So you want to be a surfer? Of course you do. Who doesn't these days? Who wouldn't want to thread their way through a curling chunk of blue ocean, in a palm-fringed paradise, on the edge of the known world. Surfing represents a natural, rebellious counterfoil to our increasingly surreal, insulated urban existences. Compared to the 9-5 grind, traffic, mortgage payments and Isidingo weeknights at 6, surfers live by the rhythms of the moon and sea, the flimsy dictates of meteorology, ocean and sky. The attraction to surfing is magnetic, people see it, and they want in. And if you think it looks good, wait until you catch one of those screamers and shoot down the line on a translucent watery plane, weightless and flying. It's an epiphany, a glorious upwelling of positive emotion and natural connectedness that we just call 'stoke'. Why do you think surfers guard their turf so jealously? And, as most surfers will keenly testify, it doesn't need any new members. But that shouldn't deter you. As much as tattooed, neanderthal locals may kick and scream, slash your tyres and punch my teeth out, we need more surfers in the world. Because, and this is where it gets deep, the more people who surf, means more people who are directly involved and influenced by our oceans. And the more people who want to play in the sea should translate into cleaner, more ecologically connected societies, man. That means you don't have to worry about it, brah. Pull in.

So just because you're an out of shape soccer mom or a balding ballie with a business to run, doesn't mean you can never be a surfer. In fact you should see it as a challenge. And you can plan your next holiday around learning to surf in an exotic destination.

Muizenberg, South Africa

OK to start right at the beginning, if you can't swim, surfing is not for you. You need to be a relatively strong swimmer to get involved in a sport that takes you far offshore and chucks you head first into Neptune's washing machine. Secondly you're going to want a very big surfboard. Longboards are easier to paddle, and more stable to learn on. One of the best places to learn to surf is Cape Town's own Muizenberg beach. The False Bay is protected from the brunt of the Atlantic ocean's power, making the rollers at Muizenberg consistent and small. The perfect playground for you to find your balance, discover if you're 'goofy' or 'natural' and get the basics down. There are a number of excellent surf schools that operate on the promenade, who will rent you a board, a wetsuit and an instructor. Remember, when you're learning to surf, there's no such thing as quality time in the ocean. Only quantity. While you hit the waves, your family can take in the sights of Cape Town, or drink coffee and munch croissants at the Empire Café. After surfing, you can relax in your beanie, defrost while drinking a well-earned draught beer at the Brass Bell.

After 10 days of this daily surfing regime, you should be able to get up on the board, turn left or right and ride, rudimentally, along the face of a small breaking. AKA surfing.

Safari Now.com has got a great variety of accommodation in Muizenberg and Kalk Bay. From B&Bs to Guesthouses, hotels and self catering apartments and houses to rent for all budgets and requirements. Eat smoky gourmet classics at the Olympia Cafe in Kalk Bay, or try breakfast at the Empire Cafe in Muizenberg. End the day with beers and pizza at the Brass Bell.

http://www.safarinow.com/destinations/muizenberg/hub.aspx

Out of 10:

Waves - 5 (But hey you're learning)

Natural beauty - 8

Danger - 5 (While there has been the odd shark attack, but with the number of people surfing on a daily basis, and the presence of shark monitors there's nothing to be scared of)

Weather - 5 (Cape Town winters are pretty miserable)

Hotel/accommodation/tourism infrastructure - 9

Suited to beginners - 10

Florianopolis, Brazil

OK, you've learnt the basics, have been back to Muizenberg a few times and feeling confident with your newfound board skills. You're still riding a log (longboard) but that's OK. It's time for your first surf trip. Now there's no point cruising all the way to Hawaii or Fiji, where the waves are big, flawless, round and brutal. You can get to that later. Florianopolis in Santa Catarina, Brazil offers an amazing tropical beach scene, fascinating culture, a unique and friendly lifestyle and of course warm water and fun waves. In Brazil, surfing is second only to soccer in the popularity stakes, so you're not going to be surfing alone, but it will be good training for your future interactions with the tribe. The best time for waves is from April to October, but there is generally consistent swell all year round. The area boasts a variety of different waves from slow rolling beach breaks (like Muizenberg) to more hollow A-frame beach breaks, as well as a few points and reefs - if you're wanting to test your skills and take it to the next level. Brazil also has plenty of distractions like the rocking nightlife scene, a sexually liberated and adventurous population and a reputation for producing some of the world's best looking human beings. Add a few caparinhas and you're in for good times. Of course it's not just a hedonistic singles bar destination. Well it can be, but there are plenty of other après-surf activities from jungle hikes and Amazon trips to dolphin tours. While you're there, you'll dine on fresh fish grilled, rice, beans and a range of tropical fruits from papaya to mangos and coconuts.

