Have you ever met someone for the first time but it feels like you’ve known each other for a lifetime? That’s how I felt when I first met Bea..
I chanced upon Bea’s Instagram account about a year ago while scrolling through the “Batu Bolong Beach” location tag in Bali. Bea’s account mainly featured her surfing and the dream tropical lifestyle. Of course I followed, although I wasn’t expecting her to follow me back. . . but she did! Bea also took the extra step to add me on Facebook.
We started messaging after that and clicked instantly! We both shared the same passion for surfing, surfed in the same spot and had mutual friends in Bali. It was like reconnecting with my long lost sister. A few months later, Bea and I decided to meet and stay in Bali together for our surf trips. Needless to say, we really enjoyed our time with each other and I can’t wait till we meet again.
Without further ado, let me introduce Bea: surfer, dancer, and a media artiste from Manila, Philippines.
1. Hi Bea! Can you give us an introduction about yourself?
I’m Bea Vega, 25 years old and I’m from the Philippines. I took up Culinary Arts in college so I’m a good cook, I sometimes do extra roles for movies and modelling. And yes, I’m Filipino Surfer who rides for ECS (East Coast Surfing, surf brand in Australia)
2. When and why did you start surfing?
I first started surfing back in 2011, I’d only surf twice or thrice a year, every summer or Christmas break. My dad actually got me into it, he made me try it and I’m really glad he did. Then when I got my own board and started catching my own waves I realized that surfing was more than just a hobby for me.
3. What are some difficulties you faced in surfing, and how did you overcome them?
The worst was when I surfed in Catanduanes, it’s a spot down south in the Philippines, it was the biggest swell of the year, I din’t surf the peak I was just getting waves from the shoulder. So I caught a wave, stood up and rode it, and for some reason I lost balance and fell off my board, then I saw a huge set coming so I tried to paddle over it but it still ate me, I was just swimming against it, I was panicking underwater, I almost drowned then the local saved me, I thought I was gonna die, scariest thing ever happened to me. From then on, I started training and skating too, did some paddle drills in the pool, underwater kettle bell walking, did a lot of conditioning.
4. Can you tell us what you are working on as a surfer right now?
I’m practicing how to shortboard now so I try to go every weekend since spots in the Philippines are far from the city. When it’s flat I do a lot of paddle training in the pool and practicing my duck dives, as well as skating plus I watch a lot of surf videos and films.
5. What is your favourite surf spot?
I’m actually not choosy with spots, as long as the forecast is good and waves are breaking perfectly.
6. Do you have any tips for new surfers and surfers who want to improve?
Surfing etiquette, you have to learn it by heart. You have to have respect for the ocean and the locals and the surfers around you no matter what. Don’t drop in, don’t ditch your board, don’t trash the beach, give someone a wave and always have a smile when you’re out there, just have fun!
For more of Bea’s surf adventures, follow her Instagram @baevega
(Post by Beckie)
All photos do not belong to us, credits to Bea and the photographers accordingly.
Many of us do not live in places where we have the opportunity to surf everyday. We sit at our desks and dream of the day we get to surf the tropical waters of Bali or Hawai’i. So, here are some destinations you can start daydreaming about, for when you finally get the chance to wake up and start your morning with a glance at the ocean. We hope these six beaches will influence your travel plans and open your eyes to the world of surfing.
1. Batu Bolong Beach, Canggu, Bali
Batu Bolong Beach is the crown jewel of beginner surf beaches in Bali. Although the beach is mainly known as a beginner beach that is best suited for longboarding, surfers of all levels (and of all ages) are usually found here. The surf is usually consistent, and there are very few flat days in between. However, with the differing wet and dry monsoon seasons, Batu Bolong is best surfed from May to September when winds are offshore.
From my personal experience, there is a good mix of locals and foreigners who are generally friendly and willing to help each other out. Surfing Batu Bolong beach is how a beginner can truly progress, as the local guides will teach you about paddling, landmarking, tides, currents and reading waves. These knowledge will stick with you as you start to venture out to surf around the world.
