Four great, affordable places to catch a break, regardless of your travel style.
FOR THE CAMPER
Santa Cruz, Calif.
Students at Richard Schmidt Surf School sleep in tents, but they're not exactly roughing it. Mornings begin with yoga, and every camper gets a midweek sports massage. Surfing sessions are videotaped, and then everyone gathers in a tent to hear Schmidt's critiques. 831/423-0928, richardschmidt.com, five-night camp $1,000, including all meals.
FOR THE PAMPER-ME TRAVELER
British Virgin Islands
The three-to-one student-teacher ratio at the weeklong Surf Camp Tortola means the odds are good you'll pick up some serious skills. But even if you never catch a wave, it'll be hard to complain. "Campers" stay at the oceanfront Lambert Beach Resort and are chauffeured to secret breaks each day. And evenings are spent listening to reggae bands and sipping drinks called painkillers: rum, cream of coconut, pineapple juice, and orange juice. 866/844-7873, wbsurfcamp.com, $2,195, including all meals except dinner.
FOR THE NOMAD
The four- to seven-day program run by Waves Surf School starts in Sydney and travels 500 miles north to Byron Bay, stopping for the best swells along the way. Cabins on Australia's North Coast serve as base camp. 011-61/180-085-1101, wavessurfschool.com.au, four-day trip $439.
FOR THE GLOBE-TROTTER
As the first operation of its kind in the country, Baleal Surf Camp staked out a top surf spot: the gentle, consistent break at Cantinho da Baía beach, on the Peniche Peninsula on the country's west coast. Camps last 3, 5, or 10 days and include two 2-hour training sessions a day. Students can choose to stay in hostels or in apartments, both less than a five-minute walk from the beach. www.balealsurfcamp.com, three-day camp from $262, including accommodations.