Tag Archives: surf vacation

Beginner/Intermediate

Have you always wanted to learn to surf? Would you like to take your surfing to the next level? Join Heather Alley and myself for a one week intensive. Space is limited and we are really looking forward to this trip! For more info and to reserve your spot click here.

 

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Patagonia’s Surf Ambassadors Are Such an Inspiration

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Wish You Were Here: Big Island

Aloha Girls,

I am writing you from the Big Island of Hawaii. The only bad thing about the Big Island is that, because it is blocked from swell from the rest of the islands, there is very little surf in the summer months. The good thing about the Big Island? Everything else. I have family on the island so I have spent a lot of time here, and this trip I felt like I really dialed it in. This relaxing vacation included daily swimming and snorkeling, yoga, walks down to a sea turtle sanctuary, hikes to secluded beaches, and a visit to a killer farmer’s market.

Big Island is known for its arid lava strewn land, and first-time visitors are often surprised.  Parts of Big Island definitely don’t look like the Hawaii of people’s imagination.  It looks more like this:

However, we took a ride to the island’s east side to visit Akaka Falls, a 442 foot free-falling waterfall. Not only were the falls breathtaking, the short walk around the park was a tropical paradise. 

Other highlights included a trip to Hawi, a small, artsy town in the north of the island with arguably the best restaurant on the island called Bamboo. Whatever you order, make sure to have their lilikoi iced tea.

A favorite adventure is the hike down to Kiholo Bay.  My friend Shelly came for part of the stay, and I dragged her down over arid lava fields, where literally hundreds of goats crossed our path, to the oasis of Kiholo Bay.  Kiholo Bay is known for two things, sea turtles and sharks.  I knew the beaches were sharky, but didn’t realize it was a shark breeding ground.  Yikes!  We saw plenty of sea turtles, and thankfully, no sharks.

So while I was sad, but not surprised about the surf, the good thing about calm, flat seas is that the snorkeling is breathtaking.  I spent my last day swimming the bay at the Mauna Kea resort. After a time viewing the beautiful parrot fish, angel fish, tangs, wrasse, and, of course, the humahumanukanukaapuaa, I spotted a sea turtle and it let me swim with it across the bay.  It was absolutely magical.

Wish you were here,

Rebecca

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Wish You Were Here: Sayulita

Hola Girls!

Just back from a week long break down in Sayulita, Mexico. Situated an hour north of Puerto Vallarta, Sayulita is a sweet little surf town that caters to gringos and Mexicans alike. There are waves for all levels of surfer and tons of surf schools and board rentals for beginners. My husband, Thomas, and I decided to head down during Spring Break — I work at a school and that is the time I can travel. Little did we know that our visit was during Semana Santa, the busiest time of the year in Sayulita! I intentionally booked our trip from Sunday through Friday to miss the weekend craziness. That theory worked pretty well. Our first few days were calm, and while the beaches and restaurants were busy, they weren’t packed. By Thursday the place was overrun with buses bringing in visitors from Guadalajara and other inland locations.

Even with all the craziness, we were able to ride some gorgeous waves. While the breaks definitely had a crowd, everyone was pretty chill and there were plenty of waves to be had. Thomas and I would start our day with a trip to the surf break. We planned to get up “early” and head out. One day setting our alarm for 6:30 a.m., but happily it was still dark out and we went back to bed. Most days we would hit the surf around 9 o’clock.  Lucky for us, that is still early in Sayulita and the beaches would still be pretty empty. After a surf and a shower, we would head back to town for a late breakfast at Choco Banana or Rollies, where we indulge on fresh fruit, egg sandwiches, and smoothies. Then we would head out to lounge on the beach. With advice from some friends who recently visited, we found the best ceviche beach vendor, ate some killer shrimp tacos, and sipped on pina coladas. To keep you entertained,  vendors would stroll by allowing you to browse their wares of silver jewelry, beach wraps, toys, snacks, and candies.

Some days we would go for an afternoon surf session, then it was certainly time for a nap. Evenings were spent in search of the best guacamole and fish tacos. Because it is a tourist haven, the prices in Sayulita are pretty similar to the states, but if you are thoughtful and follow the locals,  you can find some great deals. Our post-dinner treat consisted of bananas covered in chocolate and granola, or ice cream paletas, or — my favorite — the Nutella crepe.

