The 12 Essentials For Women Who Travel Solo For Surf

Amy Schwartz
Aug 15, 2018 · 8 min read

I’d be lying if I told you I don’t get butterflies whenever I embark on a surfing trip on my own. Not knowing anyone in the place I’m going, or if the hostel I’ve picked is clean enough, or if the waves are a good match for my skills, can make me feel panicked on the flight there. But every time I go alone I have the most soul-filling trip of my life. I make lifelong friends, go on epic adventures and grow immensely as a person. I’ve done dozens of sola surf trips in Asia, Africa and Latin America — these are my tips for making your next sola-surf adventure as rewarding as possible.

1. Figure out if the time is right

Check if the local breaks can hold the forecasted swell. I recently got skunked in Japan because I only looked at the seasonal data, which showed 6–9 ft swell but all the local breaks closed out in 5 feet of swell.

Timing is everything, scoring in the Peruvian desert

2. Take extra gear

3. Plan your sun-protection regime

Use a light coloured rashie and make sure you put sunscreen beyond the lines of your suit — especially on your butt and the back of your legs. I’ve fried my butt many times because I thought my suit and shorts had those areas covered, but things shift in the water and expose unprotected areas to the sun.

Sunscreen applied and ready to surf in Easter Island

4. Pack no-fail surf outfits

5. Buy stuff-able waterproof snacks

6. Bring some health and safety basics

I also never leave home without earplugs designed for swimming to prevent water-borne infections, my menstruation products of choice and reef booties — because sea-urchins or crusty rocks can ruin an entire surf-vacation.

7. Get your board(s) there intact

Many airlines charge for boards and, longboarders beware, most won’t take a board that is over 7ft. Find out what length of board your airline accepts and how much you’ll be charged. Invest in a well padded board bag and put fragile stickers all over it. If you have a board bag that holds 2–3 boards, airlines will just charge you for the one bag — so bring more than one if you want. Loosely pack clothes and soft items around your board(s), or use light cardboard for added protection, but make sure not to pack it too tight as it can increases the risk of getting dinged.

Check your board thoroughly before you leave the baggage claim area. Air Canadamanaged to sever my board in half when I was en-route back from Asia and refused to reimburse me for the damage because I’d left the airport before filing my damage report.

Bring a couple of good roof straps and know how to use them. They don’t take up much space and you’ll have a better choice of taxis to and from the airport and surf spots. The 5am Quiver Carrier by The Make Co. is an excellent choice of board bag.

8. Arrive during the day

Whether I’m travelling solo to San Diego or Sierra Leone, my non-negotiable safety precaution is to always arrive several hours before dark. All places tend to be emptier and feel less safe after dark — and you have less time to fix a situation that doesn’t feel right. For example if you get to your hotel after dark and it turns out to be a dump or is in a dodgy neighbourhood, you might not have the time or energy to take your board and wander the streets looking for a new place. If it is early in the day, you have plenty of daylight hours to re-arrange a situation.

9. Book into a hostel for the first couple of nights

A boatload of new-found friends out for adventure

10. Chat with a friendly local surf shop

11. Follow the locals

12. Treat yo’self

Always room for one more at the Burrito Bar in Lima

Let us know if you have any other tips by commenting on our Facebook page.

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