Out of 10:

Waves - 6

Natural beauty - 9

Danger (sharks, riptides, reefs) - 4 (the only danger here are the caparinhas)

Weather - 8 (Tropical sunshine, baby)

Hotel/accommodation/tourism infrastructure - 8

Suited to beginners - 8

Ponta D'Ouro, Mozambique

The Southern Mozambican coastline, from Ponta D'Ouro to Inhambane, offers fantastic surf in the months from April to October. The surf is generated by the same South Atlantic storms that batter Cape Town and push up the East Coast. By the time they get to Mozambique, the wavelength has stretched and elongated, taking much of the grunt out of the swells and grooming them into perfect cordurouy lines. Ponta D'Ouro has a few different surfing set ups catering for everyone from the novice kook to the experienced veteran. The main break is the point, a long right-hander that breaks on reef and then runs quickly over a shallow sandbar. When the swell, sand and weather conspire - this wave is world class. It might be a little bit fast for rank amateurs, but for someone who has been surfing for a while it's a great place to sharpen your act and catch the ride of your life. If the point is too challenging there are literally kilometres of empty beach with small rollers to practice on. Around the corner from the point is a fast, suicidal left that's reserved for boogers with a death wish or psycho surfers who have no fear of the shallow reef - and good medical insurance.

Although you can stay at several dive camps and beach bungalow set ups, the clever surf-tourist generally opts to rent a house on the hill, providing home comforts and unspoilt views of the point. For the rest of the family, Ponta D'Ouro is a quaint Mozambican fishing village offering activities from lounging on the beach, eating prawns and an array of other fresh seafood to scuba diving, swimming with dolphins and fishing.

True Blue Travel specialise in surf and adventure trips. They have the whole of Ponta D'Ouro locked down. They can organise your whole trip and accommodation at the most upmarket resort in Ponta Cafe Del Mar. They can also arrange houses to rent, and a range of mid-range hotels. They can put together a customised package for you including dolphin excursions and scuba diving.

check www.truebluetravel.co.za

or call: 021 426 0881 in CT or 031 573 3171

Out of 10:

Waves - 7

Natural beauty - 8

Danger (sharks, riptides, reefs) - 5 (the odd Zambezi shark sighting)

Weather - 8 (Sub-tropical sunshine, baby)

Hotel/accommodation/tourism infrastructure - 6

Suited to beginners - 7

Agadir, Morocco

Morocco is a fantastic option for a surf trip because it offers a variety of surfing conditions, amazing scenery and breathtaking culture. From beach breaks to reefs and point breaks, you'll find whatever wave you're looking for and much more. The best place to situate yourself is in the small coastal capital of Agadir, which is literally surrounded by more than 15 surf spots. The city was destroyed by an earthquake in 1961 and was rebuilt with some very unMoroccan characteristics like wide boulevards and a tourist resort feel. Agadir is often called the 'Miami of Morocco', with a range of upmarket accommodations, restaurants, clubs and bars. It's also the perfect place to base yourself for frequent day trips to the tranquil traditional Moroccan villages of Tamrhakht, Taroudant and Tiznit as well as Tarhazoute, an area famed for its excellent surfing conditions. Breaks with ominous names like Killers and Devil's Rock are actually good for beginners, while Boilers, Hash Point and Anchor Point tend to be reserved for the more radical, experienced surfer. For those not so interested in ocean pursuits there are amazing cultural and culinary activities to occupy their time as they investigate Morocco's confluence of Arabic, African and European culture, architecture and history. There are also other outdoor activities on offer like Sahara day trips, golf, sailing and horse-riding. Meanwhile you ride the curling blue of Morocco's fabled, endless right-hand pointbreaks.

