Focus on Surfing Opportunities with Workaway

Learning New Skills

One of the great aspects of Workaway is the possibility of learning new skills by contributing your time and expertise. In this post we decided to look into the various chances to develop or learn the ability to surf. Having lessons can be expensive, but by choosing a Workaway host that is involved with surf schools or that can share their knowledge of surfing, those expenses can be paid for through volunteering.

Some History of Surfing

The art of surfing was first described in 1769 by Joseph Banks on the HMS Endeavour during the first voyage of Captain Cook. Surfing was a central part of ancient Polynesian culture and predates European contact. The chief was usually the most adept wave rider of the population with the highest quality board made from the optimum tree.

The Ancient Hawaiian people (during the time preceding the unification of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi in 1810) did not consider surfing a mere recreational activity or extreme sport, as it is seen today. They instead integrated surfing into their culture and made surfing more of an art form than anything else. They referred to this art as “heʻe nalu” which translates into English as “wave sliding.

The Hawaiian colonists discouraged local traditions but around the beginning of the 20th century, Hawaiians living close to Waikiki began to revive surfing. Surfing development was centred primarily in three locations: Hawaii, Australia, and California, and by the 1960s a distinct surf-culture had emerged.

Choosing the Right Place to Surf…

If you are just beginning to learn the art, it is usually best to not go to the most popular beaches. They will be crowded with much competition for waves. Instead give yourself some space and seek out the opposite. Ideally, an easy, rolling wave with deep water or a sandy bottom is the best place to start since a reef will only slow down the learning process and can cause injuries if you ground out.

And the Best People to Learn with

Having someone else to surf with who is more advanced than you is a big help. They can point out the potential dangers or pitfalls and provide tips to aid your development. When contacting hosts, Workawayers can mention what they would like to achieve and then have a better idea if that placement is suitable.

Before Heading to the Beach

Having good swimming skills is an important factor, and a decent overall level of fitness is required as surfing is quite demanding on the body. There are also etiquette rules such as remembering that the surfer who is closest to the breaking wave has priority and if you see someone already on a wave, then the wave is considered to be taken. This page has some more detail about the rules and is well worth a read.

Surfing Hosts on Workaway

surf shop waxing board

Host in Hawaii on

By searching through the host list on we have found the following hosts who offer the opportunity to learn or develop your surfing skills:

This community of “surfers, artists, musicians, and world changers” are based in Honolulu in Hawaii, not far from the famous North Shore. They are looking for people to help with construction, maintenance, food distribution and working the coffee bar.

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surfer riding a wave


This group in Panama specialise in adventure tourism, and are looking for help with their tourists and in their eco-project.

In exchange for four or five hours volunteering a day they offer accommodation in a cabin just off the beach with an internet connection and access to any activities and adventures they offer.

. . . . . . . . .

Nicaragua Host

Nicaragua Host

This host is an eco-friendly & solar-powered lodge located directly on the beach of the Pacific Ocean on a nearly deserted island not far from Leon in Nicaragua.

They need help with running the bar, customer care, equipment rental and art projects in exchange for a private beach-view room and three homemade meals a day. The lodge equipment can also be used when not being rented by guests.

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surfers entering water

Photo by: twitch

Byron Bay was discovered by Captain Cook on his first voyage, where we also find the first mention of surfing, but it wasn’t until the 1960s that surfers began to congregate there.

This surf camp host is nearby, they teach surfing and river kayaking and are looking for help with their tourists and renting out the kayaks. In exchange they’re offering use of the equipment and a private room.

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surfer walking out on beach

Host in Costa Rica

Pavones is located on the Southern Pacific coast of Costa Rica, near the border of Panama. It’s considered to have the 2nd longest left hand break in the world.

This host is based there and is looking for a variety of help on his organic farm especially building more bungalows. They give surf lessons and offer accommodation in their beach houses.

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NZ host

NZ host

Ngunguru is in the Northland region of New Zealand right at the top of the North Island. This host runs a surf school and surf tour business there on a private beach. They also run free Summer & Easter holiday surf camps for kids aged 11-17. The summer programme runs the last two weeks of January and is a time they would really like some help. Volunteering duties include helping out in the sea, beach games and making sure the kids are in a safe environment. Accommodation is in a private beach tent.

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This host in Northern Nicaragua is looking for an English speaking experienced surfer and photographer to help with marketing and surf lessons.

Luxury accommodation is on offer when the surf camp is running, and in their hostel when there are no clients plus plenty of time to surf.

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El Palmar in Southern Spain has great surf especially for those learning. This surf camp there needs help with preparing meals, helping out with guests and tidying. They provide a camper van in their garden for volunteers who have time for surfing, yoga and learning Spanish.

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Host in Mexico

Host in Mexico
picture by dawn paley

Down on the Southern tip of the Baja California Peninsula you’ll find the beach town of Pescadeo, near Todos Santos in Mexico. This host is running a small hotel located right on the beach next to the San Pedrito surf break with a fun laid back atmosphere, looking for a variety of help.

They provide a thatched bunk house that may be shared depending on the number of volunteers staying and access to their hot tub, rental kayaks, wetsuits and boards.

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Final Words

Hopefully these hosts can help any surfers out there find some decent waves. There are plenty more on the site, and anyone that can share either general advice on surfing or knows of hosts that offer the chance to surf is free to post in the comments box below to let us know. HANG LOOSE!

6 replies
  1. pete, of the adams family
    pete, of the adams family says:

    Surfing & Volunteering in Puerto Escondido, Mexico.

    One of our longer term volunteers Ben, is now hooked on surfing having been introduced to it by my good friend Jaak, a long term resident of Puerto Escondido & a surfer of 40 years. Ben bought a board within about a week of arriving and now rides the waves nearly every day, as does Jaak at the ripe age of 60. If you come to volunteer, I will be pleased to introduce you.


    “Puerto Escondido, The Mexican Pipeline. Everyone’s heard of the place and many have given it a try. But how much of the Escondido legend is true and how much is myth? The truth is that Puerto can match its reputation, if you are willing put in the time it takes to know the place.”

  2. herve decker
    herve decker says:

    i am bulding a surf camp in south of morocco on sidi kaouki beach . windy in summer make the área very succesful for windsurf
    can you give me more info about you and how to promote my place

    • Workaway
      Workaway says:


      Thanks for showing interest in Workaway.

      When you sign up as a Host you can fill in a profile where you’ll be able to add all the specifications of the help you need, about the people involved in your family or project, about the area and place, and activities volunteers could do in their free time. Remember Workaway is a cultural exchange, you offer food and accommodation for some hours of work. Its important you interact with volunteers and involve them in your everyday life.
      After you have completed your profile, the Workaway team will verify your account and put you online.

      You can access to the host registration by clicking on the following link :

  3. andrew
    andrew says:

    I am planning to sign up as volunteer and start visiting the Canaries Island helping out in hospitality field like receptionist, waiter, cleaning task… I m improving my english level to a C1 Cambridge Advance in English certificate in September and I could help teaching for those who wish to learn and I am aiming to improve my spoken and written south american spanish learnt in London… if I could learn surf or windsurf in the meanwhile it would be awesome…


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