Surfer girls, unite! Surfer camps 101
You can learn how to ride the waves at these five camps across the globe
Costa Rica may be a hot spot for surf safaris, but you can also learn how to ride the waves at these five camps scattered across the globe.
Seminyak, Bali: Surf Goddess Retreats
At Surf Goddess Retreats on Bali's southwest coast, the mantra is eat, play, surf. Two-hour surf lessons on Legian Beach and gourmet meals make up the daily routine, with the added perk of a soothing Goddess Glow treatment: a massage, a scrub and polish, a facial, and time in the sauna. Participants stay in private villas with handcrafted teak furniture and paintings by Balinese artists. A day trip to Ubud, the island's cultural heart, includes visits to a sacred bathing temple and a monkey forest, and the chance to meet the spiritual healer befriended by Elizabeth Gilbert, author of "Eat, Pray, Love". Skilled surfers, take note: Weeklong focus retreats will take you to more-advanced surf breaks around Bali.
From $2,385 for eight days/seven nights, 888/726-9763, surfgoddessretreats.com.
Oahu, Hawaii: Kelea Surf Spa
As far as the legend goes, the ancient Hawaiian chiefess Kelea gave up her title to surf and live by the ocean. A week at the Kelea Surf Spa, which promises a stress-free surfing experience, may tempt you to do the same. Your base is a five-room beachfront home with a small garden and a private lanai overlooking the famed North Shore, where Blue Crush was filmed. The spa is only open from February to April, when the surf is best for beginners and intermediates, and instruction covers everything from wave selection to surf etiquette.
From $1,745 for seven days/six nights, including all meals, 949/492-7263, keleasurfspa.com.
Punta Mita, Mexico: Las Olas Surf Safaris for Women
Bev Sanders, a snowboarder who took up surfing at the age of 44, says she founded Las Olas because she wanted to make girls out of women. The return to youth spans seven days, with beachside lessons in Punta Mita, an easygoing village north of Puerto Vallarta on Mexico's Pacific coast. A reef breaks to the shore, and the beginner-friendly waves average 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Yoga instruction, salsa dancing, and Huichol jewelry making round out the experience. Surfers stay in 30 cabana-style villas designed by local craftsmen, and breakfast daily and some meals are included. The safaris run from November through June; if you sign up for a session in January, you'll even get to go whale watching.
From $2,850 for seven days/six nights, 831/625-5748, surflasolas.com.
Peniche, Portugal: Estrelas do Mar
The waves break consistently all year long on the Peniche peninsula off Portugal's western coast, making it ideal for surf enthusiasts. At Estrelas do Mar's camp on the beach of Consolação—about an hour north of Lisbon—20 surf spots are within a 15-minute reach. The camp puts an emphasis on small-group instruction; there are six students per instructor and two sessions a day for five days. If you're a beginner, but want to try out waves almost as powerful as those at epic surf spot Supertubos, you can get your feet (and board) wet at nearby Banana beach.
From $473 for eight days/seven nights, meals are not included, 011-351/91-698-8496, estrelasdomar.com.
Rincón, Puerto Rico: Best of Both Adventures for Women
Best of Both Adventures' yoga and surfing package, one of many women-centric combinations, focuses on stretches that will strengthen and detoxify a surfer's body. A snorkeling excursion takes you to Tres Palmas Marine Reserve—one of the Caribbean's best coral reefs—where you can still find endangered elkhorn coral. Work up an appetite after all that time in the water? The tour operator sources locally produced, organic food for five-course meals that might include warm lobster medallions sautéed in spinach or mahimahi with eggplant caviar. Some of the oceanfront villas are equipped with plasma TVs at the five-acre estate at Tres Palmas, just five minutes from downtown Rincón.
From $1,900 for five days/four nights, 787/823-0610, bestofbothadventures.com.
Note that all of these camps include surf equipment in the pricing and work with limited numbers of women at a time; book several months in advance, particularly for the popular and well-known Las Olas.
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