We rented a fabulous place called Casa Almas.  It was right up the road from the beach.  And I do mean up.  We had to ascend a 100-yard driveway that was easily at a 60-degree angle to come and go, but we figured it was a good workout. The place had a beautiful view of the town and ocean, a deck of our own, and charming interior. The proprietors who live upstairs, Paulino and Carolina, were fantastic hosts and so accommodating. The place was great, but trying to sleep through the roosters who crow all night (aren’t they only supposed to call in the morning?), a couple of late-night parties in the valley below, and the barking dogs took a minute to get use to.

Sayulita is an ideal spot to visit if you want a mellow but super fun surf trip.  It was romantic enough to visit with my husband and would surely make for a great girls’ surf trip.  The town felt safe, the food was delicious and plentiful (we got away with only one minor tummy ache), and you don’t need a car as the waves are right outside your door.  Grab a board and get down there!

Wish you were here,

Rebecca

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Wish You Were Here: Bali

White sand beaches, bright green rice paddies, stellar surf, amazing food and really strong coffee. Sound too good to be true?  Well then, you must be in Bali. My husband (ooh, fun to call him that) and I planned a trip to Bali for our honeymoon. Two weeks touring the island, a few locations on the agenda, and some extra days thrown in to follow the surf.  We started our travels at the Ritz-Carlton in Jimbaran. I know, a little splashy, but after a twenty hour flight, we just wanted to crash into a fluffy white bed. Plus, it was close to Uluwatu, and we were curious to check out the world renowned spot.

After we recuperated from our travel, we hired a driver from the Ritz to take us out for a surf adventure. When we got to the car, our boards were already loaded. Sweet! We headed to Dreamlands, which sounded somewhat manageable in the guide books, and was apparently easier to get to for the driver. It was a beautiful place, white, white sand and turquoise water. However, that day it was mostly shore break, which always freaks me out. I wasn’t ready to break my board, or my neck, my first day, so mostly I just paddled around. When we got out our driver was ready with cool hand towels to wipe ourselves down and helped load our boards back in the car (oh, I absolutely love the Ritz). After our surf, we headed out to visit the Uluwatu temple magically perched on a hill, with adorable (and slightly threatening) monkeys all around. We also drove to look at the break at Uluwatu, we knew at that time of year the winds weren’t ideal, but it looked amazing, if not totally intimidating.

After a few more blissful days at the Ritz, we boarded a boat to the little island just off of the southeast coast of Bali, called Nusa Lembongan. Now I am not a huge boat person, so let me set the stage for you.There were probably twenty of us on a too small fishing boat.  Luckily, my husband and I got a real seat, everyone else was on plastic lawn chairs in the back. As soon as we got out of the harbor, we hit wake so we were crashing and bouncing. I had to close my eyes, grip my husband’s hand, and take myself to a very happy place. We had heard good things about the surf in Nusa and were recommended to a little bungalow by a friend. Thirty minutes later, we had made the open ocean trek and we checked in to our hotel. Although it was a little rustic, especially coming from the Ritz, with no air conditioning, and only cold saltwater in the pipes, it was still adorable.  It wasn’t until that night when I realized that you need air-conditioning to keep the mosquitoes away while you sleep, that I realized I am no longer a budget traveler, but we were only there for two nights. The next day, the manager took us out on the boat around to the other side of the island. We were in this great double outrigger, and it was all hunky-dory until we hit huge wake (again), and when he showed us the surf spot, totally gnarly, with spitting waves, I realized there was no way I could handle it — and there was also no way I was waiting on the boat, bobbing up and down in the killer swells. Luckily, everyone was game to head back around the island to a place that sounded much more my speed, Playgrounds. Turns out Playgrounds was great. It is even slightly challenging and more so on a bigger swell so all of us had fun. After our two nights in Nusa so we took the terrifying boat back and headed to Ubud.

Now there are no waves in Ubud, as it is in the hills of Bali, but it turned out to be one of my favorite places. We took a five mile walk into the rice paddies that was one of the best experiences I have ever had. We ended up staying for four more nights in Ubud and then went back to Nusa Lembongan for more surf, this time we took the public boat, slower and very crowded, but much calmer, and checked into a fancier hotel with air-conditioning! After a few more great surf sessions, and a New Year’s celebration that involved kicking a flaming coconut (I kid you not!), we headed for our final destination, Canguu. A friend who also honeymooned in Bali recommended an exie hotel, the Tugu, and let me tell you, it was one of the most beautiful hotels I have ever stayed in. Plus, we were right on the beach. It was mostly messy wind-swell, but it didn’t matter because all you wanted to do was stay in your magnificent room with the fan on eating from the tropical fruit basket!

