Guy Olbourne, Managing Director of new WYSE Travel Confederation member Surf Camp Australia, took some time out to tell us the story behind the first surf camp in Australia, what you can expect when you learn to surf and his feelings about free WiFi.
Now that you’ve mastered the Australian shores (or at least stood up for a couple of waves) you’ll be itching to hit the water when you get back home. The good news is that you picked one of the best spots in the world to learn how to surf. The bad news is now that you’re heading home you don’t know where—if anywhere—will measure up. Sure, every surf magazine, movie, and even screensaver shows the crystal clear waters and white sand beaches of Fiji and Bali, but what if home is in the United States? While some of the world’s best surf spots are miles away from home, the U.S. has a few hidden gems for those who aren’t ready to hang up their board quite yet.
Hanalei Beach-Kauai, Hawaii
Perfect for beginner and advanced surfers alike, Hanalei Beach boasts consistent swells year round. During the summer months, new surfers can get a feel for the mild waves, but if you’re looking for a challenge, hit this beach during the winter season for bigger and more powerful surges. Two miles of perfect sand and a view of the mountains that can take even the most seasoned traveler’s breath away, Hanalei Beach is not to be looked over.
If you reside further North than the well-known surf spots, there’s still hope for you to catch a wave or two. Nantucket, Massachusetts is a picturesque Northeastern town known more for its’ lighthouses than its’ surf, but don’t be fooled by what’s on the surface. On Nantucket’s southern shore lies 14 miles of beach that catches every bit of southern wind swell that bypasses the rest of the state’s coast. With rolling beach breaks and 70 degree water, this makes for the perfect spot to practice your newfound skills.
Folly Beach, South Carolina
For those who are unfamiliar with the South, it’s not just cowboy boots and barbecue. Just south of historic Charleston, South Carolina, Folly Beach kicks out bigger waves than any other nearby stretch of coast. If you’re still working on the basics, Folly Beach is the perfect place to learn on beginner waves. However, if you’re a more advanced surfer, consider elsewhere; the surf here can be frustrating for those looking for a challenge.
Five miles of any beach is respectable, 10 miles is better, but 27 miles of perfect sandy beaches and southern swells is too good to be true, right? Right outside of bustling Los Angeles is the 27 Mile Miracle, a stretch of beach that attracts hordes of people from those who have never stepped foot on a board, to world famous longboarders. During summer, the water is warm and the waves are crowded so be careful to not drop in on your neighbor, it could be Matthew McConaughey after all.
When you read the word “surfer” what comes to mind? There are quite a few misconceptions about what it is that makes a surfer truly a surfer, and even more myths about surfing itself. What’s the perfect recipe for a surfer? Do you have to be young, tan, and speak with an Aussie accent? Is surfing just what we see in those GoPro ads? Those of us with little to no surf backgrounds end up relying on movies and TV shows to paint a picture of the sport, meaning most surf knowledge adds up to a couple of Johnny Bravo episodes and 6th grade book reports on “Soul Surfer.” No, surfing isn’t just standing up on a board and no, not all surfers are the laid-back, bleach blondes you see in the movies. Here are 3 more myths debunked, proving that there’s more to surfing than what’s on the surface.
Windy days are the best days
When the wind is whipping around the ocean and stirring up those waves that tear the water apart, most people expect surfers to be out there on that very same unpredictable terrain. There are waves after all, right? Believe it or not, wind is not part of the recipe for a perfect day of surf. When there’s no wind, the waves are smooth and they break the way surfers want them to: with no interference.
Only surf when it’s warm
Putting on a swimsuit is reserved for warm weather only, at least that’s the case for most of the sane population. Well, surfers have never been described as ‘sane.’ Sure, you’ll see surfers riding waves when it’s summertime and everyone and their mother is flocking to the beach, but don’t be surprised when you drive by the water in the dead of winter and see a bundled up surfer walking his board down to the shore. It appears surfers don’t feel cold, not when there’s a swell coming in and the winter season swiftly clears the shores. There’s enough cold-water tech around these days to make even the most wary want to jump into the waves, and to those that still aren’t convinced, the surfers appreciate the less crowded beaches.
One of the first things that pops into the mind of a beginning surfer when they step foot in the water is sharks. With news stations sinking their teeth into any grisly story about the predators, shark attacks are presented to the public all too frequently. With Jaws music and Shark Week tips in the back of their heads, most beginners worry about sharks more than anything else when they’re learning to surf. In actuality, sharks shouldn’t be on your mind when you’re catching waves. Your chances of coming face to face with a shark are slim, in fact, you are more likely to get crushed by a vending machine, be killed by a champagne cork, or fall out of bed to your death than get bitten by a shark. While sharks seem scary when you’re watching them on TV, they get a bad rap, so next time you’re sitting on your board scared of what you can’t see beneath you, take a deep breath and focus on catching your next wave. Your chances of missing the perfect wave while worrying about a shark are close to 100%, much higher than your chance of attack. If you can’t live without fear, consider taking up bees. You are 50 times more likely to die from a bee sting than a shark attack after all.