Out of 10:

Waves - 6-10

Natural beauty - 7

Danger (sharks, riptides, reefs) - 5 (some of the reefs are pretty shallow and have urchins)

Weather - 7 (Hot & dry Saharan summers. Cool evenings especially in winter)

Hotel/accommodation/tourism infrastructure - 8

Suited to beginners - 6

Jeffreys Bay, South Africa

Next stop on your surfing world tour, is Jeffreys Bay, South Africa's most famous pointbreak. You need to be quite a competent surfer to ride this wave because it breaks pretty fast on a shallow, muscle encrusted rock ledge and it gets crowded. If you can survive, or avoid, those two setbacks you will soon understand why J-Bay's Supertubes is regarded as the best pointbreak in the known surfing world! Imagine catching a wave and riding it for over a kilometre? It's possible in J-Bay, and it's not some sloppy weak froth monster either. J-Bay is a fast curling beauty of a wave. The town of Jeffreys Bay is pretty unique too, while surfers and the surf industry claim J-Bay as a piece of international surfing heritage, and have shaped her growth over the last 30 years, the town still has a pretty traditional Afrikaans retirement village core.

Apart from the golden mile, you can find mellower waves at Kabeljous and Kitchen Windows and another nexus of epic points and cooking beach breaks at St Francis Bay. The best accommodation is J-Bay has got to be African Perfection - a small, upmarket hotel overlooking Supertubes, with an awesome restaurant downstairs.

For the rest of the family, there is great shopping in J-Bay with all the major surf labels offering factory shops with real factory shop discount prices. Then there is the world's highest bungee jump up the road at the Bloukrans bridge. The tourist villages of Knysna and Plettenberg Bay are an hour's drive South, while the bright lights of Port Elizabeth twinkle just 80km North of J-Bay.

In terms of accommodation in J-bay, there is no contest stay at African Perfection Guesthouse, overlooking Super Tubes. You couldn't get closer to the waves. Rooms are modern and deluxe comfortable and there's a great restaurant downstairs. Check www.africanperfection.co.za tel: 042 293 1401

Out of 10:

Waves - 10

Natural beauty - 8

Danger - 7 (the shallow reef and the odd Great White encounter)

Weather - 6 (Best time for surf is pretty much slap-bang in the middle of winter)

Hotel/accommodation/tourism infrastructure - 9

Suited to beginners - 4

Australia

Australia is like the Promised Land of surfing. With all that coastline, it's little wonder they dominate the ranks of the Surfing World Championship Tour.

It's hard to point to a single destination on the continent of Australia, since if you're going all that way, you better take your surfboard and check out the many different surfing setups that the continent has to offer. Generally Western Australia is prime positioned to pick up all the grunt of the deep Southern Atlantic storms, but can get a little lonely and isolated. While Queensland and New South Wales, on the East coast get less swell, but have more developed surfing and cultural scenes. If it's your first time in Oz your best bet would be to start in Sydney, like everyone else. While your land-lubbing family checks out the Sydney Opera House, the Harbour Bridge, the shopping, restaurants, bars and clubs of the capital, you can go check out some of the fabled local surf spots like Bondi and Manly Beach.

Once you're over that, you could head up North to Queensland's Gold Coast to surf world famous breaks like Kirra, Snapper Rocks and Bells Beach. If you're after more grunt and serious waves, catch a flight to Perth, West Australia and take a look at Margaret River. If the sound of uncrowded surf, adventure and the open road is appealing, hire a car and go where the wind blows and waves beckon. For the rest of the family there are kangaroos, wallabies, wombats and dingos. Take a detour from the coast and into the Outback for a dose of didgeridoos and Ayers Rock.

A great spot to situate yourself is the Manly Beach B&B, with large well appointed rooms - all ensuite, wireless internet, underfloor heating, friendly staff and is just a few minutes walk from some classic Manly surf spots like Winky Pops. The owners at Manly Beach B&B can even lend you a surfboard, if you break, lose or forget yours.

