Our Reality: Surf Instructors and Surfing Lessons in Siargao Island and the Philippines

April 3, 2018

My Reaction to Karen Davila’s Facebook Rant

by Elaine Abonal


Surfing as a sport is still in its early stages in the Philippines – compared to other countries like Hawaii or Australia, surfing is still NEW. In the last five or more years, surfing has grown in popularity – making it the new thing to do when you visit a beach or surfing destination. What once was an activity only “hardcore” people did where you had to drive far or trek to hard-to-reach destinations, surfing is now accessible to more people because of more roads, more flights, more surf resorts, surf tour packages, surf camps, surfing brands, etc. It has become popular and “cool.” Everyone wants to be a SURFER – although not everyone is interested in putting in the “real work” and learning what surfing really is about.

Siargao Island, which is a remote island in the south of the Philippines on the Pacific side, has always been known to be a surfing destination for professional surfers. It is where international competitions are held hosting pro surfers from around the world. I personally visited Siargao in 2005 only after 3 years of surf lessons because I knew and researched that it was not easy to learn here, that surf lessons were not available, that all breaks to surf at were reef breaks, that some surf spots were only accessible by boat, and that it was a remote island far from any conveniences of bigger cities – meaning I had to be careful not to get into any major accidents. I have been blessed to see the beauty of Siargao from the last 13 years when everything was wilder, more pure, when there were no roads nor the comforts of the city,  surfing spots were empty, there was no internet and no social media. It was real island life.

There has been a BIG change in the last 6 months in Siargao island – especially for the locals, the surfers and the state of tourism here. There was the release of the SIARGAO movie making surfing and in my opinion, Siargao look “cool to party at” and photogenic for the younger generation as well as the change of FIVE flights per DAY, which once was two flights per week. And there is of course, social media where beautiful photos and experiences are shared by the hundreds and thousands per day.

I have read the negative experience of news reporter Karen Davila in Siargao online – since it has been shared thousands of times and numerous friends have tagged me and have asked my opinion on the whole issue and what was stated.

My thoughts, opinions and what I have to say here are based on what I have experienced as a surfer in the Philippines for the past 16 years, as an ISA certified surf instructor and as someone who has been surfing, living, and working with the locals in Siargao in the past 5 years.

  1. First of all, a lot of people who live on the island and the locals are thankful that FINALLY someone has shed light on the issue of safety and health in Siargao island. It is unfortunate that Karen Davila’s son David had an accident and had to go through having poor access to a good hospital and immediate and proper care. But see – this is our REALITY. Money IS being spent on a sports complex, on roads, on lengthening the airport runway, on building unnecessary sea walls, on more flights, on more resorts, restaurants, and stores YET there is still no proper hospital here.

I have spent the night with my boyfriend in the said Dapa District Hospital (read post HERE) to take care of our friend who had a HEAD / BRAIN INJURY. A surfer friend of ours (and many other locals) have DIED because the hospital was not equipped to help extreme cases and emergencies. I have assisted a tourist and spent an entire day at the Emergency Room of the Dapa Hospital because he broke his upper arm during a surfing accident in Cloud 9. I’ve brought a friend to the Health Center in General Luna because he hurt his hand (he thought it was a sprain, but he actually broke bones) but it was empty and nobody was there to help.

Tourists, expats or people with money or that can afford it go to either Butuan, Cebu or Manila to go to a proper working hospital. Majority of the locals though, just have to make do with what is here, live with the frustration of the state of their health care and hope that they get better somehow – preferably at home where it is actually more comfortable.

Karen Davila’s son David was “lucky” that he only got scratches and that he would fly back to Manila to get even better care if needed. People who live here unfortunately don’t have that “luck” or privilege. Some people can have major accidents but end up stuck here. Also most, if not all of the people who need to go to the local hospital – whether their head is bleeding or not – do so on a motorcyle or a tricycle. She was also lucky that she was a VIP and that her son was rushed to the hospital in a CAR – which to us isn’t a right, but a luxury on this island.

