Endless summer: Year-round warm-weather destinations

By Arran Wallace

With the June solstice firmly behind us, summer is gradually drawing to a close. The nights are getting longer, and the weather is getting colder, causing many of us to daydream of a summer that never ends. Wouldn't that be lovely? Imagine it—warm weather in December instead of bracing yourself against whipping winds, sub-zero temperatures, and heavy snowstorms. While it's not possible to bring the warm beach weather of the Caribbean to a Midwest winter, you can escape the cold and snow.

Head out to one of these warm vacation spots from November through February, as these places boast year-round warm temperatures and sunny weather!

Riviera Maya, Mexico

Fundadores Park on Playa del Carmen in the Riviera Maya, Mexico.

Photo courtesy of MissTourist.com

In Mexico, the Riviera Maya can be found on the eastern coast of the Yucatán Peninsula in the Caribbean, and is a popular location for both locals and tourists. The region boasts a low tropical climate, with mean annual temperatures ranging from 75 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit, and the jungles and beaches one expects from the Caribbean.

Popular activities include swimming with dolphins, jet skiing, and scuba diving, as you might expect, but the region is also home to some incredibly preserved Mayan ruins. History buffs and culture vultures will love a visit to Tulum on the coast or Chichen Itza, which is two hours inland. The area is serviced by the Cancún International Airport, with many direct flights from the U.S.

Central Valley, Costa Rica

One of the many waterfalls in La Paz Waterfall Gardens in Costa Rica.
Photo courtesy of Costa Rica Guide.

Costa Rica's Central Valley, where the capital of San José is, has a tropical wet and dry climate, and average temperatures vary very little, with averages of 71 degrees Fahrenheit in October and 75 degrees Fahrenheit in April. The result is an incredibly fertile terrain, teeming with lush jungles, winding rivers, and impressive volcanoes, making it one of the best vacation spots for trekking and adventure.

Visitors can explore the rainforests and mountains by hiking, rafting, zip-lining, and taking an aerial tram above the tree canopy. Meanwhile, the city of San José offers a variety of urban and cultural activities. This is likely the first port of call for most visitors, with the Juan Santamaría International Airport just 12 miles west.

Santa Barbara, California

Tall palm trees in Santa Barbara, California.
Photo courtesy of The Blonde Abroad.

As you might expect from southern California, temperatures in Santa Barbara are pleasant throughout the whole year. Even during winter, from November to March, temperatures can climb up into the 60s in the afternoon—the perfect, warm, beach weather for barefoot walks on the sand, albeit perhaps a little too brisk for a dip in the sea for all but the very brave!

During the summer, visitors can rent out paddleboards, kayaks, and bikes to explore Butterfly Beach and the harbor. Visiting in winter, you can avoid the crowds and go shopping on State Street or visit the bohemian Funk Zone, with its art galleries and boutiques. Once you work up an appetite, there are dozens of unique eateries to satisfy your cravings, including everything from Japanese to Mexican cuisine.

Canary Islands, Spain

The incredible Mount Teide, an active volcano on Tenerife, one of Spain's Canary Islands.
Photo courtesy of Rough Guides.

Spain's Canary Islands, located off the western coast of Morocco, have a subtropical and desert climate, which is regulated by the ocean winds, The end result is mild temperatures all year round, with a low of 65 degrees Fahrenheit in January and a high of 76 degrees Fahrenheit in August—making these islands one of the best beach vacations in Europe at any time of the year.

There are seven islands in total, and all boast sublime beaches and the opportunity go scuba diving, whale watching, and sky diving for a unique view of the islands. On the island of Tenerife, though, is where you will find Teide National Park and Mount Teide, Earth's third tallest volcanic structure.

Stellenbosch, South Africa

Simonsberg Mountain in Stellenbosch, South Africa.
Photo courtesy of Adventurous Kate.

The coolest and wettest entry in our list, nor strictly a land of endless summer, Stellenbosch still boasts warm weather in December, January, and February, due to its location in the southern hemisphere. Located to the east of Cape Town in South Africa, Stellenbosch is famous for being the main wine region of South Africa, and as such, visitors flock from all around the world to visit the vineyards and wineries to sample their wares.

Don't like wine? Not to worry! There are two nature reserves nearby, Jonkershoek and Jan Marais, both of which offer hiking and mountain biking routes, as well as fantastic spots for games with the family or romantic picnics. The more adventurous will enjoy Pete's Adventure Farm, where you can go ATVing, do some horseback riding, or try your hand at archery. Giraffe House is home to—you guessed it—giraffes and other animals, making it a great option for a day out with the family.

Bangkok, Thailand

Chatuchak Market, one of the largest in the world, located in Bangkok, Thailand.
Photo courtesy of The Crazy Tourist .

Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, is one of the best vacation spots in winter, boasting average temperatures of 80 degrees Fahrenheit in these months. In fact, the temperature barely changes all year, and its seasons can be divided into three—hot, rainy, and cool—although their cool is our hot! The city itself is famous for its incredible nightlife, fantastic street food, and as a base to explore the beaches on the Gulf of Thailand, where you can go whale watching and scuba diving.

Other attractions in the city include the fascinating Grand Palace and nearby, the Wat Pho Buddhist Temple, which is home to a 46-meter-long, gold-plated, reclining Buddha statue. The best way to get around is by taking a "sky train," where you can see Bangkok from a height in the comfort of an air-conditioned carriage. If possible, try to visit between April 13-15, when Songkran, or Thai New Year's, is celebrated. The whole city breaks out into a huge water fight! It's not just a way to keep cool, even though it definitely helps; the tradition comes from the Buddhist belief that this will wash away any sins and bad luck.

Dahab, Egypt

Relax by the pool overlooking the sea in Castle Zaman in Dahab, Egypt.
Photo courtesy of Castle Zaman.

Dahab, Egypt, is located on the southeast coast of the Sinai Peninsula and has a hot desert climate. Tempered by the winds coming in off the Gulf of Aqaba and the Red Sea, the city ends up having nice weather year-round. October is a great time to visit, as, by then, the highest temperatures have passed, and the town begins to cool. A whole world away from the chaos of downtown Cairo and the pyramids, Dahab is a mellow beach town on the backpacker trail and is famous for being one of the best diving spots in Africa.

In addition to scuba diving, you can also explore the land surrounding the town on horseback or by camel, giving you an insight into the local Bedouin culture, as they gallop through the desert canyons to drink traditional tea at an oasis. The area is also home to St. Catherine's Monastery, which was built upon the spot where Moses was said to have encountered the burning bush. As if that weren't enough, the monastery is found at the foot of Mount Sinai, the 7,497-foot mountain where the Ten Commandments were received by Moses.