We had a wonderful but exhausting trip. I could go on and on about the food, and the people, and the adventures we had, but I will leave those tales for another time.

Wish you were here,

Rebecca

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Wish You Were Here: Australia

G’day girls,

The Girls in Bondi Beach

We arrived to the second leg of our journey: Sydney, Australia.  The day we landed was the coldest November weather on record since since 1905.  Great.  But things have turned around and now the weather and waves are on our side.  We started off at Bondi Beach just a short bus ride from downtown.  Other than having the beach right outside your door, Bondi isn’t the nicest place to stay, but downtownSydney is absolutely glorious.  It’s built on the water and the Botanical Gardens and Harbour Bridge are magnificent.  We even went to the world famous Opera house to see a symphony called Russian Fire and Fury (we are so trashy that we left at intermission).  We had one morning of decent surf in Bondi (big surprise, the rest of the time it was blown out) which was fun but crowded – after all it was a Saturday.

Avalon Beach

However, our surf adventure began looking up as we headed north to Avalon, a suburb about an hour outside of Sydney.  I want to move to Avalon some day.  It was one of the best places I have ever been.  There is the ocean side for surfing and a bay side for boating.  It is a very high end little town filled with quaint but expensive (or “exie” as our host Janice called them) shops and restaurants.  Apparently Kelly Slater has a home there – even better! We got some small but great surf in Avalon and were feeling like our surf adventure was beginning to turn around.

We headed up the coast and forget about surfing, the Billabong Koala and Wildlife Park is where it’s at.  You get to see and even pet koala bears and kangaroos.  It was one of the coolest things ever, so cool in fact that the three of us pushed small kids out of our way to get a chance to pet Chancy (see photo).  We continued up the coast only to be disappointed by blown out waves in Crescent Head but consoled ourselves by eating more meat pies from a roadside attraction called Fredo’s.

Rebecca and Chancy

Finally, we reached Byron Bay.  I love Byro nBay.  There are two sides as Byron juts out into the ocean so that you have two chances of getting offshore winds.  We stayed at the Seaview House, an amazing B&B with glorious views, and surfed Tallow Beach.  The hot Aussie boys were almost as much of an attraction as the beautiful pods of dolphins swimming by. Other than the “schoolies” who were in town for their version of spring break, Byron Bay was everything we had been looking for in Australia.

On our final night in Byron Bay we went out for an amazing seafood dinner and followed it up with drinks and music at a place called the Beach Hotel.  We caught the last song of some mediocre reggae band before it was the next band’s turn.  Out walk four young women in the worst outfits we had ever seen (trust me, they were that bad — think plaid and flower patterns) we were horrified until we heard them sing.  The group began to sing a cappella.  They had the most beautiful voices I had ever heard.  When they broke into Bob Marley’s STIR IT UP with just their voices I thought the schoolies were going to turn on them, but instead they came out if full force and were dancing like crazy.  One of the girls started beat boxing (mind you they were all white girls in old-school Jessica McLintock flowered dresses).  It was totally surreal, but so great that we bought their CD.

The next day was our final one in Australia and our sadness in leaving was only relieved by the fact that our next stop was Fiji.  We drove through the Gold Coast (stupidly we didn’t leave ourselves enough time to surf any of the most stellar surf spots on the planet), and hit the Brisbane airport with literally minutes to go until our plane took off.  You can bet I will be back soon – after all, I have to visit Chancy.

Wish you were here,

Rebecca

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Wish You Were Here: New Zealand

Kir Ora Girls!

Picture this: three girls, four surfboards and a camper van crisscrossing the North Island of New Zealand in search of waves.  This is where my friends, Robbie, Maria, and I began our one month “surf adventure.”  You may have noticed the quotes.  That’s because the waves were almost as elusive as the warm weather, but as we were determined to find them both we spent our week exploring the island.

