Monday, 13 January 2020

The Trouble with Travel Insurance

As some of you may or may not be aware, I'll be off to Germany in July to compete in the Sandspirit challenge. If I want to make sure I come home in a good mental & physical state, with all my limbs, and without any expensive medical bills should I ever need to shell out any money for such a expense. I will need travel insurance.

Travel Insurance is an insurance policy that has the intention to cover any unexpected medical expenses, trip cancellation, flight delays, accidents, lost luggage, lost personal money, and any other losses whilst in a foreign country or even when taking a holiday in your own country. Of course, not every Travel Insurance policy is the same and the purposes of this post; I'll be primarily focusing on the medical element.

The EHIC Question

It's all well and good having a European Health Insurance Card which I have discussed in detail in the past, however; an EHIC won't get you home after an unforeseen medical issue abroad or pay for some other medical procedures (i.e. an X-ray); and without a good insurance policy, you'll have to cover expenses on your own; so this asks the question, what's the point of having an EHIC? According to the Money Advice Service: "If you use an EHIC to get medical care, some insurers won't ask you to pay an excess on your medical claims." (Money Advice Service, 2020).

A typical medical excess on a travel insurance policy can be from £50 up to £500; enough to buy a souvenir or a nice meal!

But you're probably thinking won't the Embassy help? And the answer is: No, they cannot cover your costs if you're detained, arrested, or admitted to hospital abroad.

"Travel Insurance Infographic FCO 2014" by Foreign & Commonwealth Office is licensed under Open Government Licence v3.0
Travel Insurance can be extremely cheap... If you have no health conditions and are young; this is because Travel Insurance companies see the elderly and people with pre-existing health complications as a higher risk and therefore more likely to make a claim, this is why younger and healthier people receive cheaper premiums from the insurance companies as they are deemed a lower risk because they are less likely to make a claim. But for us keen sandboarders, the problem lies in what activities are covered; a lot of insurance companies won't cover sandboarding because the sport isn't recognised enough for its risk, danger, and thrill-seeking elements within the sport.

My Research

Today, I looked up quotes for Annual Multi-Trip Travel Insurance on my upcoming competition in July (I chose Annual Multi-Trip because I'm going to Denmark in March and this will save me buying another policy and it also covers me for any other trips I may take in the next year).

The prices quoted for my travel insurance ranged from £11.95 ($15.51 USD as of 13th January 2020) to £108.99 ($141.50 USD as of 13th January 2020) with an average price of £35.35 across a list of 76 quotes. Within those 76 quotes, Sandboarding is covered in 31 policies or just under 41% of Travel Insurance policies; it's good that our sport is included but I say it could be improved; especially considering that Table Tennis (A sport that has a higher chance of death than Sandboarding, as discovered in Revisiting Death) has more likelihood of coverage than Sandboarding.

This leaves us with a choice, we can try and compare quotes that have a 41% or thereabouts chance of being covered for Sandboarding or we can directly go to insurers that specialise in Sandboarding (yes, they exist) and pay more for the certainty of being covered. This tells me one of three things:

1. Insurance companies don't recognise Sandboarding as a sport, this is a sad reality but because of its infrequency in Google searches and because it's only really possible wherever lie sand dunes; makes sense.

2. Sandboarding isn't considered a big enough danger or risk for insurance companies to be worried; sure, they may have read my blog and seen that Table Tennis is more worthy of coverage because of the higher chance of death, but it doesn't ignore the fact that there have been deaths from the sport.

3. Sandboarding is recognised as a sport by insurance companies, but because of its niche nature and the fact there isn't too much information on the sport, how it works, risks, dangers, and/or what can be involved; the insurance companies can't offer a quote because of so little information from our sport.

The problem lies even worse for non-Europeans, especially to my readers from the United States; since the concept of a taxpayer funded national healthcare system doesn't exist, if you Sandboard abroad, a Travel Insurance policy that covers Sandboarding abroad will be fine and you won't have to worry about an unexpected medical expense, but if you wanted to Sandboard in the United States and you got injured and required hospital treatment; if you had Travel Insurance, you would still be covered because such a policy can cover you domestically as well as abroad but private medical insurance might not; Private medical insurance is a different kind of policy all together so I won't discuss it now.