Feeling inspired? Keep exploring on Glamping Hub to find where you're going to extend your summer!

Stand-up paddleboarding: Where and how

By Eleanor Stanesby

Stand-up paddleboarding, or SUP, is one of the fastest growing water sports around the world. People are swapping out their kayaks—the former reigning champ—and trying their hand at this balance-testing activity. The origin of stand-up paddleboarding is traced back to Hawaii, where it was originally used for more practical reasons, such as traveling distances or fishing.

The sport has now become recreational, thanks to local surfers who invented the sport as a way to still get out on the ocean when the waves got low in summertime. They also realized that stand-up paddleboarding was much quicker and easier to learn than surfing—therefore making it available to a much broader audience and allowing its popularity to skyrocket.

Get ready to learn everything you need to know about how to stand-up paddleboard—and where the best places to do it are!

Photo courtesy of Seabreeze.

Where to go

If you're planning a trip or a vacation near the water soon—be that an ocean, a river, or a lake—you're in the right place to give stand-up paddleboarding a go. When weather permits, it's the perfect, fun-filled activity to include on any trip's itinerary, in addition to being a great full body workout once you've mastered it!

The perks of this water sport don't stop there, though. While stand-up paddleboarding, you're bound to be surrounded by a stunning natural environment, all while floating along a tranquil lake or sparkling river and having the utmost fun with this serene, yet challenging, activity.

The following are some of our favorite destinations:

Oahu, Hawaii

Photo courtesy ofISLE.

What better place to learn how to stand-up paddleboard than in the birthplace of the sport? Oahu, Hawaii, is known for it's epic big wave surfing, but in the summer when the waves are calmer, this is the perfect destination for both beginners and pros. Not only famous for it's epic water sports, the tranquil, clear waters; white, sandy beaches; and soaring temperatures are also a huge bonus when heading to this beautiful island.

British Columbia, Canada

Photo courtesy of Tripaneer.

British Columbia, Canada, is filled with reflective lakes and meandering rivers, and these peaceful waters make this the ideal place for SUP beginners. The possibilities are endless for diverse stand-up paddleboarding and sightseeing while here—and the incredible views will leave you in awe while doing so, too!

Portugal

Photo courtesy of Portugal Sport.

It's not hard to see why stand-up paddle boarding is so popular in Portugal, with its 1,793 kilometers of coastline to explore. You can explore the caves in the Algarve, or head to Luiz Saldanha Marine Park to go paddleboarding in an aquarium-like setting. With crystal clear waters and up to 70 meters of visibility, this spot is totally unique.

The need-to-know

Paddleboarding in Hawaii from Turtle Bay Resort.

Getting a feel for stand-up paddleboarding should only take 30 minutes or less, depending on how good your balance is. For first-timers, it's recommended to find calm waters and head out with a friend, in order to increase your chances of succeeding while learning this new skill.

Equipment

Minimal equipment is required, and it all can be rented from a water sports shop. The three main items are:

  • A paddleboard
  • A paddle
  • A life jacket

Techniques

Once you have your equipment, you can head to the water to start this adventure. Simply put, it's all about balance—using strength from your core to keep you upright and centered while on the water. The three most important parts of learning this water sport are: how to stand up properly, how how to balance while paddling, and how to fall.

Someone learning how to stand up on the paddleboard.
Photo courtesy of REI.

Trying to stand-up immediately as you get on the board is most likely going to end in disaster. Climb on the board while using your knees to balance, and head out into deeper water, away from the shallow shores. Once you feel comfortable, you can then begin to stand, one foot at a time. Plant your feet where your knees were and place the paddle horizontal along the board to anchor your balance.

Someone successfully standing on the paddleboard.
Photo courtesy of REI.

Once you're standing, you must rely on your core balance to keep you from falling. Your feet should be hip-width apart, and your weight should be evenly distributed. Keep your gaze on the horizon and avoid staring at your feet; this will help you keep your balance and avoid falling into the water.

What to do if you fall

Learning a new skill is always a challenge and will come with its wins and failures during the learning process. Falling is all a part of the fun when learning how to stand-up paddleboard; however, knowing how to fall correctly is important in order to avoid getting injured.

Pro Tips:

  • Fall to the side to avoid the board.
  • Try to fall flat to avoid hitting your head.
  • Hold onto your paddle.

You'll be paddling off into the sunset and off to your next scenic trip in no time!


Paddle off into the sunset and onto your next scenic trip! Here's some inspiration on where to head—and some other adventure sports you can give a shot.

How to start a summer bonfire

By Arran Wallace

The bringer of warmth, cooker of meat, and provider of a romantic atmosphere in a log cabin, fire has held a special and primal place in our hearts ever since early humans learned how to make ti and control it—marking a dramatic shift in human habits. It also ushered in a new era for man kind, the reduced risk from uncooked food and ability to stay warm in colder climates, among many others.

Given its historical importance to human life, it is surprising how few people actually know how to start a bonfire. We rely so heavily on modern appliances to warm ourselves and our food that we've forgotten one of the most important basic skills a human can have.

That's why we've put together this guide on how to safely start a bonfire this summer...and all year round, for that matter! When you head out on your next glamping getaway and want to start a bonfire to roast marshmallows or tell ghost stories, you'll know how to do so safely—protecting you, your fellow glampers, and the natural setting that surrounds you.

Step 1: Prepare the pit

Nonflammable surface? Check. Small pit for embers to fall into? Check. Perimeter of stones? Check.
Photo courtesy of Silver City Resort.

The first thing you'll need to do is choose a good location for your fire. It needs to be on bare earth, sand, or gravel—anywhere that can't catch fire itself. (Dry or dead grass is an absolute no-no.) Visualize an eight-foot safety perimeter, and clear any flammable materials within that area. If you're in a wooded area, make sure there are no low-hanging branches or vines that the flames could reach. Ideally, the fire should have open sky above it, so that smoke doesn't rise up into any branches nor affect any nests or animals up in the trees.

Once you've chosen your spot, start to dig out a pit that is a few inches deep, which will prevent the fire from spreading. As the wood turns into embers, they will fall into the pit rather then spread outwards. A perimeter of rocks also stops the spread of embers and ashes, especially in windy areas. It's also a good idea to have extinguishing materials nearby in case you need to put the fire out quickly in an emergency.

Step 2: Collect and arrange materials

From left to right, you'll see tinder, kindling, and firewood.
Photo courtesy of REI.

What you'll need

There are three main materials you will need to start your bonfire:

  • Tinder: Dry pieces of thin material that catch fire and burn very quickly. Good examples include straw, dry grass and leaves, newspaper, cotton balls, and even cattail reeds.

