No money for marketing? No problem.

It’s still possible to spread the good word about your surf retreat without breaking the bank. Do It Yourself surf business owners with small advertising budgets, listen up.

This is how you can promote your surf retreat on a shoestring budget.

Big budget or small budget: which is better?

The say bigger is better, and let’s be honest — it definitely helps if you’ve got a small budget to play with. Having a shoestring budget though comes with one serious advantage.

You’re more cost-aware and conscious of what you spend your money on, which is a valuable skill in business.

By focusing on low-cost marketing strategies, you can stretch your budget further and get creative with how you promote your surf retreat.

You’re less likely to waste money or make costly mistakes, and you’re forced to think outside the box, which can often lead to innovative and effective marketing tactics.

Plus, with the rise of social media and other online platforms, it’s easier than ever to reach a large audience without spending a fortune.

What constitutes a “surf retreat”?

A surf retreat is a type of surf experience provider that combines the exhilaration of surfing, the relaxation of a holiday and the wellness benefits of a typical retreat.

It’s designed for individuals looking to immerse themselves in the world of waves, sand and sun, whether they’re novices surfing for the first time or experienced surfers looking to refine their skills.

Typically, a surf retreat includes accommodation, surf lessons, transport, board rentals and complementary activities such as yoga, meditation sessions and other cultural or wellness activities aimed at fostering a sense of community among participants.

These retreats are not just about improving one’s skills on the board; they provide an opportunity to unwind, connect with nature and rejuvenate the spirit.

Why is it important to market my surf retreat?

You’ve worked hard to get your surf retreat up and running.

Wouldn’t it be a shame if it remained hidden from the world? Besides getting your name out there, here are a few other reasons why marketing your surf retreat is important:

Attract new clients

As a small business, it’s essential to consistently attract new clients to sustain and grow your business. Marketing your surf retreat can help you reach potential participants who may not have known about your retreat otherwise.

Build brand awareness

With effective marketing, you can establish yourself as an authority in the surf retreat industry and build a loyal following of customers who trust your brand.

Differentiate yourself from competitors

In today’s crowded marketplace, it’s crucial to stand out from the competition. Effective marketing can help you showcase what makes your surf retreat unique and attract clients who resonate with your vision and offerings.

Increase revenue

The ultimate goal of any business is to make a profit. By promoting your surf retreat, you can increase bookings and ultimately generate more revenue.

The most critical item you need to promote any surf retreat

Guys, I tend to repeat this across any and all my marketing channels, but before you even consider spreading the word about your surf retreat, you need to be crystal clear on this one thing…

Who is your target audience?

Knowing exactly who you want to attract to your surf retreat and the different stages of customer awareness is crucial.

This information will guide all of your marketing efforts – from the channels you use to promote, the messaging you craft and even the colours and visuals that best appeal to your ideal clients. It’s quite literally the linchpin that holds your marketing strategy together.

So, who is your target audience?

Are you targeting families looking for a fun and adventurous holiday experience?

Or perhaps solo travellers seeking a wellness retreat focused on self-care and personal growth?

Knowing this information will help you tailor your marketing efforts to reach the right people and ultimately make your surf retreat more attractive to potential guests.

Budget-friendly marketing channels and strategies for surf retreats

Social media (Instagram)

This is an obvious one. Social media is an accessible, zero-cost means for promoting your surf retreat.

Instagram, in particular, is a popular platform for the surfing community and can help you reach a global audience of potential participants. With an average of 500 million active users per day, Instagram is a powerful tool for promoting your surf retreat.

Here are a few advantages of using Instagram for your surf retreat:

  • A visual platform: Instagram is all about visuals, making it the perfect place to showcase the beauty of your surf retreat and entice potential participants
  • Use hashtags to reach a targeted audience: By using relevant hashtags (#surfretreat, #surfcamp, etc.), you can increase your reach to people interested in surfing or wellness retreats
  • Utilise Instagram Stories: Instagram Stories are an effective way to engage your audience and provide behind-the-scenes content of your retreat

Influencer collaborations

Influencer marketing can be kinda lame. And with the rise of ugly marketing trends, there’s an argument that it’s become completely ineffective… but that’s only if you’re doing it wrong.

If you’re working with influencers who are genuine, authentic and aligned with your brand, they can be a powerful way to reach new audiences and build trust with potential participants. Again, Instagram is an excellent platform for connecting with influencers in the surfing community.

