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A day at a Stoke Travel surf camp

What’s better than spending a few days learning to surf in Spain over summer? We present to you, a Guide to One day at the Stoke Travel surf camp.

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Learning to surf, Stoke Travel Surf Camp,

While we were travelling around Europe this summer we needed a bit of downtime away from all the pesky crowds. We were exhausted and had to escape from travelling for a few days of just chilling out and relaxing.

Grabbing our togs (swimming gear) we headed to the northwest of Spain to a sleepy village called Zarautz to hook up with the awesome team from Stoke Travel surf camp.

Stoke Travel Surf Camp

Spending a few days learning to surf has got to be right up there as one of the best summertime activities.

A day at Stoke Travel Surf Camp

Every morning you will wake from your slumber in your tent overlooking Zarautz and the Spanish coastline. The sunrises over the jagged Pyrenees and glistens across the oceans surface at your feet.

Zarautz beach, Stoke Travel Surf Camp

Depending on your level of hangover this is the best time to grab a surfboard and head down for a few waves. There is hardly a soul in sight and the wind will most likely be calm to non-existent so the waves will be clean.

No other feeling can even come close to plastering a smile on my face than paddling out with a buddy or two and perfect waves.

With arms turning to jelly after your early morning session you will need to rest. After our first surf we would usually hang around the surf camp waiting for lunch by passing the time with table tennis, catching up on emails (yes there is free WiFi) or even a class of yoga.

Yoga Stoke Travel Surf Camp

Depending on the tides, the surf lessons kick off after lunch for any beginners. The teachers are excellent and the surf lessons small enough that you will get the attention you deserve.

Learning to surf, Stoke Travel Surf Camp,

With the easy to learn on surfboards you will find yourself standing up after just a few waves. Just maybe not for that long…

Stoke Travel Surf Lesson, Michelle Kennedy

Michelle spent 2 weeks at the surf camp with us and was a pro by the end!

Now comes the hard part of the day. Do you:

a) Read your book on the beach;

b) Play a bit of beach cricket, football or volleyball;

c) Grab an ice cream and wander through the cute village of Zarautz; or

d) Have a siesta.

Stoke Travel Surf Camp

It’s a hard life but just keep reminding yourself, someone has to do it.

If you haven’t exhausted yourself by now or chose not to have a siesta then your evening is just getting started. The Spanish seem to only get going when the temperature starts to cool down in the evening.

Again you have a couple of options but either way start with a few beers and sangria’s at the surf camp.

Option A: San Sebastian

Make your way into San Sebastian. It is one of those town in Europe that you could easily live in. Not only is it a gorgeous place to visit during the day but it also awakens when the sun goes down.

There is nightlife a plenty and all the delicious pintxos (tapas) you can eat! It’s the culinary capital of Spain with no less than 16 Michelin stars awarded in this sleepy town.

Pintxos San Sebastian, Stoke Travel Surf Camp

Option B: Watch the sunset from the campground

Sitting on the hillside you can finish off another exceptional day with a bunch of mates and just this view to look at. Not a bad way to spend a few days (or weeks) over summer.

Stoke Travel Surf Camp, Sunset in Zarautz, Spain

Have you learnt to surf before? Tell us about your experiences below.

Extra Travel Information:

Where: Gran Camping Zarauz, 10kms from San Sebastian in Spain.

When: All summer long from June 1st – September.

Cost: €50 all-inclusive (includes 3 x meals a day, accommodation and surf lessons).

Sleep: Camping accommodation (twin share tent, sleeping mat and bag included).

Extras: Unlimited beer and sangria (€5 a day), party trips, horse riding and yoga.

Disclaimer: We were guests at the Stoke Travel surf camp. However, as always our opinions and words are always our own. 

