Surfing holidays are the ideal budget activity to get you on the water! Perfect your balancing skills as you experience the thrill of riding the waves. The first sighting of people surfing was made by Captain Cook in Hawaii. There are strong beliefs that this sport originated in Polynesia and it is commonly known as “the sports of Kings”
Active Adventures can cater for everybody, from pure beginners to more intermediate levels. You can start as young as 10 years old and share the stoke with everyone! As a starter you will be ridding “foamies”, specially designed boards for beginners with a better buoyancy and will learn to do your first “pop up” and catch your first wave on a beach break! Once you start you are hooked! You then move on to catch an unbroken wave or “green wave” and start riding down the line, building up speed and trimming on the face of the wave. Slowly, you will start riding shorter boards, learn the surf etiquette, how to duck dive, how to understand rips and currents and how to master the famous cut-back and rollers.
Safety is paramount and all of our partners’ instructors are certified life guards and hold a valid surfing license. Beware, this sport is so addictive that many people have changed their way of life!
Most Recent Surfing Blogs
Ride these waves on our fabulous surfing holidays:
- Swell is generated when wind blows consistently over a large area of open water, called the wind’s fetch. The size of a swell is determined by the strength of the wind and the length of its fetch and duration. Because of this, surf tends to be larger and more prevalent on coastlines exposed to large expanses of ocean traversed by intense low pressure systems.
- Local wind conditions affect wave quality, since the surface of a wave can become choppy in blustery conditions. Ideal conditions include a light to moderate “offshore” wind, because it blows into the front of the wave, making it a “barrel” or “tube” wave. Waves are Left handed and Right Handed depending upon the breaking formation of the wave.
- Waves are generally recognized by the surfaces over which they break. For example, there are Beach breaks, Reef breaks and Point breaks.
- The most important influence on wave shape is the topography of the seabed directly behind and immediately beneath the breaking wave. The contours of the reef or bar front becomes stretched by diffraction. Each break is different, since each location’s underwater topography is unique. At beach breaks, sandbanks change shape from week to week. Surf forecasting is aided by advances in information technology. Mathematical modeling graphically depicts the size and direction of swells around the globe.
- Swell regularity varies across the globe and throughout the year. During winter, heavy swells are generated in the mid-latitudes, when the North and South polar fronts shift toward the Equator. The predominantly Westerly winds generate swells that advance Eastward, so waves tend to be largest on West coasts during winter months. However, an endless train of mid-latitude cyclones cause the isobars to become undulated, redirecting swells at regular intervals toward the tropics.
- East coasts also receive heavy winter swells when low-pressure cells form in the sub-tropics, where slow moving highs inhibit their movement. These lows produce a shorter fetch than polar fronts, however they can still generate heavy swells, since their slower movement increases the duration of a particular wind direction. The variables of fetch and duration both influence how long wind acts over a wave as it travels, since a wave reaching the end of a fetch behaves as if the wind died.
- During summer, heavy swells are generated when cyclones form in the tropics. Tropical cyclones form over warm seas, so their occurrence is influenced by El Niño & La Niña cycles. Their movements are unpredictable. They can move Westward as in 1979, when Tropical Cyclone Kerry wandered for three weeks across the Coral Sea and into Queensland before dissipating.
Master these challenging manoevres on our exciting surfing holidays:
- Surfing begins when the surfer paddles toward shore in an attempt to match the speed of the wave. Once the wave begins to carry the surfer forward, the surfer stands up and proceeds to ride the wave. The basic idea is to position the surfboard so it is just ahead of the breaking part (white water) of the wave. A common problem for beginners is being able to catch the wave at all.
- Surfers’ skills are tested by their ability to control their board in challenging conditions, riding challenging waves, and executing manoeuvres such as strong turns and cutbacks (turning board back to the breaking wave) and carving (a series of strong back-to-back maneuvers). More advanced skills include the floater (riding on top of the breaking curl of the wave), and off the lip (banking off the breaking wave). A newer addition to surfing is the progression of the air whereby a surfer propels off the wave entirely and re-enters the wave.