I agree with this part of what she said. YES, something should be done about all this. I agree that government budget should be allocated for the district hospital not only for the tourists  but for the LOCALS that live and work here, that need it the most especially since not everyone can afford nor have the possibility to leave the island. I agree that there should be a clinic and a nurse EVERYDAY in General Luna and different municipalities – because the Health Center we know of is only open during certain hours, not on weekends, and most of the time empty. The Dapa hospital is understaffed, is unequipped with medicine, instruments and sufficient beds for patients that are there. The nurses and doctors there are tired, overworked and underpaid.

Siargao Island’s Dapa District Hospital’s REALITY.

There surely must be budget given by the tax payers to the government that can be given to health care instead of creating infrastructure in order to create  more cash. People here need SAFETY and HEALTH CARE. We need CLINICS, DOCTORS, NURSES and VOLUNTEERS.

I am glad that somehow Lifeguards were stationed in the past days at Jacking Horse and ordinances were made. But my hope is that it actually PUSHES THROUGH and that this is still an actual concern not only during Holy Week or during the International Surfing Competition, but every day of the year.

  1. It is true that there are no strict requirements for the whole of the Philippines by resorts to have a specific certification to teach and push people in the water to learn how to surf – be it in La Union, Baler, Zambales, Siargao, etc. As I’ve mentioned, surfing in the Philippines is very new and we have not as a country arrived at that level of professionalism in surfing yet (compared to France or Australia for example). Training and certifications around the country are few and rare and have only started in the last couple of years. They are expensive. I had to fly to Bali to get my ISA (International Surfing Association) training and Certification. I don’t even know if there is a government budget for this.

However – 

 There ARE certified surf instructors in Siargao island. It is incorrect and unfair to the professional surfers and certified instructors here to have that statement shared on a national and international level. Some of the surfers here have been certified recently by ISA (International Surfing Association) and I also remember Paolo Soler coming here to do training with ASI (Association of Surfing Instructors) a few years ago. Older competent local professional surfers mentor the newer younger surfers should they want to teach – as I see with the local boys I surf with (Carlito Nogalo and the Botiti Boys). SISA – Siargao Surf Instructor Association (apologies, I need to double check this) exists as well as LUSC (La Union Surf Club), and other surf groups in the country that are trying to make surfing more organized.



Whenever we do lessons with Surfista Travels for example, especially with children, we invest in life vests and even soft top surfboards. We have the parents sign a waiver form making sure they are AWARE of the dangers that are involved in surfing. We ask and make sure that the child is comfortable in the water, if they’ve surfed before and their limitations. We conduct very detailed basic surf theory on the beach and have a safety signal to end the lesson in case we find conditions unfavorable for the surf lessons (whether it be the tide, number of people / crowd in the line up, weather, current, discomfort of the student). And most importantly – when we have children as students (especially children with special needs as I have done several times with my friend Luke Landrigan in La Union several years ago), we have 2 instructors per child. One pushes the board and the other is a catcher as we are well aware of the limitations of the child compared to an adult. This is how we and other locals have done it for several years in the Philippines.

Junrey Taoy, one of the surf instructors of Karen Davila’s sons, has expressed his apologies on his Facebook (see here) saying that he was very sorry about everything that happened, that his friend Jocol got scared and disappeared and admits their mistake of not getting catchers. I know and have surfed with Junrey and I also feel that it is unfortunate that this happened with him and that the whole incident can endanger his, his friend’s and other locals’ futures of being surf instructors because of a very emotional rant of a mother who made hasty generalizations which was broadcasted to the whole country.

I know that the problem of habal habal drivers teaching when they don’t know what they are actually doing has existed especially during peak season of Holy Week. We have talked about this with other resort owners. Knowing that this situation exists, I think it is FIRST, the responsibility of the RESORTS to recommend well trusted and well known local surfer instructors. Being in a surf destination where the main activity is surfing, resort owners or managers should research well and even experience themselves who the best people on the island are to get surf lessons from.

