Top 5 Backpackers for Snow or Surf

These are my favourite five hostels from around the world that I've used to either Surf or Snowboard. There are various reasons why they are my favourite and it's different for each one which is why there is a mini review on each of them as well.

The main reason I love backpackers or hostels is the cost and location. The cost is self-explanatory but the location is often because they are in locations that I'd otherwise be priced out of or wouldn't be able to travel for as long, staying even in the most budget hotels.

YHA Thredbo, NSW, Australia

Thredbo Village is without a doubt one of the cheapest places for on-mountain accommodation at Thredbo or anywhere in the world for that matter. I’ve stayed there many times and will continue to stay there whenever snowboarding at Thredbo especially when travelling solo or in a small group. A great alternative to trekking from Jindabyne every day.

The main thing I love about the YHA at Thredbo is the fact it’s only a few hundred-meter walk from the Kosciusko chairlift through the village. This location puts the YHA in the centre of the village also a close walk to many bars, cafes, restaurants, shops plus everything else that makes Thredbo my favourite Australian snow resort.

Thredbo can also be used as a base for some of the backcountry ski/splitboard touring activities particularly south of the resort itself such as Dead Horse Gap, Leather Barrel Creek and South Rams Head.

Thredbo Skate Park in Winter

Thredbo can also be used as a base for some of the backcountry ski/splitboard touring activities particularly south of the resort itself such as Dead Horse Gap, Leather Barrel Creek, and South Rams Head. HA itself.

Thredbo also offers many year-round and summer activities including mountain biking, hiking, golf, disc golf, tennis, bobsled, trampolining and abseiling.

The Hostel, Jackson Hole, Wyoming, USA

The Hostel is actually in Teton Village, Teton Village is the village built around the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. The town of Jackson is actually about a twenty-minute drive away and the Jackson Hole Airport a thirty-minute drive.

I stayed at The Hostel at Jackson Hole just after the storm of February 2017, due to that storm I had to cut my stay from ten days to six days but still had the best time. Most on-mountain accommodation in Teton Village is ridiculously expensive but at The Hostel, beds are as low as USD$32. The Hostel is less than a five-minute walk to the iconic Jackson Hole Tram and nearby gondolas plus you can board right to the front door to get home.

My favourite part of The Hostel was the character it had, it really had heart, especially when sitting around in the basement trading snow stories while waxing boards and skis or playing footsball. Nowhere else I’ve ever been has had that same feeling. Just outside the Hostel is a large open fire pit that is also a great place to socialise.

View from the top of the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort

Being on-mountain at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and with Jackson Hole Airport so close it meant there was no need for a car, but plenty of buses are available if you did want to head to Jackson to do anything such as visit the other mountain resort nearby Snow King.

Staying in Teton Village gives plenty options for bars and restaurants without having to wander too far away without costing too much (in comparison to how much accommodation is in the area) but there is also a small grocery shop if needed.

JHMR is also a summer destination for mountain biking so the Hostel can be a great option year-round.

The Bunkhouse, Minturn, Colorado, USA

I'd always wanted to snowboard Vail and in February 2018 I was able to afford to stay closeby thanks to The Bunkhouse in Minturn. I spent a few weeks here at the start of February and used it as a base to explore nearby.

The Bunkhouse mostly contains a "pod-style" offering a great deal of privacy that's in one big room know as the bunkroom, as well as some traditional dorm-like rooms that can be booked as a room or beds.

Main St Minturn on a Snowday

The hostel has a decent kitchen but while I was there I typically found myself eating out for breakfast at Sunrise Minturn, lunch at Loaded Joe's in Vail and dinner at Mugustos (with a cheeky beer or two) because they were all so cheap, especially considered I was in the Vail area.

To get to Vail or Beaver Creek each day involved getting a bus to an interchange and changing to either resort. Getting home for Vail, however, was a much better experience. Most days when the snow coverage was adequate and avalanche conditions allowed to get home I'd ride the Minturn Mile, which is probably closer to a four-mile run from the top of Vail to Minturn. The Minturn Mile starts out as a bowl, then trees, then a skinny but rideable track to the end of town where you then walk back into Minturn. Heaps better than the $4 bus ride home.

End of the Minturn Mile

The town of Minturn is very sleepy and has a very relaxed vibe about it compared to nearby Vail and is a great place to just have a look around and go for a walk.

YHA Lake Tekapo, South Island, New Zealand

I stayed at the then brand new YHA Lake Tekapo in August 2019 and couldn't believe how amazing it was. Situated on the shores of Lake Takepo with breathtaking views, free parking and a brand new facility what more could you want.

All of the nearby snowfields are smaller privately owned fields the closest being Roundhill and Mt Dobson, but Lake Tekapo can also be used to access heliboarding or backcountry riding in the Mt Cook area.

View across Lake Tekapo. Photo credit: Yani Zubin

The few times I've stayed in Lake Tekapo (even before the YHA was built) have been an overnight stay while exploring the South Island of New Zealand. Such as the first nights stay on the way from Christchurch to Queenstown while snowboarding along the way.

Lake Tekapo is also famed for stargazing on clear nights and the Tekapo Springs. The Tekapo Springs isn't a natural hot spring but still very enjoyable after a few days riding for a soak.

Wake up, Byron Bay, NSW, Australia

Wake Up Byron Bay is a hostel located across the road from Belongil Beach slightly north of the main Byron Bay Beach. Belongil Beach is one of many surfable beaches in the Byron Bay and North Coast area and being able to stay across the road in a great modern hostel cheap as is why Wake Up is my favourite of many hostels in Byron Bay.

Wategos Beach at Byron Bay. Photo credit: Richard Rydge

Byron Bay itself is only a ten-minute walk either via the road or down the sandy beach, while this may make it sound out of town but you’re a stones throw from the ocean so it’s much better than if you stayed the same distance inland. To walk into town you can walk along either the beach or the road.

The hostel itself has pretty good kitchen facilities if you choose not to eat at one of Byron Bays many cafes or restaurants.

Being able to surf right across the road is great, but when the swell isn't southeasterly free parking means you can drive around the headland and use Wake Up as a base for surfing or just enjoy the Byron Bay nightlife and lifestyle for a while.

Have a different favourite backpackers for surfing or snowboarding we would love to know because we haven't seen them all, yet?


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