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  1. #1
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    Help me surf great waves on my first real family vacation.

    Sure, we have gone to Palm Springs, the Maine coast and Florida since my son has been born but none of those have been real vacations, but rather visits with family. And none of those locales have great waves or deep powder. But now my wife wants a warm beach vacation for next February. Where ever we end up we want a few things. Kid friendly. The little guy with be 2 1/2. Mother in Law friendly, as she will likely be traveling with us. We don't need plush amenities, but we can't be sleeping under the stars. I'd love to have surf out front. It does not need to be epic, but getting head high surf daily would be loads of fun. Budget is also of issue. Flight (for 3), rental car, and lodging ideally comes in under $2500, and for sure under $3000. Mother in Law will pay at least her share on lodging, if not kicking in a bit more. And food. Don't want to spend a whole ton of money, but we can also cook in. Been looking at:

    Playa Negra, Costa Rica. Drove through 15 years ago, so I'm sure it has changed. But it seems to fit the bill. But I am a little worried about the consistency of NW swell there.

    Hanalai, Kauai. Cheaper to get to, don't need a 4x4 and can rent homes. I spent 3 weeks on Kauai about 12 years ago. Loved it.

    North Shore, Oahu. Never been. Where would you stay? I assume the circus has moved on by February, but maybe I'm wrong. Also, would the beaches be a bit scary to have an adventurous and shore pound happy boy?

    Anywhere else? Other places in Costa? Nica? Mainland Mex?

    Warm air, warm water, laid back beach style. Don't need night life, but it can't be literally out in the middle of no where.

  2. #2
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    barbados^^^^^^^

    rog

  3. #3
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    I think anything in the Caribbean is out due to cost of access and travel duration.

    I know you know, but in case some one does not, we are based in CA flying out of SFO or vicinity.
    Last edited by Ottime; 06-17-2013 at 06:49 PM.

  4. #4
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    That time of year you might add the Carib side of CA, e.g., Bocas del Toro. The Pacific side is wave-starved Jan-Mar whereas the Carib side is on.

  5. #5
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    You could use my parents house down the shore....
    "In a perfect world I'd have all 10 fingers on my left hand, so I could just use my right hand for punching."

  6. #6
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    I have no great suggestions. But I do like conversing, so here goes. Hawaii should be a high consideration since the surf will be better than other locations and it's family friendly, how about Kauai instead of Oahu?

    Have ya thought about Baja Sur? Warm water, budget friendly and I'm sure there are some spots up the coast that can pull in the NW's in Feb. Or ya could always do the Costa Rica thing again

  7. #7
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    bolton, I did a quick search on Bocas and it seemd kind of a pain in the ass to get to. We will have a 2 year old with us. From what I saw one flies into Panama City, needs to cross town to the local airport and then gets on another plane. Have you been? Is there an easier way?

    From what I have heard the Caribbean coast of Costa is a bit sketchy. Maybe not the best place for a little kid and grandmother? Am I totally off on this?

    Pigs, after poking around the internet yesterday, Hanalei (Kauai) is high on the list. Only playing around with Oahu ecause I've never been. I absolutely loved Kauai. Hanalei seems almost perfect. The beach by the town pier is pretty mellow. The little guy could even get pushed into waves there. The bay has a decent right, with a good beach break at Pine Trees, and Tunnels is near by. It is America, so you have no passports/customs and likely a CostCo (what I really mean is things like grocery stores and cell phone service - things that make it easy)

    I am the only one who has been there, so it is new for the mrs and mom in law. All of it is new for the little guy. But this whole concept started with the thought of Costa.

    When I went to Kauai it was Nov/Dec, kind of when the pro show fills the North Shore. It was fairly full line ups, but I did get Tunnels pretty uncrowded. But it was not crazy crowded or with too much attitude. Not sure how Feb compares. I also only really want to travel with a 6' and 6'6". Is that silly? You Hawaii vets - do you usually bring mini guns with you? When I went last time, I was often under gunned on my 6'8" pin tail.

    Ramble on and on.

    Bocas looks fun, but maybe more for a boys trip?

    Tell me more about Baja Sur. Are you talking Caba? I imagine access is cheap and easy.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by PowerWhore7 View Post
    You could use my parents house down the shore....
    Where is it? Do they want to do a house swap with Santa Cruz?