During my initial google searches, a few surf companies popped up that offered US$60-90 for ONE lesson. We’d suggest to skip the surf camps and just head down to the beach! A 2 hour session costs 350k IDR (about US$27), which includes the lesson and surfboard. The beach is also best surfed at low to mid tides, which is in the morning from 6am to 11am, and afternoon from 3pm to sunset.
HOW TO GET THERE:
Batu Bolong beach is located at Jl. Pantai Batu Bolong, Canggu, Kuta Utara, Kabupaten Badung, Bali, Indonesia. It is very accessible by car or by a scooter.
2. Cowell’s Beach, Santa Cruz, CA
Located just north of the iconic Santa Cruz Boardwalk, Cowell’s beach is a fun and very safe longboard spot for a user-friendly experience. Unlike Batu Bolong, the surfable area is not as vast, but constricted by the headlands. It is a righthand point break (wave that breaks onto a rocky point that extends into the bay), perfect for regular footers. Right now, Cowell’s is our favourite go-to spot to learn how to cross-step and nose ride!
Although Cowell’s gets crowded, the vibe in the water is always positive. Some say that Cowell’s Beach have a lack of surf etiquette (that is, to paddle for a wave that someone is already on) and therefore crashes between surfers often occur. However, sometimes the surf is most enjoyable when you learn how to share waves with each another.
Cowell’s crowd is mostly beginner, thus you can’t expect the perfect display of surf etiquette, especially since it is not innate but learnt as you progress as a surfer. Our advice? When another surfer is getting too close to you, just hold their hand and surf it together! It’s always a party wave out there.
Every day on Cowell’s beach, there’s a van that rents out wetsuits and surfboards, and provides lessons until 5pm. Surfboards and wetsuits go for $10 (1 hour), $15 (2 hours), and $20 (full day) each.
HOW TO GET THERE:
Cowell’s beach is extremely near the iconic Santa Cruz boardwalk. If you do not drive, take the Greyhound shuttle bus to the Santa Cruz bus stop and the beach is only a 15 minutes walk away. If you do drive, a good option is the $15 full-day parking in the parking lots that is located opposite of the boardwalk. We’d advise you to go early, as parking may be difficult in the afternoon.
3. Riyuewan Bay, Hainan, China
An upcoming international surf destination, Riyuewan Bay has recently received more publicity due to the Swatch Girls Pro in 2012 that featured top longboard surfers like Hawaiian Kelia Moniz, Australian Chelsea Williams, as well as Chinese wildcard surfers Darci Liu and Monica Guo. The surf scene in China has grown tremendously as the ocean was seen as a placed to be embraced rather than to be feared for.
On Riyuebay Beach, there is a surf Club called Riyue Bay Surf Club. Every day there are two lesson sessions for guests to chose from – 10 AM or 2 PM. Lessons last for two hours, and include the surfboard and wetsuit (if needed). The ratio is one instructor to three students. One lesson is CNY400 (US$59.90). Guests can purchase a package of three lessons for CNY1080 (US$162), or six lessons for CNY2000 (US$300)*.
*US prices are estimates
HOW TO GET THERE:
By Taxi or Private Van
A taxi to Riyue Bay from Sanya should cost 500CNY/way, and take 1.25 hours. From Haikou, it should cost about 600CNY/way, and take 2 hours. But please bear in mind that the taxi has limited luggage space, and it can’t carry your surfing boards on the top.
If you are bringing surfboards, there are private van services. From Sanya Downtown, Sanya Airport, the prices are CNY600/car (max. 4 passengers) or CNY900/van (max. 7 passengers). From Haikou Downtown and Haikou Meilan Airport, the prices are CNY800/car (max. 4 passengers) or CNY1000/van (max. 7 passengers). To book, contact firstname.lastname@example.org 24 hours in advance. For an urgent booking, please call Caddie Lu at +86-1380 7535 200.
By High Speed Train:
Train from Downtown Sanya or Sanya Airport to Riyuebay Surfing Beach:
Take the train from Sanya Station to Shenzhou Station, then a local taxi at CNY80/way to Riyue Bay, the train costs CNY35/person/way in 40 minutes, and departure times are 07:55, 13:25, 16:25 and 18:10 from Sanya Train Station.
