hen you’re single, a surf trip is as easy as getting time off work, finding the cheapest airfare and accommodation, and tracking a swell. But it all gets tricky once a spouse and kids come into the picture. The truth is, you don’t have to ditch your family for a week of surf, though. there are ways you can manage to bring them along. Here’s how we make surf trips a success in my family:
1. Go somewhere that would be fun, even if you got skunked.
If you base your entire trip around waves and the family isn’t surfing, they’re the ones getting skunked. You may go somewhere and it’s firing, but everyone who isn’t surfing eight hours a day might not enjoy being eaten alive by mosquitos or fighting heat stroke while you’re getting barreled out of your mind. Spots like Fiji, Costa Rica, Bali, and South Africa are loaded with things to do outside of the lineup. Since my wife and I bring our kids almost everywhere, we make sure to go places the little ones will enjoy. They love the beach and being outdoors, so we are pretty much covered on surf trips. Even in places that don’t seem very kid friendly – like most of Central America – something as simple as finding a home base with a pool can keep the kids entertained for hours.
2. Look for a place that offers babysitting.
Fiji cost us $2 USD an hour for both kids combined. Costa Rica was $6. The results of those small costs were scoring epic Cloud Break, Playa Negra, and J-Bay. If you and your spouse both surf (like we do), then this is especially important. Gone are the fights of who surfs on the better tide or with the better wind direction. If you get a babysitter, you don’t need to fight about surfing, and you can also sneak in an afternoon delight.
3. Accept the fact that you may only be surfing once a day.
Surfing once a day on vacation is better than not surfing at all and going to work. Your surf frequency depends on your situation. We surf three to four times per day on most of our trips, but we will take days off to do family stuff too. Windy or small days that are forecasted are typically reserved for safaris, sightseeing, excursions, etc. But we still wake up and check it out before we decide to skip surfing. If you chose wisely, your spouse will be cool with you going for multiple sessions. If you’re not so lucky, you might only get one hour per day. Either way, you, as the surfer, can learn to adapt to get the most out of your trip.
4.Teach the kids to surf too.
Our kids are only one and three years old but they have surfed with us all over. It makes for some cool memories. Our daughter talks about how she went surfing in Fiji and Jamaica to her friends in school, who in turn are bragging about not peeing in their bed the night before. Who would you rather be in that situation?
5. Remember, the memories you make as a family will surpass the memories of any single wave.
Unless you have a boring holiday and you get shacked out of your mind, this sentimental, feel-good idea is actually dead wrong. In all seriousness though, in our two weeks of scoring J-Bay was mental, but going on a safari with the kids and seeing their stoke over the wild animals was on the same level.
So yes, it is possible to score good waves and not piss off your family. We do it every time we travel. It is also fun bringing the groms along too. They will thank you for it when they’re stuck in a conversation about bedwetting in their preschool class, and all they are thinking about is surfing abroad. You only live once, so why not spend time with the family and score great waves?