The 5 Best Surf Trips for Travel During the Pandemic
It feels like a lifetime since we were told “two weeks to flatten the curve!” One of the most frustrating elements of the past couple of years has to be the impact on surf trips, and just how difficult it has been to travel during the pandemic.
The incessant announcements of mutated variants, and the associated restrictions, has disrupted the plans of anyone with intentions of a foreign surf trip. Just as we thought Delta was dealt with and the opportunity to travel to surf destinations had become somewhat easier, along came Omicron. Travel during the pandemic has become even more confusing.
If you are like me, trying to work out IF and WHERE we are able to travel has become too much of a head ache. Why can’t we just have the Do’s and Don’ts laid out nice and simply?
I want to know where I can go, how long I can go for, and how safe will I be?
With this in mind we approached our good friends over at LUEX Surf Travel to find out more about just where surf travel is right now, and the best surf trip destinations for travel during the pandemic.
Table of Contents
Who are LUEX Surf Travel?
Rumour has it that Tim Heising was sat in a busy Sydney lineup when he came up with the idea of running surf charter boats in The Maldives. It sounds like the sort of pipe-dream we surfers come up with when we’re floating around in a crowd, waiting for sub par waves. However, Tim followed through on those initial thoughts and LUEX Surf Travel was born.
In 2007 a few successful strike missions in The Maldives were arranged. Tim soon realised he had a winning formula.
Fast forward somewhat, LUEX Surf Travel has grown to the point where they are heralded as one of the main players in the surf travel industry, with an ethos unlike no other. Adding snow trips bolstered their reputation as a major disruptor with the company now offering over 500 options for the discerning traveller.
At SURFD, we might be a touch biased, but in our opinion LUEX Surf Travel are the number one option for any surfer looking for a trip. Especially those considering a luxury option.
The company has a dedicated team who’s sole purpose is to make sure you guys have the very best surf trip possible.
We don’t just sell you a holiday, but we want to make sure that we find you a trip that’s made for you. We invite you to see traveling through our eyes while making sure you create your own memories.
There are no better, and no more trusted people to turn to when researching the best surf trip destinations during the pandemic.
The LUEX Covid Tool
The guys at LUEX Surf Travel have developed the incredible LUEX Covid Tool to assist you in making sense of the labyrinth of restrictions and regulations.
The tool has a straight forward interface allowing you to enter your location, immediately feeding back pertinent information regarding potential departures and destinations.
I strongly recommend subscribing to the LUEX FM podcast, available on Spotify and Apple Podcasts. Sunny Fassler and the team offer a wealth of topical discussion around surfing and surf travel, which makes for great listening.
Critically, the guys use the podcast as a means to update us about the fluid situation around surf travel, and their advice moving forward.
The Best Surf Trip Destinations for Travel During the Pandemic
In conjunction with LUEX Surf Travel, here are our choices for the best surf trip destinations for travel during the pandemic.
Fully open since June 2020
Vaccines Not Required
Negative PCR test prior to arrival & Health Card Form
Some limitations with moving to different resorts once there
Some African Countries have recently been prohibited
The Maldives have a solid reputation for clean, almost beginner-friendly waves, that break on the most exposed parts of the atoll reefs.
Surfing in the Maldives remains focused on North Malé, which claims the highest density of lefts and rights within a 2hr cruise. Combined with an appealing proximity to Hulhumalé international airport, it’s an especially convenient, fun-wave playground for time-restricted travellers.
The Maldives are a true surf holiday destination, and its resorts take the word “paradise” to a whole new level. Luxurious resorts co-exist with breathtaking tropical landscapes and are surrounded by the ever graceful azure Indian Ocean and white sandy beaches.
Waking up in over water suites, or in an all-your-heart-desires bungalow with private beach access will set your day off in the right way. Some of the worlds best reef breaks are either a short boat ride or a short paddle away.
The Maldives are one of our dream destinations during more settled times. At this time they have become our number one destination for travel during the pandemic.
Famous Surf Spots
Pasta Point is the wave-machine of North Male Atoll. Less affected by wind than any of the other spots, this reef break consistently pumps out pristine lefthanders of all sizes.
A hollow, heavy right hander, Cokes is the best big wave spot in the area, and the feature wave of theNorth Male Atoll. Cokes has two really good sections that provide consistent, if brief, shelter from the heat of the Maldivian sun.
Excellent right with great barrels over 4ft. Beautiful peak take-off that turns into a thick tube on the inside.
Arguably the best and most consistent left hander in the Maldives. Links up well on a big SE swell and high tides.
Once upon a time, Fiji was invisible to the global surfing masses, having been surfed by only a select few nomadic go-getters, and kept hidden from surfing magazines and common folk until the early 1980s.
The crescendo of popularity has one benefit to the rest of us; Fiji is open for business. As if the powers above designed these islands for their own surfing addiction, Fiji is a mecca for those who love incredible almond-shaped barrels, crystal blue windows to the marine life beneath and consistent swell and conditions, ensuring not only an incredible visit but a good chance of the ride(s) of their life.
Fiji is a fantastic choice when you are looking to travel during the pandemic.
Famous Surf Spots
Small swells and mild winds from the south east produce waves tame enough for all but beginners. Larger swells and stronger winds produce waves that can reach 10 ft or higher. Experienced surfers will find super-smooth barrels over the exposed reef.
