Surfing in Portugal with a Baby

surfing

My husband and I just decided that in a few weeks we will be heading to Ucluelet and Tofino for some surfing on Vancouver Island. Not only are we SO excited to go on our first big road trip with our new VW camper van (new to us, it’s actually 23 years old…), but we also can’t wait to get back on the waves.

I have not done a whole lot of surfing in my life. I grew up on the prairies in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan dreaming of riding the waves and being a surf bum. I think that this seed of love for the ocean was planted in my heart when my parents took me to Vancouver Island as a toddler. I instantly fell in love and my parents tell me that I didn’t want to leave.

I finally made my dream of surfing in the ocean come true about 7 years ago. After competing in the Rugby University World Championships in Portugal, I spent a week as a surf bum with my friend on the northern Portuguese coast. A year after, my husband and I travelled to Bali to surf the warm waves of beaches near Serangan and Canggu. We didn’t even need wetsuits! We followed that trip up with two trips to Ucluelet (Vancouver Island) in the next years.

Since we’ve had children, my streak of yearly surf trips was ended, but not entirely. In 2014, my husband, oldest daughter and I (youngest wasn’t born yet) spent 3 months in Copenhagen, Denmark for my husband’s schooling. We budgeted in a sun vacation over our time there, and decided to head back to Portugal but this time to the Southwest coast. While we were there, I was lucky enough to spend one day surfing on a beautiful beach. Honestly, it was quite the ordeal to organize even just this one day of surfing with an 8-month old baby in tow, but all of the hard work was extremely well worth it. If you are big into surfing and have a baby you plan to bring to the surf break while traveling, I highly suggest renting a car to get around. This is not what we did this time around, but definitely what we would try to do in the future. Flexibility is key with a baby along with you, and the ability to rent your board and arrange a lesson at a time that works well for you and your family is key. While we did not take lessons on this occasion, we wanted to go with a surf company so that we would know which beach to go to and the safe spots to surf at the beach. Although we’ve been surfing a few times, we still consider ourselves beginners and safety is always our #1 concern.

We ended up going surfing with a company called The Surf Experience. They were willing to take us in their jeep, with our car seat and baby along with everyone to Amado beach on the West Coast. They are the top recommended surf camp in Lagos and I highly recommend going with them. We could tell that it was unusual for them to accommodate parents and a child on one of their surfing excursions, but they really did their best to make it comfortable for us. Unfortunately, we had some difficulty with other surf camps/schools in Lagos when inquiring if they could accommodate parents of young children who want to surf. Sadly, we had a couple of companies question our parenting because we wanted to bring our baby along with us to the beach. My husband and I had a good plan in terms of what we needed to bring along, how we would take turns between surfing and playing with our daughter on the beach, and making sure that her needs were met above all else.

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Sometimes as parents, I am afraid that we feel that we can no longer do many of the activities we used to enjoy. The unaccommodating surf businesses that we encountered reinforced this belief. In these situations, we might even feel bad about our own parenting if we choose to go ahead and do it for ourselves. In this instance, I was happy to be persistent, ignore those companies and continue adventuring with my family. This was the first time I had been back on a surfboard since being pregnant, and it was truly amazing to have my daughter with me at the beach for that experience. Having her at the beach and enjoying a beautiful day while doing something I love was a wonderful family bonding experience. My daughter had fun checking out the board and watching her Ma and Pa in the water. Unfortunately, she was still too young to try surfing of her own but she experienced it as an 8-month old can. I often wonder if these experiences with the ocean will somehow spark a love of the ocean in her, like it did when my parents dipped my feet in the icy cold Pacific Ocean so long ago.

 

Annika Signature
By Annika

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