  9. #9
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    i vote for hanalei/ha'ena, mainly because it's easy and known, which seems like a plus for what you want. something to consider, my memory is that there are not a lot of kid-friendly beaches on that side of the island at that time of year.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ottime View Post
    bolton, I did a quick search on Bocas and it seemd kind of a pain in the ass to get to. We will have a 2 year old with us. From what I saw one flies into Panama City, needs to cross town to the local airport and then gets on another plane. Have you been? Is there an easier way?
    I did it by land in a car instead of flying as I wanted to see the countryside on the way. You could fly into David instead of Panama but I agree it's not an easy hop. Just so you know that the Pacific Ocean beaches are largely dormant in your time frame. You are not limited to Bocas as there is good surf and accommodations at Isla Grande as well.
    http://www.surf-forecast.com/breaks/Isla-Grande
    http://www.hotelsistermoon.com/en/

  11. #11
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    ott, if you fly to cabo I really enjoyed being right near Todos Santos this past December (about an hour drive north of cabo). Cerritos is a good beach break with a reef that breaks on big NW, with a good inside section for learners/no big waves/current. Up the coast from that is San Pedrito, which I didn't surf. The smallest day we had in the 10 days I was there was over waist high, with 2 days of overhead waves.

    There's a surf colony right on the beach at Cerritos, as well as one that looks pretty cool and is quite cheap in El Pescadero (http://pescaderosurf.com/). Downside of baja sur is that the many have the beaches have a major rip - no swimming. Plus side is that besides holiday periods it's basically empty.

    My GFs family lives in the area, PM me if you want more info. For something different their neighbors built a private cabana they are renting out for 30ish $$ a night, but probably a bit small for 3 adults and a kid. google map these coordinates: 23.326262,-110.165835

    EDIT: Pescadero surf camp is $85 USD a night for 2 bedrooms with a bath, shower, full kitchen, living room and private patio. Seems like a steal. I will say that the town of Pescadero is very much a Mexican fishing village, but I never felt in danger or anything while there. Todos Santos is the bigger town and it's about 10 minutes up the road.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ottime View Post
    Where is it? Do they want to do a house swap with Santa Cruz?
    3rd Ave in Ortley Beach, so about 1 mile north of Seaside Heights. And as you already know....when itís good, itís really good and when itís flat thereís nothing to do except go to the boardwalk

    I am sure they would be down with a SC/NJ swap.
    "In a perfect world I'd have all 10 fingers on my left hand, so I could just use my right hand for punching."

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by boltonoutlaw View Post
    I did it by land in a car instead of flying as I wanted to see the countryside on the way. You could fly into David instead of Panama but I agree it's not an easy hop. Just so you know that the Pacific Ocean beaches are largely dormant in your time frame. You are not limited to Bocas as there is good surf and accommodations at Isla Grande as well.
    http://www.surf-forecast.com/breaks/Isla-Grande
    http://www.hotelsistermoon.com/en/
    That hotel looks pretty cool. I love the idea of being able to hop right out the front door and surf within earshot. That is a huge plus, and one of the minuses for Kauai where every break except for Pinetrees seems to be a 1/4 paddle out.

    OTOH, that wave, at least from the video online I could find, does not seem to have very good shape. It would be a bummer to travel so far for a so-so wave. Does it get good, or at least better than random looking beach break stuff? If it does get stellar, that set up looks awesome.

    Is the Pac dormant? I went a long time ago in Jan/Feb. While the Tamarindo/Witch's Rock/Negra zone seemed pretty small as we passed through, we did have a week of chest hight to overhead waves in Mal Pais area and OH thumpers in Hermosa/Roca Loca and shoulder high waves in Domincal. Basically surfed every day. But I have been reading that the NW does not often push all the way to Costa. So my personal experience does not perfectly line up with that. But I don't want to travel all that way and never have it break waist high. I do not need gnar for this trip, just some fun waves. Chest high is plenty, but not I fear Negra will be flat all week, and that would kind of suck.

    BTW, where is David? How long is the drive? I've driven Costa a lot. Are the roads comparable? It still needs to be pretty easy access. After a 10 hour flight with a 2 year old, things can be too crazy, or rather, they need to be rather simple. Two year olds tend to like to sit still for exactly 47 seconds.

