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.

Surf and explore Morocco’s magic triangle

Morocco is a favorite destination of ours as it both offers world class surfing and exploring a friendly and very exciting country. If you have 2 weeks to spare and are looking for combined surf and adventure holiday, you may explore the best of Morocco by following this triangular route:

1. Agadir: Entry point to prime surfing

168325_10150124693205359_6709319_aThe area just north of Agadir, around the villages of Taghazout and Tamraght (were our surf camp is located) is the prime surfing destination in Morocco. The numerous different surf breaks to choose from mean that no matter of swell size, wind or tide, your surf coach will always find a suitable wave to go for. Staying at our surf camp is a relaxed start to discover the Moroccan culture and also means a great chance to meet new friends.

2. Essaouria:  The wind city of Africa

167962_10150124692160359_5967191_aJust 3.5 hours drive north of Agadir you can explore the relaxed city of Essaouira, which is a famous post card scene thanks to it’s magnificent sea side city walls. The constant wind here means it doesn´t attract the usual sun bathers, but instead has for long been a stronghold for hippies, wind surfers and back packers.

The friendly atmosphere, nice cafés, relaxing hammams and great cuisine, usually makes you stay longer than planned. If you bring your surf board you can catch some (wind beaten) waves at Essaouria city beach or stop by Imsouane (half way between Agadir and Essaouria) to surf the longest wave in Morocco.

3.  Marrakesh: Morocco’s oriental pearl and gate to Atlas Mountains

163881_10150124695965359_5754932_aGoing straight east (2.5 hour drive) from Eassaouria will take you to Marrakesh, Morocco’s oriental pearl. Entering the main square, Djemaa el-Fna makes you believe you’re in the stories of 1000 and a night. After checking out snake charmers, story-tellers, donkey-charts, and well-smelling food stalls you are ready to get lost in the maze of shops in the Medina. Chances are big that you will exit with all you can carry merchandise like colorful shoes, scarves, mats, bags, magic lamps etc.

Marrakesh is located by the foot of the Atlas Mountains, meaning that if you visit during the winter season (Nov – Feb) you can do a day trip up to Oukaimeden, Morocco’s main ski resort. No worries if you don’t bring your ski gear, there is a traditional Moroccan market place for this :)

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Oukaimeden’s Ski rental market

Thanks to a new built motorway you can now travel from Marrakesh, back to the waves in Agadir in only 3.5 hours.

Both Agadir, Essaouira and Marrakesh have well served international airports, so chances are big that you can find price worthy air tickets.  Travelling between the three cities is also easy. There are numerous buses each day and it is not that expensive to charter your own taxi or to rent a car.

Three places to go when you visit Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a beautiful country to visit. Excellent waves scatter the coast, both suited for beginners and more advanced surfers. There are plenty of things to see and places to visit! Book a week at our Costa Rica surf camp in Jaco, and use it as a starting point for the week of adventure ahead.

1.Jaco is Costa Rica’s main surf town with plenty of hotels, surf shops, bars and discos. Here you can stay at our Costa Rica surf camp, located close to the beach. Jaco is famous for being a surfers paradise, and in addition to Jaco’s beach break, which is perfect for beginner and intermediate surfers, there are more than nine other surf spots within a 15 minute drive from the camp, including the famous Playa Hermosa with powerful tubular waves, very popular among advanced surfers. Our surf camp is the perfect place to stay when visiting the rest of the places on the list. All you need is a rental car!

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2. Monteverde. Set atop the spine of Costa Rica’s continental divide, Monteverde is like a different world above the coastal towns that is located at the famous shoreline. It is a place of cloud forests and coffee plantations, monkeys, mist, and friendly locals. If you go, do the night tour of the rainforest. The tour begins at 5:30 PM, just before nightfall, when the creatures are just beginning to wake up. In addition to a flashlight, everyone is given an animal-identification card. These cards explain the various creatures they’re likely to see, and will help tour takers spot and recognize the various animals, insects and amphibians within the reserve. These include snakes, spiders, blue-crowned mot mots, agoutis, porcupines, tree frogs, and several others. Guides will explain the reason that these creatures’ habits are best suited for the dark.

