As in, you don’t need to slum it any more while in search of some of the world’s best waves, writes Elisabeth King.
Surfing is a lifelong passion, not just a passing youthful enthusiasm. But when you’re pulling in a good wage, drive a prestige car and your favourite drink is a single malt Scotch, the traditional clichés of a surfing holiday – campervans, burgers and shared, lumpy mattress – are appealing as a warm beer.
The days are long gone when plush resorts like The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel in California ‘hid’ the serious waves peeling off Dana Point from guests because surfing “was only for beach bums”. CEOs and millionaires now demand luxury resorts or boats to be able to visit ‘the blue room’ and a new breed of specialist properties has emerged combining style and comfort with world-famous breaks… and many are surprisingly affordable.
SURFERS LODGE PENICHE
The small town of Peniche offers 17 major Atlantic Ocean swells, including Supertubos – aka the European Pipeline. Laidback luxury is the key note at Surfers Lodge, open just a year, from the organic restaurant through the hip bar, massage therapist, jacuzzi and pool. The Bali Suite is the place if your partner is in tow but any room will do if your aim is to make new friends of both sexes. The all-inclusive packages are the best bet but rooms during the high season begin at $113.
CHICAMA BOUTIQUE HOTEL & SPA
Chicama is the world’s longest left-hand break, snatching out for four kilometres. But there are 30 other major waves in northern Peru as the big lows travel up from the south. Named after the coastline’s most famous surfing attraction, this luxurious surf resort offers rates as low as $700 for seven days. The General Manager, Miguel Vegas, is a former Peruvian surfing champion so all bases are covered – tow back services, wetsuit and board hire, lessons and daily tours to major surf spots. For wavehunters only, there’s nothing else to do but surf, hang out in the gaming centre, enjoy a spa treatment and net flint-rate meals.
PARADIS PLAGE SURF YOGA & SPA RESORT, TAGHAZOUT
Essaouira hogs the limelight as Morocco’s major surf town but the former fishing village of Taghazout runs a close second. Located 26 kilometres north of Agadir – equidistant from Killers and Boilers – in-house Rip Curl instructors keep a weather eye on major waves. A three hectare oasis fronting a five kilometre-long beach, the resort’s Surf School offers packages for beginners and experienced sliders, an outdoor movie theatre and fitness centre. Non-surfers can take part in a yoga retreat and or enjoy Moroccan-inspired spa treatments in the spa or on the beach. Be careful in the bar – drinks are expensive. paradisplage.com
TATCHU ADVENTURES ECO SURF VILLAGE, NOOTKA ISLAND
Never forget that Kelly Slater comes from Florida when friends ask why you’re heading to the Great Lone Land to surf. Billed as “the only surf wilderness camp in Canada”, professional surfer Raph Bruwiler guides you through world class cold water surf and tricky tidal waters on Nootka Island, off Vancouver island. Over 1,500 metres of boardwalk link the main lodge with treehouses and a sauna. The four day surfer package – $1,206 – includes surfing equipment hire, wildlife viewing, rainforest walks and gourmet camp food. tatchuadventures.com
TADRAI ISLAND RESORT
Forget the fly-and-flop image of Fiji. The island chain also offers more than 25 major surf spots, including Lighthouse, Cloudbreak and Vinakaland where only pros or those just shy of making surfing their daytime job should test their wave skills. The Tadrai Island Resort is the most talked-about five star resort on the Mamanucas – a group of 20 islets west of the main island of Viti Levu – where many of the major surf spots are accessible only by boat.
If you’re man enough that’s where you’ll also find the iconic Cloudbreak but experienced surfers can also tackle Namotu Lefts and Restaurants. Tadrai has a couples-only policy and boasts only five, 100 square metre beachfront villas circled by four white sand beaches. Apart from being a luxury surf and romance base, the resort’s other aquatic activities include hard-line fishing, snorkelling and hobycat sailing. tadrai.com
AURA SURF RESORT
Uluwatu, Racetracks, Temples – you’ve caught some of Bali’s best-known waves. Now it’s time to go farther afield in Indo to this surf lodge of only three traditional bungalows on the island of Pulau Simeulue. Directly in front of a world-class A-frame wave, you can keep a constant eye on “the peak”. A maximum of only 14 surfers can stay here, so it’s the perfect venue for a big boys’ trip. There are 10 to 15 other surf breaks in the area, left and right, accessed by land and boat. Not five star but very comfortable with great food. aurasurfresort.com
ADAARAN SELECT HUDHURANFUSHI
Exclusivity is now the pull at one of the most famous dedicated surf resorts in the world. A new surf management plan inaugurated at the beginning of the year limits the number of surfers allowed on the island to 45, following complaints of overcrowding. There’s a perfect left – Lohis – just metres from each beach and ocean villa and the resort offers daily excursions by dhoni (the traditional local boat) to other major breaks in North Male. As keen surfers know, the World Qualifying Series was held on the island for several years at Lohis Point, so a holiday here ranks almost as a pilgrimage. A top choice for intermediate and advanced surfers. All-in packages are available from worldsurfaris.com and prices have been greatly reduced from this year. adaaran.com
SHAHLOHA GUESTHOUSE ON SUPERTUBES, JEFFREYS BAY
Look beyond the word ‘guesthouse’. When a property includes a world famous right hand point break in its name, you know they offer surfboard, wet suit and boogie board rental, and ample storage for long and short boards. The patio is only 50 metres from the beach at JBay and the views are spectacular. The rates – from $142 for a large suite with floor-to-ceiling windows – are a giveaway for a five-star atmosphere and service. The waves are most consistent from May to mid-September but avoid the annual Billabong Pro ASP World Tour in July when the surfing world arrives in force. Amazing breakfasts and you can also organise horseriding on the beach or a visit to Bloukraans for the world’s highest bungee jump. shalohaguesthouse.com