It's hard to say exactly when adaptive surfing officially became a sport. It officially was recognized when the ISA World Adaptive Surfing Championship (WASC) began in 2015. There are reports of adaptive surfing appearing as long ago as the 1990s in countries like Brazil and in the US, but it has really taken off in the last few years thanks to a surge in viral videos and images and some amazing equipment that is now available that enables almost anyone to surf.
Nonprofits that provide free access to the sport are also on the rise, putting it more in the public eye. Almost every wheelchair-user knows about it, and many would love to give it a try. The good news is that you can try the sport now that adaptive surfing programs now exist around the world. Some extremely gorgeous locales host these lessons that exclusively cater to people wanting to try adaptive surfing.
Check out our list below! It is a fantastic idea for a winter vacation this year, or one to add to your bucket list in the future.
5. Eternal Wave Peru
Surfing in South America is a dream for many surfers, and Eternal Wave Peru in Lima, Peru is a great place to try adaptive surfing in this coveted location. They charge $120 for two full hours for everything required to surf, from all of the adapted equipment, a wetsuit, and lessons, as well as assistance to help you in the water. You meet the instructor at a pre-designated beach and they offer a nutritional snack after the surfing experience.
4. Sargood on Collaroy
The only resort in the world that caters to people with spinal cord injuries is Sargood on Collaroy in Sydney, Australia. It overlooks Collaroy Beach, located in the northern beaches of Sydney. It opened only a handful of years ago and has been providing a truly magical experience for people with paralysis. They also offer adaptive surfing.
Their adaptive surfing program is not huge, but it is listed on their site right next to the other adaptive sports they offer, such as adaptive paddle-boarding (which also uses an adaptive surfboard), kayaking, golf, fishing, snorkeling, sailing, rock climbing, hand-cycling, and yoga.
This full-scale resort offers beautiful rooms with ceiling lifts, a wheelchair accessible pool that goes into the ocean, and they offer funding assistance.
3. Surf Emporium Muizenberg
The only adaptive surfing school in South Africa, Surf Emporium Muizenberg has been offering adaptive surfing lessons since 2011. They offer private lessons, which you can sign up for at any time, and they offer free adaptive surf clinic days on a handful of dates throughout 2019, so be sure to book early if you want to attend one of their free days. They offer one free day a month.
If you have a child with a spinal cord injury or a teenager with a spinal cord injury, they also offer holiday surf camps for both of these age groups. It is a truly beautiful location located on the Muizenberg beachfront and for anyone in Cape Town, South Africa, a must-see.
2. Life Rolls On
An adaptive sporting nonprofit based in La Jolla, California, Life Rolls On is one of the most prominent adapted surfing clinics in the United States. This legendary nonprofit was founded by Jesse Billauer, a young man who was paralyzed at the beginning of his career and went on to found this now life-changing nonprofit that changes thousands of lives every year. Their 2019 free adaptive surfing clinic dates have yet to be announced, but be sure to check back to their site next year to see if their dates have been posted.
1. Ocean Healing Group
Located in gorgeous Costa Rica, this nonprofit is called the Ocean Healing Group and they offer adaptive surfing to all types of disabilities, as well as adaptive horseback riding and accessible ATV jungle tours. This program focuses more on children, but parents can surf alongside their children. Well-known adaptive surfers like Christiaan “Otter” Bailey are also on-staff to help teach lessons.
Written by Tiffiny CarlsonSince 1998, Tiffiny Carlson has been a prolific commentator on all things SCI in a number of prominent magazines, blogs and websites. Hailing from Minnesota, she was the SCI Columnist for New Mobility Magazine for 13 years and she currently works as the Executive Director of SPINALpedia, one of the leading websites for people with SCI to share videos and stories. She has been a C5-6 quadriplegic since a diving accident 24 years ago. Tiffiny has also been a fierce advocate for SCI research. In 2016, the Morton Paralysis Fund honored her for her work. While all SCI topics interest her, dating, love and the business of relationships have always been where her passion lies the most.
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