With the Global Financial Crisis forcing us all to tighten our belts and budget our hard-earned dollars, a high-end boat trip to Indo might not be the best option for your next trip. Luckily, the vagabond surf experience is still available for those willing to do a bit of work and get off the beaten path. Here are five ideas for cheap surf vacation destinations that won’t break the bank:

Bali Surf Vacations. Photo thanks to Stormrider Surf Camp Bali
Bali Surf Vacations. Photo thanks to Stormrider Surf Camp Bali

Cheap Surf Vacation Destination No.1

  • Bali, Indonesia: Keeping this trip cheap depends on where you are flying from and where you are staying. Coming from the States isn’t going to be easy—but tickets from Australia can be as cheap as $400 RT if you score good deals on budget air carriers like Air Asia. And once you are in Bali, you can live comfortably for as little as $10 per day—or like a king for roughly double that. Kuta Beach has a raging party scene and cheap accommodations, and legendary waves like Uluwatu and Padang Padang are a cheap motorbike ride away. As long as you can handle the crowds, Bali might be the best cheap surf trip in the southern hemisphere.

Cheap Surf Vacation Destination No.2

  • Baja California, Mexico: The classic Californian road trip, Baja is still as empty, consistent and affordable as ever. With thousands of miles of coastline accessible from the Mex 1, all you need is a 4×4, some camping gear, and a couple of friends to share the cost of gas. Beach breaks, points, the occasional reef—and as many fish tacos and Coronas as you can consume—all for less than you’d spend during a normal weekend out on the town.

Cheap Surf Vacation Destination No.3

  • Sri Lanka: Relatively inexpensive to access and dirt cheap once you are there, Sri Lanka has long been a haven for independent, budget surf travelers. With a series of righthand sand-bottom points surrounding Arugam Bay on the east coast and a number of quality reefs in the south and west, Sri Lanka has waves to suit nearly all weather conditions, making it a multi-season destination. The island country also boasts exquisite natural beauty and a thriving culture, minus the intestinal discomfort of nearby India. The food is amazing, the water warm, the locals friendly, and the cost of living less than wherever you happen to live, making Sri Lanka a great trip for the budget-hunter.

Cheap Surf Vacation Destination No.4

  • Philippines: Yet another country that is easy and relatively cheap to access, the Philippines has a reputation as a surf camp destination, but with a bit of ingenuity and patience is also very doable as an independent trip. And cheap? To give you some context, many Filipinos take jobs in foreign developing countries where they make as little as $1/hour—and they are stoked about it! The pay in the Philippines is abysmally low, but cost of living is also minimal, especially if you are self-sufficient. If you are rich in time and have an adventurous spirit, there is no reason you can’t find the next Cloud 9 on a few dollars per day

Cheap Surf Vacation Destination No.5

  • Costa Rica: Central America is chock full of gringos—and for good reason. Cheap flights from the US provide quick access to a wide range of rippable waves surrounded by a party atmosphere and budget accommodations. The country is set up for surfers and backpackers (and surfer/backpackers), and depending on how rough you are willing to live you can easily subsist on less than $20 per day. So while the uninformed are spending a few grand for a week in a local surf camp, you can spend the same amount to stay for months—and get waves like Pavones and Witch’s Rock completely wired.

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