Straight up, here's what I think makes a stand up destination spot a good one for the four day surgical strike:
1. Driving time from airport to surfspot is no more than an hour. "Our" surf spot is a forty-five minute drive from the local airport. This is important because you want to be in the water that first day and you can score a nice two hour session if you jam through customs and car rental and get there quick. The biggest drag is getting off the plane, amping for a surf, only to sit in a car for another three hours- especially if you've only got three more days to work out your cutback.
2. Spot must be a point or reef. Points and reefs have a solid substrate producing a predictable wave- you don't have enough time to sit around waiting for a sand bar to set up properly- that could take days and that's time you don't have. Go with the known producers.
3. Spot has a wide open swell window. You don't want a spot that's as finicky as Paris Hilton in a library ("Oh my total god, they all have so many.... words... in them!)- you're looking for a swell vacuum. You want a spot that will inhale even the tiniest little depression out there and turn it into something do-able.
Photo: Proximity to the local pub might be a qualifying item for the ultimate spot- preferably close enough to walk/stumble to and from, at night, without a flashlight. And a ping pong table to settle disputes is also a plus.
4. Accommodations are clean and must have a private bathroom.You don't need a Four Seasons with chocolate truffles on the pillow and toilet paper swans on the commode but on the other hand... a functioning privy is high on my list of must haves. Especially if your gut gets invaded my a swarm of Mexican microorganisms that make your lower G.I. flow like the Ganges in high season. If that happens and your running for the throne every twenty minutes, you'll be happy you've got your own personal toilet.
5. In the tropics, must have A/C. Man, when it gets as dank as Rosie O'Donnell's armpit and the humidity reaches the triple digits in the middle of the night, A/C makes it bearable. There's a reason that electricity was invented- it's called air conditioning. Unless you like sticking to the sheets like your prom date in early June, seek out the spots that give you an A/C escape cave... and then proudly crank that thing to high all day- and all night!
6. Varied local eating options. Got to have options: Pizzas, sopes, tacos, spaghetti, arroz con pollo... bring it on. Why? Because I eat- vigorously.
Photo: Here's a couple that almost made the list: Must have excellent, fresh mango smoothies and free wi/fi internet access.
7. Other surf spots within an hour's drive from the home break. Always nice to mix it up- and if a spot is only forty minutes or so away, it makes the early morning spot check a possibility.
8. Accommodations are walking distance to the home break. You might as well live the dream, right? Don't we all want to be able to stroll out onto the lanai, coffee cup in hand, in our boxers and check out a long left hand point break peeling off right in front of us? Being right there also puts you in the prime spot for the forty minute surf session. These little micro-sessions get you into the water when the surf-shifts are changing (you know, the dawn patrollers switching out with the yawn patrollers- that switch time gives you a forty minute window of solitary surfing- as long as you can act quickly), you'll also be able to enjoy a couple of cold ones, spot the glass off and get on it before everyone else has even waxed up.
9. Cold beer easily available. Do I really need to explain this?
Photo: Travel tip- bring Coolies for keeping things a couple more minutes cold in the tropics... thanks Emerald City!
10. International destination so you get to meet cool people like Slovanian surfers and Swedish sunbathers (!). Traveling is about meeting people and experiencing other cultures. If I had to travel thousands of miles just to hangout with a bunch of B and C grade pros from Orange County I'd just drive up to Lowers and wade out into the zoo. You want to get to a spot where the participants are a little bit more exotic- wouldn't you rather buy a round for a Columbian Women's Surf School than jockey with the San Clemente High School surf team?
The Big Question: Does such a surf spot exist? You tell me.... I promise I'll keep it on the hush/hush!