So you want to take your family on a surfing adventure? The most important decision you must make – even more important than how many diapers and boards to bring – is where to go? Many surfers seek desolation, gnarly waves and places that don’t necessarily have a lot going on culturally. Basically, places that are difficult to reach and/or travel around to different areas. My number 1 suggestion is not to choose one of these surf spots but to choose one of these family friendly surf destinations or somewhere you find EASY.
As a mother and a dedicated surf traveller, I suggest you start with somewhere that easily ticks all the boxes: waves for all levels, sun, sand, and a kid-friendly culture! Once you’ve mastered an easy surf trip then start planning an adventure further afield. I always say the best way to get over a vacation ending is to book another trip as soon as you get back!
Top 5 Family Friendly Surf Destinations
Costa Rica has been ranked in the top 10 happiest countries on earth by the Happy Planet Index year after year for good reason. Not only is Costa Rica one of the most bio diverse places on earth (sloths!), Costa Rica boasts an abundance of fun waves for all levels from Pavonnes in the South to Witch’s Rock in the North. It is especially good for surf trips with kids because the easy flights from the main airport to the coastal cities save driving time. Costa Rica is safe, has accommodation to suit all tastes and has great food for kids too! As a baby, my daughter loved the fresh fruit, beans and rice and the fish! The national saying, “Pura Vida” or “pure life” is enough to put a smile on my face alone.
Surfing Road Trip in California or Australia
If you live near the coast, then a surfing/camping road trip is a no-brainer. If you are land-bound, then I recommend either California or the East Coast of Australia for a surf safari! My daughter loves camping and finds endless entertainment in collecting sticks and playing in the sand. We camp as often as possible during the summer. Our routine is to set up camp at the campground. Then we get all our beach, lunch and surf gear together and hang out on the beach all day while we take turns watching our daughter and surfing.
Fiji is a top choice for a family surf trip because the Fijians love children! Every Fijian man, woman and child wants to hold your baby. They offer babysitting services at nearly every hotel. Plus, since most people stay in resorts in Fiji, you can arrive at your destination and stay put for the majority of your trip. If you surf, you know that during the season, Fiji’s waves are world class!
Bali is undoubtedly a surfer’s paradise, but it’s a little known fact that it is also a parent’s paradise!!! Like the Fijians, the Balinese absolutely love children. Countless times, I have been waiting for my order in a restaurant in Bali when the waiter or waitress picks up my daughter and takes her to meet the entire kitchen staff. The Nannys in Bali are highly qualified and will watch your little one while you surf! There are rental agencies that will drop off every type of baby equipment imaginable to your hotel or villa. Bali also has a variety of waves that will get every surfer stoked!
La Jolla, California
At my final favourite destination, in exchange for tropical warm waters, you get convenience. With no passports required, no worrying about Zika virus or going on hurricane watch, La Jolla may be the easiest family surf trip destination of them all. La Jolla boasts a variety of waves that will suit beginners (La Jolla Shores) through experts (Big Rock and Blacks). The beachside enclave not only has lots to do besides surfing but is home to an exceptional surf school called Surf Diva that caters to women and kids. Just remember to bring or rent a wetsuit!
From Bali to La Jolla, there are surf vacations for everyone from the most adventurous to those just dipping their toes into surf while travelling with children. Just make sure you book that surf vacation and do not let having kids prevent you from booking that trip. Start small but start planning. You will thank me after your first wave!
Audrey Hills is a 5th generation Californian who called La Jolla home for most of her life before moving to Sydney, Australia. She now splits her year between Manly Beach, Australia and La Jolla. You can usually find her surfing, body surfing, camping and adventuring when she’s not working on her blog or chasing after her 3-year-old daughter, Valentina.