From City to Surf: A Girls-Only Trip to Portugal

From City to Surf: A Girls-Only Trip to Portugal



It’s
the third day of surf camp in Portugal
when it clicks that I’m a surfer. I’ve wanted to be a surfer ever
since I was a teenager, and it feels like I’ve finally claimed a
latent part of my personality. I’m very much still riding the
whitewater, but the sensation of popping up on the board and
catching a wave in to shore is utterly addictive, unquestionably
meditative and strangely therapeutic. “I don’t think there’s
anything quite like surfing for clearing your head, and pushing all
the anxieties and stresses of life back home far from your mind,”
says Kylie Griffiths, the stylist and fashion editor who set up
The London Girl’s Surf Club last year.

“We started LGSC as a one-off trip to encourage other women to
get out of the city and into the waves in May
2017,” Kylie tells me over grilled sea bass at a restaurant in the
sleepy surf town of Sagres. “Initially we invited other creatives
that we knew or had worked with from London
that had expressed an interest in trying the sport. I had always
worked in fashion and changed my path to be able to surf on a more
regular basis, so I wanted to share this experience with other
girls from cities.”

I can fully understand Kylie’s impulse to get women out of the
city and into the sea. Within both my profession and friendship
circle, there’s a growing understanding that city life can be
depleting, draining and – particularly in the winter months –
dreary. I love London, and the vibrancy and creativity of the city,
but I feel that the more urban my everyday lifestyle is, the more
adventurous, rugged and off-grid my holidays need to be. It’s all
about balance, and three nights of sea, uplifting female company,
beautiful surroundings and the thrill of learning a new skill is
just what a London girl needs.



It doesn’t surprise me that the London Girl’s Surf Club’s first
trip got such a good response that they opened these trips up to
the public in September 2017; they now run two trips a year for the
public which are in the UK or further afield. Trips are priced
affordably, from £650 for three-nights on an all-inclusive basis in
Devon to £950 at a sleek boutique hotel in Morocco.

This year the LGSC launched a philanthropic arm by partnering
with Switchback, a charity that works with men who
have recently left prison. “Our aim at LGSC is to make surfing
completely inclusive and we want to open up this amazing sport to
people that may never have had the opportunity. I truly believe
that surfing can change your life and your mindset, so it’s
important to us at LGSC to make this as inclusive as possible
through creating a business model that is 360 degrees.”

This sort of social-media-savvy business model – where
media/influencer trips
are used to generate interest in the
public trips which then fund charity trips – is typical of a new
breed of ethical tour operators that place social justice at their
core.

For the traveller, choosing an outfit like this offers a
feel-good factor but also performs a soulful edit on your fellow
travellers; you’ll be with women from all sorts of different
backgrounds, but who all share a commitment to ethical tourism as
well as a sense of adventure. My fellow surfers are a crew of
musicians, photographers, entrepreneurs and fashion industry folk.
I won’t just be leaving with a newfound skill; I’ll be leaving with
11 new friends.

So why women only? “There’s something really special about going
surfing with a gang of girls,” says Griffith. “Even though there
are lots of incredible women surfers, surfing is still seen as a
mainly male sport, which can be intimidating when you want to try
it on your own. This encourages solo travellers or groups of
friends to take part or try something new.”

This a surf trip with serious soul, with a thoroughly social
side (we all share rooms and eat out together in the evening) but
no scrimping on home comforts. Our base for this trip is the
Hotel Memmo Baleeira in the
laid-back beach town of Sagres. It’s a 144-room design hotel with a
killer breakfast buffet, welcoming bar and restaurant and – crucial
when you’re spending your days bashing your shins and being
battered by breakers – sumptuously comfortable, minimalist rooms,
with a Scandi aesthetic that prolongs the clarity of mind I get
after a morning’s surf lessons. It feels really good to be a
surfer, but it feels even better to know that by learning to surf
with LGSC, I’m helping to get other would-be surfers out there on
their boards.

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