Train from Downtown Haikou Downtown to Riyuebay Surfing Beach:
Take the train from Haikou East Station to Shenzhou Station, and then a local taxi at CNY80/way to Riyue Bay. The train costs CNY53/person/way in 1 hour and 25 minutes; Departure times from Haikou East Station are 07:40, 10:45, 13:35 and 17:55.
High speed train from Haikou Meilan Airport to Riyuebay Surfing Beach:
Take the train from Haikou Meilan Airport Station to Shenzhou Station, and then a local at around CNY80/way to Riyue Bay Surfing Beach. The train costs CNY49/person/way in 1 hour and 18 minutes; Departure times from Haikou Meilan Airport are 07:50, 10:55, 13:45 and 18:05.
4. Queen’s Beach, Oahu, HI
Queen’s Beach rests beside Kalakaua Avenue in Waikiki. Kalakaua stretches parallel to the white, sandy beaches of Waikiki and serves as a roadmap for any other surf spots your heart may desire while you are in town. Nevertheless, Queen’s Beach is one of the best beginner surf spots in Waikiki and it never disappoints.
The break is very mellow and the rides go on forever, providing newcomers with the chance to master their form and perfect their wave-catching skills. The first part of the break, known as “Baby Queens”, offers smaller waves for more introductory lessons or warm-ups. But paddle farther out and the far break will serve you waves that you can ride for what feels like forever. By the end of the day, your arms will feel like Jell-O from paddling back and forth between the shore and the break. Trust me, it’s exhausting, but totally worth it.
The spot itself fosters a mix of tourists and locals. The locals tend to go to the far break while the tourists, typically with surf schools, will remain closer to shore at Baby Queens. With so many people visiting and surfing for the first time, Queen’s Beach provides a very welcoming and supportive environment for new surfers. If you’re a more experienced surfer and choose to visit Queen’s for the long rides and rolling waves, just make sure to keep in mind that beginners may not know how to get out of your way, so you must make sure you’ll be able to get out of theirs.
More importantly, with Diamond Head just to your right, and the Waikiki skyline lining the coast, you simply could not ask for a better view. And if you want the best experience you could possibly imagine, I highly suggest visiting Moku Surf Shop just a couple blocks inland. I surfed with Louis Ferreira almost every day I was in Waikiki and I had the most incredible time. He challenged me and taught me more than I could have ever asked for. With so many surf schools in the area varying in prices and reviews, it’s hard to choose which one is best. But take it from me, you will NOT regret surfing with Moku.
HOW TO GET THERE:
Keep an eye out for the Duke Kahanamoku statue along Kalakaua and simply grab your board and walk towards the sea.
5. Sunset Beach, Pacific Palisades, CA
Sunset Point Beach, more commonly known as Sunset Beach, is a great surf spot for beginners. Offering long right-hand rollers, the waves smoothly tumble along allowing for a long, safe ride for novices. However, the consistency of the waves guarantees an equally great time for more experienced surfers. Expect a ton of locals, this beach is a hot spot for L.A. surf seekers.
Parking is available along the shoulder of the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH), but there are also several lots in the area. Getting down to the shore from the highway is simple enough. There is a set of stairs heading down to the beach, but entering the water can be more of a challenge. It can be quite rocky along the coast, so it may be helpful to bring a pair of water booties.
The beach itself is the northernmost part of Will Rogers State Beach and neighbors one of my favorite restaurants: Gladstone’s. After a long day of surfing, throw on a shirt and a pair of flip-flops and head on over to the beachside restaurant for an amazing bowl of Clam Chowder and the best (and biggest) piece of chocolate cake you have ever laid your eyes on.
HOW TO GET THERE:
Sunset Beach is just east of where Sunset Boulevard meets the PCH. Whether you’re taking the PCH or driving down Sunset, you will find Sunset Beach directly to the left of Gladstone’s. Don’t worry, you’ll see the surfers and know where to go.
6. Little Dume, Malibu, CA
Little Dume is a great surfing spot for beginners. Much less intense than the neighboring breaks at Point Dume, Little Dume offers left-hand rollers that carry you right to the shore. Although this beach is much less consistent than the other breaks we have mentioned, you will always find it crowded with surfers when the conditions are right. Just beware of the rocks . . . sometimes they are hidden by high tide.
