Category Archives: Travel

Top 5 spring break surf destinations

Spring may not have made a full appearance in many parts of the country, but for many people, spring break means spring waves.

You don’t have to have a ton of cash or even a lot of surfing experience in order to experience the best that the ocean has to offer. Instead, you just need to hit up one of these top five best spring season surf destinations. Trust us, the waves (and the awesome scenery) we’ll take care of the rest. 

The Top 5 Best Spring Surf Destinations in the World 

1. Fuerteventura

Where: Island of Fuerteventura, Canary Islands, Spain
Cost: Moderate

Accessibility: Moderate 

Consistency: Excellent 

Crowds: Not bad in March 

If you’ve never crossed the Atlantic for a surfing excursion, now might be the time to give it a try. There is so much to love about the Canary Islands, and you really need to see this particular island in order to believe it. 

Despite the name, you won’t find any tiny yellow birds fluttering around the islands. Instead, you’ll find plenty of sunlight, unfettered beaches, and of course, massive waves. When you visit, you can stay in a variety of cities that flank the Fuerteventura area, including Puerto del Rosario, Morro Jable, and Costa Calma. 

The climate here is heavily influenced by the nearby Bay of Biscay. You’ll enjoy tropical weather all throughout the year, along with surfing conditions that are also top-notch regardless of when you visit. The weather is consistently sunny and you’ll enjoy gorgeous scenery, including volcanic plains along with beautiful and quiet island beaches. 

Because Fuerteventura is somewhat off the beaten path, you won’t be inundated with crowds when you visit. However, you will be able to benefit from unique cultural experiences that are the result of the Islands’ location just on the outskirts of Africa. 

There are a few great places to surf when you visit Fuerteventura, but the best way to find some of this destination’s hidden honey holes is to stop by and ask a local. They’ll have some insight as to the best spots to catch a wave given the conditions of the day. Regardless of your skill level, though, you’ll find plenty of places to go. 

There are not only several beaches that are friendly to beginners, but there are also some that are reef-bottomed and a bit more challenging for those seeking more adventure. Some of the best surf can be found on the North Track of the island, which extends from the town of El Cotillo to the more populated city of Corralejo, winding around the northern tip of the island. You’ll enjoy a ton of breaks, including Generosa and Harbour Wall. 

One of the best spots to surf? El Hierro. It’s located near the city of Corralejo and is a favored spot by locals. Here, you’ll enjoy a famous tubular wave known as La Izquierda, which produces large swells that are best enjoyed by the most daring surfers.

Getting to Fuerteventura isn’t the easiest – flights can cost several hundred dollars depending on where you’re coming from, and the region isn’t serviced by most budget airlines. However, March is a prime time to visit, as rates tend to be lower and the beaches are much less crowded. Luckily, March is also when you’ll catch prime waves (the ideal surfing conditions are found here between October and April). 

When you’re done on the water for the day, Fuerteventura has plenty to offer, too. You’ll be able to enjoy some serious nightlife along with gorgeous hikes back into scenic beaches, volcanic overlooks, and more. 

2. Bali 

Where: Bali, Indonesia

Cost: Not bad during the spring, but can be expensive at other times 

Accessibility: Somewhat difficult to get to 

Consistency: Very consistent

Crowds: Light in March and April 

If you live in Australia, you probably already know what a phenomenal spot Bal is if you want to catch a few waves. 

Bali is a harder-to-reach surf destination if you live in the United States, but that doesn’t mean it’s totally out of reach. This surf destination offers consistent conditions all year round, but is one of the best in the spring because you don’t have to compete with the crowds. 

The low season in Bali coincides with the rainy season, which lasts from October until April (with a bit of a break in December). You’ll experience the fewest crowds and lowest prices at this time. You can get round-trip flights from the US at this time of the year for roughly $700, allowing for an affordable and enjoyable trip if you time things right.

It will take you some time to get there – in some cases, more than 24 hours worth of travel – but you’ll appreciate the time on the plane to rest. You’re going to have some serious surfing to prepare for (and then recover from!). There are plenty of decently-priced hotels in Bali, too, along with various hostels. 

