Discover: Baleal Surf Camp

Baleal Surf Camp nestles among the dunes overlooking one of Europe’s most dramatic and beautiful surf spots. 

The camp, founded in 1993 was Portugal’s first and although it started off as a humble wooden beach tent, now 24 years later Baleal Surf Camp is hailed as one of top surf operations in Portugal attracting beach lovers and surfers from across the globe and offering a rare but welcome ‘old school’ focus on customer service and the environment.

It’s secret:  first class accommodation and surf tuition combined with an all inclusive beach-party vibe that few who visit once can resist returning for. Novices mix with experts; a clean beach is as much a priority as clean waves, and good music, food and company underpin both the family run business and its wider location.
It all started in 1980, when I was 11 years old and rode my first wave in Prainha, with a Safari surf board bought by my Dad from Duarte Baltazar. I remember that first wave as if it were yesterday, and the influence that moment had on me. In 1993 I started giving my first lesson to some kids from Baleal island who asked me from help, I never imagined that surf would revolutionise Peniche in the future and this would be my calling for the next 24 years. When surfing picked up with the tourists and more surf operations began to emerge, I realised for us to be different and stand out from the crowd we would have to work harder and better. That’s exactly what we did – I built a beach bar and a surf centre on one of Portugal’s best beaches, my brother Marcos took on bookings and online marketing and we managed to take Baleal Surf Camp to a prominent position in an extremely competitive market.
Bruno Bairros

Baleal Surf Camp Founder and Director

Baleal itself sits on the northern edge of the Peniche Peninsula, about an hours drive north of Lisbon and is the center for surfing in the area. Over the last few years it has won international attention after becoming an established stop on the ASP World Tour. There are waves for experts but also plenty of shelter and security for novices. It’s one of those rare places where, on one beach, the waves can be head high and barreling, while five minutes away its a mellow longboard day. In short, there is nearly always a wave for everyone.

The surf camp has its own excellent bar and cafe,  a place famed locally for chilled days, followed by long nights of live music and dancing. And if food and wine is your thing you will be spoilt for choice. The area is famed for its seafood, which is delivered live and fresh to the port of Peniche each morning and the local restaurants are excellent, serving fish and meat dishes that put most big-name city chefs to shame on both quality and value.

To celebrate the camps many years of surf camp history, check out this video to get a real feel for things:

How to Become a Surf Instructor

Being a Surf Instructor is possibly one of the best jobs you can have as a surfer.

Not only do you get to spend every day on the beach, you can manage it so you work during summers and escape the winters travelling. You can also get jobs abroad, or in surf camps right across the globe. On top all that you get the rewards of seeing the faces of super stoked pupils who you have helped get to their feet. It’s the perfect job for students at college or university or during their gap year.

We asked the people in the know what’s involved in becoming a surf instructor and take a look at courses on offer.

Chris Bond

Ticket to Ride

Chris, how do you become a surf instructor?
There are several different elements to becoming a surf instructor. Firstly of course you need to be a good enough surfer. The basic requirements are to be able to ride left and right on unbroken waves in 1 – 1.5m waves with control. Next up you have to sign up for both a surf coaching course and a lifesaving course. The most popular Surf Coaching course is the ISA Level 1 course which is a two-day course incorporating both theory and practical elements of the course. After completing the course you will need to do 20 hours of coaching at a surf school during which you will practice delivering the lesson and be observed completing a surf lesson at the end by the head coach. You will also need to complete either a Lifeguard course or Surf Lifeguard course as stipulated by the ISA.

Steve Bowens

H20 Training

Steve, do you need any experience before you take a course?
You need to be a competent and confident surfer and to love see others learn and develop. You can get this by spending time in the water surfing a range of different types of breaks and areas.
It is a good idea to get some experience teaching surfing, the best way to do this is to assist on some lessons at your local break (be sure to choose a recognised surf school who are teaching to a syllabus and maintaining high standards of instruction). You will get an idea of how a lesson is broken down and what sort of help and support beginners really need when they are learning. You should then book onto a surf instructor course, there are a number of different organisations who offer courses but in essence they are all fairly similar. During the course you will learn how to plan and deliver a surfing lesson and how best to teach a range of surfing related subjects. Depending on the qualification you take you may then need to log a number of hours working alongside an experienced coach, confirm when you have done this then spending the summer on the beach in the waves teaching the sport you love.