Cole is one half of New Zealand's leading adventure travel blogging couple who have been wearing out their jandals around the world since 2009. He loves any adventure activities and anything to do with the water whether it is Surfing, Diving, Swimming, Snorkeling or just lounging nearby on the beach. You can follow Cole on Google+. Or consider following us via RSS Feed, Twitter, Facebook and subscribe to our Newsletter.

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35 Comments

35 Comments

  1. Lucy

    August 20, 2012 at 11:49 AM

    I’m a dreadful surfer – my first time was on a hen weekend in Cornwall in the wind and rain, it even hailed at one point and I nearly got knocked out by my own surfboard. Your trip looks a lot more civilised. I might have to give it another try somewhere warmer one day!

    • Cole Burmester

      August 21, 2012 at 10:06 AM

      Hahaha that is why we don’t surf in the UK. In Scotland I would freeze to death. Definitely try it again in Spain 🙂

  2. Laurence

    August 20, 2012 at 1:05 PM

    So nearly would have been in San Sebastian at the same time as you guys. Ah well. Looks like you had a blast. I really want to learn to surf properly some day 😀

    • Cole Burmester

      August 21, 2012 at 10:09 AM

      We were only a few km’s apart I think at one stage! Lots of opportunities along the coast of France to learn Laurence 🙂

  3. Mary @ Green Global Travel

    August 20, 2012 at 11:17 PM

    If I was going to learn to surf, this is the place where I would want to do it!

    • Cole Burmester

      August 21, 2012 at 10:11 AM

      Warm water, summer sunshine and friendly people. Couldn’t ask for a better spot.

  4. Arti

    August 21, 2012 at 2:15 PM

    What an amazing place! The captures are gorgeous, looks like you had a ball out there!!
    Thanks for sharing, have a nice day 🙂

    • Cole Burmester

      August 22, 2012 at 10:27 AM

      Was such a fun 2 weeks Arti. Bit boozy every day but the surf was really good and super friendly people 🙂

  5. Callie

    August 22, 2012 at 2:44 AM

    This looks like a great way to learn how to surf! I’ve only tried once and was pitiful (I like to blame the jellyfish that stung me, but it’s my own fault).

    • Cole Burmester

      August 22, 2012 at 10:28 AM

      How can it be your fault if a jellyfish stung you? 🙂 Definitely try it again Callie. It gets easier each time!

  6. Jeremy Branham

    August 22, 2012 at 5:08 PM

    Surfing isn’t my thing but looks like a lot of fun and some good exercise. After a long morning of surfing, I think I would go all Spanish here and opt for a siesta! 🙂

    • Cole Burmester

      August 23, 2012 at 10:22 AM

      The siesta’s each day were one of the best parts of the camp 🙂

  7. Jarmo @ Arctic Nomad

    August 23, 2012 at 9:27 PM

    Surfing is great fun, I learned in Puerto Escondido in Mexico. Surfing just works so well for a holiday, you just lay on the beach, surf, and then party in the evenings! 🙂

    • Cole Burmester

      August 24, 2012 at 1:41 PM

      Pretty much sums of what we did for 2 weeks Jarmo!

  8. Audrey (@BackpackingTB)

    August 25, 2012 at 3:13 PM

    I like the series of shots that goes from standing on the surf board to the elegant belly flop. 😉

    • Cole Burmester

      August 29, 2012 at 8:30 AM

      Hahaha my friend Michelle is a bit annoyed that I included those photos 😉

  9. Angela

    August 25, 2012 at 4:09 PM

    I would look so clumsy on a surfboard 😛

    • Cole Burmester

      August 29, 2012 at 8:30 AM

      Everyone looks clumsy the first few times. Doesn’t take too long to master though.

  10. Stephanie - The Travel Chica

    August 27, 2012 at 1:39 PM

    This looks fun. And as I learned in Central America, teaching yourself to surf does not work so well 🙂

    • Cole Burmester

      August 29, 2012 at 8:36 AM

      The first few times sucks for everyone, especially if learning by yourself. Really need to visit Central and South America to go surfing!