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 3. Tamarindo is a surfing hot-spot which anchors the surf community of the North Pacific coast of Costa Rica. The surfer mecca in the bay of Tamarindo has a funky bohemian vibe and offers one of the best nightlife scenes and international quality restaurants of Costa Rica. Consistent swells and offshore winds provide good surf conditions throughout the year. The beach right in the center of the city offers good surf conditions also for beginners to learn on. At the north of the beach is El Estero, the rivermouth, whose solid right beach break is especially popular with longboarders. Nearby, in front of the Tamarindo Diria hotel is Pico Pequeno, a rocky point which is best surfed at mid tide. If you go make sure to drive to Playa Negra, reputedly one of the best surf spots in Costa Rica. It’s a right point break with very fast waves best to be surfed during transition of the tides.

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These places are just a small selection of all the things you can experience in Costa Rica, most people do not want to leave. The food is amazing, the beer is cheap and the people are friendly. See you at our Costa Rica surf camp, you will have the time of your life!

Experience world class surf along the Pacific highway in Mexico!

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1. Puerto Vallarta – Great entry point to surf

Puerto Vallarta is a big tourist destination with an international airport, making it the ideal starting point for a surf trip. Our surf camp is located just an hour north in Sayulita, but it is well recommended to stay a while in Puerto Vallarta before heading to the surf. Top 3 “must do” activities in Puerto Vallarta are
1) Climbing the Matamoros lighthouse, indulging the spectacular view of the bay
2) Stroll down the half-mile promenade of Malecón, lining the city’s historic center and waterfront
3) Visit Cuale Island and make a bargain deal in the market stalls that line the walkway

After a few days in this dynamic city it will be nice to see a different side of Mexico, the ultra laid back Sayulita.

puerto vallarta

2. Sayulita – The emerging surf mecca of Mexico

Sayulita is located just one hour drive north of Puerto Vallarta. This laid back surf town has access to over 14 different spots perfectly suited for beginners as well as intermediate surfers. Because of its geographical position it is exposed to all swell directions and you can always find a wave to ride. Punta Sayulita’s growing reputation is turning it into a mini surf mecca, much more famous today than when USC started promoting surf trips here in 2006.  Staying at Surf Camp Mexico will enable you to experience this authentic Mexican coastal town while receiving excellent surf guiding and making new friends in the astonishing sun set.

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3. Mazatlan – The Pearl of the Pacific

The stretch of coast north from Sayulita to Mazatlan is one of Mainland Mexico’s most populated and accessible tourist destinations. It’s easy to drive here and, easy to find places to stay along the road. This stretch of coast has many great surf spots to be explored and plenty of waves to be ridden. Top 3 spots to surf on your way to Mazatlan are:

  1. San Pancho: Situated close to the huge Costa Azul resort, it is a fast lefthander off the point and sucky peak in front of the river mouth that can hold some size and gets hollow around low tide.
  2. Punta Costadio: Easy access and plenty of waves makes this a must stop on your way up the coast. It’s located by the river mouth and there are both rights and lefts to be ridden.
  3. Santa Cruz: A beautiful left point break rated as a regional classic but can become world class on big summer swells. Needs a lot of swell to start turning on so best bet to stop here is during the summer months when there is plenty of south swell.

When you finally reach Mazatlan there are plenty of things to do. Go visit the old town and its center, the soaring 19th-century cathedral with its high yellow twin towers and dramatic interior. Two blocks north, on Juárez and Valle, is the vibrant local market, full of clothes, housewares, produce, juice stands and shoppers. Other things you can do here is just relax on the beach, and enjoy the local cuisine, the seafood is amazing. Another big plus is the nightlife, with the white castle on Punta Camarón at the south end of the Zona Dorada as the undisputed epicenter. Inside its walls are a half-dozen clubs, including several of the city’s most popular dance spots.

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Since Mazatlan has an international airport it is the perfect end destination to your surf trip, and by the time you are about to head home you will have experienced the best of Mexico, and you will definitely want to go back!

