Your pick of 2015 – Surf in Northern Spain

Our surf camp in Santander, Northern Spain, is one of the oldest partners of unitedsurfcamps. Since 2011 we saw massive growth of bookings and inquiries here and you have also rated this camp very high. We sat down and had a word with owner and head instructor Damian Freeman to see what he had to say about this. Residing in quiet Loredo not far from Santander he has found a great place to call home where he can raise his kids by the sea and make a living doing what a lot of us spend most of the year dreaming about.

USC: So, why do you think is behind this upswing in surfing in Northern Spain after so many years in business together?

DF: I believe that Northern Spain has become a popular surf destination because of various factors, firstly we have good waves, secondly we are well connected to Italy, England, Germany and Holland with cheap flights. Added to this it is a relatively cheap holiday. Sure there are much more exotic locations to go surfing around the world but how accessible are they to beginner surfers? Spain is safe, has waves for all levels and is a true treasure. Food is excellent and the people are friendly.

USC: You’re British, tell us a bit about how you first ended up here in Spain?

DF: I first came across surfing when I was eight years old and moved here. I grew up on the east coast of Kenya where there was a lot of sailing and water life in general. Then when we came to live here and it just seemed as a natural progression to go surfing. I’ve lived in other places too and when I went to school in England I used to come here for holidays. I’ve also lived in Madrid for a while, but in the end I think this is a perfect place to live in.

USC: What do you appreciate most about living here?

DF: I think it’s pretty much the rythm of life and it’s nice if you like living outdoors. We’ve got a great beach just minutes away from the camp, good waves all year round and it’s a very safe place. We almost never lock the doors of the house, the people are laid-back and everybody knows each other, so it’s a good feeling.

USC: You receive very good feedback in testimonials – what is the key to making customers happy?

DF: Good quality instruction, good waves and going that extra mile to make people happy. We want people to have an awesome experience, to have a trouble free holiday and to know that they have made friends in Northern Spain. I think its important not to exaggerate the product when we are selling it on the net. And unitedsurfcamps keeps it real. That way when clients arrive they are not expecting a luxury surf trip, but they do get more than they were expecting. Lets just say that 90% of our clients leave very pleasantly surprised.

USC: So this being a surfer as a full time job, and having surfed for so long, what motivates you and makes you happy on the board today?

DF: Mate I am still stoked when I go surfing. If I don’t surf then I don’t feel well. So just doing it is like fresh air. Keeps me fit and happy. I’ve never quite considered myself a surfer. What is that? In the line up we have such a spectrum of people of all professions and ages. People who are connected by a love for the ocean and riding waves. Are we surfers, doctors, business men etc.? If someone came up to me in the street and asked me what I was I think a surfer would be the last thing I would say. Surfing is something I do and I guess I am a surfer when I am surfing. But it has all come together here to some of the best experiences in life… falling in love, having kids.

Go and see Damian and Jesse at the camp in Loredo. Operations are closed over the winter, but for the brave and willing bookings are open from April and onwards. For more info about the surfcamp have a look at the webpage for Surf Camp Santander.

Luís I Iron Bridge along the Douro River

Surf camp Porto

So how would I describe Porto? That’s an easy one: “Surf and the city”, because surf camp Porto offers a great mix of surfing and urban tourism.

One of my first days in Porto, the surf camp manager Rodrigo (a.k.a. Godzilla), took me to a surf contest he was competing in. Even though the conditions weren’t ideal, the contestants really put on a show and proved their skills. It was inspiring to watch and I got even more psyched to improve my surfing. The following days I had some great surf sessions myself and I got to see the surf school ripping it during sunset at Matosinhos beach.

After a few hours in the water you’re probably exhausted and looking for something a bit more relaxing. Then what could be better than wandering around in Porto’s old town (which is an UNESCO World Heritage Site) by the bank of the Douro River. I had four afternoons and evenings dedicated to experiencing the city and I managed to:

▪     Witness impressive buildings.

▪     Take a photo (even though it’s forbidden) in the bookshop where Harry Potter was filmed. JK Rowling got her inspiration to the fictional bookshop from here when she worked in Porto as an English teacher.

▪     Have a free(!) tasing of Port wine at the wine sellers across the river.

▪     Try out a Francesinha (a Portuguese sandwich originally from Porto).

▪     Watch the sunset with the best view of the city from Serra do Pilar.

And still, there was much more to do.

I leave Porto, full of impressions and with an eager to come back with my friends and family to show them the magnificence of this city.

Next up, I’m heading to Spain again!

// Nick