  11. Gina

    August 28, 2012 at 5:16 PM

    Looks so fun! I’d love to take a surf camp sometime. I live in California and have tried it a couple times with friends and it’s HARD! I think I need some consistent classes to figure out how to conquer the board. Doing that in Spain would be even better. 🙂

    • Cole Burmester

      August 29, 2012 at 8:46 AM

      Spend one week in Spain and you will have mastered it Gina 🙂

      By the way, we love California. We have friends and family in San Francisco and Laguna Beach area.

  12. Alexandra

    August 29, 2012 at 1:50 AM

    Born and raised on Maui yet I don’t surf! I plan to be in Spain this fall so maybe I will get myself a few lessons. I’m too embarrassed to do it here at home 😉

    • Cole Burmester

      August 29, 2012 at 8:56 AM

      Will swap places with you and maybe we can go to Maui 🙂

      • Alexandra

        August 29, 2012 at 9:05 AM

        Paradise is in the eye of the beholder

  13. OutsideTheGuidebook

    September 1, 2012 at 4:28 PM

    Lovely article! Although truth be said, I was more impressed by the photograph of the Tapas than anything else!! :-)) Did try surfing once.. in the frigid waters off the British Atlantic coast. Ice cream headaches deluxe.

  14. Simon

    September 15, 2012 at 4:08 AM

    Crazy, I did the same trip a year or so back! I spent two days at this camp with Stoke travel and, while I had a brilliant time, I never did manage to stand up on my board. That I learnt in Bali, where you can get one-on-one surfing lessons for but a fraction of the price it would cost in Europe.

    • Adela

      September 15, 2012 at 12:09 PM

      Yea we would love to do that in Bali. The surf looks great there and the 1 on 1 would be a great help.

  15. Jessah Robinson

    October 14, 2012 at 9:59 PM

    Hey Cole,
    It’s Jess from the surf camp, I finally remembered to check out your blog,
    and it’s so good!
    Where are your next travel destinations?
    🙂

    • Cole Burmester

      October 15, 2012 at 8:48 AM

      Cheers Jess and great you finally made it to our blog 🙂 How are you?

      We are heading to Oslo this weekend then I will be back in New Zealand for a few weeks in November/December. After that we will probably move to Berlin or somewhere in the French Alps for some skiing! What are your plans? Hopefully see you again on your travels.

  16. Jessah Robinson

    October 15, 2012 at 9:55 AM

    I’m really good, have been travelling with my Mum for a few weeks.
    We did Italy, and are leaving Switzerland to go to Amsterdam tomorrow. 🙂

    That sounds so exciting, is Oslo in Sweden?
    I really want to go to Berlin, and the French Alps is beautiful I went to Morzine last January and we loved it!

    I’m actually going home in just over a month, due to lack of funds, but have really enjoyed my time here.

    Enjoy your travels!
    🙂

    • Cole Burmester

      October 15, 2012 at 6:26 PM

      Oslo is in Norway 🙂

      Pity you are headed home but sounds like you have had quite a few adventures! Hopefully we see you back soon. And keep reading our blog haha

      • Jessah Robinson

        October 17, 2012 at 9:41 AM

        Oh, haha, sorta close. 😉

        Yeah, I am a little put out by the change of plans, but plan on saving up straightaway, and hopefully doing North America and Canada next. 🙂

        Will keep reading the blog, and hope you have an amazing time on all your travels!
        Keep up the good work!
        🙂

  17. Hol

    April 3, 2014 at 1:57 AM

    Come back to Zarautz this summer?! If anyone’s keen to join us for a day (or more) at the Stoke San Sebastian surf camp book with the promo code SHARKWEEK for free unlimited beer and sangria during your stay!

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Adventure Travel

Walking the Camino de Santiago Photos

These are my favourite Camino de Santiago Photos from my pilgrimage along the French Way in March. A truly beautiful way to spend a few weeks.

