Posted: April 30, 2011 by
Each year thousands of surfers flock to the Basque coastlines of France and Spain in search of waves. The region has some of the best surf spots in Europe and the world. There is always a wave to be had, and the area is full of character and culture. So to celebrate all things Basque and our love of their waves, we thought we would take a moment to look at what makes the Basque country so special.
The Basque Country/Euskal Herria has often been unacknowledged and ignored by Europe even though it has its own unique language, culture and home to about 3 million people. The heart of the region is found in the Western Pyrenees, spanning the border between France and Spain. About 90% of the Basque population lives on the Spanish side, in the counties of Basque Autonomous Community and Navarre, whereas the French side is known as the Pays Basque and is part of the Pyrenees Atlantic region.
The Basque people can be traced back over thousands of years, and have developed their own one of a kind language that doesn’t have any semblance to any other European language. It has been protected over the centuries, only to be made almost extinct in the later half of the the 20th century by the politics of France and Spain.
After a millennia of existence the 20th century saw the Basque people face conflict and oppression by the hands of Spain’s dictatorship lead by Franco; whilst in France the region was absorbed into the French Republic. Amazingly, despite the Basque language being banned in many areas of France and Spain during the later half of the century, pockets of communities kept the language and culture alive. The language itself is the essence of the culture and has survived to now be embraced around the coastline.
Driving around Le Pays Basque or the Spanish Basque Country you see signs in both the national language as well as in Basque. There are festivals and exhibitions held, whilst Basque is now even taught to those who want to learn. When visiting the region for surfing it’s important to respect the culture and to try out some of its customs. We recommend the traditional dessert: Gateaux Basque, a delicious almond based flan, or for a souvenir: a red beret a la Bayonne.
Some of the best spots to visit are Zarautz and San Sebastian for surfing in Spain
, whilst there are few things better than a Spring/Summer trip to Biarritz for a surfing holiday in France
. The towns are beautiful and are home to some incredible waves perfect for beginners through to experts. Look out for the Roxy Jam longboarding contest
held in July in Biarritz for a real treat.
Posted: April 28, 2011 by
Every so often it is really good to take some time out and explore a place that’s new to you. After a year of planning it was time for me to go on an adventure and do some travelling. My destination- Bali, Indonesia.
If you have picked up a surf magazine in recent years, 9 times out of 10 there will be images of the Balinese surf. The island is a mecca for surfers from around the world as there is always a wave to find. During the rainy season the east coast gets the waves, then when it’s the dry season it switches to the west. I arrived a week ago, at the turning point of the wet to dry season- so it’s about to be west coast time.
First arriving in Bali was completely overwhelming. It was piping hot, so instantly I was drenched in sweat, wheeling around my luggage, surfboard bag and camera equipment. My travel buddy and I haggled with our taxi driver and got the show on the road into Kuta, the main town that most tourists/surfers/travellers stay in.
Kuta is hectic but has a great buzz about it. When I first saw how everyone drove, (think 4 lanes of traffic in 3, mopeds and bikes weaving everywhere) I wondered how I would cope being in the centre. However, once I’d checked into the beautiful accommodation, slept a good 12 hours, and recovered from my jet-lag, things were looking a whole lot better.
My friend and I rented a car and began our intrepid adventure to start exploring where we had landed. Once I got outside of Kuta I realized just how beautiful the island was. It is luscious, full of green tropical trees, plants and flowers. People were so friendly, always saying hello, asking you where you are from and always helping you if you needed it.
Over the last week I visited the infamous Uluwatu, Kuta beach, Padang Padang, Bingan, and Legian beach. However one of the most spectacular places I discovered was Green Bowl. Found on the Bukit Peninsular on the south of the island, Green Bowl required some work to find it... it’s at the bottom of Bali Cliff, which means a long hike down a lot of steps to the base. However, when I reached it I was in awe. Perfect breaking waves over a coral reef, wild beautiful sandy beach and an unspoiled coastline. Breathtaking, and well worth the climb down and back up again.
Life in Kuta is full of surprises, as the alleyways are filled with great shopping and incredible food. Some of the best meals I’ve ever had cost me a matter of a couple of euros, and accommodation was super cheap. Even a night out and a Bintang (the local beer) would set me back €2 or so. Incredible in comparison to how expensive home can be.
