From helping guests choose the right experience to keeping them safe, we partnered with the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) to provide safety recommendations and best practices to help you host a surfing experience.
Set the right expectations
If there are health, fitness, or other requirements needed to safely enjoy the experience, make this clear in your experience description. This includes providing details about the length of time, exertion and fitness required, and skill levels needed.
Here’s a guide from the ATTA to help you communicate to guests what skill level is needed for your surfing experience:
Beginner: Guests should know how to swim, but don’t need surfing experience. Mellow waves, up to waist high, breaking over a forgiving bottom.
Intermediate: Guests should know how to swim, and be comfortable paddling out and surfing waves a short distance from shore up to chest high, not powerful but still breaking from peaks over a sand or rocky bottom.
Advanced: Guests should be comfortable paddling out and surfing far from shore in waves that may be up to head-and-a-half high, with a potentially heavy break over a sand, mixed, or reef bottom.
Communicate with guests often
Once someone books, you can use Airbnb’s messaging system to introduce yourself and help your guests feel welcome and prepared. Let them know that you’re available to answer any questions.
You should create an experience where your guests feel comfortable asking questions at any point. Try to anticipate common points of concern (such as how to use the bathroom on your experience, expectations for interaction with others, etc.). It may seem obvious, but confirm that all guests know how to swim. Address any concerns outright–and make yourself available to attend to these and any others questions throughout your experience.
Listen with patience and authentic concern, and try to put yourself in your guests shoes. This could include practical matters like if there will be food, snacks, or water provided, if they should bring their own water bottle, and what bathroom facilities are available. Try to address these concerns before guests have to ask. What may seem normal to you may be difficult or fear-inspiring for your guests, so your communication is key to a safe and enjoyable experience.
Follow local regulations & check forecasts
You should have the local knowledge (or do the research) to know if and when it’s acceptable for you to guide at your break and what rules or regulations apply to areas in which you may surf. You should check the swell forecast, and know this break well enough to be able to anticipate the surf conditions.
Set expectations with a pre-trip briefing
Before you head into the water, take some time to teach skills on shore with beginners, like paddling out, turtling, and popping up. To make sure guests of any level are comfortable before you paddle out, talk about the break first, and any tips around local etiquette.
As a surf Host, you should be constantly assessing your guests’ skills––while talking on the sand, paddling out, and in the water. Once you’re in the water, keep checking in: ask guests how they’re feeling and observe them to see if they’re comfortable and their skills match the conditions.
Provide the right gear
Confirm with your guests that they’re comfortable on their specific board in the conditions in which you’re going out. Beginners should have soft top or foam longboards with forgiving fins and a good leash.
If you provide wetsuits, booties, gloves and hoods, check them for holes and tears, and make sure the gear fits your guests properly. Rinse your gear with fresh water and store it away from sunlight to keep it in good condition.
Choose the proper conditions
Before paddling out, talk to guests about conditions they may encounter such as the size and power of the waves, currents, and any sea life or underwater obstacles they should be aware of. Clearly communicate expectations from the start about where and how the wave should break.
Keep an eye on conditions throughout the experience in case they change and you need to head in. You should be able to tell when conditions are too dangerous for your guest’s surf level. Don’t paddle out if there is an unreasonable or unexpected risk to your guests.
Keep the fin side down: always choose safety
As a surfing Host, you should have rescue skills: water lifesaving and up-to-date First Aid and CPR training and certifications. If you’ll be more than an hour away from medical care, it’s best practice to have a Wilderness First Responder (WFR) or Wilderness Advanced First Aid (WAFA), along with CPR certification (or equivalent). You should also have extensive surfing experience in the areas and conditions you lead guests.
Always have a comprehensive first aid kit easily accessible at your beach. You also want to have an emergency action plan and share it with your guests: let them know what they should do in case of emergency, which could include injury, unexpected weather, currents, or sea life, or a sudden increase in swell size. Find out more about making an emergency plan.
Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA): Courtesy of the Adventure Travel Trade Association. ©2021 Adventure Travel Trade Association. All rights reserved.
The Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) name and logo are used with its permission, which in no way constitutes an endorsement or vetting of, express or implied, of any product, service, person, company, opinion or political position. The ATTA does not select or approve, and is not involved in the selection or approval of, Airbnb Experiences or Hosts. For more information about the Adventure Travel Trade Association, visit adventuretravel.biz.