- Riding a small tube. The tube ride is considered to be the ultimate maneuver in surfing. As a wave breaks, if the conditions are ideal, the wave will break in an orderly line from the middle to the shoulder, enabling the experienced surfer to position him / her self actually inside the wave as it is breaking. This is known as a tube ride. If you are watching from shore, the tube rider may disappear from view as the wave breaks over the rider’s head. If the surfer succeeds in bulleting out of the tube, it was a great ride. The longer the surfer remains in the tube, the more successful the ride. This is often referred to as getting tubed, barreled, shacked or pitted. Some of the world’s best known waves for tube riding include Pipeline on the North shore of Oahu, Teahupoo in Tahiti and G-Land in Java. Other names for the tube include “the barrel”, and “the pit”.
- Hanging ten and Hanging five are moves usually specific to long boarding and is considered one of the most impressive and iconic stunts one can perform. Hanging Ten refers to having both feet on the front end of the board with all of the surfer’s toes off the edge, also known as [nose-riding]. Hanging Five is having just one foot near the front, with five toes off the edge.
- Cutback: Generating speed down the line and then turning back to reverse direction.
- Floater: Suspending the board atop the wave. Very popular on small waves.
- Top-Turn: Turn off the top of the wave. Sometimes used to generate speed and sometimes to shoot spray.
- Air / Aerial: Launching the board off the wave entirely, then re-entering the wave. Various airs include ollies, lien airs, method airs, and other skateboard-like manoeuvres.
For the best surfing holidays you’ll need to understand these terms:
About the water
- Beach break: An area where waves that are good enough to surf break just off of a beach, or on a sandbar further out
- Blown out: When waves that would otherwise be good have been rendered too choppy by wind
- Bomb: An exceptionally large set wave
- Choppy, chop: Waves that are subjected to cross winds have a rough surface (chop) and do not break cleanly
- Close-out: A wave is said to be “closed-out” when it breaks at every position along the face at once, and therefore cannot be surfed
- Face: The forward-facing surface of a breaking wave
- Flat: No waves
- Gas chamber: The effect when a big wave rolls over, enclosing a temporary horizontal tunnel of air with the surfer inside
- Glassy: When the waves (and general surface of the water) are extremely smooth and glossy, not disturbed by wind
- Gnarly: Large, difficult and dangerous (usually applied to waves)
- Line-up: The area where most of the waves are starting to break and where most surfers are positioned in order to catch a wave
- Off the hook: A positive phrase meaning the waves are a very good size and shape
- Outside: The part of the water’s surface that is further from the shore than the area where most of the waves are breaking.
- Point break: Area where an underwater rocky point creates waves that are suitable for surfing
- Sections: The parts of a breaking wave that are rideable
- Set waves: A group of waves of larger size within a swell
- Shoulder: The unbroken part of the wave
- Surf’s up: A phrase used when there are waves worth surfing
- Swell: A series of waves that have traveled from their source in a distant storm, and that will start to break once the swell reaches shallow enough water
- Whitewater: After the wave has finished breaking, it continues on as a ridge of turbulence and foam, the whitewater
Techniques and manoeuvres
- Air/Aerial: Riding the board briefly into the air above the wave, landing back upon the wave, and continuing to ride
- Bail: To step off of the board in order to avoid being knocked off (a wipe out)
- Bottom turn: The first turn at the bottom of the wave
- Carve: Turns (often accentuated)
- Caught inside: When a surfer is paddling out and cannot get past the breaking surf to the safer part of the ocean (the outside) in order to find a wave to ride
- cross step: crossing one leg over the other across the board (usually to make it to the nose)
- Cutback: A turn cutting back toward the breaking part of the wave
- Drop in: Dropping into (engaging) the wave, most often as part of standing up
- Duck dive: Pushing the board underwater, nose first, and diving under an oncoming wave instead of riding it
- Fade: On take-off, aiming toward the breaking part of the wave, before turning sharply and surfing in the direction the wave is breaking
- Fins-free snap (or “fins out”): A sharp turn where the surfboard’s fins slide off the top of the wave
- Floater: Riding up on the top of the breaking part of the wave, and coming down with it
- Goofy foot: Surfing with the left foot on the back of board (less common than regular foot)
- Hang Heels: Facing backwards and putting the surfers’ heels out over the edge of a longboard
- Hang-five/hang ten: Putting five or ten toes respectively over the nose of a longboard
- Off the Top: A turn on the top of a wave, either sharp or carving
- Pearl: Accidentally driving the nose of the board underwater, generally ending the ride
- Pop-up: Going from lying on the board to standing, all in one jump
- Pump: An up/down carving movement that generates speed along a wave
- Re-entry: Hitting the lip vertically and re-reentering the wave in quick succession.
