodation and be with like-minded people. Many famous spots are packed with surf camps which can make it difficult to choose when you’re booking your surf trip, so here’s a list of some of the best destinations from around the world….

Mentawais Surf Camps

Surfing in the Mentawais

The Mentawai islands are an island chain off the coast of Sumatra which has remained isolated for many years, meaning the islands are still relatively unspoilt. Siberut, the largest island in the archipelago, is covered with dense tropical forest with unique flora and fauna and the entire western side is a protected National Park. The paradise islands also have several species of native animals that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. The Mentawais happen to be a notable surfing destination with consistent, quality waves coming in from the Indian Ocean all year round. Boats will take you out to the surf breaks and you can choose to stay anchored at the same spot all day, or check out the other options. Stay in luxurious beach bungalows at the Easy Surf Trips Mentawais surf resort with electricity and hot running water.  The camp is set in a tropical paradise environment, with jungle, white sand beaches and incredible surf outside your window.

Australia

Australia Surf Camp

Australia is such a vast country it’s difficult to even know where to start when it comes to the choice of waves. Do you go West and head to Perth? Or East to Sydney or Byron Bay? Then there’s the Great Ocean Road and Bell’s Beach…Luckily EST Australia has it covered. You can go on 1-7 day surf trips up the East Coast from Sydney to Byron Bay to experience a range of surf spots along the coastline. They’ll take care of everything for you, including transport, equipment, food and accommodation, so all you have to do is show up for the ride. Surf all day and party all night on the ultimate surfing experience in the Land Down Under.

Canaries

Surfing in the Canaries

Lanzarote or Fuerteventura? It might be a tough decision, but Lanzarote in the Spanish Canary Islands has twice the number of spots as Fuerte. The best time to go is during Europe’s winter from November to late March and waves vary in levels of difficulty.  If you dream of standing up on a board and learning to surf, then the Canary Islands could be the place for you. Lanzarote has a volcanic landscape with black sand beaches and great nightlife in Puerto del Carmen. The best place for beginners to learn is the sandy beach of Famara on the north of the island, which has a laid-back vibe. During the summer when the waves are smaller and the winds are stronger you can learn to kite surf here instead. In the town of Famara there are several surf schools and a couple of surf shops offering lessons and surf equipment. EST’s Famara Surf School does a great job in providing great accommodation and getting everyone out into the surf and having fun.

Portugal Surf Camps

Surfing and Surf Camps in Portugal

Although there aren’t really many waves in the town itself, Lagos is a great base for learning to surf. You haven’t partied until you’ve been to Lagos, where Jager is more readily available than water and the bars pump you with beer bongs and cheap booze. The best way to cure a hangover? Surfing on one of the beaches out towards Sagres and the West Coast. The Easy Surf Trips Portugal camp is in the town itself, with easy access to the shops, restaurants and bars of Lagos. The Aussie/English crew will take you out to the south and west coasts in 4WDs to search for the best surfing conditions. After a day out on the water, they’ll show you the best spots in town to tuck into cheap Portuguese meals with massive portions.

South Africa Surf Accommodation

Surf Camp South Africa

St. Jeffrey’s Bay on the southern tip of Africa enjoys optimum surfing conditions thanks to the swell coming in from the South Atlantic. With nothing but ocean between Africa and Antarctica, when storms brew out in the ocean, St. Jeffrey’s Bay is in the best spot to catch the perfect waves lining up. One of the ultimate surfing destinations on the planet, St.Jeffrey’s Bay has been a mecca for surfers since the 1960s with stunning shell-studded beaches and a laid-back lifestyle. The epic Supertubes break is home to the ASP Billabong Pro, held here for 10 days each year, and many of the breaks in J-Bay featured in the movie Endless Summer. The surf camp in J-Bay is positioned in the perfect location on sand dunes overlooking the Indian Ocean. If you manage to tear yourself from the water, you can ride horses on the beach, have a go at sandboarding down sand dunes, learn to kitesurf or spot dolphins and wales. A trip to Africa wouldn’t be complete without cute animals, so get over to a local game park to spot elephants, giraffes, zebras and other awesome animals.

Costa Rica Surf Resorts

Surf School Costa Rica

Situated on the south west corner on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, Mal Pais is sometimes referred to as the Hawaii of Latin America, which is becoming really popular for its strong surf culture, consistent waves and cool people. Activities in the area include horse-back riding along the beach, whizzing through the tree tops on zip wires in the jungle, sportfishing, scuba diving and snorkelling. The white sandy beach, Santa Teresa, is approximately 6 km long and Mal Pais has become a trendy hotspot, with visitors flocking here from all over the world. EST Costa Rica is ideally placed at the famous surf break Suck Rock, which doesn’t actually suck. The sanctuary is an upscale surf school and boutique hotel with a “pura vida” vibe. Expect exotic bungalows made out of hand carved woods, aromatherapy candles, comfy bedding, massages, yoga and jungle surroundings to make you feel like you’re staying in a tropical oasis.