Second, I also feel that it was Karen Davila’s responsibility as a parent of a child with autism, to have done research on who the best people are to get lessons from for her son on the island. Because as mentioned, maybe the resort focuses more on being a luxury resort instead of knowing much about surfing.

We have had parents who have asked around and researched about the best instructors specifically for children. They ask where we have learned to surf, how long we’ve been teaching, if we have any experience with children. Parents were also always around and watched their child, bringing their own first aid kits with them knowing that minor accidents could happen.

Would you choose or hand over your child to a random person if they were taking swimming or scuba diving lessons? No. More so with SURFING. Surfing is an extreme sport where it is done in the middle of the ocean on reef breaks (if in Siargao) and therefore with even more chances of risks. As a parent of a child with autism, I feel that you must be more picky with whom your child will learn surfing from and know much more about the risks involved.

It is unfair and even insulting to say that ALL local surfers are unprofessional, that there is no requirement to be certified, no system of vetting trainers, that “anybody who surfs in Siargao can train in Siargao… Anybody with a surfboard who wants to earn P500 an hour can train. Period.”

There is Surfista Travels. Carlito Nogalo and the Botiti Boys. Kermit Surf Camp Gwapitos Team. Very Good Nice Surf School of Jun Jun Nogalo. Jing’s Surf Camp. Matanjak Boys. Aye Catulay “Carding” and his team. Nicky Blancada. All (and more) whom I have watched, surfed with, and witnessed take care of their students with utmost attention.


Together with my training and experience, I have personally become a better SURFER and SURF INSTRUCTOR because of locals in Siargao. They have kept an eye on me, kept me safe, given me tips, encouraged me to surf better and saved me when my leash snapped and I lost my board. I have seen many of them also get injured, sick or tired doing their best and making sure their students are safe and HAPPY – teaching in the cold during the monsoon without proper thick surf suits or in the direct sun during summer without having access to rashguards or sunscreen or hats or sunglasses (anyway that’s a whole different topic!)

Main point: Karen Davila has brought out the fact that we need professional surf instructors (which we actually do). But like I said, surfing is new to this country and we are working our way towards that goal slowly. We also have to admit that it is our responsibility as surfing students, parents, enthusiasts to learn from the best and from those who are qualified, to find those to who have been recommended by people who already got lessons and to do research about the risks involved whenever we want education in a new sport or endeavor in a new and remote destination. Accidents could be avoided if we make the right and educated decisions in the first place. 

  1. The statement, “The attitude of some instructors on Cloud 9 is ‘Ay nasugatan…’ and stare at you like it’s absolutely natural. No panic, no rush, just local chit chat like it happens all the time, and it’s not that big a deal. Safety clearly isn’t top priority.”

First, I understand that as a parent, everything that happens to your child is a huge deal. Yes, Karen Davila’s son had big scratches across his chest and I can imagine it would be heartbreaking and something no mother would ever want their child to experience. Showing more concern from people would have been comforting.

But the fact of the matter is – minor scratches, blood and bruises DO happen when we surf – especially on a reef break which is pretty much everywhere in Siargao Island. When we go surfing, we also run these risks: stepping on sea urchin, getting stung by jellyfish, scratching our feet in coral reef, getting hit by our own surfboard, getting hit by someone else’s surfboard, spraining our ankle, losing a tooth, dislocating our shoulder, getting super sore and tired the next day, etc. You get the picture. All these can happen. It’s all part of the game. Like I said, surfing is an extreme sport and learning in Siargao is not the easiest break to learn on.

In cases where major accidents happen, I found that the locals were very immediate and selfless in their help. On one situation when a bodyboarder broke his arm when the waves were big in Cloud 9, I saw Cloud 9 or Siargao locals help to get a surfboard, put the guy out of harm’s way, have someone call for an ambulance and stay with him the whole day until he got flown out to Cebu. I have also seen the locals immediately help and get a surfboard to help carry a girl who cut her heel to the clinic or hospital. I have heard of stories of injured people on the side of the road being helped by locals. All of these people are tourists and strangers to those Siargao locals who helped. They just wanted to help because it was the right thing and because we want to keep the community and each other SAFE.