- Regular/Natural foot: Surfing with the right foot on the back of the board
- Rolling, Turtle Roll: Flipping a longboard up-side-down, nose first and pulling through a breaking or broken wave when paddling out to the line-up (a turtle roll is an alternative to a duck dive)
- Smack the Lip / Hit the Lip: After performing a bottom turn, moving upwards to hit the peak of the wave, or area above the face of the wave.
- Snaking, drop in on, cut off, or “burn”: When a surfer who doesn’t have the right of way steals a wave from another surfer by taking off in front of someone who is closer to the peak (this is considered inappropriate)
- Snaking/Back-Paddling: Stealing a wave from another surfer by paddling around the person’s back to get into the best position
- Snap: A quick, sharp turn off the top of a wave
- Soul arch: Arching the back to demonstrate casual confidence when riding a wave
- Stall: Slowing down by shifting weight to the tail of the board or putting a hand in the water. Often used to stay in the tube during a tube ride
- Switch-foot: Having equal ability to surf regular foot or goofy foot (i.e. left foot forward or right foot forward), like being ambidextrous
- Take-off: The start of a ride
- Tandem surfing: Two people riding one board. Usually the smaller person is balanced above (often held up above) the other person
- Tube riding/Getting barreled: Riding inside the hollow curl of a wave
- Over the falls: When a surfer falls off the board and the wave sucks him or her up in a circular motion along with the lip of the wave. Also referred to as the “wash cycle”, being “pitched over” and being “sucked over”
- Wipe out: Falling off, or being knocked off, the surfboard when riding a wave
- Rag dolled: When underwater, the power of the wave can shake the surfer around as if he/she were a rag doll
- Grom/Grommet: A young surfer
- Hang-loose: Generally meaning “catch that wave” or “well done”. This message can be sent by raising a hand with the thumb and pinkie fingers up while the index, middle and ring fingers remain folded over the palm, then twisting the wrist back and forth as if waving goodbye
- Kook: A wanna-be surfer of limited skill
About the board
- Blank: The block from which a surfboard is created
- Deck: The upper surface of the board
- Ding: A dent or hole in the surface of the board resulting from accidental damage
- Fin or Fins: Fin-shaped inserts on the underside of the back of the board that enable the board to be steered
- Leash: A cord that is attached to the back of the board, the other end of which wraps around the surfer’s ankle
- Nose: The forward tip of the board
- Quiver: A surfer’s collection of boards for different kinds of waves
- Rails: The side edges of the surfboard
- Rocker: How concave the surface of the board is from nose to tail
- Tail: The back end of the board
- Wax: Specially formulated surf wax that is applied to upper surface of the board to increase the traction so the surfer’s feet do not slip off of the board
This is the kit you’ll be using on our adventurous surfing holidays:
- Surfing can be done on various equipment, including surfboards, longboards, Stand Up Paddle boards (SUP’s), bodyboards, wave skis, skimboards, kneeboards, surf mats and macca’s trays.
