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10 Destinations to go Surfing on a Student Budget

6 min read

10 Destinations to go Surfing on a Student Budget

Loading your car up and heading to your favorite beach for the day will never get old. Still, most surfers feel the urge to explore new destinations and enjoy new surfing experiences. That’s great unless you are a student on a tight budget.

Then, all of those dream surf spots seem out of reach, but are they really? Absolutely not!

There are plenty of amazing places to see and surf on a budget. Here are ten great places to surf, both in the US and elsewhere!

A Few Notes About Surfing on a Budget

First, surfing on a budget is a relative term. For some readers, that means scraping together just enough money to take a day trip from home to catch some waves. For others, that simply means staying at a slightly less exclusive resort or limiting their travel to one continent. 

Additionally, this list is intended for surfers on a global scale. We’ve made an effort to include destinations that are accessible to nearly everybody. 

Sumatra Indonesia 

I spent over a month on Nias island at Lagundri bay it was easily the best surf Ive ever experienced. However its not for the faint of heart as it takes a lot of effort to get to. Once you're there it's a surfers paradise. 

When it comes to surfing in Indonesia, your biggest expense will always be the airfare. Once you land, you will be pleasantly surprised at how inexpensive everything is. That starts with the exchange rate, which will work to your advantage most of the time.

Overall, accommodations here are cheap. Your hotel room shouldn’t cost any more than 25 bucks a night and if you're really cheap (which I am) you can get some great deals as low as a few bucks if you're willing to really rough it :) 

How else can you keep things cheap? Stay away from major population centers, and don’t bother with those tourist trap charter boats. Talk with local fishing captains for a cheap ride to your surfing destinations. 

Outer Banks, South Carolina

Yes, there absolutely is amazing surfing on the East Coast. In fact, if you are in the Midwest or eastern part of the country, this can be cheaper and more accessible than the West Coast. So, head over to the Outer Banks to enjoy a surfing trip that is likely to be entirely new to you.

Some great spots include Kitty Hawk, Nags Head, and Kill Devil Hills. The surfing is amazing, and it’s easy to find a cheap place to camp or a motel room. For bigger waves, head out to Hatteras Island.

Outer Banks North Carolina


Are you traveling from North America? Great news! You can fly from Los Angeles to Managua for less than $500. All you have to do is a bit of advanced planning. Even better, when you arrive, you’ll find that prices are quite low. 

However, just be aware that you will pay a bit more today for rentals in the Playa Colorado area than you have in years past. Still, even with that small sticker shock, this is one of the least expensive surfing destinations in Central America.

One thing is sure, once you enjoy those famous offshore winds, you will forget all about the prices. Head to central Nicaragua to enjoy the barrels at Lake Nicaragua.

Baja - Mexico

Are you on the west coast? Do you have a 4x4 and some cans of gas? Grab your boards, friends, drinks, and head to Baja. You have 775 miles of coastline from which to experience some of the most legendary surfing in the world.

Baja Mexico surf destinations

Devils Point 

If California seems too expensive or too crowded, head north to Devil's Point inOregon. You will probably save some money and gain one of your more memorable trips to date. The point break waves here are intense, and perfect for experienced surfers. Just be warned that the locals are competitive and territorial.


Speaking of Baja, Morocco is essentially Europe’s own version of that legendary peninsula. In truth, it’s probably better. Morocco is exotic, and the swells are much more exciting than what you’ll find out on the west coast.

I spent a couple months camping on a beach just outside of Tarazhout. Its a great little town and super cheap and the locals are friendly, Saying that it was 2001 so things may have changed but the waves haven't and its a an epic spot to catch life changing waves.

Tarazhout morocco

Cocoa Beach Florida

Cocoa Beach is ideal for surfers of every skill level. The temperatures are warm year-round, and it’s home to surf legendKelly Slater. Of course, you shouldn’t miss the Ron Jon surf shop. It’s the biggest in the world. In spite of being on the Space Coast. Cocoa Beach is fairly mid-priced. Most students should be able to pull off an annual trip fairly easily.

