Why You Should Get a Surf Guide When You Travel

Why You Should Get a Surf Guide When You Travel


When people ask me if it’s really worth it to get a surf guide when they travel I have no choice but to laugh. First off, I am a surf instructor/guide and the people I’m speaking with know this, so I’m obviously going to answer with a biased and resounding “yes, get a surf guide.” And while it is true there is an element of business to that answer, it is fundamentally true. Having a good surf guide—one that won’t lead you into snake pits, pygmy tribal wars or mediocre coffee shops, but into secret spots, perfect waves and epic eateries—will make a huge difference to your vacation experience. Here’s a little run down of reasons to get a guide next time you’re making moves to surf somewhere new.




The cosmic majority of people who go on surf trips are not making a permanent move, but are looking for an amazing escape before returning to their regularly-scheduled lives. That means not falling off a cliff taking a selfie, eating poison berries, washing up onto a jagged reef or otherwise maiming yourself in a foreign land. A good guide will make you aware of your surroundings and of the break you’re surfing. Many places have an optimal spot to enter and exit the water, certain points that are shallow, sharp and dangerous and a host of other variables. An experienced guide will make you aware of these obstacles so you don’t hurt yourself while surfing. There is also animal life to consider. Many exotic places have dangerous or poisonous life that travelers need to know about. A guide will make you aware of these creatures and instruct you on how to avoid them. In these ways a guide can keep you out of danger both in water and on land.




Every place has its own distinct culture. Within that culture a distinct surf culture arises as well. With that comes hierarchies, egos, preferences, traditions, prejudices and so on. To have the best experience when traveling you need to be aware of all these facets of the surf culture. A true guide will be familiar with the culture and be constantly relaying this information to you so that you can avoid confrontations with people, understanding what is happening around you and how it is acceptable to behave. Many times when on vacation travelers tend do something uncouth, imbibe excessively, violate a sacred custom or, in some way, behave like a jackass. A guide can help keep that behavior to a minimum and allow you to blend into a culture more smoothly.




The conditions can vary day to day and many locales have spots that work better for different wave sizes, wave directions and wind directions, amongst other variables. However, when most people travel they are unaware of all of these options. Many times people just end up surfing wherever is closest to where they are staying or wherever is most talked about. Occasionally, that spot is perfect but many times it is just mediocre and convenient. What most people who do this don’t realize is there is usually a far better wave, or many of them, not far away. That’s like sitting at an empty pub when there’s a great party around the corner. You’re only in this new surf location for a limited amount of time. Having a surf guide will get you away from sub-par, beaten-down-pub surf and into full-blown, epic, night-on-the-town type of surf. That’s the difference between surfing a crappy, crowded beach break in front of your hotel and surfing a secluded, pristine point with epic scenery and no one out.




A surf guide should be an experienced surfer and instructor who can help you improve your technical surfing. Getting a guide who can’t help your surfing improve is like ordering a burger and not getting the fries. You’ll regret it later. (For the health conscious, make that analogy a veggie burger without the Brussels sprout side salad. You’ll be bummed you didn’t get it.) The reason being is that as you learn about a new place and new waves, you develop new surfing skills according to the waves you are surfing. Some waves are best for gaining speed, others for turning, others for tube riding and so forth. There is a guarantee that the exposure to a new and different surf break will “up the ante” on your surfing skills—even if surfing that new wave is a struggle at first. By merit of the fact that you are challenged to surf differently, your surfing skills will improve, if not exponentially. During your short surfing vacation, a guide will help you bypass the perils and pitfalls of the new and get you right into learning and development. You want a guide that will bring you to the best waves of your life and then help you to surf the best you’ve ever surfed as well.


If you can get a guide who can do all this for you then you will be more calm and confident as you travel. You won’t get punched by a local, sucked into a tornado, eaten by anything or sacrificed to the gods… at least most likely. You will be able to get quality waves and lots more of them. This will translate into having a lot more fun and a more worthwhile and higher quality vacation. And if you are having fun while you travel and surf, then that is definitely a benefit. 

John Angiulo     //