Morocco Surf Camps

Camels at Sunset in Morocco Taghazout

Berbers, camels, tagines, souks and incredible surf await you in Morocco, which has been a popular winter surf destination for many years. When the surf sucks during winter everywhere else, Morocco gets going. Taghazout is a port town about 20km North of Agadir, with surf locations including Anchor Point, Killers, Mysteries and Boilers. The Easy Surf Trips Morocco camp sits right on the water at Hash Point and provides accommodation for surfers on every kind of budget with a variety of dorms, bunks and private rooms. Whether you’re a beginner needing lessons or you’re just looking for somewhere to crash and enjoy the surf, Surf Berbere caters for every level of surfer. Enjoy a breakfast with everyone in the camp before your day out on the water and when you come back you’ll be served a home-cooked meal from their in-house chefs.  If it’s flat, you can take part in yoga sessions at the camp, race around on quad bikes over the sand dunes, haggle for souvenirs in the local bazaar or take a day trip to the chilled port town of Essaouira.

Bali Surf Camps

Bali Impossibles Surf

Bali offers some of the most perfect waves in the world and with a tropical climate, there’s no need for a wetsuit. Green rice paddies, enchanting monkey temples, Bintangs on the beach and locals shouting “DVD! Transport!”- what’s not to love? Bali has friendly locals, hot weather all year round and a range of waves from safe beach breaks in Kuta to reef breaks down in Uluwatu.  There are plenty of surf camps in chaotic Kuta, but EST Bali in the Canggu area offers you a surf camp experience without the crowds. Bali is a relatively small island, so it’s easy to access all the major spots like Padang Padang. The camp’s base, “The Green Room Canggu”, lies amidst green rice paddies and you can stumble out of your bed onto the beach. They also offer guided “Surfaris” to the various surf spots around the island every day. There’s a daily shuttle service to the trendy expat area of Seminyak, or if you prefer to get out and about on your own, you can use their minibuses, jeeps and mountain bikes. If you’ve overdosed on surf, head inland to explore the mountains, volcano, and the artsy town of Ubud.

Booking your next surf trip? Easy Surf Trips do exactly what they say on the tin, they make a surf trip easy. EST can save you a wad of cash on booking your surf trip and they’re linked with some of the world’s best surf camps, so you know you’re getting a good deal.  They’re not paying me to say that, and they’ve not bound and gagged me- they’re friends of Pommie Travels and will make sure your next surf trip is a memorable one!

photos courtesy of Steve Beyatte

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21 Responses to The Best Surf Camp Destinations in the World

  1. Christy @ Ordinary Traveler March 2, 2011 at 5:01 pm #

    We just wrote an article on our surf camp experience in Dominican Republic. We’ve surfed all over the world and even though the waves in the DR were not ideal while we were there, we absolutely loved Ali’s Surf Camp. It’s so true that surf camps can make a great trip because for the most part the people that stay in surf camps are laid back, outgoing and adventurous people. I have to agree with you about Portugal, Morocco, Bali and Costa Rica. The east coast of Australia also has some great waves but most of them are soooo crowded.

    • victoria March 4, 2011 at 10:47 am #

      Hi Christy, I checked out your article, I totally agree, the people you meet in surf camps are so chilled out and it’s a great communal atmosphere. Everyone has one thing in common! East Coast of Oz is very crowded, although I went to a camp which had its own secluded beach somewhere before Noosa. I found South Australia to be great at the right time of year…as long as you’re not too worried about Great Whites!!!

      • Marc December 26, 2011 at 3:56 pm #

        This site is amazing for me right now, i just discoverd surfing last september in Bali and my experience whas sooo amazing, im not a guy who traveled alot before and kinda got there by mistake, i whas whit ex girlfriend and her family and two hours after we landed she decided i whas no longer in her life plans….Lollll so i decide to go on my owned around Bali. I discoverd surfing whit the Rip Curl school of surf in Legian Beach, very professionnal crew and five star service, Johnny the owner is such a great dude and he has that way of cheering you up and give you confidance towards your next wave, i stayed at a surf camp called The Bali Camp in Seminiak, for 30 euros a night that included a nice little bungalow and 3 meals a day, the personnel and Rudy the owner are just Amazing, i had free transport to the surf school every morning and free video coaching by the BaliCamp instructors, they offer surf guiding around the island and have the best seafood B.B.Q on friday nights.
        My trip to Bali started on a bad note but let me tell you that island and surf camp changed me forever, the locals, the culture, the perfect waves and the karma is Amazing
        I love Bali :)

  2. Marcos Bairros March 3, 2011 at 6:02 am #

    “Although there aren’t really many waves in the town itself(…)”, and this location is quoted on an article about the best surf camp in the world…. There is something I must be missing, should an ideal location for a surf camp has good, consistent surf just around the corner? I love Lagos and the Algarve but a serious research if any at all would have pointed far better locations in Portugal, Peniche, Baleal, Ericeira for example. In Baleal where we are located in the North end of the Peniche Peninsula you have several spots in walking distance and most suit perfectly beginners and intermediate surfers. I can also mention and this is text book in any serious website about surfing, Peniche region is by far the most consistent and versatile area in Portugal and the world for al that matters, just ask the pro’s from the WCT…

    • victoria March 4, 2011 at 10:43 am #

      It’s just my personal opinion Marcos, there are plenty of great surf camps and surf spots in the world and this is not a finite list. I’ve been going to Lagos every summer for years and personally think if you want to go surfing along the Algarve and the West Coast but you also want the balance of great nightlife and a town that’s a lot of fun then Lagos is great. I have met people half way across the world who have been to that little town. I am no expert on surfing and I wasn’t necessarily picking the best surf spot, but a great surf camp which I know and would recommend. I will check out Baleal some time.

