Surfboards at a surf camp in Costa Rica

Thinking of going on your very first surfing adventure, but aren’t sure whether to book a surf camp or a surf school? Don’t stress. We’ve got all the information you need to make a decision right here. Read on to find out more.

So you’ve been bitten by the surfing bug and are thinking of booking your very first surf trip abroad. You have a shortlist of beautiful learn to surf destinations that you want to go to, such as Indonesia, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Portugal. But since this will be your maiden surf adventure, you want a little tutelage from an expert. Standing up on a surfboard is trickier than standing on a skateboard or snowboard after all.

With that in mind, you begin to look for surf camps and surf schools in those areas. Only to realize that you have no idea as to which of these is the right option for you. Will booking a surf camp be a little too intense for a first timer? Won’t a surf school offer more flexibility, allowing me to surf and travel as I please? These are questions everyone has when they first start piecing together their learn to surf adventure.

The truth is though that both options are totally viable. It really just depends on the individual. So to help you reach a verdict our team here at Rapture have created this helpful guide, which breaks down the differences between a surf camp and a surf school. Allowing you to do a little research before you pull the trigger on your trip so you can start your journey off on the right foot.

Booking a surf camp

If you have dreams of becoming the next Gabriel Medina or Stephanie Gilmore, booking a surf camp is hands down the best option. Why is that though?

Overhead shot of a surf camp in Costa Rica
Did we mention that most surf camps are also located in some of the dreamiest surfing destinations around the world?

It gives you time to practice

Well, because for most people learning to surf isn’t something they master on their first day. In fact, it can take a couple of days with experienced instructors before you even get close to planting your feet for the first time. This means that while a single session at a surf school might be great for a small fraction of people, the majority will benefit greatly from booking a surf camp that allows them to practice over multiple sessions.

You’ll make a bunch of new friends

Book a surf camp and you’ll also get to meet a tonne of new people. We’re talking fresh faces from all over the world who are all eager to learn and make some memories. Plenty of our surf camp attendees make friends for life and even end up rebooking just to catch up with their new buddies. In this way, a surf camp is incredibly social. With everyone sharing the stoke and learning together, it’s much easier to bond with people than if you only had a couple of hours to meet them.

Everything is provided for you

For people who only have a week or so holiday or vacation time and want to make the most of it, booking a surf camp is also a convenient option. Think about it. All of your meals, your equipment and your accommodation is already looked after. The only thing you have to do is wake up in the morning and a surf camp will pretty much take care of the rest. Although with some of the fun we have, waking up can prove to be a bit of a struggle. Which brings us to our next point.

It’s all about having fun

Surf camps are damn fun. With so many new faces and literally nothing to worry about except whether or not the conditions are right, you can throw caution to the wind and totally unwind. Lie in the hammock and rock yourself to sleep. Go on a little adventure with some new friends to check out what’s over the next headland. Have a drink and watch the sunset as you reminisce on a day well spent surfing and enjoying the beautiful weather. To book a surf camp is to invest in good times, good vibes and good memories.

A surf camp offers value for money

Not to mention booking a surf camp is also great value for money. Like we said, pretty much everything is taken care of. This includes giving you direct access to an experienced surf instructor who is often happy to dispense advice when you’re hanging around the camp. Allowing you to continue working on your skills even out of the water and giving you maximum bang for your buck.

Booking a surf school

If you’re short or time or have missed out on booking a surf camp for whatever reason, have no fear. Booking a surf school has a few benefits. It’s also better than not surfing, right?

Surf school in Portugal about to enter the water
Surf schools are perfect if you want a little taste of the learn to surf experience, but they’re no substitute for booking a surf camp

You can plan around it

For starters, a surf school offers plenty of flexibility if you have a lot of other things you want to accomplish on your surf adventure. So for those of you who want to do an afternoon tour or attend an event, you can schedule your surf school session accordingly. Not to mention most surf schools run mid-morning or around lunchtime anyway, which means you can even enjoy a little vacation time sleep in if needed.

All the equipment is included

Like booking a surf camp, booking a surf school also means you won’t have to worry about the additional cost of hiring equipment and a wetsuit since most surf schools will supply both of those to you. Often your gear won’t be top of the line, since its used multiple times a day by different people and will incur a bit of beating at the hands of other beginners. But as long as your board floats and the wetsuit fits, it’s all good.

You can book with little notice

Another reason why surf camps are a good option for beginners is that they can be booked with relatively little forward planning. This means that if you happen to find yourself in a town with surf schools when the weather and waves switch on, you can pretty much organize a session that day. If you’re traveling with a pretty loose itinerary this can be super convenient. The only issue is you risk missing out if there are no available places.

They’re cheaper than a surf camp

Finally, surf schools won’t come at a considerable cost to you. A massive bonus if you’re a budget traveler who’s looking to milk their bank account for all its work. If there are a lot of surf schools in the area, you might even be able to bargain them down. Just remember that you’re entirely responsible for any decision made on price because more often than not, the cheapest option isn’t the best option.

So which one is right for me?

Surfers linking hands in the water
Book a surf camp or surf school today to develop your skills, have a little fun and make new friends

Taking all of this into account, it’s clear that booking a surf camp is ideal for those who want the full surfing experience. Plus value for money, convenience, the chance to make new friends and the opportunity to improve their skills in rapid time. The only thing is you’ll need to find the time to book a surf camp, given that they often run over multiple days.

For people who like to travel ad libitum style, a surf school is more than likely right up your alley. Keep in mind though that unless you’ve already had a couple of lessons prior and managed to stand up on a board before, a 1-hour surf school session may not offer enough time to actually get the hang of surfing. And nobody wants to go home from their learning to surf holiday without actually learning to surf, right?

Surfer in Costa Rica
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