Surf Camp

Headshot of Lily Nannini.
Lily Nannini
February 12, 2024
dining area

Something I’ve come to love about my lifestyle since arriving in Australia is my openness to try new things. The way I see it, I have less than 5 months here and I want to make the most of it. The only problem is, why don’t I view life with that mindset every day? Why can I not appreciate every day and recognize how little time I have when I am at home or at school? When I’m in Virginia, I don’t look ahead to the next 5 months and think, “I need to take advantage of every second here and experience everything this area has to offer.” The study abroad mentality is something I truly cherish, and it is the reason I have gone three times now (hopefully four if things work out next year) since starting uni (thank you W&L). 

When I heard about Surf Camp, I knew it was something I wanted to experience. I am fortunate enough to have grown up in, what I believe to be, the most beautiful place on earth (both for the Cape’s nature and local community). I have always wanted to learn how to surf, but never got around to it at home (hello great whites). 

I booked the three day camp with my roommate starting the Monday after I got back from Tasmania. In this blog, I share highlights about my experience and why I think Surf Camp is a must do for anyone looking to try something new :)



“it was so addicting i just wanted to keep catching waves”


Tanisha and I took the l-rail to the Wake Up Hostel, the meeting point to get on the bus. There were a ton of people. I got an iced mocha from Sidebar and then we hopped onto the bus. It was a relatively long drive (~2.5 hours), but the bus was comfy. 

When we arrived at the camp, we immediately dropped our bags on the ground by the cabins and found seats at one of the tables. The staff introduced themselves and explained a little bit about how things would go for the next few days. I was in cabin 14 with Tanisha, girls from the UK, Netherlands and US, and a German couple (more on this later). 

After we set our bags down in the room, five of us went for a short walk to the beach. By the time we got back, lunch was ready. We had ham sandwiches (I put lettuce and cucumber on mine) and I also ate a white nectarine. I cannot stress enough how delicious the nectarines were. They were rocksolid so I was a bit skeptical at first, but the crunch and the taste was so addicting. We also played the Taco, Cat, Goat, Cheese, Pizza game which was so fun. It really felt like we were at summer camp.

Not long after, we were in our wetsuits and walking down to the beach. I really liked my group’s instructors, they were very easy-going and fun. I learned the different parts of the board, the proper technique in standing up, and how to recognize good waves. I stood up pretty quickly and only nose-dived a few times. The feeling of getting up on the board was such a rush and never got old. I genuinely didn’t want the lesson to end, I was having way too much fun catching the waves. 

The worst part about surf camp was carrying the boards. It was the most painful experience and my arms wanted to simply wither away.

The best thing about surf camp was the constant appetite that you get from being in the water all day. For dinner, we had a really delicious cheesy penne in red sauce with grilled chicken and salad. For dessert, I had another crunchy nectarine. 

Except for the German couple, we all spent the rest of the night in our cabin talking with each other. The living conditions weren’t spectacular, but they weren’t so bad that I couldn’t last two nights. There were four bunk beds and only two ladders. We shut our window and left the door on a crack for a little bit of air, but feared the bugs that would enter because of the light. As a result, our tiny room with five (seven, later) people and no airflow quickly became stuffy and beyond humid. Not to mention, our cabin was nearest to the designated smoking area. So, not only did it reek of wet linens that would never dry properly, but it also had a lingering stench of cigarette smoke that got trapped inside! 

It wasn’t the best sleep of my life. The German couple came back not too long after we went to bed. They wouldn’t stop moving the ladder between bunks. 



“literally RAN to general store (downhill thank god)”


This morning, we were the early group which meant breakfast was at 7am. It wasn’t the most extravagant spread, but it provided enough sustenance to get through the first lesson. I had a piece of toast with peanut butter and blueberry jam and a small bowl of granola. 

The weather was cold and rainy, but I quickly warmed up once I got into the water. The lesson went well, but it didn’t feel too different from yesterday. I wiped out a lot less and stood up more! 

For lunch, we had burgers and I had, you guessed it, a crunchy white nectarine. Our second surf lesson happened not too long after lunch ended. We learned how to describe the conditions (wind, waves, tide). I don’t think I’m very good at describing the conditions. 

Dinner was…interesting. It was essentially ramen noodles with a sweet and sour sauce, a scarce amount of veggies (peppers, broccoli, etc) and some randomly thrown in chickpeas which I don’t think worked with the dish. I wish there was more protein with this meal, as I have been carb loading like crazy since arriving at Surf Camp, but it was good.

Since we were the early group, we had time to go to the pub after dinner before it closed. And by “pub” I mean the Boat Fisherman’s club, which was a really nice establishment with a beautiful view over the water. I ordered a mojito. We sat at a booth by the big glass windows and stayed for only one drink. 

