Lilian Gaitho, PR Manager of Jovago.com, has made several ‘entries’ into my blog of late as a guest writer.Here is her latest feature on surfiing with her top six tips of where and how.
Tomorrow will come the first of her feature articles about a stress free holiday in Kenya, and how to plan for it and go about it – serialized over the month of November to give every one who wants to #TembeaKenya can absorb her lessons and have some stress free fun in the Mombasa sun.
Planning a Surf Holiday? 6 Pointers for an Incredible Adventure in Africa
Whether a Pro or a Johnny-come-lately learning to wet your toes, surfing currents and breaking waves is bound to cause you a super adrenaline swell! As is similar to any other kind of expedition, the destination of your exploration or recreation goes beyond the fun in the activity. It’s a dreamy web of inviting accommodation, hospitable people, top-notch service, entertaining nightlife, outstanding culinary, accessibility to needful supplies and of course that extra edge that makes the whole experience stand out. For surfers, these aspects will come in handy especially when the oceans go flat or the waters decide to spill a storm. Whether enjoying globally-reclaimed consistence at Anchor Point – Morocco, daring the raging waves of Dungeons-Cape town, or exploring the Swahili Beaches along the East African coastline, Jovago.com lists down lead pointers to help you put together a hitch-free surf holiday.
1. Pick the Best Surfing Season
While ardent surfers will have finger-tip insights on the best season for respective surf spots, newbies and thrill-seekers will need a due diligence research on best timing! You seriously would not want your surf holiday to end up as a fishing trip or a snorkeling expedition despite the adventure there in. Ask around by posing questions in related online forums, join a surf community network in your planned destination, call your host surf camp or hotel and find out all you can on catching the best wave, then align your travel dates to the advice. Remember too that different spots will have different timings albeit being in similar geographical area. While Kenya may not be put in the same rank as Mozambique, it’s good to note that you can catch a swell-worth-writing-home-about during the North East Monsoon (December-March), popular with wind surfers. In contrast, you will have to wait for the mid-year stretch (June-September) to hit Tanzania before you can think Surfing. On the luckier side, South Africa has plenty of swell given that its coastline forms the royal rendezvous of South Atlantic’s Indian Ocean’s (SW) Agulhas current. With a Coastal stretch of about 3000 km, surfers can sleep, dream, drift off and still catch the right wave all year round.
2. Ferrying the Tools of your Leisure : Airline Policy
The British Surfing Community is up in arms against an impending ban on surf boards aboard British Airways. Six days into the anti-ban campaign, their Facebook page had already ganged more than 2000 followers. Just six days after it was set up, a campaign against the ban on the social networking website had attracted hundreds to thousands of signatures on an anti-ban petition! Suffice is to say, the question on any Airline’s Surfboard policy should top the list of issues-to deal with while planning a Surf trip. Details to find out include whether the board can be charged as hand luggage or you will need to pay for it separately. Find out too if the surfboards (in case of more than one) attract a per-piece charge or as collective weight, and so what is the luggage allowance policy? You can then decide on the best way to pack your tools. Do check if there’s need to notify the airline of your “special luggage” ahead of your boarding time and if there are any specific guidelines to how you should pack to ensure safety.
3. Laying out your Surf Safari
Goes without saying, it completely makes no sense to pick the long, gigantic and rocket-fast barrels of Jeffrey’s Bay (South Africa) or Killer Point (Taghazout-Morocco) on your second day of training; avoid tempting the angel of death. When choosing beginner locations, go for beach breaks which attract less violent waves thus ideal for learning. Master White waters before you jump into anything darker and liaise with the lifeguard to watch just in case the waters throw a surprise wave party on you. Practice prudence and create rapports with the resident surfers and get a crash-course on local hazards and the herbs you can apply to soothe a beetle sting. With your Lifeguard-friend on watch, drift a hundred meters away from the crowds and allow yourself enough space to learn. There are also plenty of safe havens in the Kenyan Coast like Diani and shorelines of Lake Malawi (Malawi), and Lake Kivu (Rwanda)
4. Surf Camps and Choosing Where to Stay
For beginners, a surf camp is a good idea as you will be well-found in the company of dyed-in-the-wool trainers and then, a few other greenhorns sharing in your nervousness! Talk of consolation in numbers. For seasoned surfers, take some time to study your location and its accessibility. Some surf spots are only accessible on jet-ski, 4WD or a boat. Make sure you do not lose too much surf time while trying to access that fabled, formidable wave! For instance, while you will need a boat to access the Zanzibar North Reefs, Oyster Bay Break is right outside the Dar es Salaam; Sea Cliff Hotel will make for a great stay for those hell-bent on catching every last wave.
5. Packing for your Surf Trip
On top of your wet suit, ensure that you pack enough surf wax. Apart from guaranteeing that you will not be caught smack in the middle of The Season’s Big Wave waving a white cloth, it will earn you great friends with those unfortunate enough to have missed this post! In the spirit of The Honorary Colonel Lord Baden Powell, park an extra surf board, spare fin etc., and be Always Prepared; throw in a ding repair kit, from resin, sand paper, duct tape and the works. A surf trip is like space expedition-you’ll be safer ruling out any possibility of needful supplies. Just pack. Talking of space, it’s only prudent to pack a few aids to counter bugs and bites. Goes without saying, you cannot first aid a shark attack, surf safe!
6. Surf Etiquette
Top on the list should be the right of way; just like on the road, avoid precarious attempts to overtake. This simply means that the surfer closest to the wave has the right to enjoy that peak. As enthralling as it may appear, hold yourself and let go. However, an exception to the rules comes to play if two surfers are on the opposite sides of the peak-equal distance or not, you may both approach the wave and paddle each to their direction. On the same note, do not hog all the good waves just because you are better or are better placed than everyone else. This amounts to bullying, and may attract a few unpleasant comments from other surfers. While hogging, bullying, recklessly abandoning your board in the water and overtaking will happen in the waters, it’s important to respect the locals and the environment. Avoid trashing, clean up your picnic lunch sites, do not drop cigarette butts, wish well the residents and show some interest in their culture. For beginners, avoid competing with the Pros, watch and learn. A simple ‘hello’ goes a long way and could earn you top of the bill lessons from the connoisseurs.