However it’s now time for a change of scene again. I’m hitting the road again and going to move further south to spend some time out in the countryside. Cue chilled surfs, quiet nights watching the sunset and stars from an ocean view hut. And so the adventure continues. Watch out for the next Bali diary installment next week.
Posted: April 25, 2011 by
Everyone’s been enjoying the warm Spring weather but the ocean hasn’t warmed up yet, so wetsuits are still in order. To help you along your way in choosing your new spring/summer wetsuit, we’ve chosen the best of 2011’s collections. Take your pick and book that surf holiday
Ripcurl- E-Bomb Chest Zip Long Sleeved Springsuit
Sizes: xs, s, m, mt, l, lt, xl, xxl
Colours: Black/Blue/White, Black/Charcoal/Yellow
Price: Approx €140/£124.99
C-SKINS Summer Legend 3/2 GBS
Sizes: s, ms, m, mt, l, xl, xxl
Price: Approx €124/£109.99
Billabong INTRUDER 2/2MM SHORTIE
Sizes: s, ms, m, mt, ls, l, xl, xxl
Price: Approx €50/£44.99
Animal Amp 3/2mm Womens Summer Wetsuit 2011
Sizes: 8, 10, 12, 12T, 14
Price: Approx €96/£84.95
Billabong shorty wetsuit- back zip 3/2mm
Sizes: 10, 12, 14, 16
Colours: Black/Pink, Black/Blue
Price: Approx €56/£49.99
O'Neill Bahia F/L 3x2mm 2011
Sizes: 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16
Colours: Pink/Black, Black/Black
Price: Approx €100/£89
Posted: April 23, 2011 by
Where: Tavarua, Fiji
When: Whenever you can get there
Why: Long barreling powerhouse of fun
Stats: Holds 3-12ft, lasts between 150m to 500m
Out in the beautiful Fijian islands lies Tavarua. Imagine your idyllic tropical island surrounded by lapping warm waters, swaying coconut trees and the best of accommodation waiting for you. Now add in one of the world’s best waves, and you will have Cloudbreak. Hundreds of metres of roaring left hand wave for you to play in.
Although it’s normally only the pros or experts who venture out to Tavarua’s infamous wave, the world knows about Cloudbreak through surf contests. In the past it was Quiksilver and Globe who sponsored the ASP’s world championship tour, from 1999 Quiksilver ran the event until handing the honours onto Globe in 2005. However, 2008 was the last of the world tour events to be held there, as the event was dropped in favour of other left hand breaks such as Tahiti’s Teahupoo.
Along with Cloudbreak, there is another legendary break called ‘Restaurants’ that used to take up a lot of magazine space with its incredible images. When either wave was mentioned you would expect to see goofy footed surfers such as Freddy P, Damien and CJ Hobgood tearing it up. It was also one of the spots where the late Andy Irons used to excel.
Cloudbreak can only be reached by first travelling by either boat or helicopter to the island of Tavarua. Then on by boat again or a short paddle of about half a mile taking about 20 minutes. All the effort to get to the break is well worth it.
Cloudbreak is all about a powerful barrel over coral reef only a few feet below. It is very fast, and it is all about getting barreled and making it out to live to tell the tale. For the few surfers skilled enough to ride the wave it is an amazing experience and will humble even the most confident of surfers.
To top off the experience of Cloudbreak and Restaurants, is the island of Tavarua and the Fijian islands as a whole. They are very beautiful, full of friendly people who are more than happy to share their homes and traditions with visiting surfers. One of the most popular ceremonies that surfers have joined in with over the years is drinking kava with the locals. It looks like muddy water, but is in fact made from the kava root- ground up into a powder and mixed with water. It is something of a joining ceremony, and it is an honour to be invited to join in.
To get a feel for the power of the wave, check out the clip of the Billabong XXL entry of Cloudbreak below.
Posted: April 21, 2011 by
Sinead Desmond and the Ireland AM crew joined us on a surf holiday in Ericeira
, Portugal for a week of surfing. Check out the clips below of Sinead learning how to surf, exploring the region of Ericeira and some great wipeouts in the water. Plus she stood up on her first day... whoo hoo!