  • Kindling: Bigger pieces of flammable materials that catch fire quickly but burn slower than tinder. Good examples include twigs, thin branches, pine cones, and tightly-rolled newspaper.

  • Firewood: A standard log, about the length of one's forearm, and what most people envision when you picture a fire. These burn slowly and provide warmth for a long period of time.

Once you have these three things, you light the tinder, which is used to light the kindling, and then use the kindling to light the firewood. Try to collect twice as much as you think you'll need, because there's nothing worse than running out of materials before your fire is ready.

How to lay the fire

Once you have your tinder, kindling, and firewood, you can begin to arrange the materials, which must be done in a specific way, otherwise known as a fire lay. As an homage to glamping, we're going to go with the tipi fire lay, although there are many variations you can choose from.

This is a tipi fire lay, with tinder surrounded by kindling, leaving space to access the tinder.
Photo courtesy of Outdoor Life.
  1. Collect your tinder into a bundle, and place it in the middle of the fire pit.

  2. Use three or four twigs or sticks to form a tipi structure that contains the tinder bundle.

  3. Continue adding to the tipi structure, all while leaving a small opening upwind so you can access the tinder inside. Make sure to build upwards rather than outwards and leave spaces between the sticks for air to move freely.

  4. If you have a couple of small or thin pieces of firewood, you can add these, too, as long as their weight does not compromise the structure.

How to light the fire

Take your lighter or matches, and carefully light the tinder inside through the opening you left upwind. By leaving it upwind, this ensures that the wind pushes the flames through the tinder bundle. You may have to blow carefully to encourage the tinder to catch fire. If done correctly, the tinder will light the kindling, creating a quickly burning fire. At this point, you can slowly add the firewood, being careful not to suffocate the flames. As the anonymous quote says, "A fire is like a child; you must look after it carefully in the beginning so that it can look after you later."

Step 3: Safely extinguishing the fire

As the woman extinguishes the fire, note how she is upwind to avoid the smoke blowing in her face.
Photo courtesy of REI.

Now for the easy part! Remember that container of water you carefully prepared before lighting the fire? Take it and pour it slowly on top of the fire until the hissing stops. Don't stand directly above the fire to avoid breathing in the smoke.

Once you've done this, use a stick and stir the ashes into the dirt, which may reveal embers that weren't extinguished by the water. Put these out with more water, or simply stamp them into the ground with your foot. Make sure you're wearing shoes with thick soles, though!

If there are any sizable sticks or logs left, scrape away the surface to check they are not still burning. Finally, give everything the palm test: Hold your palms up to the embers and logs. If you can't feel any heat radiating off them, it is safe to leave.

In the unlikely event you don't have any or enough water on-hand, the extinguishing process is pretty similar. You'll use dirt or sand to cover the embers instead, which will deprive them of oxygen and stop the fire. Be careful not to fully cover the fire, as this could create extremely high temperatures under the dirt or sand that could reignite later. Once the flames have been extinguished, use a stick to mix the embers around in the dirt/ or sand to check that there isn't anything still glowing and then give it the aforementioned palm test.

One final tip

A camper strikes a flint and steel to create sparks, which land on the char cloth below.
Photo courtesy of Twin Eagles Wilderness School.

How to create a spark with no lighter or matches

Perhaps you left your lighter at home or it's run out of lighter fluid. Maybe you fell into a creek earlier, and now your matches are sodden and useless. In order to be prepared for every possible scenario, make sure you tuck some flint, steel, and char cloth in your backpack before you head out into the wilderness.

The steel is a C-shaped piece of tempered steel; the char cloth is a piece of sooty linen that has been burned in a low-oxygen environment, which catches fire easily and burns slowly; and the flint is a hard gray rock with a sharp edge. All of these can be found in any camping supply store. What's more? This old-school method of starting fires will impress your friends, won't run out of gas, and can't break. (You can still lose the materials, though, so be careful!)

The idea is to strike the steel against the sharp edge of the flint to create a spark, setting the char cloth aflame, which can then be transferred to your bundle of tinder. From this point, you can continue as described above, blowing the nascent flames carefully until your fire is blazing away.

Hot Tip: If weather conditions are windy, you may have to hold the char cloth on top of the flint, so that the sparks don't have to travel very far.

Another (easier) option is to invest in a ferro rod, short for ferrocerium rod, which is a small rod made from a compound of iron and cerium. Striking against it with a blade will produce a shower of sparks, similar to the ones created by 4th of July sparklers.

For those who prefer a visual, this video will show you how to create a spark with these materials:


Want to find somewhere to practice your skills? Check out all of these cabins with fireplaces, and don't forget to pack your flint!

Best summertime adventures in the Pacific Northwest

By Eric Wright

With summer in full swing and Mother Nature in all its glory, its time to get a little dirt on those boots and make some lifelong memories adventuring in the great outdoors. From soaring mountains and pristine lakes to majestic wildlife and adrenaline-pumping recreational activities, the Pacific Northwest has it all. Check out these six unforgettable experiences, and have yourself an exhilarating vacation in this majestic part of the world.

1. Run and hike the majestic Mt. Rainier

Rising into the heavens at an incredible 14,411 feet, Mount Rainier is the largest glacial system and the tallest peak in the lower 48 states, offering a rich diversity of wildlife; fields upon fields of beautiful wildflowers; and, of course, jaw-dropping vistas.

Fitness fanatics can get their blood pumping by heading out on a run on part of the 93-mile Wonderland Trail, which winds its way around the snow-capped volcano. The fabled Skyline Trail is also a favorite among visitors, as the 1,400-foot elevation gain showcases sublime views of the Tatoosh Range and the Cascades.

Relax after a thrilling day of exploration at your own little slice of heaven: this tiny house that's just over an hour from Mount Rainier National Park!

2. Whale watching from the San Juan Islands

Set sail on a once-in-a-lifetime quest to spot fascinating creatures, such as magnificent orca whales, playful seals, and regal eagles, by taking a day boat trip from Vancouver around the gorgeous San Juan and Orcas Islands.

With whale-spotting success rates of up to 90%, these tours last from three to five hours, going into the Strait of Georgia and around the Gulf Islands, and allow intrepid travelers the chance to get a real insight into the native marine wildlife from the hand of experienced guides.

Stay on nearby Mayne Island, and soak up even more nature from right outside the front door at this dreamy cottage.

3. Whitewater rafting near Mt. Hood National Forest

Surrounded by 11 glistening glaciers, the year-round snowy peak of Mount Hood in Oregon is a hiker's paradise. The pristine rivers flowing down from the rugged peaks, however, offer a unique way for visitors to take in the lush Pacific Northwest wilderness.

