The ancient Hawaiian kings practised it here and you can too: could there be any better place to learn surfing than the warm, tropical waters that legendary surfer Duke Kahanamoku called home? Aloha!
Duration: five days
Cost: from US$740
Outcome: greater focus, a sense of mastery and a burning desire to relocate to the beach
Where:Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii
What to expect
With your board under your arm and your face kissed by the sun (sun block essential!), the warm water licks your feet as you slosh into the Pacific to catch another wave – your hair’s barely wet but your coolness quotient has already gone up a notch. You’re stoked … why did you remain a passive observer of the ocean for so long?
Tahitians may have invented surfing, but it’s the Hawaiians who’ve claimed this physical yet extremely spiritual pastime as their own. Hawaii was the first island culture to popularise surfing and to experiment with equipment and techniques, and its surfers ensured sacred rituals and prayers were incanted before any trees were cut down to make the boards (royalty had the longest!) and before anyone entered the ocean.
Now you, too, are feeling at one with the universe after you’ve mastered the practical stuff. You now know how to paddle out on your board, and that standing up is as easy as 1-2-3. You’re also reminded that timing is everything in life and this is definitely the case with surfing – it’s almost guaranteed you’ll be standing upright on that board and riding a wave on your first day.
And having started off with ocean fundamentals, you’ve now got a better understanding of this watery element of Mother Earth: the tides, swells and currents and how to work with them, not against them.
How it suits you
For the adventurous traveller, surfing may already be on your bucket list of sports to try. If so, you’ll most likely want to book a longer course so you can graduate to bigger waves and max out on the experience. Spontaneous travellers will take to surfing like a fish to water, because it’s all about going with the flow to keep your balance along the way. If you can’t stand up the first few tries, you’ll roll with it: you know you’ll be hanging ten in no time!
What you’ll get from it
Once you can catch a wave and ride on water, your natural endorphins will be cranked. This is something you’d do every day … if only you could.
You’ll be having rip-roaring fun, but how about the Zen rush afterwards? Now you know why Hawaiians are so laid-back: it’s something about the water.
It takes a certain amount of strength and muscle tone to swim out in the ocean and maintain your balance on the board. If you’re doing this every day, you can’t help but tone up!
Maui Surf Clinics (mauisurfclinics.com) offers surfing lessons all year long, but it’s essential to book ahead. The school can recommend accommodation options.
Aussies can learn to surf at Manly Surf School (manlysurfschool.com). In Devon in the UK, Surf South West (surfsouthwest.com) offers lessons at Croyde and Saunton from late March to mid-November. Learn to Surf LA (learntosurfla.com) runs courses at iconic Malibu or Santa Monica, and other US locations. If you’re in Portugal, try a surf camp at Atlantic Riders (atlanticriders.com).
Extract taken from Lonely Planet’s new title: Cooks, Clowns and Cowboys (£14.99; Lonely Planet). For more information or to purchase the book, please click here