Barbados: A surfers’ paradise…

Sitting on my board staring out to sea, eyes fixed on the horizon in anticipation as I watch and wait for the waves to build and the sets to role in…a turtle pops its head up beside me and swiftly disappears again.  I look up to the sky for a moment and bask in the warm sun shining down on me. Glancing back out to the ocean I spot the swell building and roll onto my front ready for the waves.  Slowly I start to paddle.  I look over my shoulder keeping an eye on the wave and paddle faster though the water.  As I feel the force of the wave underneath me I jump to my feet, heart pumping and adrenaline going, I turn to the left as I surf along the line of the wave and feel the rush of water glide underneath my board…sheer and utter bliss, there is no feeling like this…
Surfing in Barbados is one of my travel highlights, I spent 48 hours in the Caribbean in early January; it was definitely a good start to the year!  I surfed at Freights on the south of the island, it is the perfect beach break for all levels of surfer and is renowned for its long left hand waves.  One thing I love about surfing in Barbados is the warm water, surfing in a bikini is a novelty compared to surfing at home in the UK which mostly involves a winter wetsuit, boots and gloves.  I took my GoPro with me for the first time on this trip and attached it to the front of my board.  I was really surprised with the footage and images that I got from it, along with some funny wipeouts! I put together a short edit of my trip, to watch it click on the link at the end of this blog.
There are plenty of surf spots to choose from on the island, Surfers Point by Zed’s Surf School and Pebbles Beach near Bridgetown are good for beginners.  Brandons, South Point, Duppies and Soup Bowl are excellent for more experienced surfers.  Soup Bowl is a world famous reef break with the likes of Kelly Slater enjoying its perfect, clean barrels.
After surfing I always need to refuel and you can’t go wrong with simple, honest Caribbean food. My usual post surf snack is a fish cutter (fish burger or sandwich to you and me) from Cuz, a small shack at Pebbles Beach.  I love this place!  It is so popular with locals and tourists there is often a large queue.  Ranked number two out of seventy three restaurants reviewed on Tripadvisor in Bridgetown, believe me it is definitely worth the wait.  Your fish cutter is cooked to order with salad in a tasty bun, it goes perfectly with a dollop of Bajun hot sauce.  Be careful if you are not used to it though as it is pretty fiery!  I love the stuff.  The other option is fried egg or cheese, but really it’s all about the fish.  I normally wash this down with a coke or a local Banks beer on the beach.  I have already mentioned how small Cuz is, but it is so good that it is mentioned in the Lonely Planet guide to Barbados.  Online the Lonely Planet guide says Cuz is open Monday – Saturday from 10am – 4pm although in true Caribbean style I have rocked up a few times to find it shut, often once they have run out of fish it’s time to shut up shop.  So my advice would be to visit earlier in the day to avoid disappointment.  My other favourite Bajan snack is a Roti; Chefette a local fast food joint does a very tasty chicken and potato one, yum!
If you want to learn to surf or are already an experienced surfer, Barbados is the perfect place for a surfing holiday and ideal for all levels of experience.  I learnt to surf at Zed’s surf school about 6 years ago and have been surfing with them ever since. I have made so many friends along the way, Zed, his family and everyone who works at the surf school along with lots of other people who have been surfing at the same time as myself from all over the world.  I am still in contact with some of them too. It is definitely something you can do by yourself; everyone is so welcoming it is easy to make new friends…
Sunshine, surf and sweet company, I can’t wait to return.
I found this great write-up from the New York Times it is jam packed full of information on surfing in Barbados and includes a mention of the lovely Zed.
I love this beautiful piece too: Super Salty Barbados.
If you want to know more about Cuz, My Destination tucks in here: Cuz’s Fish Snackette.
Do you have a favourite surf spot? I’d love to hear all about it…

Surfing, Souks and Sunshine in Morocco

Ad: This post has been produced in collaboration with Explora Watersports
Morocco is a melting pot of culture and an extremely diverse country from the Atlas Mountains to vibrant cities full of buzzing souks, dramatic coastline and lots of desert.  This makes it the perfect place for an active holiday and a fantastic place for watersports.  Essaouira, a laid back coastal town found on the west coast is an ideal area to be based if you love to surf, SUP or kitesurf.   It is easily accessible by road from Marrakesh or Agadir in around two and a half hours, jump on a bus or catch a taxi.  Fortified walls, a fishing harbour, souks and a medina mean you can explore and shop for a bargain until your heart’s content.  Essaouira is known for its hub of artists so look out for some local artwork to purchase amongst the narrow alleyways lined with stores full of colourful treasures and spices.  Next, visit a Hammam or relax with a coffee while watching fisherman bring in their daily catch.  The fish auction is worth a visit too, held on Monday to Saturday from 3-5pm.
After exploring the town head to the beach for some action!  With consistent Atlantic swell from October to April, (with the winter bringing bigger sets) Essaouira’s beach break is good for beginners as well as those who can already surf; and where else do you get to see camels on the shoreline?!  Explora, based right on the beach offer kite and surf clinics as well as lessons.   For more advanced surfers who are looking for bigger breaks they also provide trips out to Sidi Kaouki, The Cave and Moulay.   If you prefer to go it alone, board and wetsuit hire are 25 Euros a day and lessons start from 30 Euros.  Water temperatures range from around 16°c in the winter and climb up to 21°c in the summer months.  Depending on the time of year you go you might be able to surf in board shorts, or if you are feeling really brave just a bikini!  Surf and Yoga camps cost €485 and combine ten hours of surf lessons with daily yoga classes.  Six nights accommodation are included plus some meals, take a look at the website for further details.  This is right up my street and sounds like a great way to improve skills and make new friends.  Explora can also sort out everything for the perfect surf trip and provide packages including transfers and accommodation.  Shopping in the souks, sunshine and surfing, this is my kind of holiday!