Booking a surf camp? Here’s what to look for when making your decision
Last Updated: 31 May 2019
With so many options out there ranging from the extravagant to the downright shabby, booking a surf camp can be overwhelming. Read on to discover what you should look for in a surf camp
Booking a surf camp is one of the best things you’ll ever do. You get to make new friends, see new places and if all goes well, you’ll experience what it’s like to stand up on a surfboard for the very first time. In short, surf camps are an absolute blast for all involved… but only if you choose the right one that is.
Pick a dud and you’ll quickly learn the true definition of crippling disappointment. With bed bugs in your sheets, instructors more concerned with their own surfing schedule than yours and god forbid WIFI that drops out every 3.5 seconds. It’s the stuff nightmares are made of if you’re a true beginner who’s never booked a surf camp before.
To ensure you don’t fall for those pretty pictures and promises of a high-speed internet connection though, we here at Rapture Surfcamps have combed through our guests’ feedback to determine what made them choose us over other surf camps and why. So that by the end of this article you’ll know exactly what to look for in those trip advisor reviews when booking a surf camp for the very first time.
Selection of delicious food
Given that you’ll be eating their food three times a day, booking with a surf camp that understands the value of a good meal is essential when it comes to having a great learn to surf experience.
There’s nothing worse than a lacklustre breakfast that leaves you unsatisfied as you take to the waves, or portions fit for a 5-year-old that don’t even come close to touching the sides. A wedge of toast and some jam in the morning won’t do the trick. Surfing is a physically demanding sport. It requires food that’s going to fuel you and keep you going for hours at a time. Surf hunger is legit and a solid session of paddling, standing up and being dumped can have you asking yourself just how edible the foam in your board is.
A stay with a surf camp is a vacation. This means that the food should be exciting or at the very least a little different from what you’re accustomed to. Extra points if its local cuisine, but it doesn’t have to be anything too special. A simple dish done well will satisfy a hungry surfer in the same way as a meal at a Michelin restaurant would. The food should therefore be plentiful and the menu enjoyable with the ability to suit the dietary concerns and lifestyle choices of everyone who books a surf camp. It is the 21st century after all.
Value for money
We tossed up adding price to this list because it is rather subjective. For some people, a weeklong camp at $1,000 might not seem like a lot, while others would no sooner push their grandma over than pay that amount to learn how to surf.
The truth is though that making a decision on price can quickly backfire. What you really want to know is whether or not a surf camp represents value. Do they include all equipment hire, will you get multiple surf lessons per day and just how good is the food and/or accommodation on offer? Obviously looking at the photos will tell you some of the story, but photos can also be somewhat misleading. Your best bet is to reach out to the surf camp with a few questions before hitting the confirm button.
Better yet, check out some of the great deals Rapture has on offer. You really can’t go past value for money when you consider that we can also organise airport transfers, scooter or motorbike rentals, video analysis, yoga classes and even private lessons at some of our locations. All of our equipment is also regularly maintained to ensure a high standard for quality. This means that by booking a surf camp with us you’ll get more bang for your buck, which is perfect for backpackers and students looking to stretch their budget.
When talking about experienced instructors, we’re not really talking about guides that have surfed at a professional or even a boardriders’ club level before. We’re talking about instructors who are great at making you feel comfortable in the ocean and getting you to your feet.
The reason for this is that it doesn’t take a considerable amount of knowledge in order to coach you onto a wave. You paddle, you push up and you try to plant your feet whilst maintaining your balance. You’ll fall a lot, but the process is essentially the same each time for beginners. What an experienced instructor will do however is make you feel comfortable about bailing or slipping from your board, whilst successfully ensuring you have the time of your life.
Barking orders from the beach, playing around on their phone and otherwise not giving you the support you paid for are hallmarks of a poor instructor. That’s why here at Rapture Surfcamps, we make sure each of our instructors knows how to create an encouraging environment and provide everyone booking a surf camp with constructive feedback. This way you’ll have a smile on your face at all times… even when you’re nosediving.
One of the truisms of booking a surf camp is that the vast majority of them are situated in exotic locations throughout the world. From the tropical waters of Costa Rica to Portugal’s Atlantic coast, you’ll get to see the world beyond your own borders when learning to surf.
It therefore makes sense to book a surf camp at a destination that appeals to you, but just remember to never disregard the role location plays. One key point to consider could include whether or not the surf camp is close to town or if you’ll need to arrange a taxi every time you visit civilization. Some surf camps may not even be located near the beach. This isn’t a big drama if they have their own form of transport that can shuttle you to and from the waves, but if you need to get yourself there it can be a bit of a burden on your budget.
The flipside of this coin is that a surf camp located far away from tourist centers and amenities can also feel like the perfect retreat. A place where you can unwind and embrace the fact there’s nothing to do but lounge around, socialize and wait for the next opportunity to hit the waves. Really it comes down to personal preference, but you should always double check location when booking a surf camp to find out if it really does suit your needs.
Thoughtful and friendly staff
Staff who offer a friendly smile when you arrive after a long flight, or a helping hand if you’re not feeling 100% are often the main reason why we have so many people booking a surf camp with us year after year.
The logic behind this is that most surf camps operate on a level playing field. With many offering the same equipment, the same access to waves and the same standard of accommodation for their guests. The deciding factor then becomes the human element, the people that we employ. Apart from experienced surf instructors, staff tasked with the day-to-day running of a surf camp should be professional, relaxed and willing to go above and beyond to ensure your satisfaction.
This can mean giving you great advice on the best things to do in the area or telling you what the WIFI password is, even when it’s plastered all over the camp. It might be something as small as helping you with your bags when checking in or lending you a charging cable when yours wigs out in the humidity. Without committed staff a surf camp is just a place to hang your wetsuit and go to sleep. It’s the people that make the learn to surf experience truly memorable.
Surfers are infamous for their ability to compromise luxury and comfort for the sake of waves. Some mysto chargers would probably stretch a can of beans and drink manky swamp water for a month if it meant they could get one solo session at a world-class a wave.
You’re probably not this type of surfer, which means you should look for accommodation that is spacious enough for you and other guests to stretch out, kick back and maybe even do a bit of poolside socializing if possible. You’re on holiday after all and you should feel comfortable in your surroundings. A DVD or lounge room is an added bonus. Especially if your surf camp runs weekly analysis sessions or has a great collection of old surf movies to get your pumped for a day in the water.
You should also take into account the sleeping arrangements when booking a surf camp. While many people are happy with dormitory style rooms, some of you might prefer a private bed. Being able to choose between the two room types allows for more flexibility with your booking. Of course, some dorm rooms are incredibly well organized which makes sleeping in them a pleasure. In this instance, sussing out whether to book a bunk bed or a private room is one of the few times when browsing a surf camp’s photo gallery can really help.
Making booking your first surf camp a breeze with a little help from the team at Rapture Surfcamps
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