How To Plan A Surf Trip (The Surf Adventure Checklist)

Looking for the perfect guide on how to plan a surf trip?

Look no further, we’ve got all the tips you need for the perfect surf adventure.

how to plan a surf trip adventure guide cover

What to consider before you leave on your surfing trip 

We all love dreaming up visions of foreign beaches and pumping surf but realistically there’s some planning that needs to happen to make your next surf trip a success.

Let’s look at what you need to think about before you hit the open road for the perfect surf trip and fewer surprises. 


Access is key to any successful surf trip so the first thing you need to think about is your transport.

  • Which documents do I need to travel?
  • How do I get from the ferry or airport to my accommodation?
  • Do I need to book a rental for transport while I’m there?
  • Is it best to rent a car or motorbike?
  • Do you need roof racks or a surfboard rack for your moped?
  • Where are the nearest surf breaks?
  • Where can I buy food or eat out? 
  • Are taxis available?

Don’t forget to research surfboard bag fees before you book a flight. Airlines vary wildly in their handling of board bags so always make sure to book any additional luggage ahead of time. 

Where to stay

Consider the type of accommodation you want to book, at Honest Surf we recommend staying somewhere with other surfers nearby so you can share the after-surf stoke over dinner.

Some of your most common options include:

  • Surf camps – Organised surfing with qualified instructors that are great for beginners.
  • Hostel – Perfect for solo travellers looking to make new lifelong friends.
  • Hotels – Ideal for those who still want a bit of peace and quiet and enjoy the finer things in life.
  • Self-service accommodation – Great for groups who need a base for their surf adventures.
  • Boat charters – Perfect for advanced surfers on trips to the Maldives or the Mentawis.
  • Surf resorts – A happy medium between a surf camp and a hotel, based next to a quality surf break. 

Your accommodation choice will depend on your group size and your budget but in essence, you’re just looking for somewhere to rest your head in between days packed full of surfing.


No one loves needles but it’s more than worth it for perfect waves and crystal-clear water. Getting yourself vaccinated before a surf trip abroad is important for several reasons:

  1. Protection against diseases: Certain countries may have diseases and illnesses that are not common in your home country.
  2. Travel requirements: Some countries require proof of vaccination before they grant you entry through the airport.
  3. Protecting others: By getting vaccinated, you also help protect others, including the local population, other travellers, and vulnerable individuals.

Local laws and customs

Understanding the local customs and laws when you’re travelling is a basic respect that every traveller should strive to do.

This starts with things as basic as knowing which side of the road to drive on to more complex social norms like not walking around topless.

*Some surf spots in poorer countries may suffer from corruption in the local authorities so don’t be surprised if you’re asked to pay a fine for something that isn’t actually an offence.

Surf camps and resorts

Camps and resorts offer a more organised surf trip that’s perfectly suited to beginner and to intermediate surfers.

Local surf instructors and guides can help you find the right waves for your ability and they’ll normally take care of your lunch at the very least.

This is a fantastic option for your first surf trip abroad because allows you to focus on the surfing rather than the logistics of planning a surf holiday from start to finish.

Equipment and gear

We strongly recommend a thorough gear assessment before you head off on your surf vacation, there’s nothing worse than pulling a beloved surfboard out of its bag to find a nasty ding you never noticed.

For those travelling to cold water surf destinations, you’re going to need to think long and hard about the right wetsuit and maybe even some wetsuit gloves and a hood.

Some essentials we never leave home without include:

  • Extra surfboard fins
  • Extra surfboard leash
  • Surfboard ding repair kit
  • Zinc/ Sunblock/ Suncream
  • Fin key

*Always pack extras, you never know when you’ll snap a fin or a leash and surfing equipment and surf shops aren’t always accessible in some parts of the world. 

Solo or group surf trip

Exploring an undiscovered coastline is a very different experience either solo or with a group of close surfing buddies.

As a general rule it’s important to make sure wherever you travel you don’t surf alone but that can mean new faces in an otherwise foreign land rather than your close friends.

If you opt to travel alone I thoroughly recommend heading to either a hostel, surf camp or surf resort to get the most from your surf adventure.

Level of surfing skill

The best waves are totally dependent on your surfing ability and the size of the waves you like to surf.

Matching your skill level to the waves is easy on a solo surf trip but it can become quite a balancing act as more surfers join 

As a beginner, you’re going to want to head to a surf spot with user-friendly smaller waves to get you up and riding.

Intermediate to advanced surfers will want to seek out faster, more powerful waves to challenge their skills (and hunt down some tubes).

*Pro tip – If you’re heading on your trip in a group try to find an area that’s going to provide great waves for everyone involved rather than focusing on just longboard waves or death slabs.

The local language 

No, we don’t mean surf slang! Learning just the basics of the native language is our golden rule because it’s going to show respect to the locals and make communication a much smoother experience.

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.

*Pro tip – Don’t expect to get the best deals from local traders without learning some of the language basics. 


The most important thing when it comes to planning your surf trip is picking exciting waves for everyone involved.

Make sure to involve all participants when you’re picking the best location and always be open to good alternatives. 

Don’t miss more of our helpful surfing guides below which are jam-packed full of tips and insights gathered from years of surfing experience.

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