- Surfboards were originally made of solid wood and were large and heavy (often up to 12 ft or 3.7 m long and 150 lb or 68 kg). Lighter balsa wood surfboards (first made in the late 1940s and early 1950s) were a significant improvement, not only in portability, but also in increasing maneuverability.
- Most modern surfboards are made of polyurethane foam (PU), with one or more wooden strips or “stringers”, fiberglass cloth, and polyester resin (PE). An emerging board material is epoxy resin and Expanded Polystyrene foam (EPS) which is stronger and lighter than traditional PU/PE construction. Even newer designs incorporate materials such as carbon fiber and variable-flex composites in conjunction with fiberglass and epoxy or polyester resins.
- Since epoxy/EPS surfboards are generally lighter, they will float better than a traditional PU/PE board of similar size, shape and thickness. This makes them easier to paddle and faster in the water. However, a common complaint of EPS boards is that they do not provide as much feedback as a traditional PU/PE board. For this reason, many advanced surfers prefer that their surfboards be made from traditional materials.
- Other equipment includes a leash (to stop the board from drifting away after a wipeout, and to prevent it from hitting other surfers), surf wax, traction pads (to keep a surfer’s feet from slipping off the deck of the board), and fins (also known as skegs) which can either be permanently attached (glassed-on) or interchangeable.
- Sportswear designed or particularly suitable for surfing may be sold as boardwear (the term is also used in snowboarding). In warmer climates, swimsuits, surf trunks or boardshorts are worn, and occasionally rash guards; in cold water surfers can opt to wear wetsuits, boots, hoods, and gloves to protect them against lower water temperatures. A newer introduction is a rash vest with a thin layer of titanium to provide maximum warmth without compromising mobility.
- There are many different surfboard sizes, shapes, and designs in use today. Modern longboards, generally 9 to 10 feet (3.0 m) in length, are reminiscent of the earliest surfboards, but now benefit from modern innovations in surfboard shaping and fin design. Competitive longboard surfers need to be competent at traditional walking maneuvers, as well as the short-radius turns normally associated with shortboard surfing.
- The modern shortboard began life in the late 1960s and has evolved into today’s common thruster style, defined by its three fins, usually around 6 to 7 feet (1.8 to 2.1 m) in length. The thruster was invented by Australian shaper Simon Anderson.
- Midsize boards, often called funboards, provide more maneuverability than a longboard, with more floation than a shortboard. While many surfers find that funboards live up to their name, providing the best of both surfing modes, others are critical.
“It is the happy medium of mediocrity,” writes Steven Kotler. “Funboard riders either have nothing left to prove or lack the skills to prove anything.”
- There are also various niche styles, such as the Egg, a longboard-style short board targeted for people who want to ride a shortboard but need more paddle power. The Fish, a board which is typically shorter, flatter, and wider than a normal shortboard, often with a split tail (known as a swallow tail). The Fish often has two or four fins and is specifically designed for surfing smaller waves. For big waves there is the Gun, a long, thick board with a pointed nose and tail (known as a pin tail) specifically designed for big waves.
Been on surfing holidays before? If you already have some surf experience then the indicators below will help you assess your current level of ability:
1st level (Bronze wave):
I know how to prepare myself (equipment, use of wax and leash, stretching)
I am able to lie on my board holding the balance on foam
I already have control over taking a direction on foam
I can do my “take off” in one time
I am able to stand up and remain a while on the surf board
2nd level (Silver wave):
I am already going to the line up with smaller waves¨(about 1 metre)
I am able to bodysurf (surfing only with your body) a wave about 1 metre high
I know how to use the current to go to the peak in a safe way and I know the priority rules concerning surfing
I am able to take off on a wave about 1 metre high
I am already starting to take a direction on the wave (frontside/backside)
3rd level (Gold wave):
I am able to take off and choose a straight direction
I can increase my speed on the wave
I am starting surfing Top Bottom (making a turn down the wave and up)
I am able to read the ocean in order to have a safe surf session