Cloudbreak has a fierce reputation for huge waves and fast barrels. The surf usually ranges between 5 and 8 ft, making it a great playground for intermediate surfers. With large swells from the southeast and southwest, Cloudbreak can produce the worlds most perfect 20 ft waves.
The best waves are produced by swells from the southwest and trade winds from the northeast. Long barrels and powerful, fast waves make Wilkes Passage a thrilling surfing experience.
Desperations is popular due to the breaks consistency. You’ll find powerful, fast barrels, even when other spots are flat. When swells from the southwest and winds from the northeast push in, the wave becomes truly awesome. .
All international tourists are permitted to enter Costa Rica by air, land and sea.
Complete the digital form called HEALTH PASS
Travel Policy – Tourists who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and individuals aged 18 and younger (even if unvaccinated) can enter the country without a travel policy. The last dose of the vaccine must have been applied at least 14 days prior to arrival in Costa Rica.
Unvaccinated individuals aged 18 and older or with unauthorized vaccines must purchase a travel policy that is valid for at least 5 days and covers accommodation and medical expenses in the event of COVID-19 infection.
Nestled between the calm, pristine waters of the Caribbean Sea, and the deeper blue, open waters of the Pacific Ocean lies Costa Rica.
An intensely rich natural habitat made up of dense rainforest, simmering volcanoes, pristine beaches and some of the world’s most iconic waves.
If Earth was a crown then Costa Rica’s waters would be the emerald gem! Heading to Costa Rica opens up a world of adventure and activities, from hiking to sight-seeing and most importantly, epic surf sessions.
It is well worth considering Costa Rica as a choice destination for travel during the pandemic.
Famous Surf Spots
Witch’s Rock is considered one of Costa Rica’s best surf spots. Made famous in the movie Endless Summer II, the beach-break provides world class sand bottom surfing almost every day of the year.
A four mile long sandy beach which produces consistent hollow waves. Large swells can generate waves up to 10ft.
Beginners won’t need to look very far for perfect little waves. Advanced surfers can look a little further for the A-frame wedges and rivermouth barrels that are a bit further down the beach.
Costa Rica’s most famous wave. The left hander at Pavones is up there with one of the best waves on the planet. It has been called the second longest left in the world. Pavones is super consistent and breaks all the way through the tide.
PCR test taken 72 hours before arrival is required.
Health screening procedures in place at airports
Nicaragua is almost unbeatable. An offshore breeze along the southern coastline ensures quality waves virtually year round. Every type of wave exists in Nicaragua, from punchy beach breaks, through concrete slab barrels, and ending with the mesmerising long walls of reeling point breaks. It’s because of this magic that Nicaraguan surf trips are becoming something of a must do on any surf seeking adventurer’s list.
Nicaragua has only become a mainstream surf trip destination in recent years. It is a brilliant option for travel during the pandemic.
Famous Surf Spots
Classic left-hand point break that works right through the tide and handles all swells. Theres an offshore slab that’s possibly Nicaraguas heaviest wave.
The Nicaraguan version of Trestles, Playgrounds offer super fun waves that surfers of all levels can rip to pieces. The left has a smooth outside shoulder, perfect for carving, while the inside has a beautiful barrel. Although shorter, the right offers multiple hollow sections.
Hollow beach break with punchy waves. Waves at Playa Colorado generally range from shoulder-high to double overhead. Success can mean a stand up barrel, while failure can result in a good old fashioned slam and a broken board.
Manzanillo is a left-hand point break, that peels along a picturesque cliff background. A fantastic combination of open walls and hollow sections. The break is one of Nicaraguas more fickle spots, but if you luck into it, you’re not going to forget the session for a long time.
“Fully Vaccinated” travelers can stay at any type of accommodation and no on-arrival PCR test required.
“Not-Fully Vaccinated’’ travelers stay in a ‘Flexible bio-bubble’ with all facilities of the hotels made available and ability to visit approved tourist sites.
“Not-Vaccinated’’ travelers can still have a great time under the protection of the Tourism Bio Bubble for a duration of 7 nights/8 days.
All visitors must have Covid 19 insurance (Local Gov can provide this for 12 USD with one month cover)
The teardrop-shaped island off the coast of India has everything a surfer’s heart desires and much more! Perfectly shaped point breaks, secret bays, and an endless supply of reef setups. The surf zone stretches from Hikkaduwa on the southwestern coast, all the way across to Arugam Bay on the west.
Sri Lanka is one of those rare gems that has something for everyone. Conditions range from empty and mellow, to perfect barrels. Coupled with plenty of culture, epic food and mind blowing scenery, Sri Lanka is just as dreamy as the Mentawais or the Maldives, minus the heavy waves.
We definitely advise you take a good look at the options available in Sri Lanka when planning to travel during the pandemic.
Famous Surf Spots
Hikkaduwa Main Break
Rights and lefts over a flat reef. Mega consistent waves which can get pretty busy, however the vibe is usually cool and enhanced by the party time activity on the beach.
A beautiful crescent shaped beach surrounded by palm trees. A cruisey right hander breaks in a manner that makes it perfect for longboarding. A slightly heavier left hand option can be found near the harbour wall.
Lazy Left as it’s name suggests is a mellow left hand wave on a deep reef that holds to 5-6ft on a good day. You can get some really long rides up to 500m on this one and its mostly a deep and forgiving reef.
Situated on the East coast, Arugam Bay is the best wave on the island of Sri Lanka. The area boasts beautiful right-hand point breaks and a selection of reefs and barrels a little further out of town.