Sinead and the guys stayed at the Ecolodges
for the week. They're available throughout the year and from Saturday to Saturday from June to August
Day 1: Learning how to surf
Sinead learns how to surf on Foz do Lizandro surf beach with Tobi...
Day 2: What to do in Ericeira if the surf is flat
Segway Safari in Tapada de Mafra (Mafra National Park)...
Day 3: Interview with former Portuguese champion Grego
Jose Gregorio ('Grego"), a local Ericeira pro and big wave rider discusses what its like to surf in Ericeira...
Day 4: Trip to the Surf Board Factory
Sinead visits the Budd Glass Boardculture surf factory in Ericeira to see how surf boards are made
Day 5: Stand Up Paddle Surfing
Learning how to Stand Up Paddle Surf (SUP) on Foz do Lizandro beach in Ericeira with Tobi
To book Sinead's trip contact us:
Ireland & International: +353 1 482 2828
UK: +44 20 8144 9950
Posted: April 19, 2011 by
It’s almost Easter time, and that can mean only one thing: it’s Bells time. Stop number 2 of this year’s 11 stops on the ASP’s surf tour has officially opened for business.
The Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach in Torquay, Victoria, Australia is running from 19th to 30th April, later than usual, as the event is always run when Easter occurs. Expectations are high this year, as it is the 50 year anniversary of the event and everyone would love to win it.
Bells is the world’s longest running surf contest, and it holds a special place in the hearts of Australian surfers. It takes a brilliant competition performance to win Bells and to lift the infamous trophy and ring its bell.
This year the contest is waiting for the beginning of the southern hemisphere’s autumn/winter swells to push in. The conditions can be cold and changeable, but there is nothing like seeing Bells going off. The beach and the surrounding cliff curve around to form a natural amphitheater that has been well used over the decades for the contest’s spectators.
Bells itself is a right hand point break- perfect for most of the regular footers on tour, and a bit of challenge for the goofy footers. However, the reason surfers love it so much is because the ride offers the chance to really carve and hack into the wave faces, especially on the big days. Wave faces can reach up to 18ft with the right conditions.
So the all important question is: who is going to be taking the 50th year anniversary title. As always, defending champion Kelly Slater is looking pretty good in the runnings. He took the first event of the year over at the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast, and of course- won his 10th world title last year. He’s a living legend who doesn’t seem to be loosing any motivation to win.
However, close eye needs to be kept on last year’s runner up- Aussie Mick Fanning. With already x2 World Title Championships under his belt, he’s hungry for a great result here to get him back on course, after he was knocked out of the Gold Coast contest early. Another Aussie surfer to watch will be Taj Burrow as he came second to Kelly at the Quiky Pro. Taj won the Quiksilver event last year, whereas Slater took Bells. So maybe this year it will be a reversal?
For the ladies the pressure is on Hawaiian Carissa Moore who won at the Gold Coast. Everyone is watching to see if defending world title holder Stephanie Gilmore can make a recovery from her slow start to the year, or whether Moore has the spark needed to continue her world title campaign.
To check out all the action as it happens, go online to live.ripcurl.com
- just be prepared for some late nights with the time difference.
Posted: April 13, 2011 by
We all know that for the majority of the year the idea of hitting the surf in just a rash vest and boardshorts would be suicidal. However, when it comes to Spring/Summer surf holidays in Portugal
, the water temperatures can actually warrant investing in a rashy and boardies. So here a a few tips to help you choose your items for your next warm water surf holiday
Long Sleeves vs Short Sleeves
- It’s really important to think about how long you will in the water for when you are choosing your rash vest. Most rashies will be the equivalent to a SPF 50, but they are a short sleeve or sleeveless design your arms will need some very good sun factor on to help prevent burning.
- When choosing your rash vest, think about whether you will be using it under your wetsuit the rest of the year. It is really important to think about how comfortable it will be under your suit, and whether there are any seams that may irritate you anywhere when you paddle.