As we were leaving, we all collectively agreed we wanted dessert and the vending machine wasn’t working. We found out there was a general store nearby, but it was closing in 15 minutes. We ran the entire way down and made it! I’m so grateful it was all downhill, otherwise my sore limbs probably wouldn’t have made it. I got a caramel connoisseur bar and it was HEAVENLY. 

We leisurely walked back to camp to shower, then set off for the beach with our chocolate, tim tams, and Scarlett’s bottle of champagne that she won from a wedding. There was no sunset because of the clouds, but it was a nice way to spend our last evening at surf camp.



“adorable dog approached + sat right next to me it was such a highlight”


By this morning, I could not stand being in that smelly shoebox of a room. I woke up and my clothes, hair, and bedding were so disgustingly damp from the humidity. Not to mention the sharp, pungent whiff of lord knows what that took out my sense of smell on my first inhale upon sitting up. I quickly brushed my teeth then walked to the bridge by the beach. I waited for a while until the Blue Swimmer Coffee Shop opened at 07:30. 

I grabbed a small table on the porch and ordered a flat white. The coffee arrived in the most homey-feeling, blue ceramic mug + plate and was adorned with the loveliest latte art that reminded me of a sprig of lavender. Not to mention it tasted so silky and smooth. 

As I was sitting looking out at the ocean, the most adorable dog came up and sat right next to my seat, followed by his owner who sat on the bench across from us. This encounter made my morning. The dog was so friendly and had the sweetest personality. His tail never stopped thumping and he continually lifted his head to look up at me. 

When I finished my coffee, I decided it was time to head back to reality. I was so grateful for the simplicity of this moment and the opportunity of solitude to take a step back from everything. 

Back at camp, I ran into my roommates who were looking for me to leave to go to the cafe I was just at. I joined them and we sat inside at a four-top by the window. I absolutely loved the atmosphere of the cafe.

We had our final surf lesson with one of our same instructors and a new instructor. The lesson went well and I was even able to turn a few times! Thank god, we didn’t have to carry any boards today. 

Our last lunch was chicken wraps with hummus, greens and veggies. We packed up our bags and were in a tiny van getting dropped off at the Kiama station. It was around 2 hours on a train back to central, then another 30 minute l-rail ride to our apartment.

Later that evening when we were all back in Sydney, Tanisha and I met up with Scarlett and Katie for a few drinks. Katie had just graduated from UNSW where she earned her masters, so she knew all the good places around the city. She took us to a fried skewer place for dinner where I got this delicious crispy chicken and some veggies. Then, she bought us a tupperware full of cream puffs from Emperor’s Puffs and they were so yummy. Finally, we made our way to the Baxter Inn where we met up with Scarlett and a few of her friends. The bar was so cool and dimly lit. The entire wall behind the bar was filled with bottles and intertwined with fairy lights. I ordered the Baba (fennel vodka, rhubarb, ginger soda, citrus) and it was so tasty and elegantly presented. The last place we went was the rooftop bar at Old Mate’s. I got the Velvet Underground (gin, hazelnut liquor, boysenberry ice cream, toasted waffle cone, walnut, lemon, whites) and it tasted like summer in a glass. The mini ice cream cone was beyond crunchy and toasty and the ice cream scoop made the drink so creamy. 



  • travel bath towel (after 2 washes with extra detergent i still can’t get the nasty smell out of my towel…it’s horrendous)
  • sand cloud beach towel
  • toiletries (shampoo, conditioner, toothbrush, toothpaste, hairbrush, hair-ties, etc)
  • 2 bikinis
  • water bottle 
  • shower shoes / shoes to walk to the beach in



  • so many people were from germany…they didn’t seem too interested in making friends with others, i am glad i went with a friend
  • they have sunscreen so don’t bother packing/using your own!!
  • it was nice having meals prepared for a few days
  • no reception (i liked being disconnected, i never took my phone to the beach during lessons and was hardly on it while at camp)…they do have wifi, but only in one specific spot and only a few people can go on it at a time
  • i’m glad i only did three days because i was not having it with the living situation by the last day and also i was so sore 
  • i absolutely fell in love with surfing 

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Headshot of Lily Nannini.

Lily Nannini

Hi! I'm Lily and I'm from Cape Cod, Massachusetts. I currently attend Washington and Lee University in Virginia. I'm always down for spontaneous adventures, catching sunrise/sunset, and taking pictures of food:) When I graduate college I want to renovate a van and travel the country, visiting every U.S. National Park as I go. Hopefully I'll have a golden retriever with me too. I love meeting new people and gaining new experiences, so I am extremely excited for this term in Vienna!

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