Surf Volunteering Abroad: How to Combine Your Passion for Surfing with Giving Back

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What is surf volunteering abroad?

Surf volunteering abroad combines surfing with volunteer travel. It’s a great way to travel for anyone who has an interest in surfing and wants to give back to a community overseas.

There are three main types of surf volunteering programs:

  • Volunteering at a surf camp: in this type of program, you are volunteering your time at an actual surf camp and teaching participants (typically youth and teenagers) how to surf. This type of program is well-suited for volunteers who know how to surf and would like to pass on their skills to other people.
  • Volunteering with a program that offers a surfing activity add-on: during this type of program, you’re volunteering with a program that is located in a surf destination, but you may not necessarily be volunteering in a surf-related project. Instead, the program may offer surfing lessons as part of the project. This type of program is well-suited for volunteers who would like to learn how to surf.
  • Volunteering at a destination that has great surfing: like the previously mentioned program, you’re volunteering in a surf destination, but you may not necessarily be volunteering in a surf-related project. Furthermore, while the program may not formally offer surfing lessons as part of the project, there are ample opportunities for you to book your own surf lessons or just catch a wave on your own.

Why surf and volunteer abroad?

There are several good reasons to participate in a surf volunteer program abroad:

GoEco is currently offering a special grant for their surf and volunteer project in South Africa where your third week is free! Click here to learn more and apply!

  • Improve your surf skills: Third, if you’re interested in learning how to surf, you can participate in a structured program with qualified instructors. Maximo Nivel offers two-week intensive surf and volunteer programs where you split your time between community service and learning how to surf. Maximo Nivel also offers surf schools in Costa Rica, Peru, and Guatemala where you can focus on just learning how to surf.
  • Meet cool people: Lastly, by participating in a surf volunteer program, you’ll meet amazing new people from around the world who are also surf enthusiasts or have a passion for surfing. For example, as part of Surfpop, which is a South African-based organization, exclusively focuses on surf volunteer projects and attracts surfing enthusiasts from around the world to its projects!

Where can you surf and volunteer abroad?

You can surf and volunteer abroad in several great surfing destinations around the world! Popular locations for surf volunteer programs include:

  • South Africa
  • Costa Rica
  • Indonesia (Bali)
  • Australia
  • Brazil
  • Guatemala
  • Peru
  • Sri Lanka
  • Chile
  • New Zealand
  • Mozambique
  • Tanzania (Zanzibar)

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International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ)

Founded in 2007 by Dan Radcliffe, International Volunteer HQ offers over 330 affordable volunteer trips to over 50 destinations in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, the USA, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Pacific. IVHQ has placed more than 130,000 volunteers around the world on projects ranging from teaching and healthcare, to wildlife conservation and construction, and more. Programs last one week to 24 weeks and start at $20 USD a day.

IVHQ offers several surf volunteer programs and operates multiple projects in great surf destinations as well. Check out their guide on their best destinations for surfing and volunteering work.

Surf Outreach in Cape Town

IVHQ’s Surf Outreach volunteer program, which is based in Muizenberg, South Africa (a beautiful coastal town near Cape Town), is a wonderful opportunity for volunteers to assist with an after-school program that aims to teach children to surf and protect the beach environment.

Volunteers will teach surfing lessons to children from disadvantaged communities and also help with beach clean-ups and environmental projects that promote conservationism. The program is open to volunteers of all ages and skill levels. No prior experience with surfing is necessary.

This program starts at $345 per week with a minimum duration of two weeks. The cost of the program includes accommodation, meals, airport pick-up, orientation, and 24/7 support. Volunteers will also receive a surfboard and wetsuit for the duration of their stay.

Surf, Skate, Swim in Table View

IVHQ’s Surf, Skate & Swim volunteer program in Table View, South Africa is another program for volunteers to assist with an after-school program that aims to teach children to surf, skate, and swim, and care for the beach environment. Table View is a suburb of South Africa that is a great surfing destination.

Just like IVHQ’s Surf Outreach program in Cape Town, this program is open to volunteers of all ages and skill levels; no prior experience with surfing, skateboarding, or swimming is necessary.