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Puenta La Reina Bridge Camino Arrow

El Camino de Santiago kicked my ass. Well technically it kicked my feet. Turns out my minimal preparation for the Camino de Santiago was terrible. After a miserable effort of only 4 days, the doctor in Legrono told me that I wasn’t allowed to go on until me feet healed. I had walked just over 100 km’s and my feet were bloodied and blistered.

To be honest, I was relieved.

The thought of putting back on my shoes made my shudder. For the last 9 km’s I had stumbled along in jandals and socks. One of the travelling fashion sins I vowed I would never break.

Jandals on the Camino de Santiago

Jandals on the Camino de Santiago

So while I have unfinished business with the Way of St James (an upcoming post), I did want to share with you some of my favourite photos from the Camino de Santiago. Because I had yet to reach some of the more “unsavoury” parts of the Camino that Sherry Ott had discovered, every step of my pilgrimage had been beautiful.

Puenta La Reina Bridge Camino Arrow

Puenta La Reina Bridge – Camino de Santiago Arrows

There is no way you can get lost on the Camino de Santiago. Arrows, scallop shells and signs point you in the right direction at every bridge, road crossing and intersection.

Camino de Santiago Scallop Shell

Camino de Santiago Scallop Shell

Reaching the top of Alto Pedron gave views back the way I had come from Pamplona, as well as views to where I was going. The rocky path on the way down proved to be my ultimate downfall, as my too small shoes caused my toes to smash into the front.

Alto del Pedron Camino de Santiago

Alto del Pedron Camino de Santiago

Metal Pilgrims on Alto del Pedron

Metal Pilgrims on Alto del Pedron

There were so many beautiful old churches along the Camino de Santiago. But since I was walking in early March, it seemed that most were yet to open for the busier summer season.

Church of Obanos

The Church of Obanos

And between every small village the well-maintained pathways of the French Way wound across the spectacular Spanish countryside.

The French Way - Camino de Santiago

The French Way – Camino de Santiago Photos

Puenta La Reina

Puenta La Reina in the evening

Puenta La Reina has one of the most amazing bridges I have ever seen. It was also the 1st village I had the pleasure of sleeping in after busy Pamplona.

Puenta la Reina Bridge and Sunrise

Puenta la Reina Bridge at sunrise

Most mornings I was up and walking before the sun began to sprinkle across the horizon.

Spring flowers on the Camino de Santiago

Spring flowers on the Camino de Santiago

Pilgrims approaching Cirauqui, Spain

Pilgrims approaching Cirauqui, Spain

Every village and town was built on a small hill. Sure it looks beautiful until you realise you have to go back up again to go through them all!

Church of Santa Maria - Los Arcos

Church of Santa Maria in Los Arcos

While there were only about 20 pilgrims walking each section every day, it wasn’t uncommon for you to encounter them all. The people I met along the Camino de Santiago were some of the most inspiring and remarkable people I have ever spoken to. They are the ones that make the pilrgimage so special.

The endless French Way

The endless French Way

Irache Wine Fountain - Fuente del Vino

The free flowing Irache Wine Fountain or “Fuente del Vino”

Hay bales along the French Way

Hay bales along the French Way

Every village had at least one ancient church and it wasn’t uncommon to find them dotting the landscape in remote locations either.

Ermita de San Miguel

Ermita de San Miguel

Iglesia de San Andrés de Zariquiegui Church

Iglesia de San Andrés de Zariquiegui Church

I have travelled through Spain in the past, including cycling in Costa Brava and surfing in San Sebastian with both independent planning and a vacation planner. But having the opportunity to walk at my own pace through some of the most beautiful scenery in Spain on the Camino de Santiago has so far topped them all.

Natural arches - Camino de Santiago

Natural arches on the Camino de Santiago

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Adventure Travel

Hammock vs Tent Camping

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Camping with a hammock is slowly but surely becoming more popular in recent years with new and improved hammock designs being preferred by some campers, compared to the traditional tent.

