The Three Best Towns for Learning to Surf This Winter
After the warmth of the holiday season fades and January and February begin to sink in their teeth throughout most of the country, you won't be alone if you find yourself dreaming of the ocean. You could always cruise out to So Cal, but we're recommending an extended winter vacation this year, one that you should start planning now while the cash is already flowing from your wallet. Don't wait for those holiday bills to come -- at that point, you'll be too discouraged to cough up any more.
Given the popularity of resolutions, the beginning of the new year is a great time to try something new. And since we're talking summer, how about holding up in a small beach town and learning to surf? Here are three destinations we visited this year that will have you hanging ten in no time.
So far, organic growth thanks to newfound tourism has created a local, pleasant surf town vibe in Sayulita that is not found in the hustle and bustle of nearby Puerto Vallarta. Even though many of the businesses are most definitely there because of tourism, the town has done a nice job overall of keeping them authentic and feeling local -- something we greatly appreciate.
Surfboards can be rented right off the beach for less than $25 a day and multi-person bungalows can be rented for as little as $90/night (there are also cheap hostels and a campground). We recommend you not hesitate, because as great as the town is at the moment, we see small signs of infection – such as annoying beach vendors and aggressive restaurant greeters – that could very well begin to change the feel of the town in the coming years. We have our fingers crossed, but we aren’t holding our breath given the direction most other Mexican destinations have gone with their approach to tourism. So, go!
Nazare Beach north of Lisbon gets all the attention for producing the world’s largest waves, but beginners should flock south to Sagres where 1) there are no 100-foot waves and 2) rocky coastlines result in dramatic outdoor classrooms. Popular with European travelers, this destination is still unknown to American travelers, meaning not only will you learn to surf, but you'll also learn a hell of a lot about Portugal.
Hanalei Bay, Hawaii
Hanalei Bay is found on the north side of Kauai and marks the eastern end of the beautiful Na Pali coast, the bay providing steady, small sets of waves for beginning surfers with one hell of an inspirational background as the lush mountains hug the coast. Totally tranquil and located essentially at the end of the road that runs up the east side of Kauai, we can recommend this surf school, but there are several that rent boards and give lessons. After a long day in the water, be sure to try out some of the local taro to refuel, or take a day off and go on the most epic hike of your life.
[Photos: Will McGough for Jaunted/