Posts Tagged ‘San Diego’

Surf’s Up

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009


Learning How to Surf at a Surf School Near San Diego

Catching a wave at San Elijo State Beach

Catching a wave at San Elijo State Beach

I always hated the sand dripping from my brother’s wet suit in the shower growing up in Huntington Beach. He never cleaned out the tub. I adored the smell of the surf wax on his board though. I spent about a decade living at the beach, but I never tried surfing. I regret it now, not only because I missed out on the thrill of catching a wave, but because now I cannot teach my kids how to surf.

Barbie Surfing shirt
Barbie Surfing by barbie
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When my daughter wanted to try surfing during a camping trip to San Elijo a few years back, a friend took her out on his 10-foot surfboard, and she loved it. The next year we gave her a certificate for a surf lesson for a Christmas gift. When summer came we went back to San Elijo, which is in northern San Diego County, and she got her lesson at the Billabong Eli Howard Surf School located right in the campground. This summer she went back to the same surf school and her younger brother took a lesson there, too. See my review of this surf school below.

The surf instructor taking my kids out to the next wave.

The surf instructor taking my kids out to the next wave.

DivineSlide Tiki shirt
DivineSlide Tiki by DivineDude
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If you’ve never surfed, but you want to help your kids want to try it, here’s some tips.

Follow basic safety precautions:

Make sure they are strong swimmers.

Make sure they have experience swimming in an ocean, not just a pool.

Make sure they know what a rip tide is, and how to swim perpendicular to the shore to get out of one.

The next step is to pick your beach and your instructor:

Pick a beach with one- two-foot waves that come in slow sets and a beach that does not have dangerous rocks. The season and time of day make a difference.

Pick an instructor who is patient and enjoys kids. A friend who surfs may work fine (and do it for free). But you might want to try a surf school for the very first time. These instructors have been trained in water safety. They also have experience in explaining a sport that is a bit hard to explain. Most important, they know how to help “launch” a beginning surfer. You will not have to buy or borrow a surfboard if you use a school as they usually have long foam boards. These board are easy to learn on and softer if they hit you in the water. Surf schools usually offer wetsuits during the lesson as well.

To find a surfing school, just Google the words “surf school” or “surf camp.”

My son's first surf lesson.

My son's first surf lesson.

The school at San Elijo was professional. It offers private lessons, semi-private, or group. They also have surf camps for summer.

A great feature of this surf school is location. You can take camping gear and make a trip out of it. Surfing lessons are not inexpensive, but if you camp instead of staying at a fancy hotel, you can save in lodging. 

The waves at his beach are perfect for beginners. The water is pretty warm . . . in late summer you do not even need a wetsuit.  The vibe is good for families. And there are great restaurants nearby if you want to camp and fall asleep to the sound of the ocean, but do not want to do your own cooking.

If you are looking for a great gift idea for Christmas, a birthday, a graduation or another special occasion, a surf lesson may be a great idea.

Pics of our surf trip are up in the gallery.

Let me know if you have other suggestions for non-surfing parents who want to help their kids learn to surf.

If you are going to be out in the sun for long, use plenty of sun block and try Zinka the kind the hard core surfers use. They sell it at the camp store at San Elijo and you can get it at Amazon.

Also, be sure to take a camera so you can capture an experience they will want to remember.

Dropping In print
Dropping In by TinkerM
Browse the prints and posters at Zazzle

Tips for Visiting San Diego Zoo

Monday, August 10th, 2009


We just got back from a great trip to the San Diego Zoo.  We went with my brother who lives in San Diego.

Some tips:

Discount Tickets and Deals

Never pay full price. Be sure to do an search for online discounts and deals at San Diego ZooAAA has a coupon out now that gives you $9 off.  You have to print out the coupon plus show your membership card.  Usually the membership card gives you 10 percent off, but this is even better.  You can also check discounts at Costco.

The Gorillas are one of the best exhibits.


Also, Mimi’s Cafe has some voucher you can get if you stop by.  It allows you to buy an adult deluxe admission at the San Diego Zoo and get a free child admission.

You can also try eBay for discount tickets if you plan ahead.

If you plan to ride the little bus at the zoo (and you will if you want to see it all) then get the deluxe admission.  In fact, it is kinda hard not to get the deluxe admission cause I don’t think they even list the regular admission at the gate.  You have to ask for it.  So if you are sure you do not want the bus then ask.

If you ride the bus, get in line early.  My brother gave us a tip to sit on the right hand side of the bus.  Both sides are Ok, but the right is the best.  Also, sit on the top deck of the bus.  You see more.  Unless it is super hot.

Bring a camera with a zoom lens if you have one.

Panda at the San Diego zoo. See the pandas early to avoid the line.

Panda at the San Diego zoo. See the pandas early to avoid the line. This is one of just a few zoos that has pandas.

There is sometimes a line at the panda exhbit so try to do that early. A panda cub was recently born so the mom and cub are off display.  But there is another panda (pictured) you can still see live.  you can see mom and cub online via a live panda web cam.

The koala exhbit is chock full of cuteness.

Do not miss the gorillas or the koalas.

The newest exhibit is Elephant Odyssey, which showcases the link between fossils and ancient species and the current animals, especially those of the California.  While the exhibit is very well done, I still find it hard to watch elephants at the zoo.  Even if the enclosre is large and well furnished, it’s hard to think these guys are happy. The exhibit is educational, however, and would be great for kids learning about evolution or fossils.

I sorta hate to see the cats (jaguar and tiger etc) pacing at the zoo as well.  San Diego has nice enclosures, but any zoo still seems a jail in a way for some of the animals.

Overall, San Diego is one of the better zoos.  We like the LA zoo as well, but this was great for a change.

Check out the pics of my trip in the gallery.

For more info on the San Digo Zoo, visit the official zoo site.

The zoo has a great gift shop for souvenirs . . . but it is a little pricey. Visit it at the end of your trip so you do not have to carry purchases around. Or better yet, shop after you are home from Amazon (see links above for some great ideas).


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