The best part is that March and April are considered “early season” in Bali, so you won’t have to fight the crowds to find a spot to surf. With some of the most gorgeous (and longest) beaches in the world, Bali has plenty of hotels right along the coast. You won’t have to travel far to get to your surf destination. 

Bali’s “wet season” is from November to March. During the wet season, the best surf destinations are on the east coast. You’ll be able to enjoy world-class waves like the Green Bowl, Sanura, Nusa Dua, and Serangan here. You might get more rain during this wet season, but the minimal crowds and awesome waves are worth it. 

When you arrive in Bali, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the low cost of dining, lodging, and excursions. The best surf spots in the city can be found on the southern coasts and surrounding the Bukit peninsula, but be advised that these surf destinations are best for advanced surfaces. There are some serious curls and reef breaks here that you need to be aware of. 

If you’re new to the game, you might want to head to Legian or Kuta. These beaches are more heavily populated, but you’ll find more leisurely sand beaches where it will be easier for you to learn the ropes. 

Head back to your hotel after a long day of surfing, and you’ll find plenty of ways to unwind in Bali, too. There are tons of nightclubs and beach clubs for dancing. It’s not a large city, but it’s relatively safe and has a ton of opportunities for you to experience the country’s unique, diverse culture.

3. Lagos 

Where: Lagos, Portugal 
Cost: Expensive, but cheaper in February and March 

Accessibility: Challenging – can take a few hours to get there from major airports 

Consistency: Very consistent waves in the spring 

Crowds: Plenty of beaches, so it’s easy to find uncrowded options 

Lagos has some of the warmest temperatures in Portugal – even on the water. You’ll love surfing in the bath-warm waters of the Algarve and you’ll love the waves even more. 

A hidden gem in Europe, Lagos is home to beaches such as Beliche, Tonel, and Mareta, all of which are located near the town of Sagres and offer some excellent waves for beginners and experts alike. The very best beaches stretch from Faro, located in the southeastern portion of the city, to Arrifana in the southwest. In this region, you’ll find a variety of waves throughout the year. 

For a more consistent surf experience, head to the Vicentina Coast in the southwest corner of the region. The waves are exceptionally good here in the spring. And if you’re a more experienced surfer, you might want to check out Arrifana in particular, which is consistent at all times – though challenging! 

Some other good surf destinations include Amado Beach, Castelejo Beach (which is, unfortunately, better in the summer) and Beliche Beach, as previously mentioned. Beliche is uncrowded in the spring and is both small and sheltered. 

Lagos may not be the most common spring break destination, and I’ll admit, it will take you a bit of extra time to get there. However, the few extra hours on a plane are worth it, especially if you have a couple of days to spare. The low costs of accommodation, food, and entertainment in Lagos are well worth the travel and you’ll have access to a ton of surfing spots.

After visiting Lagos, you might want to swing by Peniche, also in Portugal. This is another top surfing destination, especially for spring breakers, and was actually the home of the 2009 Rip Curl ASP World Championship event – so you know it’s got to be good! 

4. Rincon

Where: Rincon, Puerto Rico

Cost: Affordable 

Accessibility: Easy 

Consistency: Excellent, but some variability depending on the beach

Crowds: Moderate

Puerto Rico is a domestic destination that is perfect for surfers hoping to stay a bit closer to home during spring break. Although it’s only a few hours away on an airplane, Puerto Rico has a vibrant culture that will allow you to experience something truly one-of-a-kind. 

This region has some of the best surf destinations, with its lukewarm water and excellent waves. Not only will you have access to an excellent party scene and tourist destinations, but you’ll be able to enjoy other water activities like paddleboarding, bodyboarding, and snorkeling, too. When it comes to nightlife, Rincon has hundreds of entertainment options, including music venues, nightclubs, and more. 

Since it’s so close to the mainland United States, Puerto Rico is easy to get to and affordable to visit. If you want to stay out half the night and then go surfing the next day, Rincon is your best bet. With fun waves in both March and April, Rincon is a popular destination. 

