New surf-focused hotels and tour operators are curating experiences that go way beyond catching waves – from music and photography, to wellness and cultural immersion, these trips deliver an epic experience even when the surf is flat…


Surf culture is at the heart of this new travel company from musicians and former pro surfers Tim Curran and Rob Machado. The Surfer’s Villa at The Cape, a Thompson Hotel in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, acts as the base for multi-day retreats with Curran, Machado, legendary surf photographer Tom Servais and their pro surfer friends like CJ and Damien Hobgood. One of the area’s best surf breaks, Monuments, is steps from the hotel and if that isn’t firing, you’ll go off-roading down the coast in search of swell. At night, guests are treated to photo slideshows from Servais, surf films, and live acoustic sessions from Curran.

CJ Hobgood, photo by Tom Servais
Pro surfer CJ Hobgood, captured by surf photographer Tom Servais


In 2009, Ed and Sofie Templeton quit their jobs in Brighton, UK and set off on globetrotting surf and yoga adventure. The following year, they created Soul & Surf, a retreat aimed at people who wanted a bit of soul with their surf experience. The couple now has permanent retreats in Kerala, India and the south coast of Sri Lanka and hosts pop-ups in places like Cornwall, England and Little Adaman Island. Time paddling in the ocean is complemented with yoga and meditation sessions, holistic wellness therapies, surf films and live music performances.



Harmony Hotel in Nosara, Costa Rica is perfectly situated a two-minute walk down a jungle path to Playa Guiones, where you’ll find consistent waves year round. The sustainably-minded hotel has 24 rooms and its own half-acre farm which supplies ingredients to Harmony’s restaurant and juice bar. After a day in the sun and surf, guests are encouraged to relax and renew at the hotel’s healing centre, which offers yoga and bodywork. Customised three- and seven-day restoration programmes offer the ultimate remedy for those in need of a recharge.

Photo courtesy of Harmony Hotel


Located on Nicaragua’s up-and-coming Emerald Coast, recently-opened Meson Nadi is an artistic enclave minutes from 16 of the country’s most desirable surf breaks. This intimate, design-savvy surf retreat has just six, Bahaus-inspired rooms, each with its own private indoor garden. The owners pride themselves on working with the country’s top guides and in addition to surf safaris, can arrange adventures like a hike to one of Nicaragua’s volcanic summits.

Master suite, photo courtesy of Meson Nadi


South Africa-based adventure specialist Escape+Explore excels in creating off-the-beaten-path surf safaris led by expert guides including nine-times South African women’s surf champ, Nikita Robb. The Kwazulu-Natal to Mozambique trip takes surfers to the warm, uncrowded waves of the Zulu Kingdom. Long days of surf are complemented with days viewing Big Five game and visiting Zulu villages.


A surfer’s paradise set on the edge of the wilderness on remote Sumba Island, Nihiwatu allows just 10 people a day on its legendary wave, Occy’s Left. This famous left-hand-breaking wave was the impetus for the hotel, but today the experience has evolved way beyond the ocean. Guests are urged to connect with the local culture, from experiencing Ikat weaving in local villages to viewing the jousting festival, Pasola. Guests can feel good knowing their stay benefits the Sumba Foundation, a nonprofit into which all of the hotel’s profits are funnelled.

Pasola jousting festival, photo courtesy of Nihiwatu


Bali’s once-empty waves have become a mecca for surfers. Four Seasons, in partnership with Tropic Surf, has pioneered a new way to get its guests away from the crowds: heli-surfing. Asia’s first ever heli-surfing venture takes guests 45 minutes away to G-Land on neighbouring Java Island. The ultra-fast breaking wave and shallow break makes this a wave for experienced surfers. Non surfers can tag along and explore the remote coast and the wildlife in the national park.

Helisurfing, photo courtesy of Four Seasons at Jimbaran Bay
Helisurfing, photo courtesy of Four Seasons at Jimbaran Bay

jm-1560x2340_bwJen Murphy is a Colorado-based writer whose work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Outside, Men’s Journal and Departures.