Companies, like Wet Planet Whitewater, offer spectacular day excursions on the rapids during summer—both on the Columbia River Gorge and the West Fork and Main sections of the Hood River.

Take a different kind of dip by hopping into your own wood-fired bathtub secluded in nature at this
romantic retreat near Mount Hood!

4. Take a cruise from Seattle

For those wanting to get out on the water, one of the best options in the PNW is to set sail from the Emerald City, and enjoy the serene views of the stunning 542-acre Discovery Park—all before venturing into the Olympic Mountains for some epic hiking trials with spectacular scenery.

Since Washington's Olympic National Park overlooks the Pacific Ocean, there are endless sandy beaches, magical rainforests, and native wildlife to be discovered. At the end of an active day outdoors, what could be better than heading back to your own secluded getaway near the Hoh Rainforest?

You may never want to leave this incredible tiny house in the Olympic National Park.

5. Go zip-lining on Vancouver Island

Vancouver Island boasts a raw, ocean-carved landscape that is surrounded by snowcapped mountains, zig-zagging coastline, and rich wilderness—the ideal spot to have the adventure of a lifetime. Apart from unforgettable experiences, such as whale spotting, this pristine area of British Columbia is also ideal for some truly electrifying aerial pursuits. Why not head over to Adrena Line, on the south side of the island, for a rip-roaring day of zip-lines up to 1,000 feet high?

Take a much neeed rest at your own private suite—complete with Jacuzzi tub—near Victoria.

6. Hike and kayak the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest

Sprawling millions of acres across Washington, the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest is a prime location for those looking to immerse themselves in ancient forests and vibrant wilderness. With great hiking, running, and mountain biking trails, those looking for adventure have found their ideal playground. There are also fantastic opportunities for fishing, horseback riding, and climbing in the park, while taking a kayak out on Lake Wenatchee is a serene experience, surrounded by awesome peaks, and one not to be missed.

Get ready to fire up the grill and enjoy some tasty homemade burgers after a full day of activities with a stay at this log cabin in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest.

Want to keep exploring the PNW? Check out our favorite unique weekend trips in the Pacific Northwest to get some inspiration for yours!

Our favorite eco-friendly camping gear

By Eleanor Stanesby

A camping adventure is the best way to disconnect from day-to-day life and connect with the great outdoors on your vacation. While camping is a more sustainable choice of adventure travel, the impact on the environment is still ever-present if you haven't invested in the right gear to help lower your carbon footprint even further.

A cheaper price tag often influences our decision on which product to choose, but that low ticket price typically is for camping gear that isn't sustainable for the environment nor your wallet. No matter the season, camping products are prone to damage and wear after battling against inclement weather, which means cheaper gear will likely send you back to the store in no time.

If you've dug out all your camping gear and realized it might be time for an upgrade, become a more eco-friendly consumer with this selection of gear that will allow you to enjoy some conscious camping this year.

Camping stove

CampStove 2 by BioLite

If your heading off-grid, the BioLite CampStove 2 is the perfect way to toxic fumes while cooking your favorite camp meal. This wood-burning stove is a great alternative to gas stoves and will allow you to cook with cleaner air—producing 95% less smoke than a normal wood-burning fire. In just minutes, you can boil water with any renewable biomass found in the campground, and the excess energy can be used to charge any electrical devices, stored in an internal battery and used for later!

Camping utensils

RePEaT Utensil Set by To-Go Ware.

Avoiding buying and using plastic for a camping trip is a great step towards sustainability. In doing so, you're both cutting down on your plastic usage and protecting any wild animals from plastic waste being left behind on accident. The RePEaT Utensil Set by To-Go Ware is the perfect substitute for all of your cooking needs. Made from responsibly sourced bamboo, this set includes a knife, a fork, a spoon, and chopsticks, and it comes with a handy carabiner, so they can be easily clipped onto your backpack.

2-in-1 lantern and phone charger

PackLite Hero 2-in-1 Supercharger by LuminAid.

If you're out in nature, lack of light can be a problem, and finding a product that will last for the duration of your trip is vital. The PackLite Hero 2-in-1 Supercharger from LuminAid is the ultimate solar-powered lantern—both illuminating your campground, with its 300 lumens, and charging your smartphone simultaneously.

Before you leave, you can charge it via USB in just two to four hours via USB, and while on the road, all it needs are 16 hours of direct sunlight. This may seem like a long period of time, but never fear! The lantern can be clipped onto your backpack during the day to soak up all the solar power you'll need come nightfall. It's also water- and dust-proof, so no matter what type of adventure you're planning, lighting your tent or campsite will never be a problem again.

Fire starters

Sweetfire Tinder Matches by UCO Gear

Starting a fire with chemical-filled, toxic fire starters can have a big impact on the environment, releasing unnecessary and harmful chemicals into the atmosphere and contributing to global warming. These Sweetfire Tinder Matches by UCO Gear are strikeable fire starters made from a sugarcane byproduct—an ingredient used worldwide as a form of renewable biofuel—and are biodegradable. The matches have a burn time of seven minutes, which is more than enough time to get a campfire started no matter where you're camping. This no-chemical product means you're also avoiding adding any toxicity to the food you're eating, making them an all-around win-win.

Sleeping bag

Trestles 15° Sleeping Bag by Marmot

A sleeping bag is a true essential of a camping trip, and choosing the right one is crucial to guarantee a comfortable night's sleep and prepare you for the next day's adventures. This Trestles 15° Sleeping Bag by Marmot is designed for sub-par temperatures with synthetic insulation, has moisture resistance, and is lightweight for portability, but it is also made from 100% recycled materials. You are sure to sleep soundly knowing all of this!


Curious to know more about ecotourism and supporting our environment while you travel? Check out these incredible upcycled accommodations around the globe for inspiration for your next vacation!

5 ways to have the ultimate end-of-summer getaway on a budget

By Jessica Armstrong

Editor's note: This guest post was written by Ashley Rossi of SmarterTravel.

The end of summer, particularly in August and September, is often referred to as the "sweet spot" for travel. Summer crowds disperse, as families get ready to head back to school, meaning there is less demand at popular summer vacation spots. If your schedule allows, this is actually one of the best times to plan a long-weekend escape! Here are five budget-friendly tips from SmarterTravel that’ll make your end-of-summer getaway the best one yet.

Stay local

The best part about planning a staycation or a getaway to a nearby destination is that you'll save on transportation costs and time by staying local. Here are some suggestions for a number of major cities across the U.S.!

From New York City, we recommend a trip to Dutchess County in New York.

This quirky tiny house is located on a charming farm nearby in Sullivan County, New York.

From Atlanta, Georgia, head to Asheville, North Carolina.

Couples will love this romantic tree house cabin near Asheville, North Carolina.