"Exchange Money Conversion to Foreign Currency" by is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

My Conclusion

Travel Insurance will be a lifeline to you when you need it most, a lot of the time you'll never need it and the cost of the cheapest insurance won't be worth thinking about too much; It's worth doing your research to find out if the sports you want covered are in the policy you want to buy, how much coverage you'll receive. If you happen to be in a country that doesn't provide free & universal healthcare, you'll get medical treatment with a travel insurance policy; repatriation, air ambulances, hospital stays, and operations can be very expensive; but travel insurance is pretty cheap; even if you have a European Health Insurance Card, travel insurance will get you home, and won't burn a hole in your pocket.


Money Advice Service. 2020. Do you need travel insurance? - Money Advice Service. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 13 January 2020].

Thursday, 9 January 2020

See you at Sandspirit!

On the last weekend of 2019, I got a very nice e-mail from InterSands (a global body for Sandboarding); inviting me to compete in the 2020 Sandspirit Challenge at Monte Kaolino in Bavaria! Fuelled with excitement at to what I believe will be the most inclusive tournament yet, with the first time competitors coming from South America to represent themselves; As of the moment, I believe I'm still the only person from Great Britain attending, but I'm looking forward to meet all the other keen and talented Sandboarders at the competition!

I've already booked a trip to Europe during this time so I'll be hanging around Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein and Switzerland a little white after the competition has ended and once the competition has come to a close, I intend to blog on my experiences, the results and I'll hopefully try and upload some footage if I'm not on the sand!

My current thoughts are that even if I don't qualify for the finals in this highly anticipated tournament, I'll still be happy that this would be my first international and I'll have caught a glimpse into sandboarding for not just Great Britain but also knowing if I'm better on the sand or just on the sidelines as a commentator. I really hope I develop my talents to an extent that I stay on the dune for a while and I wish lots of luck and much success to all of my competitors! I can't wait to see you there and hopefully for a photo too!

Monday, 23 December 2019

Sandboarding Across The Border... Easier said than done.

I still haven't had anyone come up with any good ideas for sandboarding across an international border, so I took matter into my own hands; I've had this idea for a while and I was looking back on my International Borders for Eager Sandboarders post and thought to myself: "I'd like to try this."

So before I could even try this idea, I need to locate how I could go across an international border via sand dune with 2 major requirements:

First, it has to be legal: it's all well and good saying you'll run over the border then come back to your original country but if the authorities knew who you were, and in future you wanted to visit said country, you might end up having a visa that's denied; which a few days ago, former footballer David Icke had his Australian visa revoked (Not crossing a border illegally but getting a visa denied). The Guardian. 2019. Conspiracy theorist David Icke hits back after Australia revokes visa | News | The Guardian. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 22 February 2019].

You could cross the border for example from Oman to Saudi Arabia via the Empty Quarter on a sandboard but even there, a huge border fence is installed so crossing through the desert is essentially impossible.

Secondly, it has to be on a sand dune so it can't be in the middle of two countries that have river borders (i.e. A lot of parts between Spain and Portugal). But it has to be an actual sand dune crossing the boundary, for this reason I won't include the Bray dunes on the border between France and Belgium partly because the dunes are way too short and flat to even pick up even 1kph or even do a simple trick, but mostly because the actual border is more than about 20 metres from dunes; but even more so, if you look on Google Maps, you'll find that a footpath on the Belgian side is able to view on Google Street View and if you look hard enough, you'll even see that some bright spark decided to put a fence separating the 2 countries (A pre-EU move, perhaps?)

And finally, in addition to the first point; it makes it easier if the border is open. Last summer, I drove to Germany from the UK and on the way I passed the little towns of Baarle-Hertog in Belgium and Baarle-Nassau in the Netherlands, and thanks to the European Union's Schengen agreement, international borders look like this:

"House Shared By Two Countries" by Jack Soley is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

It's not an essential requirement for it to work but for some countries, it's a lot better this way than having to apply for 1 or more visas, and potentially getting caught if you cross the border illegally (which I do not condone). If you want to legally cross into another country by sandboard, you're left with any state in the European Union, or in vast dry, arid, uninhabitable desert; but even then border guards regularly patrol the area.

Aside from the small dunes on the Belgium-France border, there are also slightly larger but still quite flat dunes on the border of Lithuania and Latvia, both European Union states and with an open border, and if you want rocky and not very sandy dunes, you could try the France-Spain border. Given the unpredictability of sand dunes and their constant shifting, soon we could even find the dunes could rise and if governments decide not to update their borders, we could see a sandboarding session go international very soon!

If you want my opinion about this, you're better off crossing states and provinces rather than an international border mainly because of all the trouble you'll avoid and big countries such as the United States that not only have many states, but also many dunes, will make this venture a lot easier; even if you cross a border on Google Maps, you might even still be in the same country, state, province, etc... that you started in.