    Jtran, I'll send you a PM for more info. I don't think it will be on the list, as last night the mrs. revealed that Costa and Kauai are two places she'd like to see before she dies. Did not know that, but that puts them near top of the list. Baja Sur looks the most affordable though. Short, direct, cheapest flight. Cheap rental car and cheaper lodging. I like that. I think the big question is: Is the landscape plush and beautiful or is it dry, stony dessert like Baja Norte?

    Right now Kauai seems to be topping out due to ease, waterfalls, rainbows, good inside breaks for junior. It's minuses seem to be cost and travel time for my in law coming from Rochester, NY.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by PowerWhore7 View Post
    3rd Ave in Ortley Beach, so about 1 mile north of Seaside Heights. And as you already know....when it’s good, it’s really good and when it’s flat there’s nothing to do except go to the boardwalk

    I am sure they would be down with a SC/NJ swap.
    Maybe they would be willing to swap in the middle of winter?

  15. #15
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    by no means is it lush, but I really thought it was pretty beautiful. If you want something plush like costa or kauai though cabo is a better bet (with worse surf). Pics from december:

    Cerritos beach
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    kinda typical inland landscape, lots of open space
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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ottime View Post
    That hotel looks pretty cool. I love the idea of being able to hop right out the front door and surf within earshot...OTOH, that wave, at least from the video online I could find, does not seem to have very good shape.

    Is the Pac dormant?

    BTW, where is David? How long is the drive? I've driven Costa a lot. Are the roads comparable? It still needs to be pretty easy access. After a 10 hour flight with a 2 year old, things can be too crazy, or rather, they need to be rather simple. Two year olds tend to like to sit still for exactly 47 seconds.
    A lot of places don't have a toddler beach where Dad can also surf lined-up chest-highs, so IDK on that front. At Isla Grande the inside is a bathtub tho. One nice thing about Bocas is the boat-hire and/or water-taxi access. You can treat the fam to a tour while you sesh or just flee for a han solo.

    Jan-Mar is "dry season" on Panama's Pacific coastline and big swells are infrequent. Some of that coast needs a straight south to work but farther west you go the more swell window you get. When it lines up the bonus is off-shores all day.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David,_Chiriqu%C3%AD
    https://maps.google.com/maps?q=loc:8...162598&t=p&z=7

    Given what you say about mini-ott maybe driving isn't an option, though to the infrastructure in Panama no other nation in the region can compare, e.g. the first underground subway system in CA is currently being built in Panama City. The roads are pretty good, way better than CR.

  17. #17
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    IME Pacific side of CR is consistantly small Jan-Mar. I was down in Cabo Matapalo, looking across at Pavones in Feb and it was flat. I dont mean small, I mean flat.

    Locs said this was normal, I was a bit bummed. It is spectacular, so I figured anything to get in the water, but no dice. One day watched a girl paddle out in ankle high mush, sit for half an hour, get cruised by a nice size shark, and then head straight back to the beach. I chuckled from my spot under the palm tree.

    Meanwhile Salsa Brava was apparently going off. DOH, for days. Caribbean side.

    Heard good things about Bocas when down there. But dont know anything myself.

    I'll just throw it out there cuz it is a spot I have been eyeing mid-winter, and flights are suprisingly cheap- what about Puerto Rico?

  18. #18
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    Puerto Rico is a good idea. I bet the flight is no longer and might be cheaper. Need to check on that. And I have friends who have stayed there.

    Where you were in CR does not pick up any NW, from what I understand. I am actually trying to figure out is Mal Pias tends to be more consistent than Tamarindo area with the NW, or if that was just what happened on my visit. I was in Mal Piad for the last week of Jan, and it never dropped below chest high. Tamarindo was pretty small the following week, and Hermosa was OH after that. Anyway, I think we are leaning away from CR, as I explained to the mrs. if she really wanted to see CR in any kind of fashion, we should wait to the tike is older and we have a few weeks to explore.