From Houston, Texas, head to San Antonio.

A unique getaway awaits at these traditional tipis in nearby New Braunfels, Texas.

From Seattle, Washington, head to Bellingham or Whidbey Island.

A trip for two never looked so good than at this glamping tent on Whidbey Island in Washington.

From Los Angeles, head to San Diego, California.

This bell tent rental comes with its own mini-tennis court in nearby Carlsbad, California.

For even more exciting escapes near nine major U.S. cities, check out these top, cheap weekend getaways!

Hit the road

You can cut costs on transportation by driving to your weekend getaway. Even if you don't own a car, renting a car or using a service, like Zipcar, gives you freedom and flexibility to make a road trip a viable option. What's more? Zipcar has a partnership with state and provincial parks across the U.S. to give you free parking at select locations.

Make sure you're using an app, like GasBuddy, which is a crowd-sourcing app that tells you where the cheapest gas is nearby. Since you already have your smartphone out, take a second to download these nine other essential road trip apps, too!

Ditch the hotel

Try looking into different types of accommodations when planning an end-of-summer getaway—with glamping being a top choice. Not only are you staying in Instagram-worthy properties, but you'll likely be saving on nightly rates since these are usually a non-traditional form of shelter. You'll also be able to cut costs on dining out if you book a place with a kitchen or cooking area and avoid the potential high costs of hotel parking lots.

Embrace the off season

Significant savings can be found in destinations that are in their off season, as these locales are less popular this time of year and typically have lower prices to attract guests. This is especially true in summertime in mountain towns, like Stowe, Park City, Vail, and many more. Other popular destinations where summer is considered to be the off season include Arizona, Florida, and New Orleans.

Get outdoors

It's time to get outside! Most hikes and beaches are free to enjoy, and the great outdoors provides a naturally relaxing backdrop to celebrate the end of summer. Be sure to check out free National Park entry days—one is coming up on August 25!—and look at passes for state and national parks if you're looking to visit often. Don't know which park to visit? We've got some suggestions for you that come recommended by the park rangers themselves here.


Check out Glamping Hub and SmarterTravel's Weekend Road Trip Giveaway on Instagram! You and three friends have the chance to win the perfect end-of-summer getaway.

Travel Guide: Maine

By Fred Jéquier

Maine, New England, is the most northeastern state in America, known for its rocky coastline, role in maritime history, and stunning areas of natural beauty, like the granite and spruce islands of Acadia National Park. Baxter State Park, one of 42 state parks in Maine, is a prime example of why "The Pine Tree State" is the perfect place to visit in any season—featuring the endpoint of the Appalachian Trail, Mount Katahdin, herds of moose, and a coastline dotted with candy-striped lighthouses, like the one at West Quoddy Head.

Getting there

Traveling to this part of New England, you'll have 18 different airports to choose, but there are five Maine airports in the state that are well connected to areas of interest. For those traveling from overseas, there are two international airports. Portland International Jetport is on the outskirts of the southern, coastal city of Portland—getting you to the coast in no time. Bangor International Airport is more centrally located, but it's still only 40 minutes by car, approximately, from the coast. It's also just 90 minutes from Baxter State Park!

The three remaining major airports are regional, with Bar Harbor Airport giving you easy access to Mount Desert Island, while Knox County Regional Airport is perched on the coast about an hour from Augusta, the state capital—where you'll also find the third regional airport, Augusta Airport. Be sure to double check the state if you plan on flying to Augusta; you don't want to end up in Georgia when you've been planning to get in some whale watching for your spring vacation!

Things to know before you go

When and where?

Maine is perfect for a visit all year round. Depending on what tickles your fancy, however, will help you determine the best time of year to go and where to base yourself for your getaway.

1. Summer fun

This is the only time of year with date-specific times to visit. The summer season kicks off on the 4th of July. This is when seasonal businesses are open and ready for the influx of visitors, which typically ends for the year on Labor Day.

Summer is the perfect time to head to one of Maine's astoundingly beautiful beaches. It's hard to believe, but Maine has more coastline than California—3,478 miles compared to California's 3,427—but its rugged, rocky, and pine covered coast only has 70 miles worth of sandy beaches, all of which are undeniably beautiful.

2. Fall foliage

When fall comes, New England is one of the best places to go and see the stunning autumnal colors, and Maine, is no exception. In fact, whether you head inland to Baxter State Park or stick to the shoreline around Rockford, you are guaranteed a beautiful stay during the fall.

The peak time to see the red, auburn, and golden leaves decorate the trees falls into a relatively small window. Typically, you have from the last week of September through the first couple of weeks in October, so be sure to make all of your travel arrangements sooner rather than later.

Photo taken by Vincent Mistretta Photography.

3. Winter wonderland

When the winds of winter come to Maine, they bring a mountain of snow, so now is the time to head inland and find a spot to ski and snowboard. With the ski season starting in mid-November and great ski resorts, such as Sunday River, Mt. Abram Ski Resort, Sugarloaf, and more, you'll have your pick of places to enjoy Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's. In fact, Maine boasts a long ski season, some years not ending until May!

Photo from Visit Maine.

4. Whale watching

Around mid-April each year, Maine plays host to some seasonal residents. This is the preferred time of year for pods of whales and dolphins to visit the state, as the abundance of local waters are rich in sand eels, copepods, plankton, and fish—meaning you can head out on a whale-watching tour. Overlapping with the summer-fun crowd, both whales and dolphins tend to stay in residence until mid-October, when they start their migration south to warmer waters for the winter.

Photo from Dockside Guest Quarters & Restaurant.

Culture

1. Eating and drinking in Maine

Eating in Maine is a veritable treat. With the ocean playing such a big part in the state's tourism, it's hardly surprising that seafood is on most menus, especially fresh lobster. Maine is also famous for its blueberry pies, though, which have become so synonymous with Maine cuisine that, in 2011, the State Legislature designated blueberry pie as the official state dessert.

Maine also has its fair share of beverages to boast. In addition to a plethora of tasty New England IPAs that are brewed in the local breweries, other local specialties include a variety of apple ciders and Allen's Coffee Flavored Brandy, which is sure to give you a lift!

2. Festivals

Maine isn't just a destination for foliage followers, ski enthusiasts, or people wild about wildlife! When you're planning your trip, you should consider timing it to fit in one of the festivals held here. Whether you want to celebrate food and drink—and let's be honest, who could blame you?—, music and movies, or even the great outdoors, Maine has got you covered.

Maine Lobster Festival

Sadly, we've all missed this one for 2019, but as fate would have it, it'll be ready and raring to go again in 2020. Held in the coastal city of Rockland during the first weekend of August each year, this is the perfect opportunity for visitors to indulge in fresh lobster over a long weekend. After all, you can't go to Maine and not try one of its most famous exports!