In this article we will discuss some of the key benefits and drawbacks of sleeping without a tent, and analyze key criteria so that you can choose your preferred shelter choice!

Weatherproof

Most tents work well in the rain; however, you’ll need to bring a tarp if you’re using a hammock. Traditional hammocks are not waterproof, and are generally open at the top, allowing water to find itself inside if you don’t have an adequate tarp. Moreover, a decent under quilt is also a good idea so that you can stay warm and cozy during cold and stormy nights.

Packing up your hammock after a long night of rain isn’t too bad, whereas packing up a soaking wet tent is always annoying. You almost always get wet in the process.

Setup

For first time campers, pop-up tents are the simplest to setup. All you need to do is find flat ground, and bam, your setup is complete! The beauty of pop-up tents is that you don’t need to worry about figuring out where to insert the poles and erect the tent. Although, traditional tents are usually more robust, and have a longer life span.

Essentially, a tent is simple, but a hammock can become a little more complicated for first timers. You’ll need to find 2 trees facing a good direction and tie each end of the hammock to them. If your hammock setup is too tight, you will generally wake up with sore ancles, but if it’s too loose, you run the risk of the hammock touching the floor, and insects crawling in with you.

If your campground doesn’t have many trees, or if the trees are dead (they could break and injure you), hammock stands come to the rescue! Basically, hammock stands allow you to pitch a hammock if there are no trees nearby. They are portable, adjustable, and are easy to setup. The only drawback is that the ground should be relatively flat, whereas if you were to hang a hammock between 2 trees, there won’t be any stands touching the ground, so a rocky floor wouldn’t be a problem.

Comfort

One of the main reasons for choosing a hammock is the comfort that it provides you! It has a basically has in-built seat which is arguably more comfortable than a standard blow up mattress. You need to pick your tree’s wisely though! You don’t want a pinecone falling on your face mid-sleep.

If you have constant back pain and find it hard to sleep inside tents, you should give hammocks a try as they cause you to sleep sideways, similar to a banana shape, which a lot people find much more comfortable.

Price

Hammocks are usually lighter and don’t include a wealth of poles and gear that tents do. Depending on the type of hammock that you purchase, they are usually quite similar to tents. You can however, find very cheap tents <$60, but they most likely won’t last long.

A good tent or hammock can cost between $200-500 without accessories. If you need a hammock stand, that will add to your cost, just like a mattress and other tent necessities will to its cost.

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Adventure Travel

Top of Cappadocia day trek – with Middle Earth Travel

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Trekking through the valleys of Cappadocia’s fairy chimneys with Middle Earth Travel feels more like the set of a Star Wars movie than a historical region once carved out and lived in by humans. Churches, homes and pigeon houses are scattered throughout the valleys, all waiting to be explored. The best part is, Middle Earth Travel know all the hidden secrets.

Standing at the top of Cappadocia

Top of Cappadocia day trek – with Middle Earth Travel

On the 26th of July (which just so happens to be my birthday!) Middle Earth Travel took us on their private and guided Top of Cappadocia day trek. From Pasabag, along the top of Cappadocia and down through the Gulludere Rose Valley to Goreme, we trekked 15kms in one day! (We recommend getting your bearings with this map)

Upon arrival to the Middle Earth Offices, we were warmly greeted by our new friend Atil whom we had met a few days earlier while mountain biking through the Kizilcukur Red Valley. We were then introduced to our guide and given a briefing regarding the day. Normally, the Top of Cappadocia tour would start from Çavuşin, however, since we had already explored Çavuşin Castle, they adapted our tour to compensate ensuring we would explore new terrain!

With charged cameras, plenty of water and our running shoes on, we were driven to our starting point of Pasabag. We wandered through the fairy chimneys, coming across camels and markets – then the true hike began.