Tania Nesbitt

The Academy of Surfing Instructors (ASI)

Tania, what qualifications do you need?
To be a surf instructor you need a minimum Level 1 Surfing Instructor, current surf rescue, current first aid certificates.  An ASI Level 1 Surfing Instructor qualification enables you to deliver, plan and assess beginner to intermediate surfing sessions in beginner level surf locations: surf no larger than 1½ft (½ metre) and Intermediate level surf locations: surf up to 3ft (1 metre).
In the UK and some countries you can hold a Surf Lifesaving certificate which includes both surf rescue and first aid. And in some countries, like Australia you may also need to hold a Working with Oxygen certificate. If you are working with children, you need to hold a working with children background check. But only a few countries worldwide have this, like UK and Australia. The minimum age to take the courses is 16 years old.  However, instructors under 18 years cannot deliver lessons to adults on their own. There must have another adult instructor, supervising or nearby.


ASI – Academy of Surfing Instructors

The ASI is the world’s leading professional membership, education and accreditation body for surfing, SUP and bodyboarding. Operating in over 20 countries, instructor careers range from Level 1-Level 5 Master Coach with continuing professional development. ASI accredited instructors attain skills and competencies to work in any location throughout the world.

Dates: From March – November in the UK, March – December in Portugal, late April in Netherlands
Prices: From £240 – £260
Location: Northern Ireland, Cornwall, Devon, Wales, Portugal, Netherlands, Israel, Australia, USA, Canada and the Americas. For more information on courses available and where head to:
[email protected]
or [email protected]


We’ve hand sourced the best Surf Instructor Training courses across the world including South Africa, Morocco, Bali, Sri Lanka and Australia so you can go live the dream with a world recognised certification! Most of which are suitable whether you’ve only had a few lessons or are already confident in the water – the Bali option also includes a FREE flight too for the first 6 spots each course!
Plus save £65 on any surf instructor training course (4 week +) using the code CARVE65

Dates: Bali – Year Round (4, 8 and 12 week options) / Morocco – Jan and Sept / South Africa – Jan and Sept / Australia – starts every Monday, year round/ Sri Lanka – Nov and April (1 week option) / UK – April to Oct start dates
Location: Bali, Morocco, South Africa, Australia, Sri Lanka and UK
Prices: From £550

H2O Training Ltd

We run high quality courses including Surf Lifesaving Awards, Outdoor 1st Aid and specialist safety and rescue training for coasteering and kayaking. If you love watersports as much as we do and are looking for supportive, professional education from people with years of industry experience then please get in touch.

Dates: SLSGB Surf Coach Lifesaving, Outdoor 1st Aid and Coasteer Safety & Rescue courses are available from March – August in Cornwall and Scotland. Head to:
Location: Cornwall and Scotland
Price: 1st aid courses from £80 and Surf Lifesaving course from £250 (all prices include NGB membership and registration fees).
[email protected]

Mojosurf Academy

Become an accredited surf instructor with Mojosurf Academy and open up the opportunity to live and work by the beach around the world. There is no better place to develop your surf skills than at Mojosurf Spot X Surf Camp where you will eat, sleep and breathe surfing with some of the best surf instructors in Australia.

Dates: The 5 Day Great Aussie Surf Adventure is included in all Surf Academy programs which run every Monday from Sydney, Byron Bay or Brisbane to Spot X Surf Camp (transfers included)
Location: Australia
Prices: 1 month surf
development $3360 AUD
2 month surf development $5950 AUD
3 month surf instructor course $7950 AUD + $1000 AUD local payment for certification & accreditation
10% off bookings april-june 2017/2018
[email protected]

Oyster Worldwide

This Australian surf development programme caters for complete beginners – pro surfers who want to develop their surfing skills to a level where they can take on surf instructor courses. Enjoy learning from professional instructors and experience practical sessions, theoretical sessions and fitness training. Develop pre-existing surf skills or learn something new within a friendly, family atmosphere.

Dates: You can take part from between 2-12 weeks throughout the year.
Location: Australia
14 Day Surf Camp £1380
4 week course £2126
8 week course £4127
12 week course £5998
[email protected]

Surf Berbere

Surf Berbere Surf Instructor Course in Morocco is an amazing way to experience a fantastic culture. Throughout the 12 week course in Taghazout, you will train to become a surf instructor, learn French, teach English in local schools, and qualify to be a Level 1 Surf Coach.

