Surf trips are no longer just for the self-interested alpha-male heading out onto a testosterone-laden boat trip to the Mentawais these days.
Recently, and perhaps rightly, there has been a massive trend where families travel together, and together they puzzle out the following; when dad and mum can surf, what interesting activities are available for the kids, and where the best family surf locations are.
Here's a few general tips if you're thinking of doing the same. Remember, surf travel can be arduous, and surf travel with family can be extremely demanding, let's hope the following makes life a little bit easier.
Take it real slow
It is good advice to plan your flights on a really slow scale. Plan for plenty of time to get to the airport and loads of time between flights.
Make sure that there is absolutely no rush at any of your stop overs and ensure that you have all the time in the world to shop and cruise between flights. When travelling with kids, no one wants any sort of extra stress in the airports.
It sounds so obvious, but sometimes kids get stressed when they can’t pack in everything from their rooms or comfort zones, so you might need to repack when they’re not looking, and just lose a few of the toys and books and winter jackets.
When they arrive they will be so amazed by new sights and sounds that they will not remember what they packed anyway.
Describe the adventure
Kids react well if they know what they’re up to, and how it is all going to work out.
Explain to them where you are going, and how you are going to get there, all the way from leaving your house to arriving at your accommodation. Include car hire, transfers and flights, just to make your children feel part of the adventure from the get-go.
Charge the screens
Each and every screen needs to be charged to the max, you need to have extra chargers and plugs and you need to make sure that you leave nothing behind when it comes to electronics.
Those tablets are going to be a big help along the way, but not if they’re dead.
Pack the snacks
Often people assume that they are going to get snacks on the plane, that they can buy some at the airport, or that there will be vendors selling along the way.
This is not always the case. Some airports don't have vendors or you don't have local currency, and some airlines don't just hand out tasty snacks. SMAC Airlines in Indonesia (RIP), used to offer polony sandwiches. So pack you own snacks, and pack plenty of them. Include some biscuits, and include some sweets like soft chewing gums or Mentos. They can help a lot if your kids ears start popping.
Lose the guilt
So you might need to let the kids play a bit longer on the screens and you might have to give them a few extra sweets and treats, despite your normal home rules.
Don’t feel bad if they have an extra hour on YouTube or more sweets than what is good for them. You’re on holiday. If it helps to make your journey hassle-free then it is totally worth it.
Find the right location
Do your homework. Some places are just not suitable for kids and partners. Don't force a hardcore surf trip on the non hardcore members of your family. That will so come back to bite you.
A few cool spots;
Jeffrey’s Bay, South Africa
JBay has Supertubes but it also has a number of other softer, more fun waves. There are also incredible beaches, the accommodation is world class and situated on the beach, and there are awesome restaurants all over the place.
It is a safe place on the whole, and if you’re not into surfing there are a number of other options in the vicinity, like bungee jumping, game drives, whale watching and the Addo Elephant Park in the vicinity.
JBay can get a little rugged in the middle of winter, with howling winds and cold temperatures. The circus is in town for the Corona Open JBay around the middle of July as well, so the best time to visit would be around April- June. Check the forecast, here.
There is much talk about the pollution that is ruining Bali as a tourist destination, but the situation is getting under control and there has been much done with regards to the ocean pollution. Bali has wonderful beaches, and some fun beginner waves as well as some of the more serious locations like Padang and Outside Corner.
For kids though, the beaches of Dreamland, and the beachside pool resorts in Seminyak, Nusa Dua and Sanur are the go, with easy access to beautiful clean white-sand shorelines.
There are also a number of awesome, family-friendly beach clubs in Bali, including the unique Potato Head Beach Club in Seminyak, Finns Beach Club in Canggu, La Brisa in Canggu, the new Roosterfish Beach Club near Uluwatu, and the infamous Ku De Ta in Seminyak. When to go, HERE.
While it usually garners all the attention for locals who like to biff visiting surfers while local authorities look the other way, Mauritius is still the ideal location for families with surfboards.
There are resorts situated near fun waves, and with easy access to paddle out while the kids and the other half hang at the resort pools and eat ice cream or all day, then you can switch it up if both of you surf.
The resorts down in the southwest corner, including Le Paradis, Dinarobin and St Regis are all situated fairly close to a few waves, with only one of them sometimes getting a bit crowded and boisterous.While dad surfs / fights the locals, the kids can snorkle, water ski, wakeboard, swim with dolphins or hike the picturesque Le Morne Brabant mountain or hang at the kiddies clubs and watch all the latest movies. All you need to make the call, HERE.
There are a few other little points of interest to remember when traveling with the young ‘uns.
You need a decent first aid kit, with contents suited for children. In a place like Bali for example, you might need children’s medicine for stomach bugs, or even some childrens’ broad-spectrum antibiotics.
You also can’t go wrong with extensive mosquito repellant, excessive suncream, children’s rehydrate powder, hundreds of plasters and other general medicine for children.
If the children are going to be surfing or bodyboarding with you, make sure that you have packed all of their extra items as well, like the small fins, the fin keys, the leashes, rash vests and some tropical wax.
At most places you can probably buy the necessary, but it is better to be well prepared and have your own gear when traveling. Your kids will love you for it, and for allowing them to experience the privilege and joy of traveling with you.