I feel that it is unfair to describe the local people as uncaring or people who don’t think and just “stare” when something grave actually does happen.

As surfers or as people who live here who are used to the “wilder” life, we know when something is a big deal and not a big deal. As mentioned in a comment I read by someone who lives here, when “poor” people or locals here get abrasions, we just let it heal. Going to the doctor for scratches or cuts is not a right but instead a privilege or luxury that is only experienced by the rich / celebrity / VIP.

The whole fiasco was indeed a good wake up call. It has created conversation and hopefully change in the governmental level in terms of SAFETY, MEDICAL HELP and HEALTH CARE for the island not only for tourists but also the locals – those who need it the most.

It is my hope somehow with all of this that someday, blame isn’t just pointed out when things go wrong but responsibility not only for our own actions or choices, but for each other. 

I also hope all this will serve as good LESSONS for tourists and travelers going to remote islands and surfing destinations – whether you are a parent or not. Know that when we travel to a new destination, we have to know what is there and be prepared with the situation. We can’t expect everything to be perfect when we get there.

Research on what kind of beach you are going to – Is it a sand bottom break or a reef break? If you want quality surf lessons and to ensure that you are SAFE, CHOOSE the most qualified person or group for the job and make sure the recommendations come from a trusted source.  Also again, do your research. Ask or research what kind of island or destination you are going to – Is it child friendly? Is it as developed as big surfing cities like in Australia or Hawaii or is it a remote island in the middle of the Pacific ocean south of the Philippines where really – everything is still being built and don’t even have the BEST for their residents much more for visitors? Is the hype accurate or is it all just how the outside perceives Siargao to be instead of what it actually is (a surfing destination filled with reef breaks for more experienced surfers)?

I also hope that this EDUCATES people that being a “surf instructor” is also a real high risk job. Surf instructors are teachers on an extreme level – subjecting ourselves to so many things we cannot control (the ocean, weather, currents, etc.) putting not only students but ourselves at risk to anything that can happen.

And to be honest, SURF INSTRUCTING in this country isn’t going to make any of us rich. In fact, this is the only source of income for many of the locals who have entire families to feed. It’s hard to judge these “non certified people who just want to earn 500 pesos.” Many and most of them are simple people living simple lives relying on this income as a way to feed their families. What they earn is not just pocket money for shopping. Also, they don’t earn P500, they earn only half since the other half goes to board rental and some of them have to spend on gasoline whenever they pick up their students.

I, and so many others, teach surfing because we have a passion to share our love of surfing, because we want to teach our students the right and safe way, and because we feel that doing what we love for other people in this country is our own way of contributing and of giving the PHILIPPINES a good name.

I hope for a better future for professionalism of surf instructing not only in Siargao but the whole of the Philippines, that resorts and the local governments give the locals the SUPPORT, TRAINING or even equipment that they need so they could be better and more equipped surf instructors, and that tourists realize and respect a very serious job with little pay.

This is the sport and gift of REAL surfing: we get scratched, bruised, travel to remote destinations to find the perfect wave despite the risks because we LOVE it. We love the feeling of riding a wave, of being exposed and one with nature, the power of the ocean, and the things we cannot control. We learn everyday from every mistake and every mishap yet we go again and again and again. We get back up every time we wipe out. And as surf instructors, this is what we try to share and impart to our students. We want to share what it feels like to be “stoked” and we find happiness in being part of people’s amazing and memorable experiences in the water and in the surf. We are all trying our best here.