Flights to San Juan are the cheapest, but flying into Aguadilla will save you some time – it’s just thirty minutes to Rincon as opposed to more than two hours from San Juan. Either way, you’ll likely pay only a few hundred dollars for round-trip airfare, making Rincon the perfect choice for cash-strapped college students looking to catch the wave of a lifetime on spring break.

5. Cancun 

Where: Cancun, Mexico 
Cost: Affordable

Accessibility: Very accessible 

Consistency: Moderately consistent spring waves (dependent on weather)

Crowds: Can be somewhat crowded during spring break 

Long considered a hot destination for partygoers, Cancun is beginning to take the lead as a top spring season surf destination, too. There are excellent waves here throughout the year, but especially in the spring. 

Because its reputation as a surf hotspot is relatively new, you won’t have to fight the crowds out on the water (although the beaches themselves can sometimes be packed). You’ll love the nightlife when you head in from the water, too, as Punta Cana (the main party zone of Cancun) is easy to get to.

It sounds like an odd place to surf, but really, there are plenty of places to catch a wave in Cancun. One of the best spots is Playas Balleneas, which is far from the downtown and has a small parking lot (meaning you won’t have to compete with swimmers when you get here). It’s a great spot for all skill levels and waves can go from three feet to seventeen feet in a hurry! 

Regardless of the beach you choose, consider going before 12pm or after 4 pm. That way, you won’t have to worry about competing with the crowds. All beaches are easily accessible by foot, taxi, or bus, making this one of the most accessible surf spots on our list. 

Read reviews when you book your hotel in Cancun, as there are some unsavory parts of the city you’ll want to avoid. The best places to stay include the Zona Hotelera and the downtown El Centro. Getting and staying here are both affordable, as are dining and local entertainment. The area caters to surfers, too, so you won’t have to worry about finding the best spring season surf destination once you arrive, either. 

Spring Surfing: Fewer Crowds, Better Waves, and Lower Costs

No matter which of these top five spring season surf destinations you decide to try, you’re sure to make some awesome memories. Surfing in the spring is not only a great way to save money on your travel expenses, but it also means better waves, fewer crowds, and in most cases, waters that are just as warm as they would be in the summer. 

So what are you waiting for? Pack your wetsuit and book a ticket soon. There’s never been a better time to experience the best waves the world has to offer.

How to train for high altitude mountain climbing

Want to know what it takes to get to the top?

The top of the mountain, that is. If you’re interested in taking your mountain climbing to the next level, you may have considered a trek up one of the world’s most famous 8000+ meter summits. From North America’s Denali to Mount Everest in the Himalayas, the globe is filled with challenges for you to explore.

However, high altitude mountain climbing is unlike any other sport in that it demands a great level of basic fitness – and preparation – before you can begin. There is no “couch to Denali” plan and you aren’t going to be able to summit Annapurna without some serious preparation.

Knowing how to train for high altitude mountain climbing will not only equip you with the skills necessary to have an enjoyable trip – but to survive the trek, too.

Here’s what you need to know. 

Understand the Basics and the Risks 

If you’ve never hiked beyond 6000 feet, know that high altitude hiking is a different beast altogether. For every inch you creep higher above the surface of the ocean, the air has less and less oxygen. These changes appear incrementally as you hike upwards, but they have a compounding and significant effect on your aerobic functioning. 

Although you may have been a medaling marathoner when you were exercising at sea level, you’re likely to struggle walking up a slight incline once you reach 10000 feet. Add to that the fact that you’re probably going to be carrying a heavy backpack, and you’re definitely going to feel the burn in both your legs and lungs. 

High altitude mountain climbing is not for the faint of heart. You probably already know this, but it’s important to familiarize yourself with the very specific risks of the hike before you get out on the trails. Remember, Dr. Google probably isn’t going to be able to help you when you’re at 9,000 feet and suffering from severe symptoms. 

Know what a sick person at altitude looks like and familiarize yourself with the steps you should take if you or a member of your group becomes ill. 

