Riding The Waves:  Planning A Family Surf Vacation
Riding The Waves:  Planning A Family Surf Vacation

Riding The Waves:  Planning A Family Surf Vacation

The following is a guest post written by the folks at Outsidepursuits.com

Surfing may not be the first activity that comes to mind when dreaming about your ideal family vacation. If you’re like the majority of Americans, you’re more likely to imagine the family at a theme park, “glamping” in an RV, or touring the bustling streets of a city like the Big Apple.

What are some of the reasons you should consider planning a family surf vacation?  Not only is the idea fresh and fun, there are other advantages to going on a family surf vacation.


A family surf vacation can be an economical option, depending on how you plan it. This is especially true if you arrange your own accommodations and equipment rental (versus staying at an all-inclusive surf camp).

If you live within driving distance from a popular surf area, driving alone (versus flying) will save you hundreds.


Many Americans are within driving distance from the coast, and popular surfing spots can be found along every coast of the U.S. This makes a family surf vacation convenient for a good number of Americans.  

Most surf town accommodations are located within blocks from the beach. This eliminates the need to pack everyone in the car each time you go on an outing. Most everything you need will be within walking distance, another convenience worth taking into account.



A beach holiday puts your family in direct contact with a ton of wildlife and flora.  After you’ve gotten your fill of surfing, there’s time to take the kids on expeditions by combing the beach, birdwatching, meandering along beach trails, and peering into tidepools where tiny sea creatures have taken shelter.  


Spending your vacation at the beach exposes your family to fresh air, vitamin D, and physical activity. Offering the kids a variety of beach-related activities will get them to put down the electronics and off the couch.

The relaxing sound of the surf, the slower pace of life, and communing with nature is relaxing and beneficial to our mental health. You won’t find these tension-relieving qualities in city crowds or ginormous theme parks.


It’s not every day or every family that goes on a family surf vacation. Taking your kids surfing is a novel experience. Who knows. Someone in the family may realize an untapped passion for gliding atop the waves on a surfboard.


Perhaps you take the family on a surf vacation, but it turns out not everyone is a fan.  No pass, no fail. Even if everyone in your family isn’t “on board” with surfing, there are many other water-related activities they can enjoy – boogie boarding, fishing, or kayaking to name a few.

For the non-athletes in the family, there’s always the option of chilling out under a beach canopy and getting lost in a good book.  


Planning Your Family Surf Vacation

Once you’ve committed to take the family on a surf vacation, it will take some planning to ensure your trip is successful and everyone has fun. The better prepared you are, the more likely you will be able to relax and enjoy the fruits of your planning efforts.

The first thing to consider is whether you want to plan out every part of your surf vacation- accomodations, food, equipment rental, etc.; or if you prefer someone else take care of all those details.  If you decide to go the easier route, there are surf camps that are all inclusive and will take care of all your family’s needs during your stay.

Surf camps abound throughout the world, with a broad range of quality ratings- from bare bones to lavish. You can spice up your vacation by choosing a camp in Hawaii, Costa Rica, or El Salvador, to name a few intriguing destinations; or if you prefer to stay closer to home, states like California, Florida, and North Carolina have surf camps.

If you decide to go the independent route and plan your surf vacation yourself, here are considerations everyone should make when working out the details.


You’ll have to make a decision on the ideal surfing spot for your family.  Are most of you beginners? Take this into account before committing to a surf destination.  If you have beginners in your group, consider starting in a place where the surf is less aggressive.  For families with members of differing skill level, there are surf spots that offer a wide variation of difficulty.


Depending on the surf spot you choose, you’ll need to decide whether to schlep the family there by car or by plane. Driving is generally more economical. If you fly everyone over, you’ll likely need a rental car to get to the beach and around anyway.

Keep in mind that, if flying, you will be limited in the equipment you can tote along. No bringing along your coolers, folding chairs, or beach umbrellas.


The best lodging when staying in a beach town is a home rental. It’s best for your comfort and for your pocketbook. While a rental will run more than a simple hotel room, in the end your family will save money. Preparing your own meals will save you the expense of eating out three times a day (multiplied by every member in your family).

A wide variety of rentals can be found on dedicated websites like vrbo and airbnb. It’s wise to look early and outside of peak dates, if possible. You will have more selection and less expensive options that way.

If you prefer a traditional stay in a hotel/motel, most beach towns offer a range of accommodations- from mom-and-pop motor lodges to luxury digs. For families looking to surf in the Pacific Northwest, check out Loge Westport, for a great lodging experience.


Equipment Rental

In popular surf spots there will be a multitude of outfitters where you and your family can rent surfboards, wetsuits, etc. Usually these businesses will rent other equipment like kayaks and paddleboards, for those family members who want to get out on the water in a different way.

Many rental establishments offer surf lessons, as well.  Make sure to reserve your equipment and lessons ahead of time.

Take Alongs

If you don’t frequent the beach, you may not think of essential items regular beach goers know to bring. Key items such as sunscreen, hats, bug spray, and sunglasses come with high price tags in touristy beach towns, so bring your own from home!

There are non-essential items that will help to make your time on the beach pleasant and comfortable. Take some time to think of these things and make a list as they occur to you. Some of these may include a cooler, folding chairs, a beach shelter/tent, and beach towels.

Of course, if you have young children, there are slew of other things to remember to ensure they can tolerate time in the sunny heat. Try to anticipate other things that might make your kids’ experience fun- like a fish nets to explore tidal pools and buckets to collect shells.

In conclusion, a family surf vacation can be an ideal holiday option for the family who is adventurous and active.  Those who love the outdoors and are open to new experiences will appreciate the opportunity to spend family time together learning a new sport. The time together can create great childhood memories for your little ones and many shared stories to tell for years to come.