Maine International Film Festival

Held over a 10-day period, the Maine International Film Festival will be returning to big screens from July 10-19, 2020. Boasting the best in American independent and international cinema, the festival also features work from up-and-coming filmmakers. If you're a real film buff, you'll love the chance to get involved in informal Q&As, as well as meet-and-greets with the directors, actors, and composers involved in making the movies.

Photo from Maine Insights.

Maine Lakes Winter Carnival

This annual winter carnival, which takes place each year in February in the idyllic Highland Lakes, is the perfect opportunity for you to enjoy a whole range of winter-based activities. Dog sledding, horse-drawn wagon rides, snow sculpting, and an ice fishing competition are all big parts of the festival, and there are also kid-friendly activities and events, as well. If you're feeling particularly brave, or you fancy yourself as the next Wim Hof, you can get involved in the charity polar dip, too!

Photo from Portland Press Herald.

Learn more about glamping in Maine in this interview with one of our hosts in White Mountain National Park, and continue your New England adventure with tips and advice in our blog about a fall-foliage road trip.

Host Spotlight: Diane and Raul

By Jackie Dreyer

Editor's note: Each month, we'd like to introduce you to one of our wonderful Glamping Hub hosts and what inspired them to create a glamping site. This month, we have Diane and Raul and their stunning safari tent near Pismo Beach in Arroyo Grande, California.

1. What is the story behind you starting your glamping site?

We were invited to our niece's wedding in the San Juan Islands of Washington State. We went online to make hotel reservations and found that the site of her wedding offered many different accommodations, i.e. a lodge, cabins, tents, Airstream trailers, and...GLAMPING!

We had never heard of "glamping" before, but when I saw what they offered, we knew immediately that it was something we wanted to try. We own 10 acres full of oak trees—plus a beautiful tropical pool area behind our home. It didn't take too much discussion, and we decided to build a glamping site that was unique, totally private, and like a classy resort, with every amenity possible.

2. What did you do before becoming a glamping host? What drew you to glamping?

Raul is a federal contractor, who provides hospital housekeeping services to military medical treatment facilities (Army, Air Force, and Navy), and I enjoy trading stocks along with being Raul's executive assistant and "girl Friday." We were drawn to the glamping idea to help generate some additional income, since retirement is quickly approaching. We loved the thought of sharing our beautiful, resort-like property with others.

3. In your opinion, how does your accommodation fit the definition of glamping?

We own 10 picturesque, oak-filled acres of land, so nestled in the woods, we built a large, sturdy deck and erected a huge safari tent, or canvas cabin, on it. It is located 180 feet from the patio area, where you'll find the bathroom, a BBQ area, a Jacuzzi, a koi pond, and a tropical pool.

The tent itself is furnished with a rustic, woodsy theme and offers many comforts, such as beds with memory-foam mattresses, a couch, a table, and chairs, as well as a TV with a VCR and a selection of 40 movies. There is also a mini-fridge and a Keurig coffeemaker. Guests enjoy cold waters or their choice of Starbucks coffees, STASH teas, or various hot chocolates. This is luxury camping at its finest!

4. What is the most special thing about your property?

Not only do our guests enjoy the seclusion of a cozy "cabin in the woods," but we provide more private amenities than any expensive hotel or resort. Where can people go to find such luxurious surroundings and not have to share it with strangers? You don't have shared walls or have to share the exotic pool area, as you would at any hotel.

Everything is here for our guests' own personal use—their own private tropical resort that is surrounded by stunning landscaping; a bridge crossing over a koi pond filled with fish, rockery, and waterfalls; fire pits; and beautiful lighting. Once we give our guests the initial welcome and tour, we are scarce (unless they need something, or simply want to chat). We have put shades on all the windows and doors around the back of our house, so our guests have total privacy.

5. What do you love the most about running a glamping site? What are some of the challenges you face?

We love sharing our piece of paradise with others. Our glamping site has given us the opportunity to meet wonderful people from all over the world. We have had guests from Tibet, England, and Canada, as well as people from across America. People from all over California also come for staycations, since it's just a few hours away by car, and they arrive to a completely different world!

So far, we haven't had many challenges, and we feel blessed to have found this great opportunity to provide a service, as well as supplement our retirement. The only tough thing we face at times is the short turn-around time when we have back-to-back reservations. Since it's just the two of us, it's not always easy stripping beds, cleaning, laundering towels and linens, tidying up, and re-stocking in just three hours—especially when we have six guests who need three beds made up, instead of just one.

Carrying down and inflating the queen-size air mattress and hauling the additional memory-foam mattress to add to the sofa bed down the long path from the house to the safari tent is cumbersome. We haven't come up with an easier method yet, but who knows? Things are getting easier as times goes by. We are still pretty new to this, and practice makes perfect, right?

6. Tell us about your most memorable guest experience to date.

Wow, it's hard to pick just one! We had a wonderful family from England stay with us, and they were lovely; we ended up becoming very good friends and will be keeping in touch. There was a pre-bachelorette party of five gals, who absolutely fell in love with our place. They had a blast and are now walking advertisements for us—they are definitely planning to return.

We had a very sweet couple from San Francisco, who we wouldn't hesitate to adopt! Lastly, we had a very special Tibetan family, who upon their departure, honored us with a special gift for being their host: a gorgeous scarf/runner, made of white silk, for good luck. It made me cry!

7. Which three words are most commonly used in guest feedback about your accommodation?

Welcoming, comfortable, and amazing!

8. Tell us about the experience you provide for guests visiting your glamping site.

We provide the perfect place for our guests to relax, unplug, and enjoy nature. They get the best of both worlds:

  1. A comfortable camping experience, with memory-foam mattresses, in a spacious safari tent nestled in a countryside that is filled with oak trees, where you can fall asleep to the sound of owls, crickets, and frogs, and wake up to the birds' songs. You're surrounded by nature and wildlife and can enjoy sitting on the deck with a cup of coffee, watching wild turkeys and deer roam about the property. You can also go hiking on our nearby trail, which has stunning views of both the mountains and valley vineyards, in addition to breathtaking views of the ocean, from Avila Beach to the Guadalupe Dunes.

  2. The private use of our tropical pool area, Jacuzzi, and a large, modern, indoor bathroom with a shower and every amenity you could possibly need. You can spend your days lounging in the private pool area, with lush landscaping and waterfalls, or sitting on our little bridge over the covered pond, as you watch our beautiful koi and goldfish. There is a BBQ area, with plenty of patio tables, chairs, and loungers, as well as a gas fire pit to sit around while sipping on your favorite beverage.

