Kirsty her first overseas surf holiday with Chicks on Waves

My first overseas surf holiday with Chicks on Waves
As someone who hadn’t travelled overseas for 20 years, I needed a bit of hand-holding. I wanted a surf coaching holiday that wasn’t too far from the UK, included airport transfers, and experts to take me surfing. I didn’t want to waste precious time figuring out where to surf without that much needed local knowledge. I wanted proximity to the beach, meals taken care of and a relaxed, friendly environment. I wanted to make new friends, meet like minded female surfers, and improve my surfing.Chicks On Waves ticked every single box.

Hassle free travel
I flew with my friend Helen from the UK. Our taxi met us on time at the airport and because we travelled with our surfboards, we had a big minibus to ourselves. By that time, I’d left my fear of flying far behind and relaxed into the 1-hour transfer time from Faro to One Life Lodge in Burgau.
Arriving early meant we couldn’t check in straight away but we dropped our bags off and wandered into Burgau. It’s a pretty little village, full of colourful flowers and buildings, friendly locals, and a lovely beach where we sat and ate lunch whilst soaking up the sunshine.

The warmest welcome
When we arrived back at the lodge, Karine, one of the hosts greeted us with a big, welcoming smile. We had a tour of the villa, which looks like a Pinterest perfect interior. Beautifully styled by owner Katrien with relaxed beach tones, I instantly felt at home. And that was before we met the other women and had welcome cake – homemade by Karine and deliciously free from artificial flavours.

Mouth watering food
At dinner, we met women from all corners of Europe who shared our passion for surfing. We all got on so well – sharing stories, life experiences and our hopes for the forthcoming week. The only thing that silenced the chatter and excitement was the amazing food cooked by Anina – Chicks On Waves’ lovely chef. Her passion for food shines through in her smile and the meals she cooks. All lovingly prepared with healthy nutrition at the forefront of what she does.
Think hearty soups, fish, nutritious salads and traditional Portugese dishes. And, there was plenty of food for second helpings! Plus, the menu included continental breakfast and packed lunches. Much needed, healthy post-surf salads which we ate on the beach under the Portugese sunshine.

 Surf coaching
My friend and I joined the advanced surf coaching group as we’ve surfed for a few years. Chicks on Waves also cater for complete beginners and a couple of women staying at the lodge had never surfed before. By the end of their stay, they were completely hooked!
We met our surf coach who’d prepared an in-depth plan for the week. On our first day, our group joined Chicks on Waves owner Katrien, Karine and Anina at a secluded spot on the south coast. We all jumped in the water and shared some lovely mellow waves under the Portugese sunshine. It was a great start to the week and I had such a fun surf. Considering I’d never surfed overseas before, I felt at home right away and put into practise some of the tips that our surf coach Andreia gave me.
Simple, yet really effective things that made a big difference such as keeping my knees together when I paddle!

Different waves, new challenges
During the week, we surfed at some incredible beaches with a variety of waves. From long and peeling to more hollow and punchy. Personally, I loved the variation as I love challenging myself in different conditions. And this trip was no exception. I wanted to surf bigger waves.
Luckily, I got my opportunity on days 2 and 4. On the second day, we returned to the mellow, secluded spot that we surfed on the first day. But the swell built overnight and I got my wish. I didn’t catch many waves but with the support of the girls, I pushed myself to take on bigger waves than I’m used to! And on day 4, the size jumped up again. We surfed at a beautiful, mellow left-hand point break – ideal conditions to push myself even further. With Andreia filming us from the beach, and her coaching advice settling in my mind, I wanted to make the most of some fun but challenging conditions. The outside sets were pretty chunky and I paddled over one set which I reckoned was overhead. I felt totally exhilarated and in awe of the wave. And although I didn’t catch one of those, I got a pretty hefty medium sized wave which Andrea later said was pretty big. Stoked!

Video analysis
I can’t rate video analysis enough. It’s the best way to see how you surf and where you can improve. Each evening, after our surf, we sat down in front of the laptop and reviewed the waves from the day.
By the end of the week, I had a good overview of what I need to work on. It can be a pretty humbling experience watching yourself like that but it’s the key to improvement. I picked up so many tips from watching the other girls too. Now all I’ve got to do is put everything into practise in the cold waters of the UK!

Down time
In between surfing, there’s opportunities to catch up with the other girls, chill around the lodge or do some restorative or energetic yoga. If surfing’s not your thing, you can just do yoga or vice versa. Personally, I loved the down time after our surf sessions to shower, laze and get ready for dinner. Also I love my bed so I didn’t opt to do the morning yoga sessions, but everyone who did yoga commented on how it helped them relax and soothe those aching muscles!
On our penultimate evening, we went out for dinner. It’s the one night during the week that Anina doesn’t cook but it’s a great opportunity to venture out and try a local restaurant. We ate at Boia in the pretty nearby village of Salema – a beachfront seafood restaurant. With an extensive menu, there’s plenty of options for all diets. I mixed things up with a fish starter and a traditional Portugese piri piri chicken main course. Incredible!

Last day blues
We booked an extra day to chill before our journey home. There’s no organised surfs or yoga on that day but if you want the option, Katrien can you sort it out for you.
I took a break whilst my travelling buddy Helen hit the surf. I enjoyed a leisurely breakfast and went to Praia da Luz with my other friend and lifestyle photographer Evie. She joined Chicks on Waves to photograph the week and got some incredible shots. We took advantage of the cloudless blue sky, captured some images and enjoyed lunch at a restaurant terrace overlooking the sea. Idyllic!
Back at the villa, I had a relaxing massage to soothe my aching muscles. It’s an optional extra but so worth it! The therapist struck the perfect balance between deep tissue and a relaxing massage and I felt so chilled out afterwards. Just what I needed ahead of the next day’s travel!
I didn’t want to say goodbye. I had such an incredible week and as soon as I got home, I looked at return flights! I know a few people who stay with Chicks on Waves every year.

Maybe you’ll become one of them!

Review written by Kirsty Hill of Free Spirit Writing. All views are my own.