This weekend, I headed to the west coast of Scotland for some surfing, still being a bit of a newbie, I decided to book a lesson which was scheduled for the Sunday morning so me and my friend headed up late Saturday afternoon and camped on the beach… how romantic?!
It’s around a 3 hour drive to the west coast but totally worth it, even the drive up alone is insane. It’s near enough a straight road from Glasgow city centre, along the A82 onto the A83. It is well worth a trip if you ever get the chance, the beaches are so beautiful and the locals are so, so friendly and welcoming.
My poor, little car just about managed the journey, I am one of those people living in the 1900’s who doesn’t have an AUX cable… I know, I know, okay! So we piled all our ‘NOW…’ and ‘Disney’s Greatest Hits’ CD’s into the car (CD’s ha-ha I can’t believe I’m writing that) tent, sleeping bags, galore and headed off.
We did stop off in Dumbarton and Helensburgh en route, on the hunt for a disposable BBQ but it seemed everyone else had the same idea and every shop was completely sold out!
Instead we opted for a take away pizza on the beach with some beers, which I thought, was 10 times better. It was still light at 11:30 pm with the pros still out catching waves until near enough midnight. I could have easily said I was in Bali or somewhere super exotic and you wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference.
I absolutely LOVE camping, especially on a gorgeous beach, however, I did not take into account how small a 2 man tent actually is, on top of the glorious 30 degree heat (I promise, I’m not complaining) but waking up in the morning was definitely not a pretty sight… to say the least. #sweatfest. Laaavely.
Once we were up and ready, we headed into the local town, roughly a 10 minute drive from the beach and got some much needed coffee and then headed back for our lesson. There are loads of companies all around Scotland, that offer surf lessons so get in touch if you’re looking to try it.
We had perfect conditions for learning with clean waves, we occasionally got caught in the rip tide and had to fight our way back up the beach but it was so much fun.
It was just a perfect weekend all round. The weather was incredible, the beach was filled with sunbathers and surfers – a lil’ seal even made an appearance a few times when we were out, how cute?! And I even managed to stand up and catch a few good waves.
Seeing as summer was almost over and I still hadn’t been away or done much surfing this year, I decided to book a week away to a surf camp in Portugal. After a bit of research, I found La Point! They have a great reputation among surfers and were super easy to book with.
La Point are ‘A travel company out of the Ordinary’ based in Norway and Sweden with camps in Portugal, Bali, Sri Lanka, Norway, California, Morocco and more, their goal is to share their love and passion for surfing with their guests in a relaxed and safe environment. They cater to a range of levels – from beginner to advance. I chose Portugal as it was close to Scotland and I’d heard it’s a great place to surf and ideal for people on a budget.
I traveled to Lisbon Airport where the La Point team had arranged for a shuttle to collect me (the camp was roughly half an hour from the airport) I stayed in camp garden, Moinshois in Ericeria, which could sleep 14 and shared a room with 4 people who were so, so lovely, a girl from Germany and then 2 guys from Austria. There was a mixed group – some travelling alone, others in couples or big groups and as the company are based in Norway, there were a lot of Norwegians who were really nice also. There was another camp up the hill from us which is where we had most of our meals and meetings and a bigger camp about a 15 minute drive away – which was the most up-dated and renovated.
The accommodation was nice although could have done with a few renovations but everything was clean and so well-organised. I was told towards the end of my trip that the company are currently building a bigger camp which will be able to hold 100 guests and should be ready for next year and that camp Garden and Hill will be closed at the end of this year’s season so stayed tuned…
The package included your stay, breakfast and lunch, 5 surf lessons (equipment included) and 2 yoga lessons. The surf lessons were roughly 2 hours long and could take place at any time of the day, depending on the swell, ours mainly took place around 9:00/9:30 am and an occasional sun-rise surf which was always a fun (cold) start to the morning ha-ha! Our instructor, Ricardo, was great with us; he took us through all the theory of surfing which I had been really keen to learn as well as the practical and made sure everyone felt safe.
I had initially been worried that I might be a bit bored during the day after surfing as I wasn’t sure what else there was to do in the small town of Ericeira but La Point had this covered! There were activities planned almost every day, some being a trip to Lisbon to visit the city and do some shopping, another day we visited a local vineyard which was extremely popular and absolutely stunning. We also had a volleyball match against the other camps; BBQ’s and dinners were all planned also so I wasn’t ever really stuck for something to do. I also ventured into the town where there loads of little shops and restaurants – I highly recommend ‘Brunch Me’ and a sushi restaurant, Hayaci, where you could get ‘all you can eat sushi’ for €11 and it was all made fresh in front of you… I ate my body weight in it that week! The great thing about Portugal is that there are no chains – no Starbucks, no Subway, nothing, it was so refreshing! Everything was really cheap and I didn’t really spend much over there, RESULT!
On our trip to Lisbon, I went with the girl I was sharing a bunk with and one of the social hosts, as soon as we got there, we headed straight for the food market called ‘Time Out’ – It’s like the equivalent to a food court here but so, so much better! It’s apparently the number one tourist attraction in Lisbon located in the Mercado da Ribeira at Cais do Sodre, you are truly spoiled for choice. In Portugal, people don’t eat until around 8/9 pm which was weird at first but so fun at night with lots of live music and sangria… lots of sangria! It felt like the weekend every night there…
We also found a few hidden gems – there is a car park situated in Calcada do Combro where the top story is a bar and has the most incredible views over the city and the best cocktails! We also visited a restaurant called ‘Lost in India’ which appears to be a clothing store but if you go around the back you will see stairs up to a restaurant and through the back of that is another hidden bar with beautiful views over the city also, they do the most amazing sangria! (Google Maps is also handy for these places). We also did some shopping with my new favourite store being ‘Brandy Melville’ where one size fits all!!!!! The clothes are gorgeous. It’s very Topshop meets H&M – I cannot believe we don’t have this in Scotland!
I had the most AMAZING time and met the most incredible people. Initially, I was a bit apprehensive travelling on my own but the staff there were fab and great at integrating the camps and introducing us all. The social hosts at each camp became our friends and made sure we were well looked after. I would highly recommend La Point to anyone looking to try out surfing.