9th September – 2nd December, 2017
6th January – 31st March, 2018
Location: Morocco
Prices: £4,500 or £4,275 with early bird discount
[email protected]

Solid Surf House

Had enough of your 9-5 job? Change your life and become a surf teacher! At Solid Surf House we offer a 12 week Surf Instructor Course in Canggu, a cool, chilled out ‘surfy’ village on the west coast of Bali. After 12 weeks you will be an ISA certified teacher.

Bali 12 week course:
1st September 17 / 1st December 17 / 1st March 18
Bali 8 week course:
1st October 17 / 1st January 18 / 1st April

More dates 2018 T.B.C

Location: Bali
Prices: 8 week course £2,990 or 12 week course £4,350. Incl. Stay in villa + Pool, ISA course, lifesaving course, breakfasts + BBQ, flight (see T&C) surf trips, excursions and more.
[email protected]

Ticket to Ride

This is your real zero to hero instructor course! Whether you already surf or are a complete beginner we’ll take your surfing to a new level and get you ready to pass your surf instructor and lifeguard courses by the time you reach week 9 of your 10-week, 8 location, road trip of a lifetime in South Africa.

Date: 11 Sept – 20th Nov 2017 and 19th Jan – 23 March 2018
Price: Starting from £4595
Location: South Africa
[email protected]

Luxury Surf escapes

Luxury Surf Escapes

Fancy ramping-up the luxury on your next surf trip? Check out i-escape’s luxury surf hideaways. View i-escape’s full Surf Collection at:

If you haven’t heard of i-escape, you’ve been missing out on its handpicked collection of unforgettable places to stay across more than 50 destinations.

With a team of passionate travellers at the helm, i-escape will help you find and book boutique hotels, stylish guesthouses, eco-retreats, safari lodges, stunning beach huts and chic villa rentals – all in some of the world’s most stunning and fascinating locations. Every property has been personally visited by one of the team, and their reviews tell it like it is – the highs, the lows, and everything in between. You’ll pay the same, or sometimes less, as going direct to the accommodation owners, and you might even be treated to extra perks when you arrive.

Here are 10 i-escape retreats in some of the world’s finest surf locations.

To find out more, see

The Harmony Hotel

Nosara Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica

This tropical paradise eco-hotel is a stone’s throw from Playa Guicones – one of the most stunning surf beaches on the Nicoya Peninsula. The wood and wicker furniture, palm trees, freshwater pool and open-plan layout give the hotel the feel of a 1950’s Hawaiian resort.  You won’t find plasma TVs or high-tech gadgets, instead luxury comes in the form of a healing centre, organic food and sunrise yoga on the beach. The rooms’ private patios, hammocks and outdoor showers make the most of the tropical garden setting; look out for howler monkeys, hummingbirds and iguanas, and keep the windows open to let the sound of the waves lull you to sleep.

Ebb Tide

Camps Bay Cape Town, South Africa

With the majestic backdrop of the Twelve Apostles, Camps Bay is one of Cape Town’s highlights. The palm-fringed beach is known for dramatic sunsets – and for some of the city’s hippest bars and restaurants. A short walk from all the action, these apartments are sleek and modern with private terraces and plunge pools – but the real stars of the show are the breath-taking ocean views. Stay here and you can take advantage of South Africa’s world-class surfing then return to your apartment for a soak in a sea-view tub and a well-deserved beer. Each sleeps 2-6; self catering.

Bali Luxury Private Villa

Seseh Canggu, Indonesia

This blissful villa-for-12 has it all – chic, tropical décor, garden bathrooms, an infinity pool and an unbeatable location. Set in exotic gardens, it is hidden away at the edge of an unspoilt fishing village, with views of swaying rice and palm-fringed surf. Happily, it is just 40 minutes from Denpasar airport. The atmosphere is exclusive, private, laid-back and utterly luxurious. A team of delightful staff intuitively second guess your every need; the only decision you need concern yourself with is whether you can fit in a massage before sunset cocktails and canapés.

Taru Villas – 906

Hikkaduwa Sri Lanka

This mellow bungalow, hugging Hikkaduwa’s golden shores, is blissfully unpretentious. Check the surf every morning from the veranda and enjoy a pre-breakfast swim in your pool. Hikkaduwa’s buzzy surf scene is a short walk away, with some of the best surf breaks in southwest Sri Lanka – though the incredible home-cooked food and the nothing-is-too-much-attitude of the staff make it hard to leave the tranquillity of the villa. Hikkaduwa is also a popular diving location; highlights include the Hikkaduwa Gala caves, rocky-bottomed Kiragala and some fascinating wrecks. Sleeps 2-6.