The most common type of altitude sickness is acute mountain sickness. It feels a lot like a hangover and may cause symptoms like exhaustion, nausea, or headaches. While this is not a severe condition, it needs to be treated and addressed with haste because it can precede a more serious condition, like high altitude pulmonary edema or high altitude cerebral edema.

High altitude pulmonary edema is when liquid seeps into the lungs and causes severe exhaustion and trouble breathing. The most telltale sign of this sickness is a cough that produces frothy foam. If you or a member of your group develop this condition, it is not the time to push through it and soldier on – it’s time to turn around and head home as quickly as possible.

Another condition that warrants an immediate descent is high altitude cerebral edema. This sickness can be more difficult to diagnose, but it causes incoordination and confusion. Usually, you’ll notice it if one of your group members begins to exhibit slurred speech or starts stumbling as he walks. 

This is a very severe condition and indicates that death is near, so again, immediate descent and seeking emergency medical attention are imperative. 

Now, remember, these conditions don’t strike everyone, and these guidelines aren’t meant to scare you. However, it’s important to be aware of the risks of high altitude hiking so that you can take the appropriate steps to prevent and treat any issues that arise. 

Start Hitting the Gym…A Lot

High altitude mountain climbing is not for the faint of heart – nor is it for couch potatoes. Now is the time to get in the best shape of your life. You are going to need to balance mental preparation with physical training. A combination of strength training, conditioning hikes, cardiovascular workouts, stretching, and circuit training are what you need to be successful. 

When we say hit the gym, that doesn’t – and shouldn’t – mean that your exercises should be limited to an indoor setting, either. There are all kinds of ways you can improve your physical fitness and some of the best will happen outside. The very best way to prepare your body for high altitude hiking is to improve your VO2 max.

VO2 max is the very top level of oxygen that your body can consume. The better your VO2 max, the more oxygen your body can absorb and the more efficient you will be when hiking at high altitudes. 

Boost your fitness by running, swimming, or cycling. Maintain a solid pace and minimize rest breaks, which will help improve your cardiopulmonary system. Remember – it’s supposed to be hard. 

Do Some Trial Runs and Simulations

One of the best ways to train for high altitude mountain climbing is to put yourself in your future shoes…or pack. Remember, carrying 40 lbs at sea level might feel like a cinch, but once you get to 10,000 feet, it’s going to feel like you’re carrying twice as much weight. 

While you can do your best to minimize the gear you take with you on the trails, the reality is that the necessities need to stay with you. So you’ll be carrying a pack that is going to get significantly heavier as you ascend the mountain. The best way to train for this heft is to start training with some weight while you’re at home. 

Add some weights or even some gallon jugs of water to your backpack. Do your workouts wearing the backpack. Again, it’s going to be a challenge, but you’ll feel much more prepared once you hit the trails. 

Find Some Hills

The best way to prepare for high altitude hiking is to start hiking mountains. The reality, however, is that most people aren’t lucky enough to live close enough to a mountain range where 6000 feet hikes are possible every weekend. 

Unless you live in the Rockies,  it’s probably going to be tough for you to find large mountains to hike on a regular basis to prepare for your high-altitude hike. However, even the littlest bump in elevation can help improve your aerobic fitness. Try to add 1000 feet each training weekend and remember that even small mountains count. Doing aerobic workouts even above just 3000 feet can help train your body at becoming more efficient with less oxygen in the blood. 

The higher the better, but any hill will do. Find a steep hill land run, bike, or hike up it regularly. Try to incorporate hill workouts into your training at least three times a week. 

If you live in the city or a total flatland environment, work with what the urban gods have given you – run up a tall set of stairs! You can even frequent the Stairmaster at the gym – ideally set at the highest setting. 

The key is to work yourself to exhaustion, however, to better prepare your lungs and muscles for the high altitude hike. 

Fuel Properly 

Any kind of exercise demands the proper fuel, but it’s especially true when you are mountain climbing. You’re going to be eating and drinking a lot more than usual, so now is not the time to cut calories. Not only will your body be burning energy more quickly, but you’re going to need more water, calories, and nutrients just in order to function. 