There is literally something for everyone!

9. If you could have anybody stay at your accommodation, who would it be and why?

We would have to say my mom and Raul's dad. Sadly, they both have passed away, but they both loved our property—especially the exotic, tropical backyard, with the pool, lush plants, and waterfalls. They both would have been thrilled to see how we found a way to share our piece of paradise with others. (I also wouldn't mind a visit from Elvis; I was always his biggest fan!)

10. Are there any upcoming additions/changes to your glamping site you would like to share with us?

We have just ordered a two-burner electric combination kitchen—with a sink, counter space, cupboard space, and a compact refrigerator and freezer—for the covered patio area near the barbecue. Now, instead of just barbecuing, folks can actually cook, clean, and enjoy the use of an actual mini-kitchen. Plus, the additional refrigerator will accommodate more food and will be easier than using the provided ice chest and the mini-fridge down in the tent.

We also hope to pave the long path from the tent to the pool area, which will prevent everyone from tracking bark into the tent and bathroom and make everything much cleaner.


To book an unforgettable stay at Diane and Raul's safari tent in California, click here!

Host Spotlight: Robert and Emma

By Jackie Dreyer

Editor's note: Each month, we'd like to introduce you to one of our wonderful Glamping Hub hosts and what inspired them to create a glamping site. This month, we have Robert and Emma and their glamping property—with everything from pods and tiny houses to cabins and cottages!—in Essex, England.

1. What is the story behind you starting your glamping site?

Emma:

After converting two redundant farm buildings on the farm into cottages, our road into the accommodation sector began. A friend later suggested we offer a small field for touring caravans. Later, a Sunday supplement feature about MegaPods resulted in a conversation with Ian Bone of The Pod Company, and a few weeks later, our first MegaPod arrived.

Rob was a little skeptical, but a simple addition of a photograph of the MegaPod at the bottom of the cottages website resulted in lots of bookings. Two more MegaPods were quickly bought and installed.

Robert:

Shortly after this, Emma suggested we convert shipping containers into more glamping pods. Why not? We ship potatoes from the farm in shipping containers! This was way before George Clarke got in on the act.

Not long after a visit to a trade show resulted in a conversation with Archie Hunter at Armadilla, and a deal was struck to buy three, which our younger guests love, as they have mood lighting, TVs, DVD players, and Bluetooth connectivity.

The business rolled on but we were regularly turning folks away. We needed to expand, but carefully, without losing our ethos of providing luxury accommodation in large separate private spaces. We looked around the farm and decided on the next location—a little way from the original location, but with fantastic views across the fields to the estuary of the joining rivers: Colne, Crouch, and Blackwater.

After much debate and a trip to Slovenia, we installed 12 fabulous Lushna cabins. There are four different designs—each one in its own huge 25-meter by 15-meter plot—and they're already proving to be extremely popular with our guests.

2. What did you do before becoming a glamping host? What drew you to glamping?

Emma:

Before setting up the glamping business, Rob was a potato merchant, buying and selling potatoes from across the U.K., mostly for export. He also helped out with the family farm, where the glamping business is based.

Robert:

Emma had a successful career in TV working for various companies in London, as well as for a time in Singapore, before moving back to her original home turf in Essex. After meeting Rob, she got involved with the glamping business and uses her marketing and branding qualifications and skills to guide the business on its way.

3. In your opinion, how does your accommodation fit the definition of glamping?

Robert:

Our pods are what glamping is all about, "like a hotel room in a field." It's all the pleasure of camping, but with the luxury and comfort to make the stay as pleasurable as it can be.

4. What is the most special thing about your property?

Emma:

Our location is the best thing about our glamping site. Just a short drive of an hour and 25 minutes from London, the property is on a quiet, peaceful lane, where, except for the odd tractor, the noisiest thing you'll hear are the birds and bees in the hedges and trees. The views across the fields to the estuary beyond are fantastic, and the nature reserve, beach, and marshes at the end of the lane are a place of natural wonder.

5. What do you love the most about running a glamping site? What are some of the challenges you face?

Emma:

Rob loves developing new things, so his mind is currently scheming his tree house! He's already got a design worked up for a two-story, luxury, circular cabin, which will float in the branches of the fabulous holm oak tree in the farm's yard.

Robert:

Emma says my personal challenge is keeping our guests happy and wanting to return here. Coming up with new ideas for the business is important, too, so it evolves for our guests and inspires us and our team here at the farm.

6. Tell us about your most memorable guest experience to date.

Emma:

For Rob, I think it is some of the funny emails we get from guests. Perhaps the gem, "can you quote me happy," still makes him chuckle. I love the marriage proposals at our properties, as well as guests returning over the years to make further memories with their children.

Emma:

And who can forget finding fish swimming about in one of the hot tubs?! That was rather memorable. Some of our younger guests had caught some fish and were not allowed to take them home, so thinking quickly, they popped them in a hot tub for safe keeping. Thankfully, the hot tub had cooled down by that point. When found, the fish were safely returned to the river after their morning spa treatment.

7. Which three words are most commonly used in guest feedback about your accommodation?

Emma:

Relaxing, peaceful, and wonderful.

8. Tell us about the experience you provide for guests visiting your glamping site.

Robert:

What we provide is an opportunity for guests to switch off. We don't need guests to check in, as they receive all the information they need to arrive at their accommodation in advance by email and text message—leaving them with nothing left to do but get on with relaxing.

Emma:

As Rob says, we run the business how we would like to be treated. No check-in means you're not worrying about arriving at 3 p.m. because the owner needs to show you around—all while the kids are driving you nuts in the car and you just want to arrive, relax, and have a cup of tea or a glass of wine.

Reducing stress to start with, so the holiday begins the minute you set off, is important. We encourage our guests to relax or go and explore the local area, including the beautiful stretch of coastline at our doorstep.

9. If you could have anybody stay at your accommodation, who would it be and why?

Robert:

Barack Obama—the only person of renown that I have ever really felt that I would like to meet.

Emma:

Aside from celebrities, I would like to look at charities for next year, perhaps offering a couple of weekends for families that are facing or have faced challenges, perhaps a bereavement, for example. Children caring for a sick parent really resonate with me, and I would like to offer a family some time to relax and get away from the strains of home life for a couple of days, if possible. As much as we are running a business, for both of us, it is important to add an ethical purpose, too.

10. Are there any upcoming additions/changes to your glamping site you would like to share with us?

Robert

My tree house and our hope and dream to add three cabins to a lovely area of grass between our wooded area and our reservoir. It is a beautiful location on the other side of the village—perfect for glamping!

Emma:

We have a few ideas. Another site would be good, with some variation. It's been a challenging year for us in a few different ways, and we have been talking recently about how, despite this, we are getting ready to move forward and create something new and different.


