“ Learn how to surf with the best of them and feel the rush of the wave! Sydney's surfing school has classes for beginners up to more advanced levels. „
This was the worst time I had while in Australia. I lived there for 11 months and I regret wasting two days of those at Waves Surf School. I did the two night surf camp and it was horrible. The "camp" that you stay at should be condemned, we all (34 of us) had to sleep in two rooms, with holes in the window screens, no potable water, had to shower in bog water and was served food with flies cooked in it. The surfing was okay, but you had to drive quite a ways to get to the beaches from the "camp". I paid $500 for me and my boyfriend to go on the surf camp and I would have gladly paid another $500 to have not gone at all. Beware! This is a low, low, low budget surf camp. It was disgusting!
**Warning: This review contains 'Aussie-Slang' which will be translated in the brackets afterwards** :D
During my nine-month trip to Australia, I stayed with my grandparents for several weeks. After a while I was craving company with younger people, and to get out of the area for a bit. I also wanted to try everything I could whilst on my trip to Australia.
Whilst looking around tourist centres I came across leaflets for 'Waves Surf Camp'. I was intrigued and went to look at their website. They were offering a 3-day.2-night surf camp at Seals Rocks for only $199, all transport, food, lessons and accommodation included. This had to be a bargain
I checked out the website and then decided to call and book for a weekend in January. I had to get the train to Sydney to get on the bus
**Background info on the camp**
The Website is http://www.wavessurfschool.com.au/
The company do 1,2,3,4,5 day camps to several places around New South Wales. Prices start at $79 for a one day trip including lunch. The two day trip I went on cost $199. There is also a 5-day option which takes you all the way up to Byron-Bay (one way) for $499. I believe they run the trips all year though it costs slightly more in peak seasons (January-April) You can self-drive to the camps which obviously cost slightly less. They provide all surfing equipment and clothing though if you have your own board you are welcome to take it
The 2-day trip is based at Seals Rocks, a beautiful area in between Sydney and Brisbane, with gorgeous rural scenery and heaps (here we go with the Aussie slang!) of wildlife.
**The trip to camp**
The weekend quickly came around and I was nervously waiting outside Sydney Central YHA to be picked up. A bashed up bus came around the corner with a trailer on it and a couple of people got out and asked if we were going to Waves. They were really laid back, friendly and casual. We stashed our bags in the trailer, got on the bus and introductions were made, there was about 20 people going to the camp.
Shortly up the road we made a stop at a 'bottle-shop'.(the off-licence) and everyone scrambled around for the best deal. Back on the bus, spirits were high (literally) and suddenly everything got a bit blurrier, rowdier and more fun. Further up the road we stopped for food and a toilet break.
The trip in the bus was long, it took around 5 hours or more, but the camp guides made it go faster by entertaining us with their antics. By the end of the bus journey, everyone was well acquainted. The bus had no seatbelts, which was slightly hair-raising at times.
Some people, like me had travelled alone. Most were aged between 18 and 30, though there was one random old polish man in his late 50's, bless him! He joined in with everything and made jokes, but at one point got a bit touchy-feely..urgh!!
**The Camp itself**
On arrival at camp, we were told we could get a jug of Sangria or beer for only $10. Considering Australia's high booze prices, this was a bargain. The camp bar area had tables, comfy sofas, a bar, a pool table and a PA system. Everything was very cosy and homely. There was also an outdoor area for eating, and a lush-looking swimming pool. Tall trees surrounded the camp and we saw kangaroos hopping around. There was also a volleyball area.
The toilet block was near to the dorms and had hot showers. The only problem was, nothing seemed very hygienic. There wasn't really any soap around and considering we were all surfing, sleeping, and eating together it seemed a bit wrong. The dorms were, well a place to crash. You were advised to bring your own bedding or to hire a doona (Aussie word for duvet), for around $5. There were nine of us sleeping in a very small room. The dorms were mixed-sex, which may make some people uncomfortable. There were two bathrooms between everybody in the dorm area. Again, no soap! (Thank God for my hand gel) The dorms were not too clean and there were lots of mozzies (mosquitoes) around!
The first night was spent dancing, chatting and playing drinking games. We had a buffet tea, which was very nice and had vegetarian options such as salads and rice dishes etc. Everyone drank a bit too much and then we crashed out.
The next day, we had to get up really early to go surfing. We were shown to the area to get on our wetsuits and rashies (surf vest). We boarded the bus to the beach, which took around half an hour. The nice camp leaders stopped at a pharmacy for anyone who needed anything. Cue: 2 paracetamol for me!.
The area was rural and made for a fantastic drive. The beach was something else, gorgeous white sands, a bluey-turquoise water, and hardly any people on it.
We were given our beginner's surf boards which were large blue things, quite heavy but floated and gave plenty of room to practice standing up. We were then given a demo: we had to lie down on the ground to practice paddling on the surfboard. Then the guides showed us into the water, they made it look really easy, it wasn't! Some people managed to paddle, get up and balance straight away. I expected to be able to do it I couldn't. The guides were always helpful giving extra attention and 1-2-1 help to people who were struggling or wanted to go onto the next level.
After a couple of hours, it was lunchtime, and after all that paddling we were really, really hungry! We had lunch around a public BBQ, toasting our sandwiches. They laid out bread, filling and salad for us to help ourselves. Again, we didn't have anything to wash our hands with so it was a bit daunting I'm not a hygiene freak, honest!
After that we had another couple of hours attempting to surf, I still couldn't manage it though others that were complete beginners had no problem, how embarrassing! I felt a bit clumsy and stupid, though the guides were really helpful.
We went back to the camp and cleaned off, and then had another delicious tea. There was some entertainment on the PA system and a few people jumped in the pool for a swim, though I was far too tired after all the wasted effort of trying to stand up on a surfboard!
**The Last Day**
The last day of surf camp we went to another gorgeous beach and again, attempted to surf, all our muscles hurt, our legs were tired, and I had scratches and bruises all over me, not nice.
There was also a place where the guides showed us to climb up on the rocks and jump into the water. Having experience of doing something like this and chickening out at the last minute, I volunteered to take everyone's action shot photographs instead. It looked good fun and I got some fantastic pictures.
After about 3-4 hours of surfing and lunch, we headed back to the camp, grabbed our bags and set off on the bus back to Sydney. Everyone was much more browner, bruised, achy and very tired. On the way back, everyone was asleep, minus the driver- good to know!
Waves Surf Camp is great, the guides are friendly and fun, everyone is laid back. Do not go here if you are expecting a luxury trip, it's far from it. It is perfect for backpackers on a budget who are willing to pitch in, lend a hand to do the washing up and learn to surf along the way. Infact there were a few people working at the camp that were learning to surf for free by living and working voluntarily at the camp.
The instructors made everything fun, they really wanted everyone to learn to surf. However the trip was very tiring, even for someone of reasonable fitness like myself. I have absolutely no idea how people manage the 5-day surf trip all the way to Byron Bay, after two days that was enough for me, surfing is so tiring! The accommodation was basic, but the location was fantastic, tranquil and beautiful.
Now I know the question you want to ask is - did I actually learn to stand up on a surfboard? The answer, embarrassingly enough is that after two days at surf camp, I didn't manage it. I was a bit down heartened but I had so much fun trying it that it didn't seem to matter. It makes a funny story to tell people anyway..."I went to a 2-day surf camp and couldn't even stand on a surfboard".