    Bocas looks real cool, but still not knowing how to access, it might be too much trouble dragging the family all the way there. I did a search for flights from SFO to DAV and came up with zero. Seriously. Bolton - did you fly internationally to David or from PC? Anyway, might be a spot for a future trip with surfing buddies.*

    Salsa Brava has kind of been on my list, but way back when I was down there, it sounded just a little too sketch to bring the youth. I don't want to be keeping my wife off the coke, my son away from the whores all while I keep checking my pocket for my passport.

    *This might be key to the search. I don't need epic surf, just something fun. I won't be surfing all day long, just maybe a session in the morning, cause I actually like my family. Honestly, Kauai is looking good, if costly, but my only issue is how much of a paddle out a lot of the reefs require. It can take over 20 minutes to get up the reef at Hanalei, and the paddle in can take almost as long. That is over a half hour without even yet getting a wave. Anyway, keep 'em coming.

    note - it is funny the responses one gets from the hotels in CR when you as a question about the surf. So vague.

  19. #19
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    I think you did better than average at Malpais. I was looking to head up the coast there on my CR trip, and reports were that it was a bust too for swell. And I think it is dominantly onshore that time of year.

    What's the deal with surf on the big island that time of year? Seems like a great family destination in that there is a bit more land to work with than on Maui or Kauai. On my radar for a while as well.

  20. #20
    Hugh Conway Guest
    For the pain of getting there from here, why not Portugal/Spain/Morocco. Could be warmish/sunnyish/beachish, closer to the inlaw in Crochester, not horrid to access from here, different. Otherwise, you've kinda got everything listed.

    I've only been to the big island in Hawaii - it's got/had a weird vibe. I don't know what family friendly is - but most of the tourist sites/accomodations/whatever are on the Kona side - which is very different from the North shore - and imo the cool part was exploring to random beachs and swimming, most of which isn't kid friendly imo - nasty currents and swell. There also was a tweaker/meth vibe in some of the backroads.

  21. #21
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    salsa brava is not worth it, imo. wicked crowded and not much room. not an area to bring the fam, imo. i only went over there cuz the pacific side was like walden pond. the beach breaks near salsa were wicked as i've said before.

    puerto rico is easy logistically, but wicked fucking crowded in the water at most spots. lots of family and friends go there to surf, but i have zero interest due to crowds alone.

    rog

  22. #22
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    I'm doing a similar debate for November, although we might leave the kids at home with Grandma and Grandpa. I don't think our winter is the time for CR. Mal Pais is pretty open beach break so should have swell, but nothing spectacular in my book. I actually think that Tamarindo is open to NW, but I could be wrong on that. You are correct that Pavones and surroundings are strictly only south breaks and fickle at that.

    I also think Baja Norte looks like a pretty average wave from what I have figured out. The surrounding is beautiful dry desert, not lush tropics. I also think the water cools down in that time of the year, not SC cold, but bring a suit of some kind cool.

    Went to Bocas del Toro a really long time ago. Cool town, didn't see any surf. Its not easy to get to. We were traveling from Panama back to CR and it all took time. You don't just pop in from the States for a few days. Cool town, on the verge of getting "discovered" when we were there. '96. Definitely not on my list of surf spots though...

    If I'm traveling to surf I want either a point or reef with some great shape and that takes advantage of the prevailing swell.

    What about Punta Mita between Puerta Vallarta and Sayulita? I think I'm between that and either Oahu or Kaui.
    He who has the most fun wins!

  23. #23
    Hugh Conway Guest
    Baja Norte isn't "average" unless you've been to reefs that you haven't. It's half of fucking california.

  24. #24
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    Yeah, Bocas is a pain to get to. If you fly in, though, I want to say it's the safest place to take your family that's been mentioned. Red Frog Beach would be the only beach I know of that's good for kids, and the surf there sucks. It's not difficult to drop family off at a nice beach, take a water taxi to a surf break, then tell him to come back in two hours to collect everyone.
    "Yo!! Brentley! Ya wanna get faded before work?"

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hugh Conway View Post
    Baja Norte isn't "average" unless you've been to reefs that you haven't. It's half of fucking california.
    Agreed. Wrote that while trying to tend to 3 kids under the age of 5. I meant the area that had been discussed above around Todos Santos / Cerritos. If you go further afield there are truly epic spots, but not likely done with mother in law in tow...
    He who has the most fun wins!

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