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Turtle Bay Resort

The Endless Summer: 5 Resorts With Stellar Surfing Programs & Luxury Packages

Aug. 11th, 2021

When he won the gold medal for swimming at the Stockholm Summer Olympic Games in 1912, Hawaiian icon Duke Kahanamoku proposed making surfing an Olympic sport but despite many attempts over the years, it wasn’t until this year’s games in Tokyo that surfing finally made its debut. For anyone newly inspired or intrigued to try riding a few waves and “feeling the stoke” on their next vacation, below, five resorts from California, Hawaii and Mexico plus far-flung destinations like Thailand and the Maldives offering a range of packages and instruction for first-time and experienced surfers.

Turtle Bay Resort, Hawaii 

An Oahu landmark since 1973, Turtle Bay Resort recently reopened after an extensive remodel. The only luxury resort on the island’s famed North Shore, it stands to reason prominent professional surfer and North Shore local Jamie O’Brien would be enlisted to lead its surf program. Guests at Turtle Bay can benefit from O’Brien’s wealth of knowledge and experience in the sport with tailored experiences that range from helping beginners catch their first wave to advanced training for Oahu’s legendary reef break, Banzai Pipeline. In a nod to the resort’s North Shore roots, new addition ‘The Surf House’ serves as a retail and gathering space. When it comes to accommodation, book one of the ocean bungalows and enjoy a few Mai Tais while watching local pros surf the point from aptly titled waterside bar, Sunset.

Turtle Bay Resort

Alila Marea Beach Resort Encinitas, California 

This new luxury beachfront property in North County San Diego has tapped local family-owned business Surfin Fire Surf School to help guests Discover Their Stoke with group lessons, summer surf camps and surf tours. The Surfboard Butler program at Alila Marea Beach Resort Encinitas also provides access to more than a dozen custom-designed house boards and a “butler” take care of everything from coordinating lessons with Surfin Fire and transport to and from the beach to handling wetsuit storage. Which means all guests need to focus on is paddling out below the bluff or nearby Grandview Beach for a lesson with their coach while also learning a few pointers about ocean safety. Many of the 130 rooms and suites feature ocean views as does the signature restaurant Vaga­­­ – the ultimate post-surf cocktail spot. 

Alila Marea Beach Resort Encinitas

One&Only Palmilla, Mexico 

Beer, tequila and beautiful desert landscapes might be abundant in Baja, but great surf breaks are too and with its Sea of Cortez meets Pacific Ocean location One&Only Palmilla is perfectly positioned as the ultimate surf retreat. Thanks to their partnership with luxury surfing pioneers, Tropicsurf, guests can sign up for beginner lessons or a technique coaching session, while more advanced watermen and women can go on “surfari” and hunt down waves in style. As part of the resort’s Art of Luxury Surfing experience, guests set off in a Land Rover Defender in search of the perfect Baja break, master the art of surfing during a one-on-one lesson then hit the waves. Beachside, cozy up for a picnic and beers around the bonfire while a surfer’s relief massage the next day should help soothe sore muscles.

One and Only Palmilla

Anantara Digu, Maldives

With its castaway paradise island feel and lessons that cater to beginners and advanced levels, Anantara Dhigu Maldives Resort is a favorite among the international jet-set surfer crowd. From playful rights to intense left barrels, the surrounding area is home to world-class waves and breaks – the closest accessible from neighboring Anantara Veli and the furthest a thirty-minute boat ride away. Operating exclusively with Tropicsurf, Dhigu’s expert instructors offer top-level guidance, water safety, and coaching tips. Grab drinks and sit down to watch local legends as they charge house reef wave “Veli Left” in front of the resort's Dhoni bar or hop on a guided trip to one of the outer reef breaks or farther afield to North Malé Atoll.

Anantara Digu, Maldives

Anantara Layan Phuket Resort, Thailand

The just-launched Luxury Surfing Escape package at Anantara Layan Phuket includes a daily 90-minute lesson, transfers to Bangtao Beach and a gourmet picnic, plus other perks like forty percent off spa treatments, and early check-in and late check-out privileges. With some of the top surfing beaches on the island (including Kata, considered Phuket’s surf mecca) a short drive away, more experienced wave riders might want to plan their travels around the northwest monsoon that brings excellent surfing conditions to this part of the Andaman from April through October. For après surf, relax beside the beachfront infinity pool, SUP the lagoon, sign up for a signature ritual at Anantara Spa or join a Thai language class. 

Anantara Layan Phuket Resort

Keri Bridgwater

A native Brit, Keri Bridgwater spent time in-house at magazines and publishers in Malmö, Sweden, Auckland, New Zealand and Telluride, Colorado before moving to San Diego over a decade ago. She specializes in travel stories, destination guides, hotel news and reviews, in addition to profile interviews for various publications and websites. Her byline has featured in SFGATE, Fodor's, the London Evening Standard travel section, Yoga Journal, Modern Luxury, and Virgin Australia's inflight magazine. ...(Read More)