Writer: Tara Povey
Ok, I’ll be honest, I’ve not had much luck with surfing in the past. I’ve nearly drowned on a reef break in the Philippines and I swore it off completely after a couple of lessons in Java. However, when I got the opportunity to try it out again, this time at an established surf camp in Lagos, Portugal, I couldn’t say no. Maybe something would be different, maybe I’d love it this time?! So off I went to put this surf camp to the test. I wasn’t going to make it easy for them.
The camp in question is lovely The Surf-Experience in Lagos: They are rated #1 on TripAdvisor and have too many positive reviews on Facebook for me to even attempt trawling through. The camp is run by two laid back guys with a Star Wars obsession, both by the name of Toby and they’ve be running The Surf-Experience for over 20 years! Their knowledge and love of surfing and the lifestyle that goes with it, really shows- This is truly still both a passion project and a serious business, and the atmosphere feels warm and personal.
The Surf House
When on a surf camp holiday with The Surf-Experience you can choose to stay in the Surf House directly opposite the office OR you can choose from an array of pensaos and apartments nearby. Personally, I feel the surf house has the best atmosphere; There’s a roof top terrace with beanbags and picnic tables which was where I spent most of my nights along with the other guests, drinking, eating cheese and talking about things not fit for the internet. In short, the surf house feels like one big family meetup and is perfect for solo travelers.
Now, this is the important part. Every day we spent the entire day at the beach with an hour or two break in between for lunch. The instructors are sun kissed English beauties- BUT not only do they look good, they are also wonderful instructors. There are never more than about 26 people in a group on any given day and there are usually 2 or 3 instructors. Unlike my previous experiences the instruction at The Surf-Experience is extremely comprehensive. Before anyone gets in the water you are taught all about the board and the sea, what to look for and how to avoid injuring yourself or others. This is all done with great enthusiasm and a lot of encouragement. When you’re ready to hit the water the instructors wade in and watch from the white wash. This is the part difference that I loved; Having only previously done private lessons where there’s a lot of pressure, switching to a group-environment was exactly what I needed. I really enjoyed learning with a group of other people, that were just as terrible as I was. There was no pressure. It was just about having fun and encouraging each other, as the instructors watched and gave us tips when necessary. They also holler words of encouragement loudly when you catch a wave. And for me, it was this environment that made me realize that I actually like surfing. I just hadn’t been learning the right way before hand. And if you ever want to take a day off or maybe spend a few hours recovering on the beach, taking photos instead of surfing that is absolutely no problem. There is really no pressure to do anything: Surf if you want to, or don’t. It’s entirely up to you.
Essentially everything apart from your evening meal and airport transfers are included: Wetsuit & board hire is included, breakfast and lunch (on days when surfing) are all included, transport to and from the beach, accommodation and fresh towels are also included.
Airport transfers can be organised, just make sure you request it as early as possible. Unfortunately Card payment is not possible yet, only cash.
Sophie, will organise dinner reservations if needed and suggest various restaurants. Also, there are activities that can be organised through the office, such as snorkeling or boat trips, if you want to take a day of from surfing or have your family of non-surfers with you, these extra activities are not included in the price if the camp.
What did I really think about Surf Experience?
Surf Experience is the perfect place to learn how to surf. I’ve surfed in The Philippines, Indonesia and Ireland before, but Portugal has been the best surf by far. From the minute I arrived it felt like I was visiting old friends. I actually enjoyed surfing every day, which is a big deal for me. The instruction is amazing and the setting is perfect. Whether you are a solo traveler, a family or a couple, everyone will have a wonderful time at The Surf-Experience in Lagos.
I’m already planning my next trip back!
– Find the camp on the map @ http://www.highheaven.com/events/the-surf-experience
– Read more from Tara on her blog!