Q: I'm looking for high-quality surf camps in Central America or Mexico for next month and can't find any. Any suggestions?
Andrew Brenner, New York, New York
A: If big waves and no-frills cabanas don't scare you, then Morro Negrito Surf Camp, off the coast of Panama, could be exactly what you're looking for. Since this rustic island outpost started hosting surfers in 1998, it has developed something of a cult following. Their edge: a dozen or so picture-perfect breaks that have been memorized by the resident guides, who will boat you in to the face of choice from their 15-guest capacity home base. Surf spots range from a long, gentle beach break to a fast, high-overhead, Pipeline-like point. You'll get the most out of this place if you've got plenty of experience behind you, but there's some action for relative newcomers as well. Contact Steve Thompson for info: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For a camp that's more instruction-oriented and less likely to be booked far in advance, try Rancho Coral in Playa Esterillos, Costa Rica. The mellow beach break just outside the camp's surfer-chic beachfront lodge will serve as your primary classroom, but you'll also travel up and down the coast to wherever the best waves are breaking. Student to guide ratio is usually eight to one. Info: email@example.com.
Last but certainly not least, Pescadero Surf Camp (www.pescaderosurf.com) in Baja California gets high marks for the quality of the nearby surf spots (novice to expert), uber-cool grounds (complete with swim-up pool bar), and a staff you'll want to stow home in your luggage. Three students per guide is the norm. With Cabo San Lucas nearby and Todos Santos just up the road, you won't have to worry about a shortage of post-surf opportunities. Reserve now to sneak in before their busy season.