The Great Escape: Spectacular Surf Camps + Destinations for Any Skill Level

Posted by Rhea Cortado on


Ainsley Ocean, co-founder of Togat Nusa trims in the Mentawais wearing the Seea Hermosa Swim Shirt. Photo by Chris Hoy. 

If only there were a search engine for choosing a surf destination. Checkboxes for different countries, best months out of the year, beginner-friendly bumps, barreling reef breaks, left or right points. If you are traveling alone, or with a crew of friends. If you’re looking for an easy airport access for a quick trip, or really want to go off the grid on charter planes, taxis and ferries.

You can do pages of internet research (tons of which isn’t always accurate and unwritten surf rules forbid too much revelation about surf break names), or do what we do — pick a coastline and find a local guide.

Here are a few of our friends that offer both beginner experiences for solo travelers, and advanced-level waves that will give you prickly goosebumps just hearing the whitewater force. The list doesn't stop here, look out for more Seeababes guides on our favorite camps and instructors to keep summer flowing year-round!
Mellow longboard waves for beginners and loggers. Photo courtesy of Las Olas Surf Safaris. 
Las Olas Surf Safari

Where: Riviera Nayarit, Mexico

Best for: Beginners, intermediates (look for Las Olas' retreats specially for intermediate skill level), solo travelers, small groups of women

Travel time: Fly into Puerto Vallarta (PVR). The drive to accommodations is less than one hour from airport.

Cool off in the pool. Photo courtesy of Las Olas Surf Safaris.
The surfing version of a ski lift, the boat will drop you off out the back. Photo courtesy of Las Olas Surf Safaris. 
    Las Olas Surf Safaris is the most established full service package retreat in this area of Riviera Nayarit, Mexico. Since it first launched in 1997, the retreat has introduced thousands of women to surfing in Mexico's friendly warm waters. Most clients arrive solo, or with a friend. Between sessions, relax with yoga classes, explore the town on foot, or nap in a hammock, or make new friends. The clients come from all walks of life  — authors, actors, activists, teachers, CEOs, doctors, lawyers, pro athletes and dog trainers — and in a wide age range from 20-somethings to 50-years-old and up. 
      “We once hosted a group of eight women, all moms who had adopted children from all over the world. Around the dinner table, they each told the story of meeting these little kids for the first time. Unforgettable. I would never have an opportunity to meet such amazing women if it weren’t for Las Olas,” says Bev Sanders, the founder of Las Olas Surf Safaris. 
        Best of all, you can leave your insecurities behind, this is a safe place. Bev says the most frequently-asked-question by beginners is “Am I to ___ to surf? Insert word of choice: old, fat, wimpy, etc.” Her answer: “Probably not. You just think you are. I often hear stories of how their experience at Las Olas helped revive their intuition, connectivity, and opened their eyes to new possibilities. Often surfing is something that becomes part of their life and they’ve gone on to try some great things.”

         

        Surf with Salt Gypsy
        Where: Maldives Islands or Mentawais Islands, both in the Indian Ocean.
        Best for: Intermediates, advanced surfers, solo travelers, small groups of women.
        Travel time: Varies. Contact Salt Gypsy for details.

        Danny Clayton wears the Seea Monterey Top and her own brand of surf leggings in the Maldives. Photo courtesy of Salt Gypsy. 
        We think its a rule that if you're on a surf retreat, you need to take a photo with your arms up, or jumping off a boat. Why? Because it's really that fun. Photo courtesy of Salt Gypsy.
        Salt Gypsy in the Maldives. Photo courtesy of Salt Gypsy.

        One of Seea’s early supporters, Danny Clayton aka Salt Gypsy’s blog is a must-read for surfer girls seeking news and inspiring women stories outside of the mainstream surf media. After seeing too many burned legs as a surf guide in the Maldives, the New Zealand-born shredder started her own brand of surf leggings and rashguards made in Bali.

        Danny still surf guides in the Maldives and Mentawais, and hosts a few all-girl retreats per year. Operated by Liquid Destination, one flat fee covers nearly everything from the time you arrive at the airport in Mali (you’ll be fetched at the gate by a Liquid Destination guide), including meals, accommodations, and boat transportation to the best surf breaks. In the Maldives, there are 26 Atolls and 1190 islands. Yeah, let them do the math to factor in the best spot for the swell, wind, tides and weather and the toughest decision you’ll have to make is what to wear. Danny urges that you should be comfortable surfing reef breaks. 

        Keep an eye on this page on the Salt Gypsy page for upcoming dates to surf with Danny and a bunch of other female chargers in the Mentawais and Maldives.

        More about Salt Gypsy in our interview with her! 
        Tavarua Island Resort 
        Where: Fiji 
        Best for: Beginners, intermediates, advanced, solo travelers, couples, co-ed groups and families. 
        Travel time: Varies. Contact Tavarua for more details. 

        Tavarua Island Resort is not a surf camp or structured retreat, but because of the remote location of Tavarua in Fiji and its comprehensive services, it feels like its own private camp. Everything is contained within the island, including the gourmet meals served on the outdoor deck and bar, and the resort operates your boat charters to the reef breaks. Tavarua is famous for its barreling images of Cloudbreak, but there are many more options for any member of your group — including virgin surfers. Spend the in-between hours in the pool, snorkeling in the clear water or strolling on the sand. 
        “Tavarua Rights is a gentle right hander, but it can be a bit more challenging with size.  It is a great spot for gals that are progressing and even very experienced surfers have a blast there. “Rights” is my personal favorite,” says Jaime Isbell, co-founder of Tavarua Island Resort. Don't forget to pick up an exclusive Seea x Tavarua surf suit in their shop! 
        Togat Nusa Retreat in the Mentawais
        Where: Mentawais
        Best for: Intermediates, advanced, solo travelers, couples and co-ed groups.
        Travel time: Varies. Arrive in Padang, Sumatra via Jakarta one night before check-in. Ferry or chartered speedboat takes you to Togat Nusa. Contact Togat Nusa for more details.

        Togat Nusa from the water. Photo by Johnny Abegg for Togat Nusa.
        View from your room. Photo by Adam Kobayashi for Togat Nusa.
        Another amazing private island, Togat Nusa in the Mentawais feels like you’ve reached the furthest edges of the earth. The founders, John and Ainsley Ocean, (and local Pak Bangun) have been living on the Mentawais for more than ten years. Be prepared for a long journey on multiple methods of transport to get to Togat Nusa from the mainland. Factor in the limited number of accommodations on the island and you’ll see why trips must be booked in blocks of 10 to 12 days at a time. After seeing the retreat’s holistic environmental approach that preserves the untouched beauty of the island, you'll wish you were staying longer.

        Ainsley jokes that it’s an “anti-resort” that attracts the most “colorful characters.” Except for planning your day based on the best times to surf, you’re not beholden to any schedule like a structured retreat. "Big waves" are relative, says Ainsley. And while you should be comfortable surfing over reef, she says its not all hollow barrels. "Though at times surf travel for women can be challenging, Togat Nusa Retreat is a safe space, with user-friendly waves for women," she added.

        From the everyday surf-obsessed folks to high profile athletes (pro snowboarder Marie-France Roy is a recent client), you never know who will be there during your stay.

        Pro Snowboarder Marie-France Roy surfing in Togat Nusa in the Seea Hermosa Swim Shirt. Photo by Damea Dorsey.

        Togat Nusa in the Mentawais. Photo courtesy of Togat Nusa. 

        MORE SURF TRAVEL: 

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        • Guests of Umma Maonu can stay in our traditional Mentawai Umma or two cosy chalets situated amongst the coconut tree forest

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