El Salvador Bodyboarding trip with Bodyboard Holidays- February 2020
As a bodyboarder, winter can be tough. The water is cold. The air is cold. Putting on a wetsuit (and for some of you, booties, gloves and a hood) becomes a minor ordeal every time you want to partake in some aquatic fun.
Bodyboard Holidays, a UK-based bodyboarding travel company is the cure to the winter blues. Vicki and I have been friends with owner/founder Rob Barber for many years. He is the most decorated bodyboarder to ever come out of the British Isles and he started Bodyboard Holidays more than a decade ago to mesh his passions for travel and bodyboarding and to bring the stoke of the sport to the average Joe who might be looking for an adventure.
(Rob and Jay enjoying a sunset sesh)
Rob and company run bodyboard coaching trips around the world and really cater to those that have limited time to research, organize and book travel and who might want the ease of a guided experience, replete with expert coaching, video and photo packages and travel with like-minded bodyboarders to exotic locales.
In 2019, Vicki and I, though not particularly looking for coaching, were on the hunt for a quick getaway after the holiday rush at eBodyboarding.com to celebrate our then 20th anniversary. We wanted something that was easy to get to, relatively inexpensive and warm with waves conducive to high-performance riding. Rob’s company was always on my radar as Rob was bringing his “California Road Trip” clients through our warehouse during their November trip here to SoCal.
I quickly got on Rob’s site and found that their El Salvador trip nicely coincided with our anniversary and I contacted Rob to make it happen. Rob not only responded quickly, but offered up a flurry of info on the trip to help us solidify our decision and before we knew it, we were booked and looking forward to visiting a new destination.
If you follow our social media, you would have seen plenty of coverage of 2019’s trip. We had so much fun and the trip was so easy, we rebooked for 2020. As I type this, we are on our way back from that trip and had such a great time yet again that we’ve committed to 2021! Hard not to. Let me tell you about it!
First, the flight. If you are based in the USA, there are plenty of easy options to San Salvador and pricing is pretty reasonable! From LA, where we flew from, there are 4 1/2 hour non-stops that leave late at night and put you there first thing in the morning.
Once there, Bodyboard Holidays has you covered from A to Z. A van picks you up and shuttles you to the resort, less than an hour’s drive from the airport and you’re in the water minutes after arriving. The resort itself is the ideal base for this trip. There is a beautiful sundeck right along the beach with the obligatory hammocks, lounges, tables and umbrellas overlooking the beach with a first-class sunset view (more on that later!). There is a small-but-perfect little pool literally 8 feet away from the bar and restaurant where the staff crank out the food and beverage to keep you fueled.
(Refueling post-session is always a win!)
The rooms are comfortable and close to all the action and the local town has small shops with curios and great local food including the local specialty- pupusas, which are small grilled bread pockets stuffed with various fillings that will set you back about $5 for enough to send you into a food coma.
But you may be asking about the waves- perhaps the most important factor of all. Directly in front of the resort is a rock/sand reef that features wedging peaks over a large stretch, offering ramps, carvable open faces for you DKers, the occasional barrel, and super-consistently fun waves that honestly could keep you from having any desire to leave the area at all. The lineup is spread out enough to allow everyone to catch fun ones! Just a 5-minute walk or paddle to the east has you enjoying a right point break that ends on a sandy beach, and if you want to try your hand at standup surfing, the resort will set you up with that too. Truly something for everyone. This spot is relatively uncrowded, even on weekends, and the local bodyboard crew not only rips the guts out of the spot, but is super-friendly and stoked to share their waves. Oh, and did I mention the water is a balmy 85 degrees…IN THE MIDDLE OF JANUARY? So perfect! Leave the neoprene at home!
(Vicki and Jay donating gear to the locals. Several of this year's guests brought goodies to gift to the bodyboarding community)
If the swell is big, there are plenty of other options in the area and the Bodyboard Holidays crew obliged nicely with us.
