If you ask somebody to visualise a digital nomad, they will probably imagine them in a nice sunny place by the sea. Even if not all remote workers would choose a beach destination, we cannot deny that surf destinations around the world are becoming more and more popular among nomads. Multiple coworking and colivings are popping up in places such as Corralejo in the Canary Islands, Baleal in Portugal, or Tarifa in the South of Spain. And there is a reason why.
Surf and remote working are a great combination for multiple reasons.
Surfing is cheap
Renting a surfboard price will differ between spots, but a daily rent of 10€ or less is quite common. And if you actually need to learn, most group lessons would cost around 20 to 25 euros per person. You can find plenty of local providers in these destinations, or prebook them using platforms like GetYourGuide or Viator.
Word of caution: whilst it is not usually safe to go by yourself to a completely new spot, many surf schools are also well-known for providing a less than impressive quality of instruction. Called "conveyor belt" surfing schools, they don't usually care much about their customers and it is not unusual to go for a surf class with an instructor who doesn't speak English (despite agreeing previously to have a class in English) or whose totality of instruction comes down to "paddle, paddle, paddle!". Read the reviews and better still, ask on the local community of nomads and remote workers beforehand (or use Revity!). Getting a bad instructor on your first lesson might put you off this sport completely which would be a shame.
Surfing is accessible
Learning how to surf really well is very hard, but learning how to surf enough to have a good time is relatively easy.
The learning curve of surfing is less steep than that for windsurfing or climbing, and to start catching waves on your knees or at an easy spot, you don't need to be incredibly fit.
Make sure you have a big board (start with a "foamie" in the size of 8" or 7") and are learning in a beginner spot (ideally a beach break where you can walk back into the waves rather than having to paddle out). Be patient, too - surfing uses muscles on your arms which you normally don't use, so you WILL feel the burn in the first one or two sessions. Your surfing fitness level will improve really rapidly though, so it's worth just sticking at it for a while.
Surfing can be a quick after work or before work activity
This is a great benefit for digital nomads who want to get some time to enjoy the waves before/ after/ during their working day.
With the co-working spaces combining surf and remote work on the raise, it is now easier than ever to find a place near the beach or on the beach itself. As the prep for surfing is minimal, you can be out of your Zoom call and in the water in less than 10 minutes, which makes surfing an ultimate lunch time or after work workout.
Better still, because surfing is quite energy-demanding, you will feel that you got your workout in and might be quite happy (sort of...) to be back at your desk after an hour fighting the sea.
Always use a website like gonna.surf or Magic Seaweed to check the tide (it changes depending on the Moon) and ask locally whether the spot nearby works best at high tide or low tide. In some places it's not possible to go out in low tide as there might be rocks or other unpleasant things on the sea bottom.
In Corralejo, Fuerteventura, for example, the local spot works best in high tide and is possible most days at low tide, too. Ideally, the high tide often comes in the afternoons in winter (4.30 or 5 pm) which means you can grab your board after work and pack an hour or an hour and a half of surf before it gets dark. The bay is also in a great position for a beautiful sunset (or sunrise if you want to surf before work) and I really loved planning my surf session for the evening when I could watch the sunset from my board. Quite an improvement to what my after work looked like back in London!
In Baleal, Portugal, the surf was best in the mornings when we were there in July, so you could actually pack a nice session before the morning calls started. Just make sure to get a big breakfast afterwards to avoid a fairly traumatic energy slump!
You will get seriously fit
Surfing is one of these sports that get you into shape without you realising what happened. Pasta and burgers after surf session? Not a problem.
When surfing you work your entire body - the core works to keep the balance and pop up on the board, the arms paddle to get the momentum and your legs do their fair share of the work by helping you balance on the board. When you learn how to turn, more of your legs and core get the job done.
The result? Usually a really nicely shaped, healthy and tanned body.
As surfing requires rapid bursts of effort it is a sort of HIIT workout and because of the paddling there are elements of resistance training there, too. This means you will burn fat the way you would during a cardio workout, but you will also shape and tone your muscles during paddling, turning and balancing.
What are your experiences in surf spots? Do you have a favourite one? Let us know in the comments below!