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

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 :)


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!


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.


monteverde 2

 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.


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!