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If you’ve always dreamed of catching a wave, hanging 10 and cruising into shore on a surfboard, you’re in luck. While there are countless destinations scattered around the globe that offer surfing lessons, you don’t have to stray too far—or pay too much—to learn the ropes. With ample shorelines running throughout the United States, Central and South America, and the Caribbean, you can take an easy flight, put on your wetsuit, wax up your board and dive in. Here is a collection of destinations to consider for a bucket list surf trip.

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Arica, Chile

Chile has a diverse ecosystem, with beaches, wine country, mountains and rainforests. While every corner will have you gasping at the beauty, some of the beaches in this country are considered among the most beautiful on the continent. After you fly into Santiago and sip your way through wine country, make the trek to Arica, which offers the most important ingredient of surfing: strong winds! In addition to traditional board classes, you can also test your skills with kite surfing or bodyboarding.

When to surf: March through May.

Where to stay: While CheapTickets offers numerous hotels in Arica that start well under $100, the Chinchorro Eco Cub Hotel Marina puts you right in front of the beach, has a pool and offers free breakfast, starting at just $49.

Santa Catarina, Brazil

If you’re an American, plan ahead for a visa so you can experience one of the most iconic destinations in this vibrant country. Never heard of Santa Catarina? Think of it as you would Hawaii—beautiful waters, comfortable weather and plenty of resorts and restaurants—but much more affordable. It’s a prime spot for surfing, especially since it was first discovered by professional surfers in the 1970s. There are plenty of beaches to choose from, all of which offer some sort of surf lessons. If you want to see the best-of-the-best in action, visit in April to see the Association of Surfing Professionals World Championship Tour!

When to surf: April, June, July and August

Where to stay: Do like the pros and make Florianapolis in Santa Catarina your home base. With plenty of budget options, you can stay at a place like the modern Castelmar Hotel—rooftop pool and free breakfast included—without breaking the bank: Rooms start at just $37.

San Onofre State Beach, California

In the heart of San Diego County is this beach that’s known for softer waves. Since this area is known as a surfer’s dream, it’s probably no surprise many clamor here to improve their skill and seek the perfect ride to the sand. You’ll find this State Beach on the border of San Clemente and Camp Pendleton, and freckled with endless surf shops and taco stands.

When to surf: For beginners, June and July. For experienced athletes, August through November

Where to stay: Staying close to the coast will usually cost you in California, but Patriots Boutique Motel in San Clemente puts you within walking distance of Avenida del Mar and Casa Romantic, and starts at just $119.

ALSO: Save even more when you sign up for CheapCash—it’s free!

Photo courtesy of Hotel Boutique OZ Sayulita

Sayulita, Mexico

Hey, it’s alright if you can’t pinpoint this on a map (we couldn’t either). It’s a very small—yet robust and vibrant!—surfing town on the Pacific Coast of Mexico, just north of Puerto Vallarta. In Sayulita, you can fill your tummy with tacos, drink margaritas or local beers, and of course, hit the ocean rolling. What’s nice about this spot is it’s far less concentrated than other areas of the country, and it features sandy beaches. This makes your wipeouts less painful. That, and the mellow waves.

When to surf: December through April

Where to stay: Your money goes far in Sayaluta, which isn’t yet overrun with sun-seeking tourists. Treat yourself to the stylish, highly-rated Hotel Boutique OZ Sayulita, which offers a pool, private balconies and a free breakfast that goes until 11am (it’s like they know you!); prices start at $100.

Photo courtesy of Gemini House Bed and Breakfast

Surfer’s Point, Barbados

Sometimes, surfing vacations are fun with friends. Other times, you want a solo journey to process through a difficult time, or just reflect without interruption. If you’re on your own, consider the appropriately-titled, Surfer’s Point in Barbados. It’s a sheltered area on the southern coast that features easy waves—ideal for beginners. Bonus: pristine waters and warm enough temperatures that you never have to rent a wetsuit.

When to surf: You’re in luck, year round is great here.

Where to stay: Cozy, cheerful Gemini House Bed & Breakfast puts you within view of the beach, and with prices starting at $67, it’s one of the best values in the Caribbean. Bonus: free breakfast!

Trover photo by Mindy Gorski

Isla Bastimentos, Panamá

As one of the largest islands in Panama, this destination offers everything you’d want out of a beach vacation—and then some. In addition to restaurants that serve locally-caught seafood, white, pretty beaches to tan on and other perks, it also makes for a fun place to catch a swell. No matter your experience level, you can find a spot on the shore and a time of day that’ll fit your needs.

When to surf: November through March

Where to stay: Panama is another great bargain beach where you can find rooms for as little as $20. We like the quirky El Faro de Colibri where you can opt to stay in the lighthouse or in an overwater bungalow—at a fraction of the price of the ones you’ve seen in Fiji. Prices start at $83.

Photo courtesy of Hotel Kundalino

Montanita, Ecuador

Of all of the surf towns in Ecuador, this one is the most well-known. Here, you’ll have that undeniable, laid back vibe, with locally-owned shops, small hole-in-the-wall eats, hostels and hammocks for rent on the beach. Because it caters to this nomadic surfing crowd, you can spend plenty of time here without spending too much money. And if you’d like, look into one of the yoga classes to cross-train your surfing muscles.

When to Surf: December to March

Where to stay: Views of the ocean go for a song in Montanita but charming Hotel Kundalino is perfect for the surfing set: It’s right on the beach and features a comfortable terrace, beachside bar, hammocks and free yoga. Prices start at $49.

Tagged: Beach, California, Caribbean, Destinations, Hawaii, Mexico, Top 10 list, Types of Travel

Note: CheapTickets compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site.

Lindsay Tigar

Lindsay Tigar

Lindsay is a lifestyle and travel writer, and content strategist. She is a passport stamp collector with an affinity for great wine, coffee and conversation. You can find a full collection of her work at

2 thoughts on “7 best cheap places to learn how to surf”

  1. I really like to share your all these images which looking very fabulous. I also enjoyed myself while I was visiting this kind of places.

  2. I don’t understand this post. Your prices are all over the place and you don’t cover the quality of surf camps and classes or even the cost of lessons or where the best beginner waves are. What is the focus of this post?

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