If you fail to check the surf reports before you make your way out to the beach, do not fear! If the conditions aren’t optimal, you have the option to embark on a lovely scenic beach walk or even wander throughout the neighborhood and see million-dollar mansions owned by celebrities such as Daniel Tosh, P!nk, and Julia Roberts.
Unfortunately, the one set-back to this beautiful spot is that it is technically a private beach. The easiest access to the beach is gated and keys are reserved for residents only. However, if you are willing to make the trek, you can access Little Dume Beach by walking from Big Dume Beach or Paradise Cove Beach. Fair warning: it is a fairly long hike through the sand and some tide pools and rocks will stand in your way. Nevertheless, it is worth the journey.
Additionally, pre- or post-surf, Paradise Cove is a great spot for drinks, food, and family fun. The Paradise Cove Beach is perfect for tanning, body surfing, boogie boarding, and sand-castle-making. Meanwhile, the restaurant serves peanuts out of barrels and has a bowl of Clam Chowder that greatly challenges that of Gladstone’s.
HOW TO GET THERE:
To find the private, gated access to Little Dume Beach, turn off the PCH onto Zumirez Drive. You will then go straight onto Wildlife Drive and end at Whitesands Place. If you do not have private access you can easily park by Paradise Cove Beach or Point Dume Beach and walk from either spot to Little Dume.
I struggle to get into my wetsuit, doing a little jig as I wiggle the neoprene up my torso and reach behind me for my zipper, sealing myself into an air-tight sea suit. Gazing out at the ocean, I gage the waves, the direction of the wind, the safe zones, and I breathe in the salty air that surrounds me: sticky and sweet. I grab my board and cautiously step down the mossy and barnacle-encrusted stones as if walking along a tightrope, maintaining my balance while my mind races to find the next smooth spot I can rest my feet. I plop my board into the sea foam, the leash firmly wrapped around my “goofy” foot. Resting my stomach on the waxy surface, I slip my fingers into the sharp chill of the water and begin to paddle out.
I’ve been asked what my favorite part of surfing is, and every time I reply with the same answer… “Wiping out.” The thrill of feeling like the ocean is about to consume me, only to resurface at the last second and flounder for my board, trying to push through the oncoming set. This feeling of helplessness and defeat enables me to gain a much greater sense of accomplishment and content when I finally catch the crest of a wave and ride it with ease. I gain an undeniable respect for the ocean, seemingly mutual in the sense that the more I understand and take the time to learn the ways of this huge mass of water and energy, it in turn allows me to enjoy its beauty and venerable nature.
Swamped with the stresses of school and the anxieties of adulthood, the ocean provides a release from the pressures of reality. With my feet hanging over the sides of my board and the crisp air drying the sea’s dew from my face, all that lingers is purity, serenity, and the crystals of salt that have been abandoned by the water for the irresistible warmth of the sun. At this point in time, all that is present is the ebb and flow of the tide, the constant yet discrete stir of the living creatures going about their mundane rituals beneath me, and the everlasting vitality and adrenaline that the ocean seems to instill within me.
Rather than keeping afloat in a sea of papers and textbooks, I effortlessly float in the unyielding support of the ocean. I grow confident in my ability to navigate such an infinite mass and begin to trust the knowledge that only experience has given me the opportunity to learn, both in and out of the sea. The overwhelming size and strength of the ocean no longer frightens me, but rather incites respect and courage. I dare to challenge the sea, refusing to be eaten and spit out by its forceful jaws, but understand that one wrong move could result in my utter and complete destruction.
I see a shadow of a wave in the horizon, whisk my board around and plop on my stomach as I look over my shoulder and begin to paddle with all my might. Twisting my head back and forth and keeping an eye on the approaching crest, I move my arms faster and faster and lift my feet, the fresh salt water splashing against my face. With one last push I catch the wave and feel the power beneath me, hopping up and planting my feet on the piece of Plexiglas. I have only the slightest control over where this ride may take me, but I hold faith that even if I wipe out, I will always be able to get back up again.