How to Pack for the Perfect Surf Trip

December 7, 2017

Alright, you’ve done it.  You purchased a plane ticket to some far-out corner of the globe for one purpose, and one purpose only: to chase waves. Where you’re going, you will most likely be basking in the endless sunshine of some remote tropical paradise, but this isn’t your typical vacation. You’re not partaking in a weekend getaway to sip Mai Tais by the pool… not that there is anything wrong with that! You’re on a mission, and that’s exactly how you need to prepare. This five-step guide will ensure you have all the neccesary ammo for your next destination surf trip.

Step 1. Pack the right boards!

The first thing you need to do is to make sure you have the right board for the waves you’ll encounter. This requires checking the surf forecast frequently before your trip. Our friends at Surfline.com are usually the best bet for long range wave forecasting. Are you chasing hollow barrels? If so, pack a high-performance board with sufficient rocker that can handle steep drops. Are you looking for long rides on small waves? You’ll need a classic long board or a high volume groveler. If you’re coming down to visit us at Witch’s Rock Surf Camp in Tamarindo, Costa Rica, you can leave the board bag at home. Our board cage is stocked with hundreds of boards: high-performance short boards, twin fins, fun boards, and longboards. Whatever your preference, we’ve got you covered. Not sure what board to pack? Check out our guide to choosing the right board for you here.

Step 2. Secure those boards!

If you’re like me, your surfboards are your prized possessions, and you always treat them with care when handling them out of the water. Airlines, however, don’t share your same affection for your surfboards, and they will not be treating them with the tender love and care you feel they deserve. To remedy this, you’ll need a board bag. Not just any board bag, a board bag to fit your needs. Sized to your boards, and made to fit the approximate number of boards you’re traveling with.

Beyond your board bag, you’ll need to take a few extra precautionary steps to ensure ding-free transport. I am a bubble wrap advocate. I generously bubble wrap all of my boards separately before putting them into my board bag. To protect the rails of the board, cut a few pool noodles from end to end and fit them to the rails accordingly.

Step 3. Protect yourself!

Sunscreen. Pack a lot of sunscreen. I don’t care who you are, where you’re going or how much time you spend in the sun, you’ll need sunscreen. And it’s usually more expensive in tourist towns. It’s also smart to bring a few hats and a pair of polarized sunglasses for everyday adventures in and out of the water.

Step 4. Pack the essentials

You are going to want to make sure you’ve got all your surf trip essentials: valid passport, credit cards, local currency, surf wax, board shorts or bikini, rash guards, comfortable sandals, towels, insect repellent and anything else you think you might need. If you’re visiting us here in Tamarindo, you can pick up your essentials at our surf shopCheck out this blog for a more comprehensive list on the essentials

Going off the beaten path? Staying a few hours away from any type of town or city? Take a first aid kit and thank me later. Going somewhere that speaks a language you don’t understand? Pick up a phrase book and brush up on your key phrases beforehand. Trust me, you will feel more comfortable if you can order coffee and ask where the bathroom is in the local language.

Download any necessary apps to keep in touch with those back home; WhatsApp or Facebook messenger for international texting is a must.

Step 5. Leave the bad attitude at home!

So, you went on a surf trip and didn’t get the ride of your life. So what! You’re somewhere new. Maybe, you’re in a foreign country with a culture far different from your own. Soak it in! Learn everything you can, try new things, eat the local food, and of course, make some friends. Spend some time in the water, even if it’s not on your board: snorkel, dive, or sail. Hell, even paddleboard if the waves go flat. Whether you’re traveling with friends or on a solo adventure, a bad attitude does you no good. Learn to make the best of whatever situation you find yourself in, and you’ll have an unforgettable experience.

Preparation is key to a well-executed surf trip, whether you are on a 3-month jaunt down the coast or a 5-day long strike mission. If you visit us in Tamarindo, we’ll see you in the water!

¡Pura Vida!


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