Prior to last month I had tried surfing twice in my life, and neither – I must admit – were particularly successful. But always one to persevere (that’s a total lie, I am usually one to give up, throw a strop and never try it again) I jumped at the chance when the lovely Emily from Planet Surf Camp in Fuerteventura offered me the opportunity to visit the beautiful island, try surf lessons and review my stay at their surf hostel. You can stay in the hostel for a week, with 20 surf lessons and all your equipment hire for 199 Euros, which is a total bargain even just for seven days’ accommodation.
So a few weeks ago, myself and Nicole hopped on a plane from Gatwick bound for Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands. We left amidst the flurry of snowfall on the south coast so it was somewhat surreal to be skidding along in the ice on the drive to the airport and then arriving to blue skies and 25 degree temperatures! We flew with Thomas Cook Airlines and our flights were around £80 – a total bargain for an escape from bleak British weather to utter paradise. After some rather costly issues with our hire car booking (avoid GoldCar at all costs) we were jetting along the Fuerteventura roads in our Ford Focus, taking in the breathtaking beauty of the mountains and volcanoes that bordered the road to Corralejo, where the surf camp is situated.
I’d only stayed in one hostel before so I wasn’t sure what to expect. But when we arrived at the surf camp we were given a really warm welcome, and were pleasantly surprised with the amazing location and cool decor. At the rear of the hostel was a communal area with comfy beanbags, a pool table, long benches for eating and a small swimming pool. The huge kitchen was clean and well-organised, and we were given sections of the fridge and cupboards for our food and drink. Most people there seemed to be focussed on saving money and so groups of friends would spend the evenings cooking up large dishes of pasta or curries. There’s a supermarket just around the corner from the hostel, as well as tons of restaurants, bars and shops – so it’s well located for amenities as well as surfing. We were in an six-bed hostel room with three other girls and one guy.
We joined our first surf lesson on the day after we arrived. I have to say that I was really quite nervous and was predominantly picturing the scenes from Forgetting Sarah Marshall where Paul Rudd tries to teach Jason Segel to surf by explaining how you ‘pop up’ on a board on the sand (“the less you do, the more you do”). I wondered if I would be spending most of my morning lying on a surfboard on the sandy beaches of Corralejo or if we would actually be going out into the water. I wasn’t really sure if I could ‘pop up’ (spoiler alert: I couldn’t).
Luckily our surf instructor Nando was really fun and a great teacher. We selected our foam boards and wetsuits and headed off in the van to find the right surf spot. It was actually pretty windy during the whole week that we were there – some translate the name of the island as ‘strong winds’, and it’s famed for its breezy temperament, hence its popularity with wind and kitesurfers. This meant that the waves were a little bigger than I was expecting, and it was hard work at times dragging our boards out into the sea when we did get into the water. Nonetheless it was so much fun – it was just perfect being out in the water with the sun shining and everyone trying their best to find their balance and eventually try standing up. The surf instructor was clearly very passionate about surfing and supported people individually as well as through the group lessons and warm-ups; there was even a surf theory lesson where I learned more than I could have ever hoped to know about weather and tides!
We had morning lessons, so we were back at the hostel by lunchtime which left lots of time for exploring and sunbathing. We made daily trips to the supermarket for cold ciders and giant bags of crisps and enjoyed lazing around on the sun terrace (which was well-earned after the surf lessons, I hadn’t anticipated how physically exhausting surfing is!)
We took one surf lesson off to visit El Cotillo mid-way through the week. El Cotillo is around a 25 minute drive from Corralejo and we were keen to go exploring and make the most of the hire car. We took a picnic of snacks and tins of cider and whiled away an afternoon enjoying the amazing coastal views and enjoying the sunshine. I’m not sure there is anything better than watching the rolling waves whilst sipping on a chilled can of fruity cider, but I am certainly willing to listen…
On the Friday we were back for our final surf lesson, and it was clear we had all grown in confidence throughout the lessons. Whilst Nicole was getting pretty good at standing up, I was just happy taking my board out and then surfing in on my belly. My objective was purely to go out and have fun, and I definitely achieved that. We spent the final night eating burgers with everyone else from the hostel at Single Fin – which I highly recommend if you’re ever in Fuerteventura! We were definitely sad to leave the sunshine when we flew home on the Saturday.
I would massively recommend Planet Surf Camp in Fuerteventura if you’re thinking of a surf holiday, either in a couple, group, or alone. I was amazed at what good value it was – for £175 you can get your accomodation, kit and all of the surf lessons, and then our flights were less than £100 on top of that. If you’re on a budget it’s easy to eat cheaply by buying from the supermarket, and if you fancy a splurge there are tons of amazing bars and restaurants in Corralejo – Nicole is vegan and we found a couple of great vegan options there too. I was really impressed with the surf instructing and the way that everything was organised – they made it really sociable, friendly and fun.
Have you ever been on a surf holiday?