Coco Beach florida image of the pier at


Probably not the first thing that comes to your mind, but Portugal is a great surfing destination. You have more than 1100 miles of the Atlantic coastline to choose from. 

Find an out-of-the-way spot and explore what’s there for you, or check out someplace like Nazare or Supertubos. It won’t be long before you understand exactly what all the hype is about.

Humboldt County

If you are closer to the West Coast but don’t want to drop Southern California money, head north to Humboldt County. Everyone should experience Northern California surfing, and this is a great place to do it. For the best experiences come in the spring, winter, or fall. Stay away during the summer when it’s full of tourists and the prices reflect that.

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico clearly struggled in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, but there is absolutely no doubt that it is back in business. In fact, if you can make it there to surf, go for it! Puerto Rico has always been very welcoming to surfers, and quite affordable. 

Go for the amazing waves, food, and people. Stay for some of the best surfing in the entire world. The Puerto Rican economy truly needs a boost, and the surfing community can really make a difference.

Puerto Rico budget places to go

Other Great Tips For Surfing Trips on a Budget

These are just a few great destinations you can surf on a student’s budget. But, there are a few things you should know. First, any low-cost surf spot can become expensive if you don’t know how to manage your vacation expenses. Next, there are plenty of spots that have a reputation for being high cost. In reality, you can probably afford to go to those places. Again, it’s all about having great strategies and planning in advance. 

Do you want affordable surfing? Follow these tips!

Sleep and Eat Cheap

Remember that you are traveling to surf. You aren’t going for gourmet food or first-class accommodations.  Figure out your student-friendly, budget options. Check out Airbnb, campgrounds, or couch-surfing.

When it comes to food, bring a camp stove or scope out public areas for picnic benches and grills. Pack your beer and drinks in a cooler. Share the trip with friends, and have everyone bring something.

Go in the Off-Season

This isn’t just advice for saving your money. This tip will also save your sanity. Prices go up when tourists are in town. Also, beaches get crowded and miserable. Stay away. Instead, look into traveling in the off-season. You’ll save money, and have more room to surf.

Set Money Aside

If surfing is a priority, that should be clear in your bank account. You won’t surf anywhere for free, not even the destinations listed above. This is worth working a few extra hours and making some sacrifices. Even if taking on a new job makes school a challenge, remember that you can ask writing experts towrite my paper from time to time. This will give you more time to work and save up money for your next surf trip.

What if you need to cover expenses while you travel? Pick up some gig work delivering food or groceries! You can also plan your summers around working in resort areas that are close to great surfing. You will earn some money, stay for free, and surf all you want.

Get Those Rewards

Will your trip require flying, staying at a hotel, or using gas? If so,sign up for rewards programs today. Then, figure out how to accumulate as many rewards and perks as possible. The discounts you get may be bigger than you think. Remember there are rewards programs for airlines, hotels, grocery stores, restaurants, surf shops, and more.

person handboarding a wave using slyde handboards

Take Care of Your Equipment

The last thing you want to do is spend every last dime you have getting your board repaired or replaced. Make sure your board and other equipment are road-ready before you go. Then, do the same for your car. 

Ask For Cash

Do you have a birthday coming up? What about Christmas or another holiday? Rather than accepting gifts, you don’t need, request help funding your next trip, or for gift cards, you can use along the way.

Final Thoughts

There are so many amazing places you can go without breaking your budget. The destinations here are just a drop in the bucket. Just keep in mind that selecting the perfect spot is only one component of surfing on a budget. You also have to plan carefully, stack your cash, and travel like the broke student you are! Use some of the tips here for an amazing surfing get away.

Author’s bio. Jessica Fender is a professional writer and educational blogger atCreativewriterscafe. Jessica enjoys sharing her ideas to make writing and learning fun.

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