I’d like to introduce myself in case you don’t know who I am – I am Elaine Abonal, owner of Surfista Travels. I first started surfing in 2002 in La Union and have traveled around the Philippines and the world for surfing – like La Union, Baler, Zambales, Quezon, Lanuza, Catanduanes, Mati, Pagudpud, etc. I have also been to Bali, Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, the US, Australia, France, and there are still many places I have yet to visit. Surfista Travels started in 2012 and first did surf trips to La Union and Baler but now we are based in Siargao island. We focus on surfing lessons to those who join our tours and Surfista Camps. My first visit to Siargao island was in 2005 and I have been coming back ever since. I’ve seen the surfing culture grow in the Philippines and especially in the last 5 years in Siargao island where I have been residing. Together with chosen locals, especially Carlito Nogalo and the Botiti Boys, Surfista has had hundreds of students of different ages and from around the Philippines and different countries.

 I went to Bali, Indonesia in 2016 to get my certification from the International Surfing Association – the Olympic accredited association for surfing around the world. We were trained how to do first aid, pass a Lifeguard Saving Test and got trained on how to teach surfing PROFESSIONALLY and SAFELY. It also means that I have the accreditation to teach surfing around the world should I choose to do so. I choose to use and share what I have learned and stay at home in the Philippines.

I have learned so much about surfing from locals in many surf destinations around the Philippines – La Union, Baler, Zambales, Catanduanes, and Siargao. They have kept me safe and have shared their waves and love of surfing at their home breaks. They are my heroes. And that is why I was compelled to write this article – to give them a chance of explaining their / our realities, to give them a voice because not many of them do, and most of all because besides them being my heroes, they are my friends. 


Flying made faster for Surfistas: Cebu Pacific Airlines now flies direct to Siargao!

Last December 17, 2017 Cebu Pacific Airlines had their maiden flight that flew direct from Manila to Siargao. Being based in Siargao Island in the Philippines, we were able to jump on the plane from Siargao and arrived in Manila after just 2 hours of flying! It was a relaxing and pleasurable experience – right from the service crew on the island, boarding the brand new plane, sitting on the front row with wide legroom space, very helpful airline crew, the smooth flight from professional pilots, the delicious snacks that were pre-ordered for us all the way to landing.

Getting to and from Siargao to Manila was always such a huge trek for people like me, surfers from Manila but have decided to move to the island of Siargao mostly for our love of surfing and the island life. But now, Cebu Pacific Airline now has a direct flight that I or anyone can take if we miss  or need to get to the city.

Aside from Manila, Cebu Pacific also flies direct to Siargao from Cebu, twice daily, with the lowest year-round fare. Travelers may also visit the island by taking a connecting flight from any of its six other hubs (Manila, Clark, Kalibo, Iloilo, Davao, Cagayan de Oro) via Cebu to Siargao.

Another cool thing about Cebu Pacific Air is that is has also recently launched its newest service that caters to surfers and watersports aficionados—CEB Surfboard – which allows guests to pre-book their surfing equipment to reserve check-in space across Airbus jets or ATR aircraft of the carrier. This service can be added to flight bookings up to four hours before scheduled times of departure. Perfect to bring back our surfboards to the island!

Now people who want to explore Siargao, especially those who want to learn how to surf and join Surfista Travels Siargao Camps or Day Packages can travel faster and easier with Cebu Pacific’s direct flights and can up their surfing skills while visiting one of the most beautiful islands in the Philippines, if not the world.  We are looking forward to seeing you on the island and hopefully learn how to surf the fun and professional way with us. See you in the waves!

Check out some of our photos for our Cebu Pacific experience!:





– It’s the FIRST SURF & YOGA CAMP in SIARGAO ISLAND in Surfista Travels history!!
– It is the ONLY surf & yoga camp happening in the Philippines this summer!
– The first camp will be happening during the Women’s International Surf Competition so we will get to watch the BEST SURFER GIRLS of the Philippines and a few from Asia compete!!
– …and we get to join the parties and events that come with it too! ;)
– Only the BEST SURF INSTRUCTORS / best surfers on the island and in the Philippines will be chosen to teach our Surfista ladies.
– The Surf tour / CAMP will be led by ELAINE ABONAL – who started surfing in the Philippines in 2002 and first went to Siargao in 2005. She’s considered a local on the island and she knows her shiznit!!! ;) She LOVES surfing, taking care of a group and absolutely loves what she does!
– Private Surfista YOGA classes will be held by yogi & surfer LOUISE ALBANO who is from Manila but now based on the island and is considered to give the BEST yoga classes & will have surf specific programs during the camp.
– All Surfista girls will be staying in ONE luxury cottage at the SAGANA RESORT which is right in front of the world famous break CLOUD 9, has the best food and service, is where the pro surfers stay and was one of the first surf resorts out there (so they definitely know their stuff too! ;)
– We are going to be living the island & bikini life in one of the most beautiful islands and surf paradise any surfer can only DREAM of.
– It’s AFFORDABLE enough for both locals & foreigners joining. Trust us – you will not find the same price from other international surf camps.
– It’s a SMALL group so it’s very intimate! We will get to form deeper and more meaningful friendships while having a slumber party every day, surf together, visit Siargao’s surrounding islands and beautiful tourist places together, laugh, meet locals, yoga, chill, take photos & party together!

You’ll go home from our Surfista camps a better surfer and richer with memories and experience.

What MORE can you ask for?! ❤️👍🏄🙏 http://www.surfistatravels.com (more…)


by Larry Guevara


Did you know?!? Surfista Flair Bartender Larry has made a drink called SURFISTA SLING!! It’s naughty but nice… sweet but dangerous! Ingredients are our secret. Thanks for the drink Larry!

My initial motivation to go on surfing was after watching a training video by Scott Young of Extremebartending.com back in the late 90’s. I remember him mentioning a guy named Kelly Slater who added a different kind of “flair” to his surfing skills. Of course, add to that those inspirational movies like “Blue Crush” and “Soul Surfer” that portrayed the female gender’s “official” entry in the professional surfing scene, and probably you get the picture.


I was pretty much living a different yet very exciting “life on board” though. For some time I was working as a flair bartender on board international cruise lines travelling around the world and visiting other countries (for free!!!) My love and passion for “flair” (bottle-flipping and entertainment bartending) was what really inspired me to work behind the stick. Competitively, I consider it as my chosen “sport” which requires not only mental preparedness and physical agility but more so requires passion, determination, in-depth knowledge, accuracy, consistency, and great BALANCE. Pretty much like surfing!


A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity of joining some of the coolest surfing enthusiasts that was organized and headed by Elaine Abonal of Surfista Travels. Four words to describe it: “IT WAS A BLAST!” My first try standing on the surf board on my first attempt was one of the biggest achievements I consider in my life (seriously!) The moment I nailed it I knew right then that surfing was for me. Same like when I realized that entertaining people and getting creative with cocktails and beverages was really my passion. You see, bartending is not just a profession – IT IS A WAY OF LIFE. Anyone can try it but not everyone can hack it in the real world. Like surfing, it takes a lot of nerves to be able to wing it out in the open seas and to face your fears once you have decided to paddle out. With every fall, every wipe out, every scar and what-not, we keep on pushing the envelope and we keep doing it because of the rush that we get once we catch a wave. But, for the most part, we do it because it’s F-U-N!!!

Surfista Sling

And in honor of the brave and passionate souls either “on board” or “behind bars” I have created a refreshing potion otherwise known as the “Surfista Sling.” A generous amount of vodka, triple sec, fresh lemon and four seasons juices makes this libation a refreshing drink after hours of catching waves or even at your home bar. Enjoy.


