So you’re sat there, staring at your bank balance, saying out loud, how the F am I going to afford this trip? going on a surf trip with next to no money is a right of passage for many hardcore surf travelers and is a must-do character-building experience all surfers should embark on at some stage.
But like anything worthwhile, budget surf travel is an art form and requires practice to do well. It’s surprising how far you can make money stretch when you really have to. The desire to get waves, and as many of them as possible, far outweighs your money worries or bank balance.
If you want to get waves but don’t have much money, the goal should be to do whatever it takes and get as many waves as possible for as little cost, and do whatever it takes to make it happen. However, there are destinations that make this easy, doable, and in some cases, impossible.
But what are the world’s cheapest surf destinations? And what places should you consider heading to for the perfect combination of low spending and high wave count? Let’s explore.
The World’s Cheapest Surf Destinations
Ahh, Bali! A place that has been on the budget-conscious surf traveler’s agenda for decades now, a thriving hotspot for digital nomads, backpackers, and a melting pot of people from all walks of life. Despite the crowds, and let’s face it, the place is frickin crazy in and out of the water, the island is still a fantastic budget surf destination.
From the crystal clear wall of Ulus to the punchy black sand beachies of Canggu, the waves are abundant, it’s boardshorts year round, the beers are always cold, the parties endless, and the girls, well… you can find that part out for yourself.
Accommodation – Private Room $10-20 per night
Nasi Goreng – $1- 5
Moped Per Day $5-10
Famous for Chicama, the world’s longest left, there are numerous world-class set-ups dotted along its thousands of kilometers-long pacific coastline. Combine that with favorable currency conversion (coming from the US or Europe), and the budget surf venturer can take advantage and score waves here while spending a fraction of what you would at home. Chicama, Lobitos, and Lima are all destinations worth checking out as other hidden gems, which ill let you discover.
Accommodation for all budgets and an overnight bus system make for a great way to combine accommodation and travel into one sleepless overnight bus ride; yeah, I never said budget surf travel was all fun and games.
Accommodation – Private Room $15-20 per night
Breakfast – $5
Night Bus Lima/Trujillo – $30
Sri Lanka may not be notorious for pumping waves like Indonesia, but for an intermediate or if you’re looking for super easy 2-3ft rollers in bathtub water, look no further. Seriously the water is crazy warm! Sri Lanka remains one of the cheapest surf destinations I’ve ever traveled to, and I’ve sampled my fair share of budget surf spots…
You can eat for a couple of bucks, stay for less than 10, and travel around the country for almost nothing. It’s scorching hot year-round, and tons of waves dotted the southern coast from Hikkaduwa reef beachy peaks in the West to the famous Arugam Bay in the East. Just watch the crocs and AK-toting military personnel.
Accommodation – $5-10 Private room per night
Curry Dinner – $2-3
Tuk Tuk Hire Per Day – $5-10
A few hours from mainland Europe, Morocco is the European budget surf travelers’ best friend. A super affordable country with incredible waves that pump during winter swells (Oct-Apr). The unique culture, endless right-hand point breaks, and fractional costs of European alternatives make Morocco a fantastic budget surf venture.
Accommodation – $20 per night privates
Tagine – $5
Hire Car – $20-30 Per day
Beach Camel Ride – However much you can haggle it down to.
*While haggling is part of the culture, it is only common in markets and negotiable services like taxi rides, not in restaurants and accommodations with set prices.
It’s no secret Latin America hosts some of the world’s cheapest surf destinations. The region has long been heaven for budget-conscious surf adventurers, and Nicagarua is no different, with scorching temps year round, hollow beach breaks, and an agreeable cost of living.
Accommodation – $10-20 Private room
Meal Out – $5-10
Public Bus Managua/San Juan Del Sur –
Budget surf paradise in every sense of the word. While Mex may not be as cheap as other Latin American destinations, the waves are no secret, which, for lack of a better description, are world-class. Oaxaca is arguably the best area, with palm tree-fringed white sand beaches with thumping beach breaks or right-hand points that perfectly sculpt the large south swells that frequent the cost.
Accommodation – Hostel Bed $10-15 per night
Tacos & Corona – $5-10
Public Bus – Puerto Escondido/Barra De La Cruz – $10
While a long way from just about everywhere else on earth, once you’ve bought your ticket, South Africa is an incredibly affordable surf destination. A dwindling Rand means visiting the country with US dollars or Euros puts you in an excellent financial position.
Famous for J-Bay and sharks, South Africa is a huge country with waves in every form and suitable for every ability. It’s also the only country I’ve visited where I needed to pack both boardies and a 5m, boots, and hood. Durban sits in the warm Indian ocean, whereas Cape Town cops freezing cold currents from the antarctic, although both have incredible waves.
Accommodation – Hostel room $15 per night
Biltong Snack – $5
Bloukrans Bungee Jump (1Hr From J-Bay) – $60usd
For a continent generally not associated with affordability, Portugal is an exception. With living costs significantly lower than its western European neighbors, you can visit Portugal and grace its abundant surf set-ups without blowing all your savings.
Peniche, and Ericeira, are just a couple of zones with hundreds of waves within proximity of the town. While ill let you explore the exact spots yourself, you won’t go to Portugal and come away wave-starved; it’s literally impossible.
Accommodation – Hostel room $20-25usd per night
Pastel De Nata – $2
Flight London/Lisbon – $50usd one way
Budget surf travel starts with the destination and although you’ll need a few other handy tips and tricks, choosing from the cheapest destinations on the planet is a good start. All the spots we’ve discussed boast tonnes of waves and the countries can be enjoyed for a fraction of the cost of North America, Australia, or most of Europe.
If you are looking to get inspired, get on the road, surf full-time, and travel wherever you want, check out my other posts and Youtube channel. I post weekly surf videos and love sharing my experiences with you! Yew!