Part 1 WaveSisters sustainability series: Surfing greener.
4 tips for environmentally friendly planning of your surfing trip
- Make your travel choice a green choice.
On my long-term trips I have met travellers who discover “Europe in 5 days”. It irritated me quite a bit to think that you can discover this tiny but very diverse continent in less than a week. According to this, you could spend less than 2.5 hours in each country on this trip if you did not sleep during your holiday. Anyway – I digress. What I’m trying to say is:
Traveling is no longer a privilege. We can book a flight anytime and wake up the next day in a hotel room on the beach. Three days later we take a flight back and sit in the office again. Better for our planet and our holiday feeling is the following scenario: take your time and travel consciously. If you are in the mood for a female-travel-adventure-time-out and if it is compatible with your life, you could combine your surfing stay with volunteer work. On Workaway, Wwoof or in corresponding facebook groups you will find offers for work against food and lodging in NGOs or surf camps.
Believe me, it is much more fun to completely immerse yourself in a country than to scratch the surface of a culture several times a year. If you want to travel sustainably, you should always keep the following basic rule in mind: The further away, the longer you should stay!
On the subject of surfing: The longer you stay, the better you know the spots, the peculiarities of the locals, the rules in the local line-up and maybe even “secret spots” to surf. You come back after your stay with a new attitude to life instead of just a holiday tan and quick selfies in front of the main attractions.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to give up your career now and leave your family for a year to surf regularly. If my suggestions are unrealistic or even unattractive for you, I have good news! You’ll make a huge difference if you take a three-week trip instead of three one-week trips!
- Bali or Baltic Sea – how do I choose a sustainable destination?
Choosing a destination is a huge issue when it comes to sustainability. Air travel is comfortable and fast, but unfortunately it is still the worst choice when it comes to environmental protection. Long flights produce as much CO2 as half a year of driving a car. Therefore, it is important to weigh up very carefully what you can do for a little surfing.
Consider if it really has to be a week in Bali during April and two weeks Australia during December. Just because everyone is talking about surfing in Bali and there don’t seem to be any other destinations on Instagram, doesn’t mean you have to book the next flight right away. Many very good surfing destinations are in Europe: France, Spain, Portugal are the top destinations if you are looking for the right swell and warm temperatures. England, Denmark, the Netherlands and Ireland impress with a strong swell even if the water rather screams for a thick wetsuit. And by the way, we don’t have any dangerous sea animals in Europe that make surfing difficult 😉
Even at the German North and Baltic Sea you can surf if you understand the forecast. This is especially exciting for surfers who live close enough to throw themselves into the water without any complications.
And how do you get there? For all distances under 900 km you should not take a plane. Rather, with a little time you can reach destinations in Europe by train, long-distance bus, ferry or carpool. By the way: Many carpooling sites on facebook are founded by surfers. Hence you will not only meet people who share your passion, you will also find understanding when you need space for your surf equipment.
Try the following pages to find the right connection or a ride:
Trains & Buses:
Rome2rio also shows you connections between all possible places in the world including train, bus, plane, ship, car and walking.
The organization Stay Grounded has been critically reviewing air travel for years. Here you can get great tips and information about flying.
- Make up for it: Compensate your surfing trip.
If there is not really a good alternative than flying to the ocean, you can compensate your flight. Airlines themselves or external companies try to offset the CO2 emissions caused by your flight with a calculated amount at another location through climate protection projects. You can either offset flights directly when you make your booking, or you can search the internet for a reputable provider to calculate the offset amount and pay directly.
Usually the amount is between 50 and 70 euros. WaveSisters even offers to pay half of the amount if you book a flight to participate in one of our camps.
By the way, the most popular provider for flight route compensation is Atmosfair. You find different projects on their website that try to limit our CO2 damage. Unfortunately, there is no complete compensation yet. However, until the era of hydrogen powered airplanes begins, which will certainly plunge us into new discussions, it is the best approach.
By the way, another way to compensate CO2 in principle is to live without meat: As a vegetarian you save 300 to 400 kg CO2 per year.
- Beach proximity and spot accessibility.
You probably want one thing above all else during your surf trip: to get good waves as often as possible. In order to do this without blowing huge amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere, you should make sure that your surf camp or accommodation is well located.
It would be naive to say that you should be able to reach all spots on foot or by bike. But be honest with yourself and check your surf level: Are you so good that you have to check all reef breaks of the destination or is the beach break right in front of your door enough for your level? And is there maybe even a webcam on site with which you can choose the spot without having to drive around a lot? You can find out everything about planning your surfing with webcams and tips for spot selection in part 2 of the WaveSisters sustainability series: Surfing green.
Possible criteria for the choice of accommodation could be
- Beaches that are within walking distance or accessible by bike plus rack or a satisfactory house beach.
- A shuttle that takes all surfers to the beach together at a certain time of day.
- An accommodation that offers not only one good spot, but several with different orientations, so that at least you don’t have to drive for hours if one of them is flat.
- For surfing trips, join forces with other travellers at the camp or hostel and try to carpool.
The bottom line for more sustainable travel and travel planning:
- Choose the shortest possible routes and find out whether you can travel by bus, train or carpool.
- The further you have to travel, the longer you should stay in the destination to make your CO2 emissions pay off.
- Avoiding is better than making up for it. Be critical and reflect before you book plane tickets for a weekend trip to Spain.
- If there is no other way and you have to fly, offset your CO2 emissions. Let Birgit from WaveSisters know when you register, because she takes part of the responsibility as a surf camp provider and will refund you half of the compensation amount with your proof.
- Try to travel climate neutral at least locally. It does not have to be a donkey or a horse. Whoever rides a bike, bus or train instead of a rental car and walks short distances makes a big difference to their ecological footprint.
We hope that you are now ready to plan your next surf trip and that you will soon be able to ride the waves with us in a more ecological way!