To book an unforgettable stay at Robert and Emma's property in Essex, click here for the cottage, some tiny houses, another tiny house, pods, one more tiny house, another pod, a few more pods, and a cabin!

Costa Vicentina: A hidden surfers' paradise in Portugal

By Fred Jéquier

Photo from cEkonomista.

Every year, surfers across Europe flock to some of the most popular surf spots in the continent. Usual suspects include Biarritz in France; San Sebastian in northern Spain, Sennen Cove in Cornwall, England, and Peniche in Portugal. If you're looking for somewhere new to ride some waves this summer, look no further. The stunning Costa Vicentina is where you should be looking. This incredible coastline—rich in history, culture, and, of course, waves—has numerous beaches that are perfect for a summer surfing adventure.

Where is Costa Vicentina?

Costa Vicentina is set in the incredible Alentejo and Algarve regions of Portugal. Part of a natural park that starts further north and runs from the fishing village of Burgau in the south to Odeceixe Beach, Costa Vicentina is the longest stretch of protected Portuguese coast, with beaches as far as the eye can see.

This area of preserved nature has breathtaking, rugged character that is different to other parts of southwestern and southern Portugal. Heading west from Lagos, you'll leave the picturesque caves and coves behind you and will soon find yourself amid vast, empty swathes of sand or tiny, inaccessible beaches—perfect for the more adventurous surfer, as they are continually hammered by the full force of the Atlantic Ocean.

History of the region

Costa Vicentina has a rich history that precedes its current role as a surfers' paradise. Cape St. Vincent, the most south-western point in Europe, has religious traditions that stretch as far back as the Ancient Greeks, who called it the Land of the Serpents, and the Romans, who considered the horizon beyond which the sun set sacred, referred to it as Promontorium Sacrum, which means Holy Promontory, and is the Latin origin of the coastal town of Sagres.

The Romans saw the cape as the end of the world, where the sun would be submerged each day into the endless ocean—a belief that some still clung to during the medieval period. Skip forward to the 15th century, and Costa Vicentina became an increasingly important area during the European age of discovery.

Photo from Lisbon Tourism.

Prince Henry the Navigator (1394-1460), the fourth child of King John I of Portugal, and the Governor of the Algarve, dedicated his life to furthering Portugal's early voyages of discovery and founded the School of Navigation in Sagres. He also oversaw the creation of caravels—ships that were faster and lighter than their predecessors, as well as highly maneuverable, which was perfect for exploring the African coast line and going into the Atlantic.

The Fortaleza, or fortress on the headland above Sagres, located on a dramatic, narrow headland that juts out into the Atlantic Ocean, may well have been where Henry's School of Navigation was based, he certainly spent a good amount of time there planning his voyages. Nowadays, it's a must-see for tourists. This windswept spot overlooks the ocean, with incredible coastal views.

Top surfing spots

The Costa Vicentina has a plethora of beaches for you to choose from, each different to the last. Whether you're a beginner, or an advanced surfer used to charging waves as tall as houses, you are bound to find a beach that suits your needs when you head to this unique coastline. Here are just a few of our favorites!

1. Arrifana Beach

Half way between Praia de Odeceixe and Sagres, this crescent-shaped beach is perfect for surfers of any level. Beginners can make the most of the slightly slower waves at high tide, and those with more experience can head out at low tide for the faster waves. On days with a good swell, the beach can have a lot of visitors, but this is a great spot for both surfing, and relaxing. The town has a variety of restaurants and bars for when you've built up an appetite carving the waves.

2. Amado Beach

A 25-minute drive from Sagres, the waves that roll into Amado Beach are not reliant on the tides, making it the perfect spot for surfers all year round. One of the most consistent surfing spots in the area, it is open to all Atlantic swells, and as a protected area, it's not built-up, allowing you to enjoy a secluded, peaceful beach. If you're planning on visiting this stunning bit of coastline, you'll be able to find a place to stay in Sagres, or even Lagos, which is just 40 minutes away.

3. Castelejo Beach

Just 12 kilometers from Sagres, Castelejo Beach can be affected by westerly winds, meaning that in the summer months, the waves are conducive to anyone who wants to learn how to surf from scratch. Meanwhile, in autumn, the beach can come into contact with some fairly strong Atlantic swells that create world-class waves—perfect if you're a seasoned surfer.

4. Beliche Beach

Even closer to Sagres than Castelejo Beach⁠—a 10-minute drive in fact⁠—Beliche Beach is surrounded by large cliffs, creating a stunning spot to get in some surfing. The waves are at their best here either side of the main summer months, and they are perfect for intermediate to advanced surfers to enjoy.

5. Zavial Beach

Just east of Sagres, Zavial Beach is one of the first major surfing beaches when you enter the Costa Vicentina—and one of the best-known. With fast waves that are enhanced by strong winds, it gets good swells that are great for beginner and intermediate surfers. On days when there is a lull and the waves are not at their best, the beach itself is a stunning spot to relax or swim.

Surf schools

If you've never been surfing before, but fancy having a go at it while visiting the Costa Vicentina, we've got some suggestions of surfing schools that'll help you on your way to becoming the next Kelly Slater.

1. Boa Onda Surf School

The Boa Onda Surf School has a great reputation. Set just a 10-minute drive from the town of Aljezur, Boa Onda Surf School has classes throughout the year, with prices ranging from 35€ for half a day or a five-day course that costs 225€ in high season. They also have options for a residential course, and you can rent all the necessary equipment from the school, so you don't need to invest in a pricey new board and wetsuit.

2. Odeceixe Surf School

Founded in 2008, the Odeceixe Surf School is set close to the beach and has a small team of experienced instructors. For a day's class in high season, it'll set you back 60€, and up to five days will cost 250€. Typically, one class will get you between three and four hours in the water with an instructor.

The price doesn't just cover your lesson, though. You will get the use of a board and wetsuit, transport to beaches only locals know about, and even sports insurance—along with a comprehensive guide in dangers, such as rips, currents, and how to safely paddle in and out of the surf.

3. Mission To Surf

With more than 20 years experience, Mission To Surf will make the impossible possible. Set in Palmeirinha, and with surf classes for beginners to advanced surfers, Mission To Surf has something for everyone. A beginner course will place you in a class of no more than eight students, so you can be sure of maximum supervision from your instructor. A week-long course costs 250€ in high season and 200€ in the low season, with classes typically lasting four hours. You can also opt for one-on-one classes for an hour, which 55€ for the first hour, with the option of a second hour for an additional 28€.


Keep exploring the incredible beauty of Portugal with a stay at one of our amazing accommodations!