We had planned our adventure in November, which would have been their summer.  Or so we thought, we found out it was really only their spring, which means blustery winds, rain, and a lot of blown-out surf.  We began in the capital, Auckland, a sweet city despite the cold wind and rains, with amazing restaurants and friendly surf shop employees who checked online and reported we should head towards south-east towards Gisbon.

We picked up our mode of transportation, a camper van.  Did you know that 3 girls and 4 boards (two of them longboards) take up all the room in a six person camper?  None of us had ever traveled this way before and we were all a little apprehensive to drive this lumbering vehicle on the wrong side of the road.  And to make things even more complicated, you needed to change gears with your left hand (oh yeah, it was manual). Luckily our intrepid surfer girl, Robbie, was up to the task. With only a few stall and a handful of incidents turning on the windshield wipers instead of the blinkers, we made it out of Auckland and onto the open road.

Since Gisborne is almost seven hours away, we decided to stop at the Bay of Plenty at an absolutely beautiful beach in Waihi.  While we did find some sunshine and a spectacular hike to Orakawa Bay, there was absolutely no surf. Since we were on a surf trip, gosh darn it, we drove a bit further to get a couple more miles, or kilometers, under our belt.  Since we were only half-way to our destination when it began to get dark, we parked our van and settled in for the night.  We woke in the middle of the night to what felt like and earthquake only to look out the window and see a car full of teens running way in hysterics.  Apparently they shake camper vans for fun in New Zealand.  We felt like we were really getting a taste of the culture.

Wainui Beach

The next day we drove to Gisborne, but not before stopping in a one horse town called Opotiki for some coffee and meat pies.  Okay, we all have heard that New Zealand is beautiful and it boasts some world class surf breaks, but did you know about the meat pies?  They are amazing.  And not just meat.  Chicken, pork, vegi, cheese.  Whatever you want.  I am still dreaming of the pies from this little bakery, which as far as I can tell was just called Hot Bread.  (If you find yourself in Opotiki, you must go.  You can’t miss it, as far as I can tell it’s the only bakery, no, the only restaurant in town.)  We drove through the scenic Waioeka Gorge to Gisbon where we went straight to Wainui beach.  Do you know what we found?  Waves!

We suited up and paddled out.  It was terribly windy, but offshore so that the waves were holding up perfectly.  Although, since we had planned a summer vacation we only had our 3:2 wetsuits and were FREEZING!  So we didn’t last too long in the little but fun waist high waves.  Unfortunately, the wind blew out the surf the next day.  Argh!  So we headed towards our final destination of Raglan, with and overnight stop in Rotarua for a soak in theirhot springs.  Raglan has a great surf-town vibe.  The only problem, of course, is that when we arrived it was very, very windy.  My friend Jose who is living there told us the wind might die down the next afternoon and we could go for a surf.  As he predicted that is exactly what happened.

Raglan is made up of three spots: Manu Bay, Whale Bay and Indicators.  From the road it looked like Manu Bay was crowded while Whale Bay looked a little less hectic.  There was an inside break that looked perfect for us.  When we got down to sea level however, we could see that the waves were well overhead and that the only place to paddle out was  where waves were crashing over slippery rocks.  Robbie and Maria backed out.  I knew I needed to cowboy-up, so without thinking too much about it, pulled on my wetsuit and followed Jose out.  Once in the water I realized the size of the surf.  Sets were rolling in that were lifting me high above the ocean level.  I was terrified and kept paddling towards the horizon.  I wanted to get around to where I thought that little inside break was.  What I hadn’t realized is that what I thought was a cute fun break went right over some large rocks.  I knew I needed to catch just one wave so that I could say that I had surfed at Raglan.  As usual, I sat far out on the shoulder watching some stellar surfing from the locals.  Some of the nice surfers encouraged me to move farther in.  Finally, after watching me bob up and down for nearly an hour, Robbie and Maria came over to the shore and showed me exactly where to line up.  I paddled over, a wave came, and I took it!  I went right over a large rock and bailed.  Somehow the surf gods were with me and neither I nor the board got hurt.

The next morning the wind stayed down and the three of us paddled out at Manu Bay, a much friendlier spot.  We had a blast on the long, rolling lefts.  We had finally found the waves we had been searching for.

We are now onto Australia.  Fingers crossed we find some sunshine, warm water, and sick waves.

Wish you were here,

Rebecca

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