Most people know that Central America, and in particular El Salvador, being south-facing, pick up lots of swell in the northern summer, but lo-and-behold, the past two years straight, and according to Rob, every year he’s been, there have been off-season south swells that keep the local spots cranking even in the depths of winter! This year was no exception.
How do they work the trips you might wonder. They do a fairly extensive pre-trip interview via email to assess your ability and then separate everyone into groups based on that ability. Once there, you are placed in a group for appropriate coaching. Here’s the cool part. They video and take stills of every session and have in-water coaching as well. Post-session, there are video analysis sessions to fine tune your riding, and if you buy the photo/video package (highly recommended), you go home with a memory stick full of your best rides! We had both male and female riders from all over including Australia, the UK, Japan, the USA, and Guatemala, but we all spoke the international language of bodyboarding. Ages ranged from 20s to 70s. On to our trip!
Day One, we happened into some solid surf that was nearly maxing out the spot in front, but still served up some long rights and the odd wedging left, but you definitely had to work for your waves duckdiving the bomb sets.
(Jay spins under the lip on Day One)
Waves were in the 6-8 foot range easily with bigger sets. We spent that day enjoying solid surf and warm water just a stone’s throw from our resort, and in between sessions, lounged in the hammocks and stuffed our bellies with epic food from the resort restaurant. Everything goes on a tab that you pay at the end of the trip, so it makes it beyond easy to enjoy the week without having to open the wallet until departure day. In the morning, a menu for a group meal is on the chalkboard near the bar and you can mark your menu choice for that evening if you want to joint the group for dinner to recount the day’s waves. Or you can take a stroll into town to enjoy some local delights.
On Day Two, our local bodyboarder friend Mutsu, whom we met in 2019 rounded us up at 5am for a trip to one of the area’s most famous spots to take advantage of the solid swell. The trip was rewarded with solid head-high barreling point break waves that resembled a warm water Jeffrey’s Bay!
(DK perfection everywhere you looked)
The local groms rip at this spot and there is a crew of local kids that fly drones, shoot video and stills of every ride, and will sell you the images and video if you are interested. They set up laptops in the shade and let you review your best rides. The locals on the beach will offer you a cold coconut with coconut milk or a soda or beer while you review the goods. If you want to buy, they’ll come to the resort that day with the footage (bring a memory stick!) and you’ve got social media fodder to make the crew back home jealous.
(Vicki plumbs the pipe in her super-suit)
As the swell slowly declined, we enjoyed another session at the same spot, and then focused on the fun directly out front for a day or two before venturing up the coast on Day 4 to another hidden beach break that we’ll call “Chicken’s”. We rolled up in the pre-dawn darkness and as the morning light lit up the surf, 3-4 foot A-frames spit clouds of mist up and down the beach with not a soul around except us! We spent the next 3 1/2 hours plumbing barrel after barrel and basking in the warm waters hooting for each other, finishing off the session at a beachside shack overlooking the spot with delicious Salvadoran coffee. The rule of thumb was “stay out ’til it blows out” and that’s what we did every day!
(Vicki driving for the sky)
Vicki and I were only able to stay for 5 days, but the BB Holidays trips are a bit longer and honestly, if the pull of responsibility didn’t require us to head home, we would have loved to have spent another few days. The waves were 3-4 feet and glassy as we loaded up the taxi. The rest of the crew were getting ready to sleep off their breakfast before hitting the surf for the evening session and requisite sunset cocktails on the deck before dinner. Oh, the pull of the Salvadoran tropical winter!
We’re already looking forward to returning in 2021. Are you going to join us? Contact bodyboard-holidays.com By the way, we weren’t paid to write this! We just think they do such a great job that they deserve some love and whether you join us in El Salvador or go on another Bodyboard Holidays trip, the memories will last a lifetime!
(How we ended every day...)
All photos: Chris Burton and Vicki Reale
For more info on travel opportunities, click our Bodyboard Travel link!