  3. Joey March 3, 2011 at 1:17 pm #

    Hmm, I love Zavial in the Algarve! I think it’s the best wave in Portugal so I’ll stick with Lagos!!! Love it!!! Too cold up north! :)

  4. James March 5, 2011 at 11:06 am #

    Hi guys,
    A lot of the comments here are completely fair. Surf camps are a brilliant place to stay and meet people. In Taghazout we have amazing waves, but if you are not staying in a camp the opportunities to go out and meet people are a bit limited as there are not bars/clubs etc.
    One of the guys was commenting about EST (www.easysurftrips.com) not offering a surf camp in peniche – having been there, supertubos is an epic wave, but not that beginner friendly which may have been why they are showing the camp in the lagos area where there are some lovely beginner beaches!
    http://www.surfberbere.com – In taghazout we have great waves for everyone, more hardcore surfers should come and join us in the winter!
    Easy!

  5. Bluegreen Kirk March 10, 2011 at 12:25 pm #

    I wish I knew how to surf. looks like everyone is always having so much fun and the beaches are always wonderful.

  6. James June 13, 2011 at 5:41 pm #

    Only Ten Dollars a night to rent a cabana for the night at the camp in front of the wave on Asu Island. Asu Island is next to Nias Island. This area is renowned for its consistent swell and perfect surf.

  7. Mark June 27, 2011 at 8:35 am #

    Hi i have an amazing experience in Brazil
    check Praia da Pipa surfing paradise for learn how to surf
    i was in surf camp pipa , i was improving fast my surf i like come back and surf more with the dolphins http://www.surfcamppipa.com
    keep wet !

  8. jc July 14, 2011 at 9:42 am #

    Sorry, guy, I just have to correct a couple of things that make the article sound a little off. It’s Jeffreys Bay, not St. Jeffreys Bay, and the Endless Summer shots come from a town up the coast called St. Francis. The waves featuring in the Endless Summer actually only break rarely now as a result of a marina construction.

  9. Sb November 21, 2011 at 10:13 am #

    These are awesome destinations, but indeed not all for beginners. When you want to learn how to surf, there are many destinations you can go to. I have been to http://www.surfivorcamp.com in the north of Portugal and the surf camp is right at the beach and the consistent beach break is for everyone. Very nice surf camp and great team!

  10. Federico February 23, 2012 at 9:24 pm #

    The pic of the waves in Bali is soooo dreamy…just makes me want these next few days go back quickly so I can surf again on Sunday!

  11. Rogelio April 27, 2012 at 4:31 pm #

    I can vouch for the Canaries, some great waves. Careful in winter though, while the weather is great the waves are big and the coastline is full of volcanic reefs which means that, if you are a newbie, you can get hurt if you get washed by a wave (I have a few scars from my beginner times).

    All the best.

    Rogelio (Manly Curls)

  12. Barnes December 5, 2012 at 6:54 am #

    Next year I’m going to Bali to surf. Earlier this year, I traveled to Costa Rica and surfed the ocean waves off Playa Flamingo beach near the luxurious Palms Costa Rica rental resorts. I really had a great time.

  13. David December 31, 2012 at 8:31 pm #

    Peniche/Baleal has great waves but the water is very cold. Algarve has great climate and variety of waves but you need to drive. Best to learn to surf in warm water and it doesn’t get any better than Bali. Check out Bali Surf Camp http://www.balisurfingcamp.com where they upload a daily surf report.

  14. Jim March 14, 2013 at 7:23 pm #

    Great article Victoria
    Next time try to check out our surf camp in the Dominican republic called Swell Surf Camp http://www.swellsurfcamp.com.
    See you in the water ;-)

  15. stephan June 26, 2013 at 7:32 am #

    everybody knows Bali, but not too many people knows Mentawai and you put it on your first list with an awesome picture. hope you have your best surfing-moment in Indonesia.

  16. Stefano September 13, 2013 at 5:35 pm #

    Very Comprehensive picture of surf schools around the world Victoria. Next time you are visiting Costa Rica, please contact and come to visit us, in Esterillos Oeste, Jaco, Puntarenas. We have our Surf school just on the beach. http://www.hotel-ladolcevita.biz/en/surf-package.html

    Ciao!

  17. aziz December 25, 2013 at 10:45 am #

    it’s so nice to surf around the world, check out our surf camp : http://www.westsurfmorocco.com

  18. bernardo Ruivo January 22, 2014 at 12:16 am #

    Good afternoon,

    I have a surf house in Portugal, Cascais, close to Guincho beach. http://www.guinchosurfhouse.com

    How can I put my house surf on your site?

    Thank you

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