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The Water & Wind association from Linköping University, Sweden, at Surf Camp Tenerife

During the first week in November last year (2013) our group of 30 students decided to leave campus after a strenuous exam period and go surfing in Tenerife. Our group consisted of both men and women, some with previous surfing experience and some with none what so ever. As the week progressed we had a wonderful experience with nice weather, good food, a few nights out and off course lots and lots of surfing!

The days consisted of one to two surf lessons which were very appreciated by everyone. It was very encouraging to see the beginner group develop, as at the end of the week catching they were catching wave after wave on their own! The more experienced surfers also got a lot of great waves, a lot thanks to the instructors who helped them out with tips on local surf break conditions and surfing techniques in general. We all thought surfing was a blast and many of us would have been happy to stay on for another week.

Apart from surfing we also engaged in many other activities; many of us tried snorkeling just outside the camp by the rocks where you also could do some cliff jumping (if you where the daring kind!). Another high-light was when we went longboarding on closed off and newly paved roads, which was awesome!

The culinary and nightlife experience is also worth mentioning. E.g. one night our whole group of 30 student arranged a dinner at a local restaurant recommended by the surf camp manager Fernando. The food there was excellent and after being treated to such delights we tried the Playa de Las Americas night life. But off course we still went up early surfing the next day!

We want to thank the staff at Surf camp Tenerife and United Surf Camps for this wonderful experience. Many of us want to go back, for sure!

Liu Water & Wind 13/14

Here’s a little movie that we made. A bit of the commentary is in Swedish, but it still shows a lot of the camp, the island and our experience.. enjoy!! =) 

 

And a few pics, offcourse!!

teneriffe party

Teneriffe walk in

teneriffe surf

 

 

teneriffe pool

teneriffe skate

The tour is over.

Well, the end of my tour is here and i really want to thank Unitedsurfcamps for the opportunity to let me visit all these locations and letting me do the two things I like the most; surfing and traveling. In the future I will probably look back at this as the best summer job I ever had.

This was, as it was named, a tour of northern Europe, and all I can say is that there is heaps of surfing going on there. It might not be considered for many as a surfing destination and it certainly doesn’t get the recognition it deserves, but I know now that I got awesome waves waiting just a short flight away and that feels great.

Riding Waves in Norway! 

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….and taking off in Ireland.

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Many in the surfing world today are trying to find their own special and off the track surf spot to escape crowds and the hassle found in many of the more famous locations. They go trekking through jungles, go on boats for months or fly to offshore locations, miles and miles from civilization just to get epic rides alone. But for the unsponsored, beginner or the average Joe, this is not conceivable.

If you’re like me, not any good (not even close of getting a sponsorship) or perhaps a beginner, but you still enjoy the ocean and the surf and want to have that special surf that many surfers strive to get, there are adventures waiting for you in the northern part of Europe.

Steep cliffs facing the ocean in the UK 

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… another Cliff is used as a lookout in Ireland.

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Ireland, the UK and Norway are all countries with; in comparison a small but growing surf scene, good infrastructure, not any particular language barriers and receiving good swells for the most part of the year, which makes them prime locations for the easy to go to but exotic surf adventure.

I hope I have inspired some of you with my travels and that I have raised some eyebrows when coming to surfing in the northern part of Europe. I will try to re-visit as soon as I can and I hope I will see you there.

 

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Get out there and experience!

//Nils

 

Back home after Norway!!

I arrived last night back home, too tired to even lift a finger. The day had started at 05:30, to get up, pack and be ready in time for the car that was taking me to the ferry bound for Bergen, and I think I went through my front door at 22:30, so it was a long day of traveling, and I just passed out in bed as I got home.

But now I’m awake so let me write a bit more about my visit to Norway.view1

First of all, if you want special, you’ve really got it when it comes to this surf camp. The remote location, the stunning valley, the un-existing crowds, on top of that, the camp is run really well with dedicated instructors and nice facilities. It’s a real journey to get there, but believe me, it’s all worth it.

It does rain quite a bit, but just bring a rain coat and you’re fine.

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backyard

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I do really like the camp and will definitely recommend it as a new addition to our camp portfolio at unitedsurfcamps. Hopefully we will get this amazing camp, up at our website in a few weeks, so you also can go and explore the location.

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//Nils