Also, a side note on an old post; the 4 country border of Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Zambia no longer exists; it is not a quadripoint, it is 3 tri-points separates by a clean border between Zambia and Botswana. "Perhaps the world’s most notable tripoints fall in the middle of the Zambezi River, near the borders of Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe in southern Africa. The area features a unique “double tripoint,” with the two tripoints separated by about 150 meters (490 feet)." - Double Tripoint in Southern Africa. 2019. Double Tripoint in Southern Africa. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 23 December 2019].

Saturday, 30 November 2019

Top 10 Sandboarding Countries of 2019

It's that time again! I do this every year and I have a look at the best places to go Sandboarding around the world.

DISCLAIMER(S): It's worth mentioning that since the UK is leaving the EU (albeit, relatively slower than originally anticipated) I'll still treat it as if it's part of the Union only because I've wrote the post already and it may be a bit vague as the deal is still being hammered out, but as travel arrangements change with any country it's a good idea to check the host country's embassy just in case, they may be very useful; this drama with Brexit will work both ways so by the time next year comes around, EU citizens might have to obtain a visa prior to entering the UK and vice versa. As soon as a deal is agreed upon by the British government and the remaining EU member states, I'll update this disclaimer accordingly.

The plug sockets used in different countries may have different voltages so don't rely on a simple plug adaptor as you might overload it, check the voltage of the country's electricity and that of your adaptor, you might need to get a step-up or step-down transformer just so you don't electrocute yourself.

Right then, let's get cracking!

#10 Israel

(appearances: 2017 & 2018)
(last year: 7th)
(highest place: 4th, 2017)

Crime Index: 32.16
Cost of Living Index: 74.28
Internet Speed: 74.99 Mbps
World Happiness Report position: 13th
Quality of Life Index: 153.82
Pollution Index: 57.25
Health Care Index: 73.44
Visa requirement for ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ citizens: No visa required for 3 months
Visa requirement for ๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง citizens: No visa required for 3 months
Visa requirement for ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡บ citizens: No visa required for 3 months
Visa requirement for ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ citizens: No visa required for 3 months
Visa requirement for ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ฑ citizens: None, because you're Israeli.
Visa requirement for ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช citizens: No visa required for 3 months
Official Language(s): Hebrew
Currency: Israeli New Shekel
Plug Socket(s): Type C & Type H
Driving Side: Right

Israel is still a hot destination for sandboarding! Although the country may be small, the dunes are big; I assure you!

Although Israel is a deeply religious state with wonders like the wailing wall, the Dome of the Rock, and the birthplace of Jesus; it's also a modern progressive nation with a booming tech industry, a pioneer in desalinisation, and Tel Aviv being described as one of the most gay-friendly cities in the world. (Kantor L, 2019)

Some notable sand dunes in Israel include those near Ashalim in the Negev Desert, where companies such as Dror Bamidbar operate; the Nitzanim dunes are located not far from Ashdod; talking of Ashdod, there is an entire park sandwiched between Ashdod and Ashkelon. 

"Complex Ripples in Sand Dune in Negev Desert" by Hezi Yizhaq is licensed under CC BY 3.0

I mentioned this in last year's list, but considering 50% of Israel's landscape is dominated by the Negev desert, the Negev is: "largely a rock desert, however one area contains sweeping sand dunes and it is here that sandboarding allows you to glide down the dunes and experience the thrill of this amazing activity." - (Tourist Israel, n.d.)

Israel is undoubtedly a hot spot for sandboarding; but in my opinion, the opportunity isn't being seized as much as I'd like it to and I blame the media for their portrayal of Israel and its neighbours, particularly the Palestine conflict. I do however have a video from Joseph Waks of some sandboarding in the Negev, you should check it out!

Last year, I mentioned that some countries won't even let you enter if you have an Israeli stamped passport; the countries that won't accept an Israeli stamped passport are: Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, & Yemen. However, since the Israeli authorities are aware of this, tourists are usually given their visa stamp on a separate piece of paper that you must have at all times whilst you're a visitor in Israel. (Melissa, 2019) Luckily, Israel welcomes all! Just so long as you have the appropriate documents.