Larry Guevara Surfista Batch # 7


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10 Things To Pack for a Surf Trip by Gretchen Que

While packing itself is a tricky art to master, traveling with a surfboard demands more attention than the usual underwear-count concerns. Just like any other skill, you’ll get better over time as you learn from mistakes. But here at Surfista Travels Philippines, we’ve gone the extra mile by making (and learning from) all these blunders for you, so you can skip through the hassle.
You might want to bookmark or print out this list for your next surf trip, to ensure that you’ve got everything together. After all, borrowing might not be an option as your friends could already be at the line up by the time you figure out you’ve left something. Let’s start with things you absolutely must not leave behind, then work our way down to things you might be able to make diskarte for.
gretch blog

Gretch (far right) on a surf trip with her friends and fellow Surfistas!

10. Key to your tie-downs/roof rack
When you leave this behind, the trip is over even before it begins. You can always cut your way through your tie downs, but that creates the new problem of how you’ll drive your board home. Turning to sampayan strings won’t do, as the drag created by your accelerating car will surely flip your board off the roof. Personally, I secure my tie-down key with my car key so I only keep track of “one” thing.

Tie downs are very important for a surf trip. A couple of macho surfer boys don’t hurt either! ;) Mark Mabanag & Luke Landrigan being wonderful caddies on a surf trip!

9. Fins, Fin Key, Back Up Screws 
Your friends love you to death, but there is absolutely no way they could get you out of this one, short of lending you their board. And that means, one sits out while the other rides. Store your fins in your board bag to ensure that they always come with your board. Know what type of key your fins require: FCS keys are shaped differently from Futures keys, and even within the same brand the models could vary. Just as there are different keys, there are different screw sizes. Make sure you have the correct back ups in case the sand decides to eat up your teeny screw. To keep them all together, I use a Sticky Bumps fin bag where I also store my wax.
8. Leash
The locals and the surf schools could probably cover your ass on this one, but you might not be able to surf at your optimum. Surfing with your own leash that meets your body and board length specifications ensures your safety and of those around you. Using your own leash also means that the length is suitable for the types of maneuvers that you’re practicing for.
7. Foil Tape & Duct Tape
It is heartbreaking, but dings and cracks happen even to the best boards. After silently weeping, you can perform a “first aid” to save your session until you get your board properly repaired. Use your hands to feel your board through. Once you find the ding, dry that part with a towel. Cut/tear off a section of foil tape and fully cover the ding. This layer temporarily waterproofs the crack. Then, cut off a slightly larger piece of duct tape to stick over the foil tape as foil easily tears. If in La Union, you may seek out Aki San for his board repair expertise.

Dings, broken boards, injuries are always part of the surf adventure. Be prepared!

6. First Aid Kit (for yourself)
We love our boards but we’ve got to love ourselves too! Remember, safety above all else. A little scratch here and there is inevitable, but fin cuts and deep reef cuts require professional medical attention. And NO peeing on jellyfish stings. Just no.
5. Wax
Because otherwise, shame on you.
4. Dry Bag
Getting in that last surf session right before heading home is totally worth it. But that leaves your clothes with no time to dry. Bring an extra bag made of canvass to store your wet stuff in.
3. Treats for the Locals
This entire list is written under the (duh) assumption that you already have your own board. Which means that you’ve been surfing for a while. Which means you KNOW the locals. Never forget those who pushed you into your first wave. The guys who cheered you on as you dropped in on THEIR wave. The people who shared their food, their beer, and their secret spots with you. Chips and drinks are always welcome. Sometimes, I bring them free stickers and shirts I get from surf brands I support. :)

Locals love stickers!

2. 90s Music
If I’m driving and you’re not, you better start singing.

It’s always good to have good vibes and good music with you on your trip.

1. Underpants
This item makes the bottom of the list, but important still. You are expected to bring at least one more pair apart from the ones you’re already wearing on your way there.

We know you don’t need to wear a lot to go surfing and the hot weather makes us want to take our clothes off, but yes… bring extra underpants. ;)

The best tip I can offer is to keep everything together as much as you can. I have a bag that’s dedicated to surfing and nothing else. This way, I simply have to return all of my gear in the same bag after they dry. Best of all, I don’t have to pack and unpack for every trip. Do yourself a favor and spend more time surfing and less time looking for things. See you at the line up. :)


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