Shopping for a Surf Safari?

by Bev Sanders on April 6, 2013

When planning your vacation from work, the last thing you want is more work. Let us help with the research by answering the most important questions when picking your surf safari. And, allow us to brag a bit in the process. Obviously, we’re proud of what we do.

At Las Olas Surf Safaris for Women, we focus on the details. From airport shuttles to surfboard selection, yoga poses to boat trips, massage to guacamole making, we care about the finer points. We know the best local dining to the tastiest street tacos. Our planning and knowledge is what makes your vacation seamless and earned us high marks. The San Francisco Chronicle wrote Las Olas is “The Golden Door of Surf Camps” and The Malibu Times penned Las Olas is “The #1 surf camp in the world”. Our guests report the experience can be life-changing and essential.

Like our on-shore program, our surf lessons have been carefully tuned and re-tuned since 1997. They are headed by the most experienced female surf instructors in the world. Our long-time connection with locals on the beach and in the line-up is invaluable.

Here is a short list of important questions to ask when choosing your surf safari:

How long has the surf camp been teaching surfing?
No one’s been doing it longer that Las Olas. Why? Because we’re the first women’s camp and our coaches have collectively amassed 1000′s and 1000′s of hours of teaching experience.

Las Olas classroom

How long has the surf camp been teaching at the same location?
Las Olas has been at the same location since we began in 1997. Our surf coaches are quite familiar with the surfbreak, the conditions, and the locals- both above and below the water.

Is the surf camp part of the community, or just visiting?
Many surf camps borrow equipment and classrooms. Las Olas owns all their own boards, gear and even La Casita, Las Olas’ clubhouse at the beach complete with classroom, shower, bathroom, and lockers.

Does the surf camp provide all the equipment?
Las Olas stocks 50 surfboards for all level of surf ability, from beginner foamies to high performance noseriders. We offer beach towels, bodyboards, and insulated tops. We also give every guest her own rash guard, beach bag, and water bottle for hydration.

What is the surf camp’s teaching methods? Do they cover the basics before students get in the water?
Of course, basics include information about the surfbreak, the lineup, positioning, wave and traffic management, etiquette, proper paddling technique, pop-ups, gliding and turning, and dismounting. Las Olas coaches cover most of these points before students even get in the water. But even more important is learning the mindset required to enjoy surfing calmly and safely. Understanding the ocean can mean the difference between panic and bliss.
Las Olas surfboard rack
Are the surf coaches certified for First Aid, Lifesaving, CPR and/or Emergency Medical Training (EMT)?
All Las Olas surf coaches have a minimum of First Aid and CPR certificates. Many have EMT and water safety certificates, too.

Are they insured? Do they have a modern risk management program in place?
Las Olas helped write the program and continues to work closely with the risk management industry to avoid incidents in the first place.

What swimming level does the surf camp require for students?
Students should have basic swimming skills and be comfortable in the ocean. But if you need to work on your water skills, Las Olas can help.
Las Olas Surf Coaches

Do they teach proper surf etiquette?
Surf etiquette- like who has right of way on a wave- is a critical part of being a successful surfer. When you don’t hop on someone’s wave, they’ll often pay back kindly. But there’s more to surf etiquette than not snaking waves. Las Olas will help make you a welcome addition in any lineup.

Which safety techniques does the surf camp teach?
Basic lessons should include:
• How to avoid the impact zone
• When and how to cover your head
• How to control your board in chaotic conditions
• How to master the turtle roll (it’s not sushi)

What type of boards are available at the surf camp?
Longboards are the preferred learning board. (Learning on a short board can be difficult and frustrating.) Foamies are best for absolute beginners, but Las Olas has a full range of boards to match your learning curve.
Las Olas surfboard rack

What are size and types of waves where they teach?
A gentle, slow moving wave will be easier than a fast, barreling wave for most students. The Las Olas wave is usually thigh to shoulder high waves, which is ideal for beginners.

How many students does the instructor teach at a time?
At Las Olas, we believe three students to one instructor is a good ratio for group lessons. More than five students per instructor means less personal attention. We also add Focus Lessons for working on specific student goals.

Is the instructor patient and understanding?
Remember, a good surfer doesn’t always make a good instructor, but Las Olas instructors are both. We’ve developed a nurturing, patient method to communicate the nuances of surfing. Every student is at a different place in her surfing journey. We’re keen to pick up on that and guide you forward.

Is your surf school accredited?
Depending on your college and post-grad program, you may be able to transfer your Las Olas credits. But regardless, you will receive an official diploma from Las Olas … and won’t that look good on your office wall?
Las Olas graduate

Bev Sanders is founder and president of Las Olas Surf Safaris for Women. She started surfing at 44 continuing her lifelong pursuit of introducing women to sports.

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