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Monday, November 4, 2013

Surf Trip Travel: Disadvantages to Renting a Car

By Andrew Sachs
All surf trips are different. Some surf destinations might not even have cars! Some surf breaks are only accessible by boat.  But there are plenty of surf trips where you land and have to drive to the surf break. Or you may want to drive around to different breaks. We already wrote about the advantages; here are some of the disadvantages to renting a car on your next surf trip.

the Volcom gate at BQN
Money. Rental cars are not cheap. So when you’re planning a surf trip to a spot where you have to have a rental car, don’t forget to add the rental car price on top of all the costs for your trip. A lot of times that is that cost that you really don’t want to deal with. So find a place right at a spot where you are happy with the break and sit there all week. Did this for a week in El Salvador and had one of the most relaxing weeks of my life.

Directions and Navigation. I was once on a surf trip with a few buddies of mine in Costa Rica. And it was our first time there and we didn’t really know where the breaks were exactly. We had done all the research we could prior to the trip, but once we got there we found this great map of the area. It was even marked with the breaks! The problem was, the map wasn’t drawn to scale at all. And the roads on the map didn’t have numbers. And the roads that we were driving on didn’t have numbers. So we had trouble finding the breaks and wasted tons of our time in the car. And the trip wasn’t as great because of that. Our saving grace was that one of us knew Spanish, so we could ask for directions. But if you can’t read, write, or speak the language at a surf spot, you may have a major problem driving a car there.



Driving the Car. There is a reason people hate commutes: driving a car can be annoying, tiring and frustrating. On most surf trips you take, you won’t be riding around in the equivalent to morning rush-hour traffic, but driving a rental car can still be a pain. Maybe you can’t understand the road signs, know the driving laws, or aren’t using to driving on the other side of the road! All the more reason to avoid a rental car on your next surf trip.

Spending Time in a Car. This disadvantage to renting a car on a surf trip goes along with the prior disadvantage that someone actually has to drive the car, but is separate because this one affects everyone in the car. My ideal surf trip is super relaxing – surfing, drinking, eating great local food, checking out nature. When I envision my dream trip I don’t envision spending time in a rental car in my wet board shorts, tired, hungry and on a windy, cliff side road stuck behind a car that maxes out at 25 mph. It’s just not very relaxing spending time in a car on a surf trip. Make sure to plan some trips where you don’t have to drive anywhere.  And you can ditch the rental car.

Quick story, on one surf trip to Mexico we stayed in one surf spot, but there was another one maybe 45 minutes away. So every morning we would wake up and look at the break nearby. And we would assess the conditions and try to figure out what was happening at the other spot. And we couldn’t resist the grass is always greener temptation to check out that other spot. And so most mornings we wanted to check both spots, spent time driving around trying to figure out which break to surf, and missed lots of good waves because of this. Ditch the rental car and don’t even worry about the other spots.  Or find a taxi or hop on the local bus.


Other articles in our surf travel series:

  1. Advantages to Traveling with Surfboards
  2. Disadvantages to Traveling with Surfboards
  3. Renting Surfboards on Surf Trips
  4. Surf Trips: What to Do When It's Flat (Part 1)
  5. Surf Trips: What to Do When It's Flat (Part 2)


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