Island Vibe, Jeffreys Bay, South Africa
Island Vibe is a legendary South African backpackers’ surf camp, perched on a sand dune overlooking the Indian Ocean, a five minute drive away from the famous righthand point of Jeffreys Bay.
Directly in front of the hostel is the wave of Kitchen Windows, where most mornings you will see dolphins zipping through the fast right handers. July to October is the best time for waves, while sightings of southern right whales are also a daily occurrence then.
The bar has been a haven for international surfers and travellers for two decades and the town of Jeffreys Bay with ridiculous steakhouses and surf shops is just a short walk away. I’ve had three of my best surf trips of my life here and the Island Vibe atmosphere was crucial to all of them.
Latitude Zero, Telo Islands, Indonesia
Latitude Zero owner Matt Cruden has spent the last two decades as skipper of the boat Mangalui, scouring and discovering the best waves in all of Indonesia.
A few years ago, he decided to set up his dream camp in the Telo Islands. It has access to all level of waves – including world class beachbreaks, a rare gem in the coral infested waters of Indonesia.
If the thought of two weeks of post-surf poolside cocktails seems too much, you can also choose a half boat, half land camp deals. Matt’s fast boat (the legendary 250hp tender called the Foxy) can have you surfing the best waves anywhere in a 100 mile radius.
Add onto that incredible cooking and the Cruden family’s hospitality (Matt’s wife Jen and four kids live on the island) and you can see why this is my newest favourite camp.
Koala Surf Camp, Hossegor, France
Sitting directly in front of two of Europe’s (if not the world’s) best waves of La Nord and La Graviere, Koala Surf Camp can’t get you any closer to the epicentre of Europe’s surf capital, Hossegor.
It has a real surf house feel, with a rag tag bunch of keen surfers from all over world sharing the surfing trip of a lifetime.
Hossegor’s La Centrale and the infamous RockFood Nightclub is a 200 metres stumble to the south, assuring good times, all be it at the risk of missing the early waves.
Two big balconies provide the ideal peanut gallery vantage points and give the views up the beach, a five mile stretch of sand that provide some of the most consistent, perfect beachbreaks in the world.
Pitstop Hill Surf Camp, Mentawai Islands, Indonesia
Located in the Indonesian Mentawai Islands in the region known to surfers as Playgrounds, Pitstops was one of the first, and still the best, land camps in the area.
I’d done many a boat trip through the area, which has the highest density of perfect waves anywhere in the world, but had stayed away from land camps, fearing lack of access and mobility to all the great waves like Rifles and Kanduis.
However, Pitstops overcomes this by having fast boats and experienced guides on hand at all times to whisk you over to the best conditions.
There’s also a fun, quite soft right directly in front (called Pitstops) and it’s a five minute walk to the legendary break of E-Bay. The camp is nestled in manicured gardens, it’s superbly run and the chance of getting seasick is practically zero.