6 Tips for Planning a Family Surfing Vacation
When you’re young and traveling solo, pretty much any hotel or hostel will do. As a parent, you know there’s more to consider when planning a family surf vacation with young or even older kids. The last thing you want is to end up somewhere that’s not suitable for families– whether due to excessive partying or an infamous riptide.
At Beach Break Surf Camp in Playa Venao, Panama, we know how to mix family-friendly vibes with a good time. We even have a baby ambassador– Marlee Jane– on board!
Here are 6 tips for planning a family surf vacation that’s a hit for kids (and parents) of all ages.
Avoid the over-touristy places.
Look, if you wanted to feel like you were in Disney World, you’d go to Disney World, right?
There are plenty of popular “top 10” destinations that are riddled with so many tourists and souvenir shops that they feel a bit like an assembly line. Recent guests mentioned how a trip to Cabo was nearly ruined due to the constant interruption of being hustled into timeshare presentations and buying bracelets on the beach.
There’s nothing wrong with being a tourist, but you want a family surf vacation so you and the kids can actually– you know– surf. Get outside. Be one with nature. Not feel like you’re in a constant lineup of one surfboard (or tour bus) after another.
Get off the beaten path a bit. We don’t mean in an impossible-to-get-to way, just a little more undiscovered and uncrowded than those “top 10” family surfing vacation destinations.
Playa Venao, Panama is still considered an “undiscovered gem” by those in-the-know in the surfing world. Our charming beach town has the amenities to keep you comfortable and options to keep you entertained, without going overboard on the touristy front.
Choose a spot for all skill levels.
If you’re an experienced surfer, you know not all surf spots are created equal. Some are more or less consistent, some tend to have higher, faster, stronger waves. Some have dangerous rocky bottoms, jagged coral, and sharp sea urchins just waiting for an unfortunate fall.
Even if you and the kids are relatively experienced, selecting a spot that’s friendly to all skill levels helps ensure less tears and more fun on family surfing vacations.
Playa Venao, Panama is unique as it offers:
- Waves suitable for all skill levels
- A soft, sandy ocean floor
- Relatively consistent waves
Beginner surfers can get their bearings close to shore in the slow, smooth waters, while more advanced surfers can paddle out to the faster, stronger waves further out and join the line-up. It’s really the best of both worlds.
Wherever you’re considering for your family surfing vacation, research the beach break through a family-friendly lens. A surf spot may be rated highly online by young die-hard surfers not considering an 8-year old’s experience. See what families have to say!
Choose a spot that’s accessible.
While we recommend avoiding the overly touristy spots, you still want the place to be accessible. The avid surf traveler has many stories about the old rickety bus they took weaving and winding down pothole-ridden holes and “rest stops” with little more than a hole to relieve in.
All part of the adventure for a young traveler, but parents know basic comfort and control go a long way. iPad games will only keep a kid distracted and entertained for so long.
Granted, most surf camps aren’t going to be alongside an airport (and if they are, well, see #1 on this list). Our advice is to find one that offers round-trip airport transportation built into their price, as we do at Beach Break. We pick our guests up in a private, air-conditioned shuttle and bring them straight to our beachfront door.
We’ve even equipped our vanes with WIFI, so you can put on a movie for the kids while you catch up on emails or watch the Panama countryside passing by.
Skip the wild party spots.
Some places have a reputation for being a party spot. We’re talking full DJ and sound system blasting EDM late into the night. Rambunctious, wild guests. Noise you can’t escape.
Even if you’re looking to let loose a bit, most parents aren’t up for blaring house music and bass pouring through their walls at 3 am– nor having to explain to their kids exactly what they saw that couple doing on the dance floor. We have nothing against a good time, but hey– some of the best waves are in the morning, and we’d prefer to be awake and well-rested.
Before you commit to a spot for your family surfing vacation, make sure it doesn’t have a wild party reputation. You can usually get a sense of this through reading reviews and looking at photos– particularly photos that guests upload. As you can see from our Trip Advisor page, we have pretty chill vibes here at Beach Break.
Staying at a low-key place doesn’t mean you can’t partake in the party vibes. Playa Venao has hotels, hostels, and beachfront bars that offer music and partying late into the night. The difference is, at a place like Beach Break you can choose to walk back, close your door, and enjoy the quiet.
Plan for activities other than surfing
Even if you and your family are all surf fiends, it’s good to have a break from the sun and salt water. Surfing is a high-intensity sport that can wipe out even the most active kids!
Choose a destination that offers other activities and recreation. This will give your kids something to do if they get tired or frustrated with surfing. It also gives you an outlet if you want to take a break from the waves, swap up the scenery, or let those sore arms take a break.
At Beach Break, we have a modern fitness center with a weekly class schedule of yoga, group fitness, and martial arts classes– including classes specifically for kids! These classes are rolled into your family surfing packages– you can take as many as you would like.
Playa Venao may be known for surfing, but there are other options for exploring and enjoying this beautiful and biodiverse region:
- Zip-lining through the jungle
- Horseback riding on the beach
- Ocean fishing
- Isla Canas Eco Tour
- Waterfall Hike
- Isla Canas Turtle Experience (seasonal)
- Whale watching (seasonal)
When you book a family surf package at Beach Break, you can select any one of these activities to be included in your package. You can also add on any additional activities you would like to experience.
Find Affordable Family Surf Vacations
We don’t need to tell you that traveling as a family can get expensive, fast. While you’re probably prepared to spend money on your family surf vacation, you might as well choose a destination where you get more bang for your buck.
At Beach Break Surf Camp, we offer affordable family surf vacation packages that you can customize for your family’s needs.
Our Family Surf Vacation packages include:
- Airport pick-up and drop-off
- Accomodation for up to 5 in our large Family Rooms
- Surf coaching for the whole family
- Unlimited surfboard rentals
- SUP and Kayak rentals
- Surf photography and video analysis
- Complimentary beachfront breakfast
- Adventure Tour of your choice
- Unlimited access to fitness center and classes
Planning family surf vacations can be stressful. We hope these tips were helpful in giving you an idea of what to look for (and avoid) when planning your family surf vacation.
If you would like any advice or help planning your family surf vacation, don’t hesitate to reach out! We look forward to seeing you– and the kiddos– in the waves.