When you’re single, a surf trip is as easy as getting time off work, finding the cheapest airfare and accommodation, tracking swells, and then just going. Once a spouse and kids come into the picture, it is a lot more difficult to pull off a surf trip. It turns out you don’t have to just ditch your family for a week of surf and pleasure. Bring them along! Here’s how we make family surf trips a success:
- Choose somewhere that would be fun, even if you got skunked. If your family isn’t surfing, they’re getting skunked on the entire trip! Some places have consistent waves, but everyone else who is not surfing 8 hours a day might not want to get eaten alive by mosquitos or get heat stroke while you’re getting tubed. Spots like Fiji, Costa Rica, Bali, South Africa are loaded with things to do. Since we bring our kids almost everywhere, we make sure to go places that the kids would enjoy. They love the beach and being outdoors, so we are pretty much covered on surf trips. Even in places that don’t seem very kid friendly, like most of Central America, if you stay at a place with a pool, that can keep the kids entertained for hours instead of baking on a beach with no shade and black sand!
- Look for a place that offers babysitting. Fiji was $2 USD/hour for both kids combined, Costa Rica was $6. Our Airbnb renter offered to watch our kids while we surfed for free too. What was the result? Scoring epic Cloud Break, Playa Negra and J-Bay for almost nothing! If you and your spouse both surf (like we do), then this is especially important. Long gone are the fights about who surfs on the better tide, or with the better wind direction. If you get a babysitter, you don’t need to fight about surfing, and you can also sneak in an afternoon delight!!!!!
- Accept the fact that you may only be surfing once a day. Surfing once a day on vacation is better than not surfing at all and going to work! Your surf frequency depends on your situation. We surf 3-4 times per day on most of our trips, but we will take days off to do family stuff too. It just depends on your situation. Windy or small days that are forecasted are typically reserved for safaris, sight seeing, excursions…etc. But we still wake up and check it out before we decide to not go surf! If you chose wisely, your spouse will be cool with you going for multiple sessions, if you chose poorly, you might only get one hour per day…either way, you, as the surfer, can learn to adapt to get the most out of your trip.
- Teach the kids how to surf too. Our kids are only 1 and 3, but they have surfed with us all over. It makes cool memories. Our daughter talks about how she went surfing in Fiji and Jamaica to her friends in school, who in turn are bragging about not peeing in their bed the night before. Who would you rather be in that situation?
- Remember that the memories you make as a family on holiday will surpass the memories of any single wave…unless you have a boring holiday, and you get shacked out of your mind. Then our sentimental, feel-good idea is actually dead wrong. In all seriousness though, in our two weeks in South Africa, scoring J Bay was mental, but going on a safari with the kids and seeing their stoke over the wild animals, was on the same level. Especially since the day we went to the game park, it was howling on shore winds and I knew that no one was scoring J Bay!
So yes, it is possible to score good waves and not piss off your family. We do it every time we travel. It is also fun bringing the groms too. They will thank you for it when they’re stuck in a conversation about bed wetting in their pre school class, and all they are thinking about is surfing abroad. You only live once, so why not spend time with the family AND score great waves?