Perhaps, like me, your fondest memories of surfing involve driving to a Cornish coast. You open up the boot of the car, slipping out of your clothes and into a wetsuit before the brisk sea wind and horizontal drizzle hitting goosepimpled leg have a chance to completely scupper your resolve. You sprint to the water with the knowledge it’ll be warmer in there than it is out here. Eventually. After an hour’s solid surfing you realise the circulation to your extremities has pretty much gone. You head shivering back to the car to find your non-surfing partner has given up and vanished to the pub, and left you the task of peeling your wetsuit off without taking an eye out.
Perhaps it’s time for an upgrade?
I’ll stick my neck out and say you’re the conscientious type – that your partner would probably enjoy watching you surf from a sun-soaked pulverous beach, holding a cocktail served in half a pineapple with a mini-umbrella in it, and that you’d prefer to bypass the whole wetsuit debacle altogether.
Sound good? Good. Fancy a holiday to Barbados?
Of course you do. Who doesn’t? This tiny Caribbean island is synonymous with what has largely become the epitome of a tropical paradise. The desert island that is the stuff dreams are made of, and that includes the surfers’.
First and foremost it’s completely surrounded by ocean. Otherwise it wouldn’t be an island (I’m very astute). But this is especially good for a number of reasons.
Barbados is one of the furthest east of the Caribbean islands, somewhat set apart from the crowd. It lies just outside of the rim of islands that run from Cuba down to the coast of Venezuela, in a crescent poking out into the Atlantic. As such, the sumptuous ocean swell that serves Barbados is barely influenced by neighbouring land mass. Instead, it rolls off the surrounding coral reef all year long.
Barbados is not known for giant surf, although the waves do range in height from about 2 feet up to a sizeable 12 feet, depending on the time of year and which side of the island you’re on. This means the novices can seek out the quieter surf spots while the experts go hunting for more treacherous waters. Apparently the strong-of-heart, and presumably of muscle, would be well-advised to hit the north and west coasts.
The professional surfing here too is electrifying. The Barbados Surfing Association is holding it’s 2011 Surfer of the Year Awards ceremony at the end of this month and blistering competitions run the year round, making for some spectacular viewing.
Best surf is generally from October to March, but the advantage with Barbados is the wave machine is switched on pretty much 24/7, while temperatures rarely dip below the 25C mark. If you’ve never been before, guided surf tours are the way forward. The instructors are surfers too, after all, and invite you to join them on the hunt for the biggest swell. Meanwhile the white sandy beaches, wonderfully welcoming locals, spas and swim-up bars should ensure the non-surfers of the group should have plenty more to occupy themselves with than a pasty.
Are you a surfer? How does a surf trip to Barbados sound?
Or maybe you’ve surfed the Barbadian coast? Tell us about it!