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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Surf Trips: What to Do When it's Flat...(Part 1)

By Andrew Sachs
So you've planned the best surf trip. You researched the spot and picked the time when it always gets the best swell. You know you have the most killer surf trip planned. And then you get there, and…it’s flat. Well even Hawaii gets flat.  The point is if you go on surf trips, you will inevitably be faced with days when there're no waves. Or worse, you land and the swell is so big that guys are towing in.  You might not be ready for that. So you have to find something else to do.

When most people pick out their surf trip, they pick out some place tropical, exotic, remote, with awesome waves.  Something that all these types of places have in common is that there is so much other stuff to do besides surfing. Here are some ideas of things that you should look for:

Wildlife. Great surf spots are teeming with wildlife, and chances are you haven’t seen it all before. Take advantage of a flat day to get in touch with your wild side. Many places have nature preserves or parks that you can trek through to experience the local wildlife. Bring your camera, or your sketch pad, and check out the other "locals".

Mountains/Volcanoes. No surprise that a lot of surf spots in tropical areas are not far from mountains and volcanoes. An unreal experience hiking up a mountain and exploring. Get a glimpse of the sights. Take that fake-looking photo of you standing at the edge of a huge cliff. Check out how the breaks look from thousands of feet up. Watch out for lava.

Waterfalls. You’ve seen the amazing waterfall photos. Diving off cliffs, jumping in and out of the falls, and swimming in the pools below. Yes, waterfalls are worth driving a few minutes into the jungle on a flat day. There’s a good chance you get lost along the way, but finding the waterfall is like the gold at the end of the rainbow. And a lot of times you’ll find the rainbow with the waterfall too. I always ask myself: what’s the highest place I can find to dive off?

Caving. Along with mountains and water also come caves. Caving excursions are likely less common than diving opportunities and waterfalls, but may be even more spectacular. Generally you need to consult some local knowledge or tour guide book on where to find the caves. Some caves are run like parks, while others you just need to link up with a caving tour special guide. And some places offer the combination diving/caving experience with underwater caves. Not for the faint of heart, obviously.