How To Plan A Perfect Surf Trip (2024 Surfing Adventure Checklist)

how to plan your surfing trip

New places, pumping waves and warm water, what’s not to love?

But a surf trip without planning can be an absolute disaster.

The list of things to consider is no joke, with surfboards, travel, visas, jabs and accommodation all coming into the mix.

Follow our guide below and make sure your next surf adventure is one to remember (for the right reasons).

how to plan a surf trip adventure guide cover

Where To Go

Part of the magic of planning is picking the perfect destination for your next surfing escape.

But you need to pick well, get it wrong, and you could be staring at a flat ocean or a wild and stormy mess.

the surf trip guide 101

Your Skill Level

The best spot for your next surf holiday depends on your surfing ability and the size of the waves you want to surf.

Matching your skill level to the waves is easy on a solo surf trip, but it becomes a balancing act as more surfers join.

Beginners need user-friendly, smaller waves to help them get up and riding.

Intermediate to advanced surfers are hunting for faster, more powerful waves to challenge their skills (ideally some barrels).

Surf forecasting

Once you’ve settled on a suitable target, you need to find out the best surf season/s.

Since Magicseaweed (and its historical data) disappeared, it’s harder to find out when spots get the most consistent, quality surf.

You can combine Surfline and Surf Forecast to get a general idea, but I still recommend jumping into local surf guides to get the full picture.

Surf blogs, Forums & YouTube

Blogs like us here at Honest Surf and others create careful guides detailing our local waves and when they work best.

Surfing forums are a treasure trove of untapped surf knowledge packed with local surfers handing out advice and tips on where to go.

Don’t forget to check YouTube for a great idea of what you can expect from the surf when you arrive.

your surf planning sorted

Your Surf Trip Accommodation

Not all trips are equal, from solo expeditions on a budget to luxurious resorts.

Let’s check out your options, from the cheapest to the most expensive.



Hostels and hotels are perfect for finding some self-service accommodation bargains, especially if you book well in advance.

Check out sites like and Expedia for the best deals on flight and hotel combos for your next surf safari.

Surf camps


Surf camps offer an experience that’s perfect for beginners.

It’s a surf school, so you’ll get instructors, fellow ocean lovers, access to surf equipment and expert local advice to make sure you’re on the best waves.

This is a fantastic option for your first time venturing abroad to surf.

All the logistics and planning are done for you so you’re free to focus solely on surfing.

Book Surf Camps have thousands of locations on their books from beginner-friendly waves to world-class surf spots.

Boat charters

surfers on a boat charter score a playful left hander


Charters are suited to more advanced surfers.

Normally in the Maldives or the Mentawis, this is an all-out hunt for perfect barreling waves.

You get a captain, food for the duration and some other wave-hungry amigos to share the stoke.

Just remember, you’re going to be stuck on a boat for a week or so there’s not much privacy.

Surf resorts

yadin nicol going left at macaronis resort


Surf resorts are the high end of surf travel, they’re a cross between a surf camp and a hotel.

The Macaroni Resort is probably the most famous in the world, situated next to one of the world’s best left-handers.

Your Surfboards

perfect surf trip guide

Now you know where you’re shredding you need to get your boards ready for your trip.

Variety of boards

You can do all our best detective work and pick out the perfect month for your surfing strike mission but Mother Nature doesn’t always play ball.

Having a backup small wave surfboard is a must. Something like a groveller or a twinnie.

Check out our guide on all the types of surfboards to see some of the sticks you can add to your quiver.

Board bags

If you want your surfboard to survive the rigours of air travel then a padded board bag is a must.

Even then it’s not a guarantee so make sure to pack your boards out and use any stars inside the bag.

Triple coffin board bags are perfect because you can take two boards and chuck your clothes in the gaps, saving space and luggage costs.

You can’t go wrong with Pro-Lite, they’re not the cheapest but mine has lasted for years.

How To Plan Your Next Surf Trip

Other Surfing Equipment & Luggage

Here’s a simplified checklist of surf equipment and additional gear for a surf trip:

  • Leash(es)
  • Fins
  • Wax
  • Ding Repair Kit
  • Fin Key
  • Wetsuit(s)
  • Booties/Reef Shoes
  • Rash Guard
  • Surf Hat/Cap
  • Sunscreen
  • Towel(s)
  • Water Bottle
  • Snacks
  • First Aid Kit
  • Waterproof Bag
  • Earplugs
  • Waterproof Camera/GoPro
  • Cash

You won’t need all of these but make sure to double-check this list before you leave.


Surfing accidents, tropical illnesses or even just a vicious bout of food poisoning.

Having access to medical care while you’re abroad can mean life or death.

Make sure to check if care is private and what you need to do as a visitor to gain access if the worst happens.

Health & Travel Vaccination Clinics

Tetanus, typhoid, yellow fever, none of these are going to be any fun.

I cannot stress this enough, you need to get jabs before you travel.

Some of these diseases are life-changing and a quick needle in the arm could save you a lot more drama.

Head to your local vaccination clinic, tell them where you’re heading and they’ll be able to recommend everything you need to stay safe on your surf trip.

Surf & Travel Insurance

Boring as it may be health insurance while youre abroad surfing is a must.

You hear far too many horror stories of surfers getting stuck on a faraway island with six-figure medical bills and no way to pay.

My recommendation is Insure and Go, they offer unlimited medical emergency expenses and a specific surfing policy so you know you’re family won’t have to gather their life savings to get you home.

Your Surf Trip Planner

Travel & Visas

Visa services

First, find out if you need a visa using this handy little tool.

Then you’ll need to head to the specific government page to register for your visa.

Beware, there are lots of services offering to do your Visa for you but they will charge an additional fee so if you’re on a budget make sure you do it yourself.

Airlines, ferries, Trains & Taxis

Do your research and find yourself some flights in your trip window.

Don’t forget to check surfboard bag fees and specs before you book a flight.

Your surf adventure starts when you get off the plane.

You need to get from the airport to your chosen surf spot via whatever means necessary.

If you don’t book ahead you can get stung by local taxi fares or even scammed into paying extortionate amounts.

Getting around when you get there

Depending on your location and budget you can pick from car or motorbike rentals.

Try to get in touch with local companies when you can. The airport rentals are always overpriced anywhere you are in the world.

Most places will be able to offer some board racks if you opt for a moped.

Just remember that driving a car can be a nightmare in spots like Indo.

Local Language & Customs

2024 Surfing Adventure Checklist

Last but by no means least is making sure you show respect to everyone wherever your surf travel takes you.


No, we don’t mean surf slang! Learning just the basics of the native language is our golden rule for respect abroad.

You can do your homework with a simple local language book or use one of the many available apps for language training.

Ideally, you want to start this a good few months before your surf trip to give you enough time to master the basics.


Every country has its customs and traditions.

I learnt this the hard way on my first surf trip to France as an unprepared starving teenager trying to hunt down food on a Sunday.

Wherever you’re going you need to brush up on cultural and religious customs to make sure you make a good impression.


Above all, you should act with respect towards everyone you meet; you’re the visitor, remember.

This is extra important in the lineup; let local surfers take the majority of waves and only paddle if you’re sure you’re not going to drop in.

Head over to our bible on surfing etiquette to brush up on your surf manners.

Local surf shops

surf shop sign

Make a quick note of the nearest surf shops to where you’re staying.

They can help with snapped leashes, lost fins and surfboard repair so you don’t miss precious time in the ocean.

What’s Next?

The only thing left to do now is to start planning your next surf expedition.

Just remember to share the stoke wherever you end up in the world.