Twice a year we head to San Diego to get a snippet of California life. I grew up in Del Mar, a laid-back beach town where surfing is part of daily life. I was excited to teach my kids to ride the waves. We love going to Menehune Surf Camp.
Photo: Nancy Solomon
Each year these surf lessons are the highlight of our trip. The instructors are always encouraging and fun, and my East Coast boys always crack up about the ultra-low-riding swimsuits. Menehune runs camps and private lessons on multiple beaches throughout San Diego. We love the one at Powerhouse Park—the beach is beautiful, plus it has food and one of the area’s best playgrounds. While my three older kids surf, I’m able to go for a long walk with my 2-year-old. She plays in the sand, and I get the downtime I need.
I love the resilience and perseverance that the surf camp teaches kids. Think fall and get up, fall and get up … times 100!
I have to admit, however, the few years of surf camp can be disconcerting. Two fears crept into my head: sharks and drowning. Despite the fact that we’re literally more likely to die by a falling coconut than a shark attack, we’re a generation with Jaws images and music imprinted in our minds.
I comfort myself knowing that the kids at Menehune stay in very shallow water. Also, they’re not in areas with many seals, a favorite shark snack. Of course, there are sharks off the Pacific coast, but in my 35 years of going to San Diego beaches, I’ve never seen one.
My kids first started surf camp when they were 5 and 6 and very strong swimmers. Between the lifeguards on the beach and the instructors, I felt like they are very well monitored. That said, probably half the moms with kids under 7 stay and watch the class from the beach. This year was the first time—my kids are now 6, 9 and 10—that I left them alone for a portion of the class.
You can choose to do the morning program that runs from 9 to 12, the afternoon program from 12 to 3 or an all-day session. These camps are run in the summer and on school holidays, but you can get private lessons all yearlong.
Photo: Nancy Solomon
Where to Stay
We also just added two new hotels in the Del Mar area to the Ciao Bambino San Diego portfolio—both provide great beach access. The newly remodeled L’Auberge Del Mar is in the heart of town of Del Mar. The hotel has a fun social vibe, gorgeous views of the ocean and one of San Diego’s best restaurants at Kitchen 1540. Del Mar has cute coffee shops, casual restaurants and easy beach access in a quintessential Southern California setting.
Newly remodeled L’Auberge Del Mar. Photo: Ciao Bambino
Two miles up the road, nestled above the breathtaking Torrey Pines State Reserve is The Lodge at Torrey Pines. This hotel feels like a woodsy, grand lodge. Home to the renown Torrey Pines Golf Course, this is a golfer’s paradise. The beauty of this location is that adults can play too—send the kids to surf camp and head to Golf School (Golf School is also offered for kids). The hotel also has daily, guided hikes through the preserve. The Lodge features an award-winning restaurant, A.R. Valentien.
Nancy Solomon is an avid traveler and writer for Ciao Bambino. She lives outside Boston and has four children 10,8,6 and 2, with whom she enjoys sharing the world.