Guys and Girls Boardshorts
- One of the most important factors to consider when choosing your boardshorts is how secure they are. Wetsuits don’t go anywhere in a wipeout, but boardshorts can. Powerful waves can easily strip you of your clothing, so your boardies need to be snug, as water will expand them slightly, and the waist needs to be a mixture of velcro, a tie and possibly elasticated (for the girls). All basic advice, but can save you a lot of embarrassment in the water.
- For the guys- longer length is better unless you are going for the 50s look, and for girls, often the shorter, running short look, is more flattering.
Posted: April 11, 2011 by
There are few things better in life than enjoying the gorgeous Spring weather after an Arctic winter. All the sunshine and world surf contests have inspired us to choose our favourite Spring surf destinations. It’s time to get planning and book ourselves a surf holiday to make the most of the season. Here are our top 3 picks:
- 1 La Concha Surf Camp Fuerteventura
Few places combine brilliant weather and warm waters with an option of either deep relaxation or fiesta, but somehow the Canarian island of Fuerteventura provides it all. The La Concha
Surf Camp,is only 5 minutes away from town and a minute from the ocean by foot. Days are filled with surf lessons in the warmest water in Europe (wetsuit optional), then evenings are spent relaxing at the Surf Camp or taking part in a yoga class at La Concha itself. You will always come back deeply refreshed. Ideal for solo travellers in your own bungalow for €490 or sharing with a friend for €724. Prices include 7 night accommodation, 5 days of surf lessons, all equipment & airport transfers.
- 2 Ecolodges, Ericiera, Portugal
Quite simply one of the best places you will ever stay in. Only 35 minutes drive from Lisbon, the fishing town of Ericeira has over 20 surf breaks around it, so the hardest decision we all have to make each day is ‘where do I want to surf today?’. For beginners Foz do Lizandro beach is perfect, or for easy access just run down to the beach of Praia do Sul . Of course if any of us fancy more of a challenge, then a small drive up the coastline to world class surf contest site of Ribeira d'Ilhas will be in order. We are running an Ecolodges special
up to May 14th that includes 7 nights accommodation, 5 days of surf lessons, all equipment and lunch at Na Onda café on the beach each day all for just €339 per person - perfect for groups of friends, couples or families.
- 3 Casa Offshore, Lagos, Portugal
With some of the warmest waters in Portugal, Lagos is still something of a well kept secret amongst surfers. Lagos has a lot of character with its cobblestone streets and excellent cafes and restaurants, and of course- with the good weather, it’s all about enjoying it all after our surf sessions. We have a 20% discount for stays at Casa Offshore
for April and May. 7 nights accommodation, 5 days of surf lessons (2 sessions per day), all equipment and Breakfast & Lunch for only €315. Ideal for solos, couples or groups.
Posted: April 08, 2011 by
Imagine surfing a wave for 7 miles- it would have to be a dream, right? Amazingly this is entirely possible when natural tidal conditions come together with certain rivers in the world, creating something called a tidal bore. Surfers around the world have been seeking out these river waves since the 1950s, and have even discovered standing river waves whilst they were at it. So how does it all work?
There are two types of river wave, the tidal bore and standing waves. The tidal bore can provide miles of continuous wave, when a Spring tidal push combines with the sudden narrowing of a large river mouth, creating a flood surge upstream.
One of the most popular examples of this is if found on the River Severn, Gloucester, UK. Each Spring hundreds of surfers travel to take part in the riding of the bore, and attempting to set world records for the longest ride. An unofficial ride of 7.6 miles has been claimed by Steve King (UK), but generally the bore generates rides of a couple of miles for most surfers.
The other type of very popular river surfing is the standing wave. This type of wave is stationary, as it is created by either a depression in the river or a rock that forces the water up to produce a wave. The sport has been around since the 1970s when surfers in Munich discovered that Eisbach River, Germany had a perfect standing wave. Since then standing waves have been both found or made around the globe, and there are even schools teaching people how to river surf.
For an idea of just how good river surfing can be, take a look at this video of surfers making the most of the tidal bore on the Araguari River in Brazil.
Posted: April 07, 2011 by
Time to start getting the essential Spring wardrobe items together for that all important surf holiday
away. It’s all about combining retro styles with brights this season, so we thought we would do the hard work for you and pick out some favourites from the highstreet and surf brands. Happy shopping.
