August 26, 2023 5 min read

The allure of turquoise waters, golden sands, and the adrenaline rush of riding the waves is a dream vacation for many. 

But the idea of planning such a vacation can be daunting, especially if you're keen to catch the best waves, stay within a budget, and ensure an unforgettable experience. 

Destination Decisions: Picking the Perfect Wave

Choosing the ideal surf destination is a blend of art and science.

It's not just about crystal-clear waters or stunning views, but also about wave consistency, beach crowd, and proximity to local amenities. 

By carefully considering your skill level, budget, and what you desire in a surf spot, you can unlock the perfect wave destination for your dream vacation.

Research Top Surfing Locations

When it comes to surf destinations, not all beaches are created equal. It's crucial to pick a location that matches your proficiency and aspirations.

For Beginners

  • Safety First: Ideal spots have lifeguards, clear signage, and are popular among fellow beginners.
  • Wave Conditions: Destinations like Waikiki in Hawaii or Tofino in Canada offer gentle waves perfect for newbies.
  • Local Surf Schools: A presence of surf schools is a good sign, as it means the locale caters to learners.
surfers on vacation

For Advanced Surfers

  • Challenge Accepted: Spots like Uluwatu in Bali or Jeffrey’s Bay in South Africa offer higher, faster, and more challenging waves.
  • Reef Breaks: Advanced surfers often prefer reef breaks over beach breaks, as they produce more powerful and predictable waves.
  • Local Community: An active local surf community can offer tips and might even share secret spots.

For All-rounders

  • Variety is the Spice: Destinations like the Gold Coast in Australia cater to a broad range of skill sets with multiple breaks.
  • Flexible Conditions: These spots typically offer areas for both relaxation and challenge, allowing you to choose based on your mood for the day.
  • Amenities: Look for places that have surf shops, board rentals, and other facilities to enhance your surf trip.

Consider the Season

Timing is everything. Your dream surf location might be crowded or even flat if visited in the wrong season.

Wave Seasons

  • Tropical Destinations: Places closer to the equator might have two peak seasons, often aligned with the wet and dry seasons.
  • Temperature: Some spots, especially those in colder regions, might be optimal in summers but nearly inaccessible in winters.
  • Consistency: Research on how consistent the waves are during peak seasons to ensure you get ample surf time.

Off-peak Visits

    • Budget-Friendly: Traveling in the shoulder season or off-peak times usually results in cheaper accommodation and flight rates.
    • Less Crowded: Fewer tourists mean you get more wave time and can enjoy a more serene environment.
    • Weather Watch: While it's off-peak, ensure the weather is still conducive for a good surf experience. Some places might have heavy rainfall or storms outside their peak seasons.

Accommodation Options: Comfort without the Price Tag

One of the largest expenses, apart from travel, is accommodation. However, there are affordable options that don’t compromise on the experience.

Cheap Cabins: Rustic and Affordable

  • Beach Proximity: Many surfing destinations offer cheap cabins close to the beach, ensuring you're never too far from the waves.
  • Amenities: While basic, these cabins often provide all necessities – a bed, bathroom, and sometimes even a kitchenette.
  • Community Vibes: Staying in cabins often means mingling with fellow travelers and surfers, making it a sociable choice.

Vacation Home Rentals by Owner: A Home Away From Home

  • Platform Choices: Websites like Airbnb or Vacation Home Rents provide a plethora of vacation home options owned by locals.
  • Cost-effective: Renting directly can often bypass additional costs associated with hotels or resorts.
  • Authentic Experience: Staying in a local's home allows for a more genuine experience of the destination. Plus, owners often have insider tips on the best surf spots or eateries.

Preparing for the Waves: Gear and Training

Being prepared ensures not only a fun time but also a safe one.

Packing the Essentials

  • Surfboard and Gear: Depending on the length of your trip and destination, you might opt to rent or bring your own board.
  • Safety First: Don't forget essentials like rash guards, sunblock, and if you're exploring coral reefs, booties to protect your feet.

Enrolling in a Surf School

  • For Beginners: If you're new to surfing, local surf schools can provide lessons to get you started.
  • Improvement Classes: Even if you're experienced, a lesson or two can offer valuable tips and insights specific to local wave conditions.

Exploring Beyond the Beach

While riding the waves is the primary purpose of your surf vacation, a holistic travel experience includes delving deep into the local culture, flavors, and landscapes. 

These places are not just surf hubs; they have histories, stories, and unique offerings that can provide a richer vacation experience.

Local Cuisine and Eateries

A significant part of immersing oneself in a new destination lies in savoring its culinary offerings. Surf towns, being coastal, usually come with the promise of ocean-fresh delights.

Seafood Delights

  • Catch of the Day: Many local beachside restaurants offer daily specials based on the freshest catch.
  • Variety: From shellfish to deep-sea fish, there’s a myriad of options to satisfy your seafood cravings.
  • Cooking Methods: Grilled, fried, steamed, or even raw (like sushi or sashimi) – relish seafood in diverse preparations.

Local Dishes

  • Street Food: Often, the most authentic flavors are found in local street food stalls. Don't miss out on these often affordable and delicious options.
  • Traditional Eateries: Family-run or age-old establishments typically serve dishes passed down through generations.
  • Local Beverages: Apart from food, try local drinks – be it a unique coffee blend, a traditional alcoholic brew, or a regional non-alcoholic favorite.
surfer on vacation

Cultural and Natural Attractions

Beyond the tantalizing waves, most surf destinations boast of a rich tapestry of cultural and natural wonders waiting to be explored.

Historical Sites

Museums: A great way to delve into the history and heritage of a place. Often, coastal towns have maritime museums detailing their seafaring past.

Landmarks: Be it ancient temples, colonial-era buildings, or iconic monuments – these places tell tales of times gone by.

Guided Tours: Engage local guides who can provide deeper insights and anecdotes related to significant spots.

    Natural Wonders

    National Parks: A biodiverse treasure trove, national parks offer a glimpse into the region's flora and fauna.

    Water Wonders: Waterfalls, lakes, or rivers can offer serene spots for picnics or relaxation.

    Active Adventures: For those seeking adrenaline, many surf destinations offer nearby hiking trails, cliff diving spots, or even caves to explore. Your adventure doesn't have to stop at the beach.


      A dream surf vacation is within reach with the right planning. From selecting the perfect wave destination to finding pocket-friendly accommodations such as cheap cabins or vacation home rentals by owner, every step can be tailored to your preferences and budget. 

      It's not just about the waves but also about embracing the entire experience – the culture, the cuisine, and the unique moments that make for a memorable trip. So grab your board, the ocean awaits!

      Author - Aleksandra Djurdjevic
      Aleksandra Djurdjevic          

      Senior Content Creator

      Aleksandra Djurdjevic is a senior writer and editor, covering surf, kayak and various watersports activities. She has previously worked as ESL teacher for English Tochka. Aleksandra graduated from the Comparative Literature department at the Faculty of Philosophy in Serbia. Aleksandra’s love for the ocean / rivers, getting out waves, season after season, seeking epic adventures across the globe helps her continue to be a top expert at CSG.


      Sign up for our Newsletter

      Spin to win Spinner icon