If you’re new here you might not be familiar with my previous experiences with surfing. You can read all about them here. Let’s just say they weren’t great. So when the opportunity came to check out the legendary Surf Experience in Lagos, Portugal I was a tad worried. I didn’t really fancy drowning again. However, this is not a tale of surf disaster, this is the story of how Surf Experience and learning to surf in Lagos changed my mind about surfing forever.
So Who Are These Guys?
Surf Experience is run by the two Tobys, a dynamic duo that love to surf (obviously). They also have a very real obsession with Star Wars. These guys are chilled and welcoming and along with their wonderful staff made me feel right at home. They’ve been running Surf Experience for over 20 years. This camp is a real passion project and it shows. Their knowledge and love of surfing is what makes them number 1 on Tripadvisor. Seriously, these guys have more positive reviews than I can count.
How Do I Get There?
Surf Experience is located in Lagos, Portugal. The best way to get there is fly into Faro (Ryanair from Bristol). From there you can arrange an airport pick up through the surf school OR you can get a quick taxi ride to the train station (10 euro) . A train from Faro to Lagos cost 7.30 euro and takes about 1hr 45minutes. Lagos is the last stop so there’s no need to worry about missing the stop.
Where Do I Stay?
I stayed in the Surf House. It’s a bit like staying in a Star Wars themed luxury hostel, perfect for solo travellers, groups of friends or even couples. The beds are comfortable and towels and bed linen are provided. There’s a gorgeous rooftop terrace with picnic benches and bean bags. I spent a lot of my time on that rooftop drinking GREEN wine, eating cheese and generally falling in love with Lagos and Surf Experience. The surf house has a great community vibe and is basically where everyone hangs out. If you’re looking for something a little quieter there are plenty of other options too. The pensao has private rooms with ensuites and is a short walk from the surf house. There are also boutique and studio apartments for bigger groups such as families.
What Are The Lessons Like?
OK, so let’s make this easy, here’s the schedule;
8.30am, get up, get dressed and grab some breakfast
9.15am load up the jeeps and head for the beach
10am slither into your wetsuit and hit the waves
14.30pm Afternoon surf session
16.30pm Load up the jeeps and head for home
The group lesson is really what converted me to actually enjoying surfing. Unlike my previous experiences the instruction at Surf Experience is extremely comprehensive. Before anyone gets in the water you are taught all about the board and the sea, what to look for and how to avoid injuring yourself or others. This is all done with great enthusiasm and encouragement. When everyone else is floundering around and making mistakes there’s a lot less pressure. I didn’t feel self concious and so everything was a lot more fun. We all encouraged each other and applauded even when we caught the tiniest of waves or stood up for a millisecond. It was a wonderful atmosphere and, in my opinion, the best way to learn.
What About The Instructors?
Well, this little band of tanned, sun-bleached heart breakers are pretty much all English. Mark, Penny, Sarah and Griff will teach you the 1,2,3 of popping up and all the other fun stuff that goes with it. They watch from the whitewash or they paddle out back with you, cheering you on and giving you pointers. If you feel like sitting out a session one day they won’t make you feel bad or pressure you. A rest is always allowed. These guys are the best instructors and made learning to surf in Lagos one of the best experiences I’ve ever had.
What Else Is There To Do?
Soooo if you want to take a day off from surfing there are plenty of things to do in Lagos. I MAJORLY recommend a trip to Dona Ana beach. It’s a 15-20 minute walk from the surf house and has the most beautiful view. There are kayaking and snorkelling trips as well as boat trips and booze cruises which can all be organised through the office. Massages can also be organised on certain days to soothe your sore muscles. Plenty of things to keep you busy on your recovery day. I’d also recommended sleeping because, let’s face it, you’re going to be wrecked.
What About Food?
Breakfast and lunch is included everyday, unless you skip surfing then you’ll have to find your own lunch. Rachel, the WONDERFUL chef, cooks up splendid healthy food for lunch every day which gets devoured on the beach between surf sessions. There are also organised meals some evenings. For instance we had a BBQ night on the rooftop where we paid 15euro for all the amazing BBQ food we could eat AND as much Sangria as we could drink. AMAZING! You work up quite the appetite learning to surf in Lagos. There are also paella nights. If you fancy going out for food, which we did A LOT, Sophie (the lovely lady in charge of hospitality) will be happy to suggest and reserve a table for you in one of the many restaurants.
What Did I Really Think?
Learning to surf in Lagos was the perfect way for me to get over my fear of drowning. I have a new found appreciation of the sea and the waves. I made friends that I hope to keep for years to come and I got to top up my tan. I’ve tried surfing in Ireland, Indonesia and The Philippines but Portugal was by far the best! Surf Experience, Lagos is the best place to learn to surf or just perfect your skills. Whether you’re a solo traveller, a family or a couple, everyone will have an AMAZING time as Surf Experience.