Villas de Trancoso

Trancoso Bahia, Brazil

Just a couple of hundred yards from the beach in the surf-haven of Bahia, you’ll find this stylish collection of villas and suites. After you’ve sampled the plethora of beach and reef breaks, unwind in your private villa, laze around the pool, or head to the main cabana for a refreshing cocktail.  The elegant villas are made from Brazilian wood and palm thatch, and are decked with fine white linen, romantically-draped mosquito nets and colourful rugs – conjuring up a proper luxury beach vibe. Salvador da Bahia has a sandy coastline that covers hundreds of kilometres – perfect for finding surf spots for all levels.

Playa Escondida

Pacific Coast Mexico

This romantic jungle retreat with a private beach and laid-back vibe is just 10 minutes’ from the surfy town of Sayulita; yet the hidden jungle setting and the sound of waves and birdsong will make you feel miles away from civilisation. Days pass blissfully; there are 29 colourful rooms and casitas but you’d never know it thanks to the acres of space, and the giant fern and palm tree camouflage of the beautiful shoreline. If you have your fill of surfing, go humpback whale watching or simply swing in a hammock, sipping margaritas and watching pelicans out at sea.

South Sands Boutique Hotel

Salcombe Devon, United Kingdom

There aren’t many stylish UK hotels that are literally right on the beach. Here, there’s nothing between you and golden sands – and once here, there’s no need for a car. This is a watersports paradise, with surfing, sailing, windsurfing, kayaking, boating and waterskiing on your doorstep. And once you’ve worked up an appetite, the light and airy restaurant, serving delicious, fresh seafood, has wonderful views across the Salcombe estuary.
The hotel’s beautifully styled, peaceful rooms flaunt New England décor, seascape colours and plantation shutters. Families will love the self-catering Beach Suite apartments and the sailing school next door.

Windmills Break

Yallingup Margaret River, Australia

Windmills Break hotel is named after the stunning local surf beach. The Margaret River estuary is one of Australia’s best surfing regions and its annual Classic Surfing Championships are held in November. The hotel has 10 acres of gorgeous gardens, and an infinity pool with loungers and a hot tub. The rooms are dressed in warm chocolates, creams and beiges, with striking landscape photographs on the walls. Yallingup, Eagle Bay and Bunker Bay beaches are all close by, as are the vineyards and wineries of the Margaret River region.

Lake Loft

Hossegor Gascony, France

The Landes region of southwest France boasts some of Europe’s largest pine and cork forests, highest sand dunes and world-class surf breaks. This boutique B&B is a real hidden-gem with just four gorgeous bedrooms and cool designer touches, from vintage surfboards to Le Corbusier chaise longues. Decor is beachside-industrial chic: sun-bleached kilims on polished cement floors, brilliant Plümacher prints on white walls. Come in early October when the town of Hossegor hosts the Quiksilver Pro France competition. Respite from the Atlantic breakers comes in the form of strolls through the pine forests or loungers by the hotel’s heated pool.

Dar Lazuli

Essaouira Morocco

This quirky, cosy riad is hidden deep within Essaouira’s medina – right at the hub of things, yet only two minutes’ from the beach. Its three apartment suites are arranged around a central colonnaded courtyard, and are amazing value. All have kitchens, sitting areas and exquisitely comfortable king-size beds – but if you’re feeling lazy, there are plenty of restaurants in the vicinity. Essaouira is a surfers’ paradise in winter and perfect for kite surfing in summer. When you’re not in the ocean, you can go camel riding, quad biking or pony trekking along the coast to the sand dunes at Sidi Kaouki. Or follow the coastal highway south towards Agadir to see goats climbing trees in the Argan forest.

For more information on i-escape and to view their full collection, head to


Given is the simple yet powerfully contemplative story of a unique family legacy come full circle. Told through the visceral experience of a 6 yr. old, Given follows legendary surfers Aamion and Daize Goodwin from their island home of Kauai through 15 different countries in the quest for surf and to fulfill a calling handed down through generations. Told from the perspective of their 6-year-old boy, it is a powerful, contemplative film.

The film is premiering at the Hawaii International Nov 12 and screening at Florida Surf Festival, Tallin Black Nights International, Kona Surf and Santa Barbara International festival and a theatrical premiere in New York, Sydney and Los Angeles will happen early next year.  

The film’s release will be accompanied by publication of “Given and the Big Fish,” a children’s picture book, as well as a soundtrack composed by Gregory Rogove featuring Devendra Banhart.


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