Here are a few advantages of using influencers to promote your surf retreat:

  • Authenticity: As mentioned, if you choose influencers who genuinely align with your brand and are passionate about your surf retreat, their endorsements will come across as authentic and not just a paid promotion. This is crucial for building trust with potential participants
  • Reach new audiences: Influencers have a dedicated following of engaged fans who trust their recommendations. By collaborating with them, you can reach new audiences who may not have known about your surf retreat otherwise
  • Quality content: Influencers are skilled at creating high-quality, engaging content. Partnering with them can help you showcase the beauty and benefits of your surf retreat in a visually appealing way

Link building exchanges

I’ve admittedly not leveraged this enough for my own business, but I’ve seen it work wonders for other surf retreats.

Collaborating with other businesses or websites in the surfing and wellness industries can be an effective way to reach new audiences and build backlinks to your website. By exchanging links, you can increase your website’s domain authority and improve its search engine ranking, making it easier for potential participants to find you online.

Here are a few advantages of using link building to grow your surf retreat:

  • Reach a targeted audience: By collaborating with businesses or websites in the surfing and wellness industries, you can reach a highly targeted audience of potential participants who are already interested in your niche
  • Improve your website’s SEO: Backlinks from reputable websites can help improve your website’s search engine ranking and make it easier for people to find your surf retreat online
  • Build relationships: Building collaborative relationships with other businesses or websites in your industry can bring long-term benefits, such as potential partnerships and cross-promotion opportunities

Newsletters (and email marketing)

I love them. No joke. Even if newsletters didn’t get me such great results, I reckon I’d still use them.


Because newsletter platforms like Flodesk, which are incredibly affordable, allow me to craft visually stunning emails that I can easily customise for my audience. And by sending a combination of more personal, editorial-style newsletters AND promotional emails, I’ve been able to build a loyal audience who are genuinely interested in your surf retreats and events.

Here are a few advantages of using newsletters to promote your surf retreat:

  • Direct communication with potential participants: With email marketing, you have direct access to your target audience’s inbox – meaning they’re more likely to see and engage with your message
  • Customisable and personal: Newsletter platforms like Flodesk allow you to create visually appealing, personalised emails that can resonate with your audience and build trust. You can also segment your email list to send more targeted messages, increasing the chances of conversion
  • Cost-effective: With affordable newsletter platforms available, email marketing is a budget-friendly way to reach potential participants and keep them updated on your surf retreats and events
  • Trackable results: Newsletter platforms also provide analytics that allow you to track open and click-through rates, helping you gauge the effectiveness of your email marketing efforts

Blog articles

Like newsletters, blog articles were one of the first marketing channels I invested serious time in when launching The Surfing Copywriter. They’re quite literally how I built my business.

Not only do blog articles help with SEO and driving traffic to your website, but they also establish you as an authority in your niche. And by creating informative and valuable content related to surfing, wellness and travel (all topics that align with surf retreats), you can attract potential participants who are interested in those areas.

Here are a few advantages of using blog articles to advertise your surf retreat:

  • Boost SEO: By creating high-quality, informative content related to surfing and wellness, you can improve your website’s search engine ranking and make it easier for potential participants to find you online
  • Establish authority: Blogging allows you to showcase your knowledge and expertise in the industry, building trust with potential participants who are looking for a reliable surf retreat
  • Promote your surf retreat indirectly: While blogging shouldn’t be solely used for self-promotion, it can serve as a platform to subtly mention your surf retreat and attract interested participants without being too salesy
  • Long-term benefits: Unlike other forms of advertising, blog articles have a longer lifespan and can continue to attract potential participants even months after they’ve been published
  • Free: This is the big one. You don’t actually need any budget to start blogging. All you need is time and knowledge, making it a cost-effective way to market your surf retreat

Final thoughts

Not having any money to market your surf camp is a bummer… but that’s most likely because you’re just starting out.

In that case, it’s ok to be a broke mofo.

I didn’t turn a meaningful profit for The Surfing Copywriter till my third year, but when I did, it was because of the marketing channels above.

As you grow and start to generate income, you can explore other marketing tactics that require a bigger budget.

Until then, these low-cost strategies should be enough to get your surf retreat off the ground and attract potential participants who are genuinely interested in what you have to offer. It’s all about being creative, strategic, and leveraging the power of collaboration and digital marketing.

Reach out if you have any questions or success stories with these tactics. I’d love to hear them!