Surf’s Up: Hotels Where You Can Hang Ten

These hotels, from the beaches of Montauk to the exotic coast of the Canaries, are your ultimate surf base.

161 2nd House Rd, Montauk, NY 11954, USA
It’s a hot August day, and I’m in the hip fishing village of Montauk, New York, at the tip of Long Island. Three friends and I just arrived at Ruschmeyer’s, a Neverland for summer-loving grown-ups who want to relive their childhood camp memories. A staffer resembling a J. Crew model escorts us across the central lawn (known as the Magic Garden) past crowds of thirtysomethings playing Ping-Pong and bocce ball. Our cedar cabin, one of 19 that were built in 1952 when the property was an actual summer camp, has a yellow-and-black Moroccan rug, beautiful wicker beds, and a hammock for lounging. Bubble wands sit on the nightstands, and ingredients for s’mores cool in the fridge. This is definitely a step up from the YMCA camp I went to as a kid. There, the bunk bed mattresses were wrapped in plastic and our welcome gift was bug spray.

Spanky, the restaurant maître d’, arrives and ticks off a list of activities. One friend decides to join a yoga class; the others opt to paddleboard. I grab a beach cruiser bike and ride around Fort Pond, past the crowded outdoor bar of the Surf Lodge hotel, and am reminded that this once quiet village is quickly becoming the summer alternative to the flashy Hamptons. By sunset, we’ve all returned with an appetite. Luckily for us, the culinary team comes from New York City’s Fat Radish restaurant. We feast on wood-smoked monkfish and a delicious white clam pizza. After dinner, we retreat to the Magic Garden, which is now illuminated by paper lanterns strung from the trees. We join a group around the fire and swap childhood camp stories that largely involve sneaking over to the boys’ side and smuggling Boone’s Farm wine into the cabins. A game of truth or dare ensues, and I feel 15 again when I’m challenged to skinny-dip in the pond. Someone brings over a round of margaritas from the Electric Eel bar, but it will take many more before I shed any clothing. By the time the group is legally buzzed, a DJ is spinning pop tunes that inspire us to dance late into the night. Back in our cabin, I realize with relief that there’s one tradition this summer camp hasn’t embraced: the early morning wake-up call to the bugle of reveille.

Ruschmeyer’s, 161 Second House Road, Montauk, NY. Open late May through mid-September This appeared in the July/August 2012 issue.

Cerritos Beach, Baja California Sur, Mexico
The most rugged, sketchy roads always seem to lead to the best surf breaks. This photo captures the early morning drive over the hill to Cerritos beach in Baja Mexico. Down below I discovered perfect, glassy rights and only a few early risers in the water. In the distance at the point is Hacienda Cerritos, a boutique hotel from which you can stumble out of bed and down to the surf. Mario Beceril, a Baja native, runs a great surf school from the beach for anyone who needs a lesson.
México 1, Tourist Corridor, 23406 San José del Cabo, B.C.S., Mexico
Cabo Surf Hotel is a beachside property in San José del Cabo, an area popular among surfers and other outdoor enthusiasts. Located right on the bay, the hotel is ideal for guests who want to dedicate the majority of their vacation time to doing nothing more than relaxing on the sand or swimming languidly in the ocean. The hotel’s exterior evokes Southern California’s Spanish-inspired architecture, with white stucco walls and a red-tiled roof. Inside, rooms tend toward the simple side, with tile floors, wicker and rattan furniture, and neutral-colored linens. A spa and restaurant are on the premises. For guests who want to learn how to surf, the hotel partners with a local surfing school to offer lessons.
Faro District, Portugal
Few people think of Portugal as a surf destination, but the tiny country has miles of coast for surfers to explore. I visited the Algarve, Portugal’s southern most region, and based myself at Aldeia da Pedralva. The owner, António Ferreira, has a bright red VW bus which he uses to drive guests to the best surf breaks or simply for a scenic tour of the area’s most popular beach towns, such as Lagos and Sagres.
Kuda Huraa, Noordelijke Malé-atol 20097, Maldives
Just minutes from some of the world’s best surf breaks, the Four Seasons has its own surf school offering lessons for all ability levels, from novices to big-wave riders. Surfari Splurge and book a boat trip aboard the Four Seasons’ Explorer, a three-deck catamaran that can get you to some of the area’s most remote atolls. See the Best Every August the resort hosts a week-long international surfing competition that draws both locals and elite athletes such as Tom Curren. You can buy day passes to watch the action. Sleep Therapy Wellness treatments linked to the lunar cycle are scheduled from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. at the resort’s spa, which sits on its own island.
Hoba Wawi, Wanokaka, West Sumba Regency, East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia
Founded by a surfer in search of the perfect wave, Nihiwatu is a model of sustainable luxury. The resort’s remote location on the jungle-edged coast of Sumba Island lures travelers looking for true escape and the hedonistic pleasures of private, candlelit dinners in a tree house and hikes to cliff-top spas. But it’s the cultural and community experiences that set Nihiwatu apart from other far-flung hotels. Sumbanese villagers make up 90 percent of the staff, and the resort contributes to the Sumba Foundation, which funds health clinics, water wells, and educational initiatives. Guests can observe island traditions, tour the projects, or volunteer at a school lunch program. From $900. This appeared in the Nov/Dec 2015 issue.
More from AFAR
Sign up for our newsletter
Join more than a million of the world’s best travelers. Subscribe to the Daily Wander newsletter.
AFAR Journeys
Journeys: Europe
Journeys: Europe
Journeys: Europe
Journeys: Europe
Journeys: United States
Journeys: Sports + Adventure