That’s compounded if you’re hiking in a very cold environment, too. Fill up your pack with plenty of carbohydrate-, protein-, and sugar-loaded snacks. Candy bars, jerky, and nuts are great choices. The average person burns around 2500 calories on a normal day. Add a pack of 50 pounds when hiking over level terrain, and you’re going to burn 4000 to 5000 calories. 

Throw in some elevation, and that total is going to nearly double. You may not be used to eating that many calories, so it’s smart to acquaint your body with the bump up in nutrition during your training. This can prevent digestive upsets when you get out on the trail. 

Prepare for the Elements

Do some research into the climate of the area in which you will be hiking. Although there are some similarities between the most popular peaks, not all high altitude ranges are the same. Mount Everest, for example, is known for being windy and cold. 

While summer is considered the best time to hike some peaks, like Mount Denali, it’s not ideal when it comes to Everest, as humidity is nearly 100% during the summer monsoon season. Other mountains, like K2, are almost impossible to climb without being caught at least once in life-threatening weather. 

Hope for the best and prepare for the worst. Make sure you have plenty of SPF, even if it seems cloudy. The sun’s rays will be much more potent when you’re at a higher altitude. All conditions, from wind to precipitation to temperature, will reach their extremes when you’re up that high.

Make sure you have enough gear to protect your entire body, including clothing that is both wind- and waterproof, along with extra hand warmers, wool socks, and thermal gloves. 

Don’t Forget Hydration

Once you start hiking into a high alpine zone, you may not think about hydration quite as often. Just because you’re not sweating buckets, though, doesn’t mean you should ignore your hydration. 

On the contrary, in fact. Once you start reaching higher altitudes, you will need to urinate more often. This is a natural biological response to being high in the air. As the air gets drier, the moisture will leave your body more quickly. 

Therefore, it’s important that you not only hydrate well during your hike, but also during your training. This will get you in the habit of hydrating so it’s easier when you’re focused on that summit. Consider investing in some hiking gear that’s designed specifically for hydration to make the task more convenient when you’re on the trail. 

Learn Basic First Aid 

In addition to recognizing the signs of altitude sickness that we mentioned above, it’s also important that you familiarize yourself with the basics of first aid – especially as first aid applies to high altitude mountain climbing.

You have no way to predict how your body will be impacted by the change in altitude. Bring an altitude aid like Diamox, which is a medication meant to be taken when you are hiking above 8000 feet. This can help reduce symptoms and make the hike a little bit easier on your body. 

You should also bring along first aid staples like cough drops, digestive aids, bandages, and ibuprofen. Before you head out on your trip, make sure you’ve brushed up on all basic first aid procedures, including treating and dressing a wound, CPR, and even splinting, if possible. There is no such thing as being too prepared when it comes to high latitude treks.

Recognize Your Limits 

The reality is that high altitude mountain climbing is not for everyone. You have no way of knowing whether you will make it to the summit – and back home – alive unless you have already succeeded in doing so. There are too many variables that can come into play. 

However, you can improve your odds by making sure your body is physically prepared for the challenge. Visit your doctor before you begin your hike and make sure you don’t have any conditions or illnesses that could interfere with your trip. Once you head out on the trails, don’t be afraid of turning around if you don’t feel well.

Sure, it can be disappointing to not make it all the way to the top. However, being able to make that decision is one that could save your life. Something as simple as a lingering headache could be your body’s way of trying to tell you that continuing on is a fatal mistake. 

Start Slow and Breathe in Deep

You’ve spent so long preparing for the hike – so why rush it? Instead of pushing yourself to get to the top as quickly as you can, take things slowly. You’re probably only going to do this once, so try to enjoy it. Not only are you going to feel slower when you’re hiking at high altitude, but there’s no benefit to pushing your body more when it’s already maxed out. 

Don’t rush things. Take frequent breaks, take deep breaths, and stop to enjoy the scenery. This is a once in a lifetime experience, and you’ve worked hard for the right to enjoy it – so make sure you do.