8 Resorts Where You Can Learn to Surf
One & Only Palmilla In Los Cabos, Mexico
Through One & Only Pamilla's "Art of Luxury Surfing" program, you can package surf lessons with your stay at this luxury resort on the southernmost tip of the Baja Peninsula. Choose from five different levels, ranging from novice ($150)—where you'll learn the basics of surfing during a one-hour lesson at Pelican Beach, one of the only swimmable beaches in the area, then pass a competency test to progress to the next level—to experienced, which includes travel to the largest waves the instructors can find. Serious about honing your skills? Book a private lesson with a senior guide ($1,200).
Red Frog Beach Island Resort & Spa In Bocas del Toro, Panama
The Bocas del Toro archipelago was named one of the most budget-friendly surfing destinations by Surfer magazine this year. Though the area is home to world-class breaks, Red Frog Beach Island Resort offers lessons for beginners and intermediate surfers ($65), led by veteran surfer and Southern California native Jeff Catalano. While the best surf season in Bocas del Toro is generally November through April, June and July are also great months to go. No matter the time of year, the water here is so clear you can view the ocean floor beneath you as you glide to shore.
L'Auberge Del Mar In Del Mar, California
Expanding your skill set while maximizing fun is the key to a great surfing experience, says Dan Mori, founder of Fulcrum Surf. His company partners with L'Auberge Del Mar, a Destination Hotel, to provide guests with one-on-one lessons ($95), as well as group instruction for events like bachelorette parties (just hit the waves before the bottle).
Del Mar's best break is located off 15th Street and Camino Del Mar, which is right by the resort. Pick up a wetsuit at the nearby Matuse, and afterward head down the street to Stratford Court Café, a popular hangout in this delightful beach village. (Related: Healthy Hotels with Cool Fitness Partnerships)
Aloft and Element Austin Downtown In Austin, Texas
Never mind the fact that Austin is landlocked; you can still have an incredible surfing weekend at Aloft and Element Austin Downtown. This dual-branded, surf-inspired property partners with nearby NLand Surf Park, a destination right outside the city with the best waves around, to make you feel like you've just rolled up to the beach.
You'll get private transportation to the surf park, where you can take a lesson ($85) on baby waves and work up to steeper swells. New this summer is a package with Austin-based YETI, which includes a YETI cooler stocked with local beers, canned wine and snacks to refuel. Upgrade FTW!
Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina In Kapolei, Hawaii
If you're a beginner, summer is the time to surf in Oahu. This is when the smaller swells begin to roll in. Stay at Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina and take a lesson from a local at nearby Pokai Bay Beach Park or Makaha Beach Park, whose name means "fierce" in Hawaiian. That's exactly how you'll feel, too, once you find your balance.
Want more surf culture? The luxury oceanfront resort has partnered with Welzie, a Hawaiian artist who creates resin surfboards, to offer guests the chance to commission an original art piece and even spend time with Welzie in his studio. (Related: How Taking a Spontaneous Vacation Can Actually Save You Money and Stress)
Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows In Santa Monica, California
Teaming up with the pros at Malibu Surf Shack, a local mainstay since 1972, Fairmont Miramar launched a package called "Miramar to Malibu" this summer, providing not only lessons but an immersive surfing experience. Take a short ride up the Pacific Coast Highway from the hotel for a day of surfing, including private instruction by local surfers, complimentary Vilebrequin rash guards, and a beach picnic packed by the resort's Fig Restaurant to enjoy afterward. If you're looking for the quintessential SoCal surf day, this is the real deal.
Kokomo Private Island Fiji
Opened last year, Kokomo Private Island Fiji is everyone's favorite Beach Boys song come to life, though that's not where it gets its moniker (the Australian owner actually named this stunning private island after his first sailing dinghy).
Learning to surf here is not for the faint of heart, with waves ideal for intermediate to advanced riders. But if you're up for the challenge, lessons are complimentary at the resort. Get your feet wet on the resort's beach, then board a boat to catch waves on the reef. All the boards used for lessons are made by local companies, including soft longboards that are great for first-timers.
Moon Palace Jamaica In Ocho Rios, Jamaica
Not ready to brave the ocean waves, or maybe you're not a strong swimmer? You can take baby steps by jumping on the FlowRider Double Wave Simulator at all-inclusive resort Moon Palace Jamaica. The entire simulator is covered in thin padding (minimizing your risk of injury), yet boasts powerful jets that simulate a real surfing experience. Grab a bodyboard or a smaller flowboard and start out on your stomach or knees before working your way up to your feet. Be sure your travel companions have their phones at the ready: Wipeouts make for epic Boomerangs. (Related: What Electric Surfing Taught Me About My Limits)