- Quiksilver Women Story Dress
We are loving Quiksilver’s new Women’s line. It is like Roxy has grown up, visited the 70s and got inspiration from her mothers vintage wardrobe. Luckily for us Quiksilver know how to work with pattern, so the beloved maxi dresses of last year are back and ready to go.
Keeping with the retro theme, Billabong have created t-shirts with a difference. Using funky artists to design eclectic prints is the theme for Spring, and brings in some well welcomed variation to t-shirt designs.
An oldie but a goodie. You can’t beat a pair of faded denim shorts to chuck on with almost anything. Perfect for the beach or going out on holiday, H&M have put together a good collection of basics to compliment even the craziest of ensembles.
- O’Neill Benue River Jacket
For those rare duller days, or simply because you fancy something bright, O’Neill has brought out some good strong colours. Block colours are a big trend this Spring, so combining the warmth of a jacket for evenings at the beach with the bright blue is simple, but genius.
- Volcom Tie-Dye Inspired Bikini
Just when you thought tie-dye had been left in the 60s, here it is reinvented. Volcom has done a great job of using tie-dye techniques with a modern twist to create interesting bikini prints for Spring. Time to do some pic-n-mix.
Posted: April 06, 2011 by
BEACH BABE: Emma Jane gets ready to own the waves
I've been learning to surf for several years now. I almost think I have the hang of it and several weeks later I jump back in the sea only to discover (once again) that I'm useless.I have been on surfing holidays and taken lessons here and there. I have bought my board, a sign that I am determined (by God I'll get my money's worth), and it still has made no difference.
I have been learning for over three years now, yes - a whole three years! I was tired of telling everyone I am a beginner. I decided that there was only one thing left to do - a crash course in surfing. I thought about the west of Ireland, where I have paid €50 for a one-hour lesson on several occasions. But, I'm just not as likely to get into the sea for six days in a row when the wind is howling. I've been there, done that and worn the wetsuit.
And the real surfers out there can stop tut-tutting at me now. I'm just being honest. I contacted surfholidays.com, who recommended Ericeira, a small fishing village located 40 km north of Lisbon, and close to one of their best surf schools.
Immediately, I knew the sun was the missing factor in my surfing equation. Six days of lessons, a board and a wetsuit were available through this company for the bargain price of €98 (not including the flights or accommodation, which was also friendly on the pocket). And the journey began...
Many Irish who travel to Portugal, including myself, have been drawn to The Algarve. However, experiencing the real Portugal is a different experience. I can't recommend Ericeira and its surrounding area highly enough. It has everything you would expect from a small fishing village - from the cobbled streets that are home to fishermen to the family-operated restaurants dotted around the heart of the town.
The surfers are slowly descending here, but you still will be out-numbered by the locals - always a good sign in my book.
Every morning, sometime before 11am (there's no set times here), we hear a beep outside the complex. Everyone runs around in a hurry, grabbing wetsuits and factor, and we all finally jump in the surf van to meet our instructor from the Na Onda Surf School.
I inform our teacher (on the first day) that I would like to start with the beginners as we head for Foz do Lizandro beach, a 10-minute drive from our accommodation. Although I have years of surfing behind me this isn't the time to show off my...ahem...surfing skills. I enter the sea, wait for my wave and within minutes I feel the water catch hold of my board.
Up I stand, and off I tumble.
Ten minutes later...Eureka! I have been putting the wrong foot forward on the board. It slipped my mind that I am goofy (left-footed).
I eagerly explain the reason for my beginner-like skills to our teacher. He just pats me on the back. He's heard it all before...
PARADISE: The Eco Lodges are really breathtaking
I adored The Eco-Lodges where we stayed during our surf trip. These wooden lodges look out onto a fresh water pool that's cleaned not with chemicals, but with plants. Each lodge,which can cater for up to five people, comes with an outside hammock - the perfect place to rest those aching muscles in the evening.
This is a charming, intimate yet spacious complex, nestled in a very safe area amongst the locals. Seeing as you're away from the tourists, all of the neighbouring restaurants are extremely cheap and don't have the usual tourist charges.
There's also a clay oven there, a humongous barbecue and even a vegetable garden (visitors can use the veggies from this patch for free for evening meals).
