The basics of outdoor activities: spot

The basics of outdoor activities: spot


If you are involved in some outdoor activities, you already know about such a concept as a spot. It is very common, right? In brief and in the broadest sense, it is a place to practice a particular sport. Still it may not be familiar to all outdoor enthusiasts. For newcomers to a world-large outdoors community or its individual sports, it may even be confusing, as it was with me for the first time.

To avoid this happening to you, in this short article, the first in a big new series called "Outdoor activities basics", we will explain what an outdoor spot.

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A spot as a term denoting a place for outdoor activities comes most likely from surfing and some other water sports, where that's what they call the beach or the shore of a body of water. There, you can catch a swell, that is large waves of a certain type, necessary for riding a surfboard. Surfers are looking for spots — places with the best swell.

Until we got out of surfing, it’s important to note that a spot is not just about the place, but also the community that forms on it. The same surfers live or come to the same spots on purpose year after year and already know each other. At the same time in surfing such a concept as localism exist, when local surfers do not allow outsiders. However, this is due to the main feature of this sport, where you need to catch a good wave, the number of which is known to be limited, and not just because of preferences in communication with those or other people.

Already from surfing and sports close to it the concept of “spot” has moved into some other activities and has become commonly used. But not in all of them. For example, this word is almost never used in hiking and cycling, which are my favorite sports, because these sports mean going from point to point. Instead of spots, we look for the "routes" or "trails". Hence, the spot is more commonly used in those activities where you’re doing the sport in a relatively small area: going from the shore to the ocean on a board to catch the waves that will bring you back to shore. And things like that...

The opposite situation is also possible: a surfer who wants to go hiking or biking will not find the usual spots in these sports and will be confused, wondering “Where to go for a hike or ride?”

However, if we look closely, we see that the concept exists in almost all activities, it’s just called differently. Let's (inhale deeply) and take a closer look at them:

  • Beach: surfing, SUP, kitesurfing, windsurfing, and others
  • Lake/sea/ocean coast: the same surfing, kitesurfing and windsurfing, sailing and yachting, kayaking, coastal walking, and other sports
  • Cave, grotto, hole: various types of diving
  • Marina, pier, port, dock: all types of sailing, plus kayaking, sport fishing, and more
  • River: various types of sailing, kayaking, rafting
  • Embankment of some waterbody: multi-sports such as triathlon, where you need to have a chance to swim, and then to bike and run, at the very same place
  • Canyon: canyoning, rafting
  • Mountain, cliff, rock: paragliding, cliff diving
  • Mountain pass: hiking, cycling, skiing, climbing, mountaineering
  • Airfield, aerodrome, airport: paragliding and other air sports
  • National park, nature reserve, wilderness: hiking, backpacking, camping, and the like
  • Ski resort: skiing, snowboarding, and other winter sports
  • Outdoor resort: various types of sports
  • Any large open area: air ballooning, drones, and the like

So this list can be used when choosing a spot for active recreation for the first time or if in case you want to try some second, third, or even fourth sport that you are not yet familiar with. In other words, as spots for hiking, choose national parks and other natural areas, for different types of aviation — airfields, for biking — mountain passes and the like.

Of course, the list is not complete, although it is quite detailed. To certain kinds of spots, you can add a lot of other activities. In this case, we get a concept such as "multi-spot" — for example, a mountain pass, where you can go hiking and ride a bike in the summer, and do many other things, and in winter ski down from it to the valley.

We can also do this or that activity in different spots. As seen in the list, if we go hiking along the shoreline of a large lake, sea, or ocean, we will do coastal walking, which is very popular in the UK, for example, because it is a large island with a beautiful coastline cut by bays with impressive cliffs, breaking into the sea. For the same reason the west coast of Portugal, the southern part of Australia, the northern half of California in the U.S., and other places are known.

In the broadest sense, a spot is any place of interest to a particular group of people. For example, a spot can be any popular tourist attraction such as the Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty, or the Great Wall of China. Or more accurately in terms of active recreation in nature, it would be the Bay of Biscay, the Appalachian Mountains, and the Gobi Desert.

Yes, that’s right: when we talk about the concept of a spot we also mean a place of any size.

So a whole single country may be a better spot for this or that outdoor activity or rather a whole series of sports than others. As a rule, these are the countries where there is sea or mountains, or both at the same time. These countries include, for example, Montenegro in the Balkans, Thailand in Asia, or the same U.S., where you can find all-natural landscapes.

In the even broadest sense, the Earth is one big outdoor spot, where we are lucky enough to live.

However, going back to the beginning of the article, a spot is still a place of a certain relatively small size that you are familiar with or that you on the contrary want to discover and share with other surfers, hikers, fishermen... From there, we look for and choose different parts of the Earth to do one or the other activity, depending on our preferences.

Where to find spots for outdoor activities

The database contains tens of thousands of themed spots for all popular sports, as well as just popular travel locations, including all major cities, towns, and resorts.

To find a spot on the site go to the appropriate section where they are grouped by country. Then use the Top Spots list on the country pages. However, a faster way to find a spot is through the Search on the home page or Spot Finder. Finally, the spots are also present on the Live Wind Map with a real-time forecast.

Found spots on request "Lisbon" in the for iOS

To find spots in the app, also use the Search and Map features, including Favorite Spots, Nearest Spots, and Popular Spots, and the Community section, where users post photos from their favorite outdoor spots from all over the world.

Many of the spots marked for individual sports include a Spot Info section with basic useful information about them. For example, in the case of kitesurfing, this includes working wind direction, best season, spot service, and others.

In the app, you can also create your own spot to get a quick and accurate weather forecast for it from the Home screen of the app and share it with your friends.

Stay tuned: in the next articles in the series, we will explain other basic concepts of outdoor activities, including its meaning, benefits to your health, examples of sports, best seasons, physical and mental preparation, equipment, expenses, competitions, and much more.


Text: Ivan Kuznetsov

Cover photo: Tegan Mierle / Unsplash

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