The best beaches to hang out with the family and hit the waves? Hayley Lawrence of Family Surf Co. has the lowdown
HIRIKETIYA, Sri Lanka
A paradise horseshoe bay, ‘Hiri’ is a dreamy destination where turtles pop up between waves and the crescent of sand is fringed with palm trees and jungle. Its long left-hander is the sort of mellow reef break that lures surfers to Sri Lanka. If you’re learning or you’ve got young children, you’ll love the inside beach break, where you can surf from dawn to dusk, pushing the kids into little peelers and cooling off in the shallows. It’s super-cheap to hire boards on the beach and there are plenty of cool beach bars where you can lounge in the shade.
When: Dec–Mar is perfect for beginners, with smaller swells and warm, dry weather. More experienced surfers should try Aug–Dec.
Stay: A chic surf and yoga sanctuary nestled in beachside jungle.
PRAIA DO SUL, Portugal
If you want a combo of an accessible point break with safe lagoons for the kids to play in, we love the central location of Praia do Sul. It’s a great beach to tag team surfs with your partner, while also being able to bask in the sun, tuck into Portuguese pastries from the beach café and splash around in the rock pools with the kids. Footsteps from the cobbled streets of the Portuguese fishing village of Ericiera.
When: Spring and autumn are best for medium-sized waves.
Stay: A stylish family apartment with indoor pool, excellent restaurant and sea views.
FINCA POPOYO, Nicaragua
Nicaragua is a growing surf destination and one well worth checking out for adventurous families. Head to Costa Esmeralda in the south west of the country, where surf-mad parents and competent surfers can take on Popoyo reef or the barrels of Santana, while beginners and kids can surf the mellow inside wave at Finca Popoyo. Known as ‘Beginners’ Bay’, this low-tide break peels onto a sandy beach. When you want to seek shade or respite from the waves, there are bars at each end of the beach, where you can relax and refuel with a drink or a fresh coconut.
When: Dec-Apr for dry weather, smaller swells and family-friendly waves.
Stay: In a boutique, eco-surf resort with private surf guiding and yoga on tap.
BRANDONS BEACH, Barbados
This easy left-hand reef break is great for all levels of surfers, and works consistently on the hurricane swells they often get in Barbados. It’s great for families as you can sit with the kids and watch from the shade of the trees. Play on the sand with little ones, sip on a rum punch under the palms, and surf the mellow waves in clear blue water where turtles often pop their heads out to say hello.
When: Oct-Jun, with bigger swells from Nov-Mar.
Stay: A swanky beach apartment with hotel service.
PLAYA GRANDE, nr Tamarindo, Costa Rica
Just across the rivermouth from the surf town of Tamarindo is the five-kilometre stretch of beach that is Playa Grande. Littered with A-frame peaks from end-to-end, it’s a playground for all levels of surfers. From November to March the swell is usually small, making it easy for improver surfers to practise their take offs and catch long walls to start practising basic surfing manoeuvres. As you move south down the beach the peaks are a bit smaller – head all the way down to Palm Beach and you can avoid the crowds and bag a peak for you and your family. If you want to take on the spitting barrels and bigger swells, take a trip in the rainier season from May to September.
When: Nov-Apr, for sunshine and small to medium swells. Apr-Aug for bigger swells.
Stay: Bag a family suite seconds from the waves and enjoy fun family surfing sessions with local experts.
WATERGATE BAY, Cornwall
Family beach life is an absolute breeze on this two-mile stretch of golden sand outside Newquay where you’ve got a water sports academy and plenty of beachside amenities. These include a beach-chic hotel with surf-in/surf-out access, indoor infinity pool, spa, kids’ clubs and hot tubs on the decking. It does get busy during the summer months, we prefer to visit at low- to mid-tide when there are miles of beach.
Stay: A luxurious, water’s edge hotel stacked with family facilities for all weathers.
4 more for the wish list:
LITTLE COVE, Noosa, Australia
SIDI KAOUKI, Morocco
SOUTHERN ATOLLS, Maldives
HUNTINGTON BEACH, California
Family Surf Co. was founded by two surfing mums to inspire families to spend quality time together by the sea and go surfing. They put together bespoke family surfing holidays worldwide, including every element from stylish hotels to surf lessons.