If you’ve visited Australia it’s hard not to get sucked into the surf culture that the locals live and breathe. One way or another, you’ll find yourself on a surfboard at some point, speeding towards shore while you’re in the land down under. However, before you know it, you’re packed up and boarding your plane back home. If you’re lucky, you’ll be landing somewhere that boasts a long coastline and plenty of opportunity to get back on a board. For the rest of us that aren’t quite so lucky, our surf careers can often end the second the wheels leave the ground. With no ocean or waves to speak of, how are we supposed to hone our newfound skills? For years, surfers and enthusiasts alike have been searching for a way to bring the sport from the coasts to the inland, and that day is on the horizon. Across the world, wave parks have become a reality rather than a pipe dream. These parks pump out the “perfect wave” for the ideal experience, whether you’re a beginner on the whitewash waves or an advanced surfer looking for a challenge. While it’s a relatively novel idea, these parks have started popping up worldwide. Here are a few to check out if the ocean is more than a few steps (or miles) from your door.
American Wave Machines
In 2000, California surfer and engineer Bruce McFarland came up with a way to combat the unpredictable nature of surfing that was keeping people from practicing and perfecting their technique. By pumping water in such a way to mimic a wave, these pools give the rider the ability to practice on man-made waves, breaking to perfection each time. With locations in the US, Peru, Sweden, Turks and Caicos, Russia, and Canada, you can jump right off the plane and onto a wave.
While Wavegarden facilities are still being built, these surf parks have the ability to turn the surfing world on its’ head. By creating the world’s longest manmade wave and perfecting the conditions, multiple surfers of varying experiences can ride the closest thing to an ocean swell away from the coast. With a location opening in Snowdonia National Park in the U.K. at the beginning of August, and a park being built in Austin, Texas set to open in 2016, surfing is no longer beach necessary.
Tom Lochtefeld, a surfer from La Jolla, spent years wishing there was a way to bring the thrill of riding a wave to the masses. Hoping to recreate this feeling for those who haven’t been surfing before they were walking, Lochtefeld created a revolutionary wave generator and Wave Loch was born. “Wave Houses,” or entertainment areas with wave pools, music, and food can be found in the U.S., Spain, Chile, China, and Singapore, while smaller FlowRiders are installed across the globe. With hundreds of locations, practicing just became that much easier.
With the birth of the perfect wave technology comes debate about if this is considered “real surfing.” Some aren’t convinced, claiming that those who learn to surf on a man-made wave will never know the unpredictable nature and excitement that comes with an ocean wave. Others are excited for where this will lead the sport of surfing. With whispers of Olympic inclusion now that there are possibilities of dependable waves, one thing is for sure: this technology is here to stay.
Anyone who has spent more than an hour out on the waves knows the full body exhaustion that comes with surfing. There’s no question as to how the pros get the muscle tone and definition that they have, but all that hard work means a little off-season effort as well. Whether you’re a beginner who wants to last a little longer in the water or a well-seasoned surfer looking to speed up your moves and agility, putting in work during your down time will have you reaping the benefits.
Like any good surfer knows, there’s no use diving into the water without a brief stretch. Getting your body warm and ready to go for the hour (or hours) ahead of you makes the transition from beach to waves that much easier. If you’re impatient, just hit the basics: loosen up your arms and legs with simple shoulder stretches and lunges. If you’re feeling particularly tight, consider a longer stretch sequence and think about investing in a foam roller for post-surf. Stretching in the off-season can increase flexibility and strength so it’s easier to jump up and get back to it when it’s time.
Paddling out, standing up, and balancing on a board isn’t easy work, nor is it isolated to working one muscle group. Surfers just beginning to learn the basics can find that after a full day out in the water, their shoulders, abs, and even legs can feel fatigued. Working some of the main muscle groups will keep even the beginners from injury and improve performance across the board.
Paddling out can be exhausting and without strong arm muscles, you can find yourself battling the waves instead of catching them. To speed up the journey, hit the weights with the basics like rows, pushups, and bench press reps. These all work the chest, back, shoulders, and arms, giving you an all-over upper body workout to help get you out to the waves faster.
If you’re hoping to maneuver your way around a wave, get air, or even manage to control your board, you’ll need to be sporting some serious leg muscle. It’s too easy for beginning surfers to fall into the trap that is focusing on core muscles for stability only. The relationship between core and leg strength that gives a surfer the stability and balance they need is a close one. Using Bosu balls and stability boards while performing lower body workouts ties together the core strength with leg workouts. Focus on squats, lunges, and leg presses and curls to get the power you need for tricks and maneuvers out on the waves.
Standing up on its' own requires quite a bit of balance, let alone steering your board for tricks and air. Core strength is nonnegotiable in the surfing world, lending surfers the ability to twist and whip through the waves with ease. Whether you’re hoping to improve your tricks or looking to stay standing for longer, work on developing your core muscles and balance. Consider working planks, stability ball push-ups, and Russian twists into your workout to change the way you surf for the better.