Pasabag in Cappadocia

The police station in Pasabag, Cappadocia

Camel in Pasabag, Cappadocia

Camel in Pasabag, Cappadocia

It was a slow and gentle incline. With no trees to provide shade, I quickly realised why our tour guide had chosen to wear fully covered clothing! As the sweat quickly set in (a waterfall in Moss’s case) we snapped away with our cameras and enjoyed the entertaining shapes of Imagine Valley and the amazing view. We also passed a lot of rock piles, which according to our guide mean ‘father’ and are built to help lead the way.

Animal shaped formations in Imagine Valley

Animal shaped formations in Imagine Valley

Middle Earth Travel, Cappadocia

Making our way to the top of Cappadocia

Father leading the way (rock pile)

Father leading the way (rock pile)

The higher we trekked, the more breath taking the views became! As we walked along the summit of Bozdag mountain (the Top of Cappadocia) we could see EVERTHING – Pasabag, Çavuşin Castle, Kizilcukur Red Valley, Gulludere Rose Valley and Goreme. We were on the Father of Valleys! After a quick nod of agreement to the guide, we pushed ourselves the extra distance and made our way to the flag, as this HAD to be the highest point and was definitely worth a photo and a selfie or two!

View from the top of Cappadocia

View from the top of Cappadocia

Flag at top of Cappadocia

From the flag we looked down upon Aktepe Hill which is known as a popular destination for watching the sun set and could spot Kizilvadi Restaurant, our destination for lunch! Kizilvadi Restaurant is an attraction of its own. With its own historic winery and Grape church, plus some Middle Earth Travel treks even stay there for the night! After having a massive feed of soup, salad and pasta plus a surprise birthday cake, we made our way down into Gulludere Rose Valley.

Kizilvadi Restaurant

Kizilvadi Restaurant

The scenery is amazing, with strong colours visible in perfect layers on the chimneys, you would wonder what an artist was thinking, had it been a painting. Also, hidden to the side of the track we walked across a little bridge and not expecting anything to be there we were wowed by the massive church carved. It was absolutely huge and hard to believe that its most recent use has been as a pigeon house!

Coloured chimneys in Cappadocia

Coloured chimneys in Cappadocia

Pigeon houses in Cappadocia

Pigeon houses in Cappadocia

Church in Gulludere Rose Valley

Hard to believe this Church is carved inside a fairy chimney!

Middle Earth Travel Review

  • The team at Middle Earth Travel were extremely knowledgeable and certainly know Cappadocia’s hidden secrets. They have friendships with local tea garden owners which is also of benefit as it gained us entry to locked churches and hidden rooms that we would not have otherwise seen.
  • We covered a lot of ground, however we did not feel rushed. The whole day focused on showing us the region, therefore we had as much time as we needed to explore each church and to take ‘just one more photo’.
  • It wasn’t all about trekking. With a whole day and 15kms to cover, there were a few silly poses (especially in Imagine Valley), and we learnt a lot about the myths, legends and way of life in Cappadocia.
  • In conclusion I highly recommend Middle Earth Travel if you wish to go trekking or mountain biking in Cappadocia.
  • Cost: Day treks with Middle Earth Travel range from 50-90 euro, depending on the number of people taking part. This includes lunch, guide, vehicle transfers and entrance fees to historical sites, but excludes alcoholic and soft drinks.
  • Middle Earth Travel are outdoor enthusiasts and offer multi-day over night treks, mountain biking, abseiling, or custom made itineraries, in multiple regions throughout Turkey.
  • www.middleearthtravel.com

Disclaimer: We were provided with a discount for the trek with Middle Earth Travel, however, as always our thoughts on our adventure travel blog our own.

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Meet Cole and Adela

Cole and AdelaWe have been wearing out our jandals (Kiwi for flip-flops) on our travel adventures around the world since 2009. We think our blog is thought provoking and a little witty. But we have been proven wrong before. Find out more about us here...

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