If you’re short on time, this program is a great option for you as volunteers only need to be able to commit to a minimum of one week, which is $395. The cost of the program includes accommodation, meals, airport pick-up, orientation, and 24/7 support. Volunteers will also receive a surfboard, skateboard, and swimming gear for the duration of their stay.

Volunteer in Brazil

This volunteer program is based in the city of Rio De Janeiro, which is known for its curvaceous coastline that is perfect for surfing. Volunteer opportunities sports coaching, community development, teaching English, and childcare. The program fee starts at $570 for a minimum duration of two weeks.

While IVHQ doesn’t offer a surf volunteer program in Brazil, many participants do take the “Surf Bus” from Rio De Janeiro to the more quiet and remote beaches in the southwest side of the city. Check out IVHQ’s Brazil travel and tours page to learn more.

GoEco

Since 2006, GoEco has offered affordable volunteer abroad programs and internships in over 40 countries throughout Africa, Asia, Australasia, Central America, Europe, the Middle East, North America, and South America. With more than 150 different programs, including programs specifically for teens, GoEco is a great organization to check out if you’re looking for a variety of impactful trips to choose from, from wildlife conservation to teaching English. GoEco was recently recognized as the Top Volunteer Abroad Organization from GoAbroad, Top Eco-Enthusiast by Greenmatch, and has been recommended by Buzzfeed, Huffington Post, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification and more. As a volunteer, you will have 24-hour support from the GoEco team, from start to finish.

Teach Children and Surf in Cape Town

GoEco’s surf volunteer program in Cape Town, South Africa gives you the opportunity at a surf and adventure club for disadvantaged and at-risk youth. As a volunteer, you will help teach kids vital life skills such as swimming, life-saving skills, surfing, and more!

This program requires that you be able to commit to a minimum of two weeks. The program fee is $1,150, but GoEco is currently offering a grant to cover your third week. The cost of the program includes accommodation, meals, airport pick-up, orientation, and 24/7 support. Click here to learn more and apply!

Volunteer Programs in Sri Lanka 

Sri Lanka is a major surfing destination and holiday because it has quick access to beaches with consistent waves and swells in over 300 days in a year! It is appealing to both beginners and seasoned surfers! GoEco has multiple volunteer programs in Sri Lanka.  Combine one of GoEco’s volunteering programs with surfing lessons, if needed, from a nearby beach!  Check out some of these volunteer programs:

  • Help endangered sea turtles in Galle, Sri Lanka! You will learn about sea turtles by working in the hatchery, participating in beach clean ups, and giving back to the community by promoting awareness about sea turtles conservation. Hatchery tasks include feeding, nursing sick and injured turtles, cleaning them and their environment, and releasing baby turtles to the ocean. 
  • Also located in Galle, join the Environmental Conservation in Sri Lanka volunteer program to learn how to protect and conserve nature’s beauty in this island, directly giving back to a community.
  • Or, join one of the most comprehensive healthcare program, the Medical and Nursing in Sri Lanka, from GoEco which is open to pre-med, nursing and medical students to gain experience for future medical careers. 
  • Empower Sri Lankan women through this English literacy program to give them better chances of employment and confidence.
  • If you love playing and caring for dogs, then look into this amazing Dog Care and Veterinary Assistance program in a renowned and ethical dog shelter in Sri Lanka.

Mozambique Whale Shark and Marine Conservation

Another incredible surfing destination is at Tofo beach (Praia do Tofo) in Mozambique. GoEco has a whale shark and marine conservation volunteer program here, where you can help with data collection and research to improve marine conservation. So this is another chance for you to combine a love of surfing with a love of volunteering! Get more information for this adventure here!

Maximo Nivel

Maximo Nivel is Volunteer Forever’s top-ranked volunteer abroad program with close to 1,000 reviews and a near-perfect 5-star rating. Their projects are very affordably priced, starting at just $595 (for one week) and appeal to a broad base of participants from high school students to graduate students and working professionals.

