Surfing Holidays: The World's Best Hotels

Photo by Bruno

by Jade Conroy, The Daily Telegraph, June 23, 2016

The Modern Honolulu, Hawaii, US

Widely considered the 'birthplace' of surfing, Hawaii has countless surf schools. Stay at The Modern Honolulu, and have your pick of some of the best schools on nearby Waikiki beach, which, due to its gentle waves, is perfect for beginners. Be prepared for very early starts, though, as locals like to hit the waves at 8am.

Memmo Baleeira, Algarve, Portugal

This Sixties hotel in the charming town of Sagres was renovated in 2006 by Rodrigo Machaz, who is a keen surfer himself. It's no surprise then, that as well as design-heavy interiors (it's a member of Design Hotels), surfing is a key component: there's a surf centre which offers everything from pro-level teachers from the Portuguese Surf Federation, to a daily shuttle to plenty of other beaches, such as Arrifana, Amado, Castelejo and Beliche (among others). The Med remains balmy year-round and so the area is one of the best places to surf in Europe's winter months.

The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel, California, US

Partnered with Billabong, The Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel near Dana Point offers everything from basic classes (safety, paddling techniques and beach instruction) to an all-girls surf getaway and full-on surf tours with visits to breaks along the Southern Californian coast.

Watergate Bay, Cornwall, UK

If you want equal parts activity and relaxation, a bit closer to home, Watergate Bay on the North Cornwall coast does it well. Paired up with the next-door Extreme Academy, you can have introductory surf classes, simple hire, improver and private lessons (starting from £25), among other activities such as bodyboarding, kite surfing and stand-up paddleboarding. Wind-down afterwards with some shellfish from The Beach Hut or in a beach-side Canadian hot-tub overlooking the sea.

Rancho Pescadero, Baja, Mexico

If you want to learn how to surf in chilled-out environs, book a suite at this terracotta-hued 28-room bohemian oasis, which is set on a secluded beach beneath the peaks of the Sierra Laguna mountains. There are two surfing beaches nearby, with classes available and all equipment provided. Other activities include yoga, swimming with whale sharks, diving trips to the Sea of Cortez, whale-watching (there are binoculars in-room), fishing and cooking.

Kalon Surf School, Costa Rica

Costa Rica's Kalon Surf School in San Jose is one for people who want a fully immersive surfing holiday. Come here to learn - you'll be "hanging ten" by the end of your trip - or to hone your skills, thanks to special one-on-one attention. Uncrowded beaches make for a better environment in which to learn, and your coach will even video you to help improvements. When you're not catching waves, expect locally sourced group dinners - local fish and fruit smoothies - an infinity pool and daily yoga lessons to help stretch tired limbs.

Mukul Resort, Nicaragua

If Costa Rica is a surfers' paradise, then Nicaragua is a surfers' secret: surf bunnies have been coming here as an alternative to its neighbouring country for years in search of Pacific waves along the coast's secret coves. There's been a smattering of boutique and upmarket hotel openings recently, one of which includes the Mukul Resort, owned by the family behind the country's Flor de Caña rum. Their four-day Ultimate Surf Package includes surfboard rental, surf excursions by boats to different breaks, including Veracruz and Rancho Santa Ana, and airport transfers.

The Surf Lodge, Montauk, New York, US

Set on the rugged coastline of Montauk in New York state is The Surf Lodge, a stylish bolthole which has been popular since the late Sixties among artists, travellers, fisherman and surfers for its beachcomber vibes: all rattan chairs, surfing paraphernalia, whitewashed wood and a charming deck bar. There's not just a focus on surfing here (there are daily trips to Ditch Plains), but wellness in general. There's an in-house 'Wellness Director' who coordinates activities such as pilates, bootcamps, paddleboarding and pilates.

La Sultana, Oualidia, Morocco

It's not immediately obvious that La Sultana in Oualidia has any links to surfing - the luxury property is much more elegant cabanas, infinity pools and Moorish charm over surfboards, bare feet and cowabunga culture. It is, however, located near the Oudlalia lagoon, which is a great beginner's spot and less crowded than the busier surfing beaches in Taghazout, Essaouira and Agadir. The hotel can arrange classes with a local school.

Round House, Barbados

Crystal-clear, still waters are usually associated with the Caribbean, but Barbados has one of the best surf spots in the world at the 'Soup Bowl'. The colonial-style Round House, which was originally built in 1832, is a short walk from the action on Bathsheba beach. Waves at this beach can travel nearly 3,000 miles in the open ocean before breaking here - so this is not one for beginners.

QT Gold Coast, Surfer's Paradise, Australia

The name of the hotel's nearest beach gives it away: Surfer's Paradise. Next to one of the Gold Coast's most popular surfing spots, this party pad is a tropical, Miami-inspired fun house. After a day in the waves, head to the buzzing Stingray bar for tequila-based cocktails and soft-shell tacos.

Surf Tiree, Scotland, UK

Surf Tiree, on the Scottish Isle of Tiree, counts surfing, good food and island life among its mantra. It's full-immersion here: you begin the day with a warming yoga session, followed by a healthy wholesome breakfast, surf classes, afternoon activities and finally, relaxation-based yoga. Accommodation comes in the form of the Island House (owned by the Duke of Argyll), while food comes courtesy of Sam Lomas, an alumni of the River Cottage. Other activities include trail running, open-water swimming and cycling. Three-day retreats from £399 per person, including surf lessons, daily yoga sessions, accommodation and three meals a day.

-- By Jade Conroy



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