If you're not impressed by all of that, perhaps you'll be pleased by the solar panels that help run the electrical requirements of the complex. The environmentalist inside me was wildly excited. Not since the days of camping in our trailer tent have I felt so pleased with my surroundings (if you've done the whole familycamping-abroad-thing, you'll understand).
The complex is a 10-minute walk from the heart of town. We ventured here most evenings, sitting in the afternoon sun over a coffee and local pastries, before buying our freshly caught dinner from the fishing boats. Nights were spent over the barbecue with a couple of cold, local beers.
I don't think I have ever been on a holiday where I spent so little. If you're prepared to home-cook here, you really could live very well on €15 a day (taking into consideration that your accommodation and surf lessons are paid for in advance). This is recession-friendly holidaying at its best.
By day six of our holiday, my frustration disappears and it all finally comes together. I stand up, and I manage to make it all the way in, holding steady for dear life. I'm checking to see that my (much-better-a-surfer) other half is watching.
This crash course has definitely made a difference.
Aer Lingus operate eight weekly flights from Dublin to Lisbon. And two weekly flights from Cork to Lisbon (Mon and Fri).
WHERE TO STAY
A week's stay in the Eco-Lodges in Ericeira, Portugal, starts from €679 for 2 people and €770 for 4 people. Six days of surf lessons is only €98 per person. Visit surfholidays.com
for info on this holiday and many other surfing holidays. They also offer holidays to Spain, Fuerteventura, France and Ireland.
Posted: April 03, 2011 by
Nicknames: Lowers, Middles, Uppers
Where: San Onofre State Beach Park, California, USA
When: Best Autumn to Spring
Why: Smooth as silk
Standing at the top of the cliffs at San Onofre State Beach Park can be mesmerizing. Glassy waves roll in, one after another, begging to be ridden. What look like ants float on the surface, and it’s only when one of this black dots paddles into a wave do you realize that the water is swarming with surfers. Welcome to Trestles.
California is synonymous with surfing, what with its Pacific coast being hit with good waves throughout the year. However, there is one spot in particular that has attracted more attention than any other- Trestles. Home to the only ASP world championship event on the North American continent in recent years (not counting the new Quiksilver Pro New York this year), Trestles is infamous.
The reason why Trestles is so revered, is that it has some of the glassiest, most consistently true to form wave going. Each wave breaks perfectly, lining up on a good day, and can be ridden for what seems like an age when the conditions come together. What we call Trestles can actually be divided up into 3 waves- Lowers, Middles and Uppers. Pretty self explanatory, as each spot refers to where it is. The most commonly recognized spot is Lowers, as this is the break that is used each year by the Hurley Pro.
Lowers is a pointbreak, that’s why it just keeps on going. Most surfers will choose to go right, but the odd wave can had on the left-hand. The sandy-bottomed wave is incredibly popular with the local crew of the neighbouring town of San Clemente, and any given day of the week will see crowds floating in the line up.
Trestles is a protected wave, since it lies within the San Onofre State beach park. This park was established back in 1971 by President Ronald Reagan, and it’s done its job to keep the area free from development that would destroy the waves and the natural beauty of the area. Local surfers and San Clemente residence keep a strict eye on what goes on within the area, and have often protested if a company comes in with plans that will alter the park.
This year Hurley will again set up camp at Trestles in late September for spot 7 of 11 of the ASP World Championship Tour. The event is set to run from 18th to 24th September, and will be broadcast on the web at Hurley’s live site of www.hurley.com/hurleypro
. However, if you can’t wait that long to see the pros in action, check out the video of last year’s fun session for a taste of how good Lowers is in reality.
Posted: April 01, 2011 by
We love the Innersection- it’s where surfers can upload clips of them surfing, and we, the public, can vote for the best. Then, at the end of the year, the top 20 clips are put together by the award winning surf film maker Taylor Steele, and made into a DVD.
The next round of voting is going to be starting soon, so check out the website http://innersection.tv
, sign up (it’s free) and vote for your favourite. To give you a flavour for just how good these clips can be, check out our clip of the month: Clay Marzo... could the guy have any more air time?
Clay Marzo Innersection Trailer from Heavy Mayo on Vimeo.