Out of 10:

Waves - 6-10

Natural beauty - 8

Danger - 7 (Aussie's got it all from sharks to shallow reefs and big, heavy waves. Know your limitations)

Weather - 8 (It's a huge country with the Tropic of Capricorn running straight through it)

Hotel/accommodation/tourism infrastructure - 9

Suited to beginners - 7

Bali, Indonesia

'The Island of the Gods', Bali certainly lives up to its reputation. It's the perfect blend of exotic culture, tropical splendour, friendly people and the best waves imaginable. There is little wonder why Bali is one of the surfing world's most coveted destinations. Conditions for surf are good all year round, but the preferred season is from April to October when the West coast spots come to life in the Easterly trade winds. In the 'wet season' from November to March, the East coast of the island turns on in the Westerly trade winds. The waves in Bali tend to break fast and heavy on shallow coral reefs, so you need to have pretty good surfing skills before attempting these waves. If you're ready for it, Bali is one of the best places in the world to get barrelled: the holy grail of surfing. Riding through the guts of a wave that is busy turning itself inside out. Otherwise known as 'getting shacked', 'tunnelled' and 'visiting the green room'. In terms of après surf activities there are plenty of options. By day Kuta boasts a cooking, if crowded, left-hand reef break, by night it's a vibrant party scene. From Kuta to Legian and Seminyak there are hundreds of shops, bars and restaurants to feed, clothe and entertain you. In the South, on the Bukit Peninsula where most of the waves are situated, you can stay in surf luxury in one of the cliff top resorts overlooking the hallowed break of Uluwatu. While in the wet season, choose from several reasonably priced, high-end luxury resorts overlooking the classic surfing set up of Nusa Dua. When it all gets too much for your non-surfing companions head inland to Ubud for a few days of spa treatment, cultural immersion and glorious views over the rice paddies.

Check out the Uluwatu Resort or Temples Resort on the West Coast of the Bukit Peninsula. On the East Coast, the Nikko Hotel is prime positioned overlooking the breaks of Nusa Dua and offers serious tropical luxury.

www.uluwaturesort.com

www.jalhotels.com

Out of 10:

Waves - 10

Natural beauty - 8

Danger - 8 (Shallow coral cuts like razor blades)

Weather - 8 (Tropical, baby. Palm trees and sunblock)

Hotel/accommodation/tourism infrastructure - 9

Suited to beginners - 2

Oahu, Hawaii

Hawaii is the holy grail of surfing. Regardless of the competitive crowds, the distance on the other side and the fact that it falls under George W Bush's jurisdiction - Hawaii is the birthplace of surfing! And everyone who is serious about surf culture should experience the waves and lifestyle in Hawaii - where it was born. Surfing is often called 'the sport of kings' in reference to

The wonderful thing about Hawaii, if you can look passed all the schlocky weddings the she hosts, is that it's a surf destination that suits all abilities. You can arrive in Honolulu as a complete kook - and head straight to the gentle rollers of Waikiki beach - and by the end of your holiday, you'll be charging. Stay in a beautiful resort on the beach front, take surf lessons each day, surf until you're all wrinkled like a prune in the warm tropical waters, and then relax, have a hot rock massage, dine out at a range of great restaurants, then kick back and soak up the Aloha spirit.

If you're more serious about riding ocean waves head to the North Shore of Oahu - the spiritual home of modern day surf culture with sublime yet treacherous breaks like Pipeline, Backdoor, Rockpiles and for those who wish to risk it all, the huge, heavy peaks of Waimea Bay. Because this is the surfing world's proving ground and leading photo studio, competition for waves borders on the ridiculous. But if you're in Hawaii to surf, handling the crowds and the locals is part of your education. Also if you're friendly, well mannered and willing to wake up early and go the extra mile, you can have uncrowded sessions.

On the North Shore try Haleiwa's Sullivan Estate for the ultimate in luxury accommodation. A huge property boasting six bedrooms, five bathrooms, three fireplaces, panoramic views of the North Shore, outdoor swimming pool, gym, Jacuzzi plus a range of chefs, yoga instructors and nutritional experts on hand to make your holiday that much more satisfying.

In Waikiki you can't really go wrong with the Marriot Waikiki Beach Resort and Spa, a highrise luxury resort on the water's edge, with plenty

Out of 10:

Waves - 10

Natural beauty - 9

Danger - 8 (Shallow coral cuts like razor blades)

Weather - 8 (Tropical, baby. Palm trees and sunblock)

Hotel/accommodation/tourism infrastructure - 10

Suited to beginners - 10




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