When surfers Mike Hynson and Robert August set off on the original surf trip of a lifetime in Bruce Brown’s film The Endless Summer, they had nothing more than a paper map and the idea that they wanted to surf new spots the world over. Everything was uncharted territory. Thankfully, nowadays, the guesswork is taken out of the surf travel equation and we can see at the touch of a button where the best spots are, what the conditions will be like, how to get there and where the best places are to eat and sleep.
There is something to be said for taking the adventure route and searching out our own spots and figuring everything out as we go, but if your surf trip is two weeks and not twelve months long, you want to maximise and make the best of all of the time you have available.
The following five apps are my ‘can’t live without’ resources while I’m travelling and surfing; I’d be completely lost without them. Take a look and download them before your next surf trip…
No surf travel list would be complete without the stalwart in any surfers app collection, Magicseaweed. Wherever you are in the world, MSW gives you a detailed forecast by spot, with the ability to use your location to find the nearest spots. The Stormrider Surf Guide provides information on the type of break, what conditions it works best on and a map so you can find it. The forecast is not always spot on, but it’s enough to guide you in the right direction.
I discovered this app when I was surfing in Sri Lanka and it was a godsend. Windy, as the name suggests, gives you a detailed hourly forecast of how the wind is going to affect your chosen spot, as well as weather, swell and tide information. Used together with Magic Seaweed, you have all the information you need to make a decision on where and when to surf. I find Windy more accurate than MSW, particularly in relation to the wind forecast and having the information on an hourly basis can make all the difference in getting in at just the right time. It also includes spots that do not appear on MSW.
Getting lost anywhere is never particularly fun, but when you’re in a foreign country with limited means of communication, it can be really unsettling and stressful. MAPS.ME works offline using GPS so you don’t need to worry about racking up huge bills using data abroad. It can provide routes by car and walking, and has a really good search facility using name, address, category or coordinates. I use it to navigate pretty much everywhere (even hiking), but I also find it particularly useful on buses and trains for knowing when I’m approaching where I need to get off. No more missed stops 🙂
TripAdvisor has been helping us to suss out the best places to stay since forever. The app contains all the usual hotel reviews, plus a bunch of other really useful stuff. The feature I use most often is ‘Near Me Now’. Click this and the app uses your current location to offer suggestions on restaurants, things to do, sights and landmarks, and even things as specific as where you can get breakfast. All of these are set out in the normal TripAdvisor fashion with a rank of popularity, reviews, a guide to price, and distance away from you. It’s perfect for taking the guesswork out of an area and making the most of the time you have there.
Another cool feature of the app is ‘Timeline’. As you’re travelling around the app records where you go and presents it in a feed that also shows distances travelled, time taken and includes any photos you took along the way. Some might be put off by the ‘Big Brother is watching you’ feel of it, but I really like it; it’s kind of like a journal that you don’t have to put any effort into keeping.
The last app in my surf trip armoury is the accommodation booking website booking.com. I tend to be pretty disorganised (or flexible as I like to think of it) and it’s not unusual for me to be heading to a place with nowhere booked to stay that night. The beauty of this app is the filters you can apply to find exactly what you want and in the price range you want it. You can search in map view, so if you know you’d like to be near a particular landmark or place, finding accommodation there is easy.
Booking a room is instant and you can message the owner of the accommodation via the app to ask questions such as how much a taxi should cost from the bus stop or train station. This has helped me avoid being ripped off on multiple occasions.
Even if you’re planning on winging it and just turning up in a location with nowhere booked to stay, the app is really useful for seeing the reviews of a particular place, so you can avoid spending the night in somewhere you wish you hadn’t.
Want £15 back on your first stay?
If you do not already have a Booking.com account, sign up and book using this referral link and we will both be credited with £15 when you stay. The referral expires after 24 hours, so browse booking.com first, then come back to the link when you’re ready to book.
What are your ‘go to’ surf travel apps?
Which apps do you rely on for surfing and travelling? Share the love and pop them in the comments…
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