Maximo Nivel was founded in 2003 and has hosted over 25,000 participants for its volunteer abroad, internship abroad, study abroad, Spanish Immersion, Teach English as a Foreign Language (TEFL), Semester Abroad, and High School Abroad programs. Maximo Nivel offers its projects in three countries in Latin America: Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru.

Whether you’re looking for a one-week adventure or a full gap year experience, Maximo Nivel is definitely worth checking out if you are looking for a high-quality, affordable, and enriching experience in Latin America. They also offer camps to learn how to surf and scuba dive to add to your international adventure.

Learn to Surf Camp

Maximo Nivel’s surf schools in Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru are an affordable way to learn how to surf at world class destinations in Latin America. Their surf schools start at just $595 and include everything you need to learn how to surf, including accommodations, a surf instructor, surf equipment, 2 to 4 hours of surf instruction each day, and daily transportation.

Volunteer Adventures (with Surfing)

Maximo Nivel’s two week volunteer adventures in Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru combines volunteering with adventure! As part of this program, you will spend five days engaged in community service and have 6 days for travel and exploration. Community service opportunities include: construction, supporting indigenous communities, animal care, working with kids, teaching English, and supporting local healthcare initiatives. As part of this unique adventure, you’ll have the opportunity to stay with a local host family (and enjoy home-cooked meals). Click here to learn more and apply!

Surfpop

Surfpop is a South African-based organization that aims to build a sustainable future for vulnerable children from township communities around Muizenberg, Cape Town through a powerful formula of surfing, education and life coaching. Founded in 2015 by Daniel Botha, they have hosted over 350 international volunteers for their two surf volunteer projects in Cape Town.

Surfpop is very unique compared to other international organizations due to their long-term outlook on supporting the needs of the local community. On average, they work with each child beneficiary for around 8 years, after which they help them find sustainable employment or provide them with employment within the Surfpop organization. Their holistic model of surfing, education, life coaching and nutrition also sets them apart from most other organizations.

Surfpop is the only Volunteer Forever partner that exclusively focuses on surf volunteering, so if you are a surfer or have a strong interest in surfing, Surfpop is definitely an organization you will want to check out!

Volunteer with Surfpop in Cape Town, South Africa

Surfpop’s surf volunteer program is based in the beautiful seaside town of Muizenberg, South Africa. As a volunteer, you will play a critical role in helping disadvantaged children escape poverty, crime, and drugs. Through their comprehensive after-school program, you will not only teach children to surf and swim, but also tutor them on more formal academic subjects such as math, English, and computer literacy.

Surfpop’s volunteer program is open to volunteers ages 18 and up. No prior experience with surfing is necessary. This program starts at roughly $500 USD per week with a minimum duration of four weeks. The cost of the program includes accommodation, breakfast, airport pick-up, orientation, 24/7 support, and surf lessons. Volunteers will also receive surf gear rentals for their stay.

African Impact

African Impact is a responsible, sustainable volunteer travel organization that has won multiple industry awards, including being voted the world’s Top Volunteer Abroad Organization by volunteers on GoAbroad four years in a row. Since 2004, they have hosted over 35,000 participants on 20 projects across 7 countries. The organization believes in the spirit of Africa and that the volunteer experience is just as important as the impact made.

African Impact operates dozens of volunteer projects and internships in world-class surfing destinations such as South Africa, Mozambique, and Tanzania (Zanzabar).

Volunteer in Mozambique 

While not a formal surf volunteer program, African Impact’s marine conservation projects in Mozambique are located in picturesque surfing destinations, giving you ample opportunities to hit the waves. African Impact offers three projects in Mozambique: Marine Science and Environmental Conservation, Humpback Whale Research, and Marine Research and Conservation.

African Impact’s Mozambique projects are based in the colorful tourist town of Tofo and start at $1650 for two weeks. The program fee includes accommodations, three freshly cooked meals a day, airport transfer, and more! Click here to learn more and apply!

Wrapping up

Surf volunteering can be a great way to give back to the community, learn new skills, and have an amazing experience. You will be able to help protect the environment by cleaning up beaches and educating people about ocean conservation while helping others learn a new skill and enjoy the sport of surfing.

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