How to Plan the Perfect Family Surf Vacation: A Step-by-Step Guide

March 25, 2023

Whether your family is new to surfing, or avid surfers looking for a new adventure, planning the perfect family surf vacation starts with choosing the right surf camp for you and your family.

Travelling with kids can be overwhelming! So having a good plan, and a clear understanding of everyone's needs and wants will also help things run smoothly.

In this step-by-step guide we will show you how to choose the perfect location for your family surf vacation, how to tell if a surf camp is family-friendly, and how to pick the perfect accommodations.

Choosing the perfect location for your Family Surf Vacation

Many surf camps are oceanfront, but few are located right on the surf break. If you can, choose a surf camp that is located on a surf break.The daily trek to and from the waves can get old.

An aerial view of Beach Break Surf Camp in Panama

Think tropical, but not super remote. And think warm water, because the art of getting a kid in a wetsuit is a story for another post.

By choosing a surf camp with all-inclusive packages you'll save time and money. Meals, surf lessons, rentals and activities add up. The biggest travel hack in planning a surf trip with young kids is to find a surf camp with amenities that everyone can enjoy.

Step 1: Choose a country for your Family Surf Vacation

It's important to note many surf camps are super remote. So be sure to find out what is available, not only in the country, but the specific spots you are researching for your family surf vacation.

As far as locations go, Panama is an ideal country to visit for a family surf trip. Why? because it's a relatively small country, with a lot of amenities and some great surf breaks just hours from an international airport. If you're traveling with young kids, planning your family-friendly surf trip in Panama could save you a couple of flights, boats and some sanity.  

Since most travelers do not need a visa to enter Panama as a tourist, you won't have to worry about obtaining a tourist visa. With many family-friendly surf spots, uncrowded waves for the whole family are easy to find. Destinations like Playa Venao offer large beach breaks with sections for all levels.

A courtside view of Beach Break Surf Camp in Panama at sunset

Beach Break Surf Camp in Playa Venao is just a 1 hr flight or 4.5 hr drive from Panama City. BBSC is super family friendly, with infrastructure designed with young kids in mind. Everything is on one level, with private villas located on the beachfront.

BBSC also offers all-inclusive family surf vacations (including airport transportation, beachfront accommodations, surf lessons, meals, fitness classes, and adventures). Since their instructors are trained to teach kids (they have worked with kids as young as four or five) it's the perfect place for a family surf vacation.

Think mellow vibes and a super family-friendly atmosphere, with amenities like a pool, yoga and jiu jitsu classes, kids activities and like-minded people to share the experience with!

TIP: A key element in ensuring everyone enjoys the trip, parents included, is working with a surf camp that is up-front and honest. Go with your gut, and ask questions. Because let me tell you, there is nothing like showing up with a toddler, realizing you're staying on a second story with no railings.

Step 2: Choosing a Family-Friendly Surf Camp

Not all surf camps are great places for kids, or parents for that matter. Having staff and instructors who are comfortable with your kids being around will make your family surf vacation feel like a vacation. Choosing a surf camp that's safe and has a calm atmosphere will give you more free time to enjoy with your family.

So how do you know if a location is ready for your family? They will market to families! Just like resorts that are adults only market to adults without kids, family-friendly surf camps will let you know they're for you!  

If a surf camp is used to hosting families and their instructors are used to working with kids you will likely find a page that talks about their family offerings on their website. Look for information on family surf camps, and be sure to ask about the atmosphere, instructors qualifications, and the ages of children they accept.

A surf line up with people holding their bords and smilling at the camera

Step 3: Choosing a Surf Camp with the Perfect Amenities

The perfect family surf trip is made up of a lot more than good waves. While the waves may bring you to stunning tropical locations, it's high-quality accommodation, great food and good company that will keep you happy for more than a couple days (even more so with kids).  

Choose accommodations with a pool, and other non-surfing activities. The pool is a great place to retreat with the kids if the swell is too big or the sun is too hot. Try trying to trade off during a surf session at the beach when the kids are not feeling it, and you'll quickly realize it's not for the faint of heart.  

A shot of a kid jumping in the pool with the sun setting in the background

This is why staying at a surf camp located right on the surf break is super helpful, one person can surf while the other has access to all the surf camp's amenities. If you've been in charge of keeping the kids happy you know access to a pool, showers, snacks & other activities is a huge win.

BBSC is located on a consistent beach break with a section for everyone, and since it's right on the surf break trade-offs are seamless! The pool is a short walk from the waves, and great nutritious food is always available, literally a parent's dream.

Step 4: Get in the Water

Planning the perfect family surf vacation isn't only about finding the best waves or the nicest hotel. The perfect trip is much like the perfect wave, it's the one where everyone's having a good time. And the thing about fun is it doesn't always look like you expected it to.

A small kid holding his surf teacher by his head while trying to balance standing on his surf board.

Don't be afraid to grab a foam top and play, not only for your own enjoyment, but for your kids! They will love seeing you having fun, and be more keen to join in. Let go of whatever image you have of riding the perfect wave, because you might end up having more fun on some knee high rollers or even back on shore.

Step 5: Stay stoked!

Last but not least, don't force your kids to surf. It's important to know that the first session might last less than 10 minutes, and it might be on land or in ankle deep water.  It might be hard watching your kids play in the sand while other kids out surfing, but let them. So long as they are having fun at the beach, it's a win.

After all, wherever you choose to go, and whatever you choose to do there, if you do it with a positive attitude and flexible approach, you're more likely to enjoy it!

Get started planning your perfect family surf trip and learn more about BBSC all-inclusive family surf vacations.

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