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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Surf Trip Activities: What to Do When It's Flat... (Part 2)

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.  So you have to find something else to do.   (See our Part 1 with other activities)


1. Snorkeling / Diving. Because it's a surf trip you’re headed to a destination with water, so snorkeling and scuba diving are always options. Most places have dive shops that offer lessons or your first ever scuba diving experience, if you’ve never done that before. One of my favorite parts of Puerto Rico is the uninhabited island looming off the northwest coast that you see while you’re surfing, called Desecheo aka Kong Island. Boats with divers are always headed out to Desecheo and it is a great adventure.  A little more accommodating activity is snorkeling. You don’t really need experience, and the gear is inexpensive and usually handy at surf spots. Bring your underwater camera and get some great shots with the reef, coral, and fish. Grab your flippers and mask and dive in.

2. Fishing. Again, the water theme means that fishing is plentiful on surf trips. Strike up a conversation with some locals to see if you can ride out on their boat and fish with them. Or find a serious charter boat and break out the heavy duty test line to land that monster fish that can feed your camp for the next couple of nights. Or go natural and try some spear fishing – push the limits of your free diving ability and really challenge yourself to tackle a new adventure. That’s really what surf trips are all about.


3. Kite-Boarding. A lot of surf destinations, your problem isn’t that you can’t surf because it’s flat, but you can’t surf because those afternoon trade winds pick up and blow the break out. Too much wind means that the conditions can be great for kite boarding. I know that kite boarders’ goal is to surf great waves too, but we are talking back up plans here to surfing. So grab a kite board and embrace the wind. Get a work out, stay in the water, and enjoy yourself. 

4. Stand-Up Paddle Boarding. You are dying to be out on the water with your board, but the waves just aren’t breaking. The next closest thing really is stand-up paddle boarding. We’ve all seen, and whether we like it or not, it’s here to stay. Spend your time enjoying the water, out in the sun, exercising and staying in shape. Grab a SUP. Also can be a great opportunity to explore the coast near where you’re staying. Maybe you’ll stumble on a cave, waterfall, or great fishing spot all by yourself.


5. Horseback Riding. Yes, it may remind you of a cheesy romantic comedy, but horseback riding along the beach is a great activity for when it’s flat. I would caution that this isn’t the first thing on my priorities on a flat day, and usually because it’s one of the pricier flat day activities, but horseback riding is a great way to check out the coastline. You’ll obviously be with a very knowledgeable guide who can point out all the sights to you, and I’m sure you haven’t noticed many of them if your trip is a true eat-sleep-breathe type surf trip. Giddy up!

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