Surfing always enchanted me. As a digital nomad, I resisted taking up such a bulky hobby for a long time, but when the pandemic hit, I chose to stay in Indonesia for almost two years. I found myself on an island packed with surfers who didn’t want to return to their home countries and tagged along on their adventures, mostly out of FOMO at first. But when I stood up on my cheap rental longboard and cruised down the line of a wide open wave face, my jaw dropped. I knew right away that I had caught the surfing bug! The bug then became an obsession and eventually a lifestyle, one that has made my travels to other destinations substantially more thrilling. 

Whether I’m in Sri Lanka or Portugal, my days are centered around the swell. If lugging around six feet of epoxy is the price to pay, I’ll pay it with a smile. Surfing has undoubtedly made my life as a digital nomad much better and aside from the thrill of catching a wave, there are many more benefits to this addicting sport.

Photo by Maksym Ivashchenko on Unsplash

Instant Community

Sometimes the most challenging part of being a remote worker is that it takes a while to penetrate the social circles in a new place. This problem is eradicated the second that you paddle to the lineup. If you cheer a couple of people when they take off on the waves, you may soon find yourself making plans to meet up for sunset beers, and suddenly find yourself in the thick of a vibrant community that likely shares a similar nomadic lifestyle as you.

Health and Fitness

Besides being thrilling, meditative, and exceptionally fun, surfing helps you to stay healthy on the road. Not only will you have a daily dose of Vitamin D and fresh air, but you’ll get a full body workout every time as you paddle, pop up, turn, and duck dive. All these movements work in unison to build strength and flexibility. Who needs a gym membership when the ocean is free?


If you’re anything like me, choosing the next destination can feel like a near-impossible task. However, my love for surfing has synced my travel patterns to the rhythm of the swell seasons around the globe. You’ll find me hopping from Indonesia to Sri Lanka when the winds change, off to Australia or Costa Rica when the wet season hits, and then maybe a stint in Madagascar to enjoy empty lineups. Deciding where to go next has never been easier and it's brought a whole lot more soul and purpose to my travels.  

Local Culture

Travelers can often find themselves stuck in bubbles that are created almost entirely for tourists, but the waves bring you shoulder to shoulder with people who know the waves and the destination like the back of their hand. Cracking jokes while out on the water easily segued into enriching experiences as I was invited to karaoke night, beach volleyball sessions, and more local weddings than I can count on two hands! 

Low Environmental Impact

Since you’re harnessing the power of nature, surfing is one of the most environmentally-friendly sports out there and once you spend hours in the ocean every day, you’ll feel extremely connected to the energy of the water and nature. Surfing and environmental action even go hand in hand and I found myself tuning more and more into the ways in which I could give back to the planet. I participated in locally organized beach clean-ups, and anti-plastic drives and donated money to turtle conservation too. Giving back to the element that gives you so much is a rewarding experience, and it's impossible to deny that surfing is a whole lot more enjoyable when you’re not sifting through plastic in the water! 

Aishwarya Shah
May 19, 2023
min read

 Aishwarya Shah is a screenwriter and journalist from India who lives in Indonesia for part of the year, dividing her time between surfing and writing her novel.

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