#9 Great Britain

(appearances: 2014, 2015 & 2018)
(last year: 10th)
(highest place: 7th, 2014)

Crime Index: 42.72
Cost of Living Index: 65.28
Internet Speed: 54.93 Mbps
World Happiness Report position: 15th
Quality of Life Index: 170.81
Pollution Index: 39.43
Health Care Index: 74.71
Visa requirement for ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ citizens: No visa required for 6 months
Visa requirement for ๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง citizens: None, because you're British.
Visa requirement for ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡บ citizens: No visa required for 6 months
Visa requirement for ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ citizens: No visa required for 6 months
Visa requirement for ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ฑ citizens: No visa required for 6 months
Visa requirement for ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช citizens: Freedom of Movement (EU)
Official Language(s): English
Currency: Pound Sterling
Plug Socket(s): Type G
Driving Side: Left

In my interview with Vitor Semedo, he asked me why there wasn't a lot of English participation in the SWC World Cup, I responded with an "I don't know" and I waffled about my upcoming participation in the InterSands contest next year; but I also said that "it's probably because we're not a dune-y country". However; where we have dunes, they're worth it. It's my home state, it's Great Britain!

Although Britain is an excellent island with nice lovely green fields, castles, red phone boxes (phone booth's for you Americans), and lots of crumpets with tea; we're also a nation of sand dunes... not many but once you find them, they're actually worth seeing; yes, they exist.

"Holywell Bay Dunes - panoramio" by hilaris is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

Aside from the closest dunes to me in Merthyr Mawr, and where I first fell in love with the dunes in Holywell Bay; there are also dunes in Braunton Burrows, Devon (where Alex Bird did what most sandboarders wouldn't even dare to try; I don't want to spoil it for you, read the article.); the Sefton Coast in Merseyside where "cast iron life-size figures stare out into the Irish Sea." (Millar, 2007); Camber Sands in East Sussex, Theedlethorpe in Lincolnshire, and Balmedie high up in Aberdeenshire, Scotland.

As there isn't a great space for sandboarding inland, a lot of holiday-makers tend to sandboard in the summer when they'll most likely go to the beach; only the most committed of sandboard freaks would try sandboarding in the other months... me. I haven't found a sandboarding video on the Balmedie dunes in Scotland, but this photography video by Kim Grant will give you a glimpse of how big they are.

#8 France

(appearances: 2015)
(last year: did not appear)
(highest place: 5th, 2015)

Crime Index: 46.39
Cost of Living Index: 74.85
Internet Speed: 97.94 Mbps
World Happiness Report position: 24th
Quality of Life Index: 157.83
Pollution Index: 42.70
Health Care Index: 78.55 (best healthcare on this list)
Visa requirement for ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ citizens: No visa required for 90 days
Visa requirement for ๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง citizens: Freedom of Movement (EU)
Visa requirement for ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡บ citizens: No visa required for 90 days
Visa requirement for ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ citizens: No visa required for 90 days
Visa requirement for ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ฑ citizens: No visa required for 90 days
Visa requirement for ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช citizens: Freedom of Movement (EU)
Official Language(s): French
Currency: Euro
Plug Socket(s): Type C & Type E
Driving Side: Right

Sacrรฉ Bleu! Some of you may be aware that I've just been here for my first proper foreign sandboarding trip, and I have brought back some research that may contribute to this list!

France is known for hosting sights such as the Eiffel Tower, The Louvre, many rural castles, the Alps, and is home to plenty of cheeses and wines but it's also home to the tallest sand dune on the European continent, the Dune of Pilat. Aside from that one massive dune, there isn't much else in the whole country; but let it be said that there are smaller dune areas such as those in Cotentin, Brittany, and Picardy.

"Dunes de la cรดte picardie" by Louis Gallet is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

The other dunes are nowhere near as large and high as that of the Dune of Pilat, however an interesting site is 'Bray-Dunes' in Hauts-de-France which is on the Belgian border and it can be possible to have a very half-assed attempt to dune across the Franco-Belgian border. The main site in France for sandboarding is primarily just the dune of Pilat and if the dunes in France were more varied like the ones in the UK, maybe France could see a higher place on the list.

Have this video from Flowrescence, it shows some sandboarding on the Dune of Pilat (including some bits I genuinely never saw when I was there, also the video's in Italian.)

#7 United Arab Emirates

(appearances: 2014 & 2018)
(last year: 6th)
(highest place: 5th, 2014)

Crime Index: 16.32 (safest on this list)
Cost of Living Index: 56.16
Internet Speed: 50.16 Mbps
World Happiness Report position: 21st
Quality of Life Index: 167.81
Pollution Index: 53.11
Health Care Index: 67.99
Visa requirement for ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ citizens: Visa on arrival for 30 days
Visa requirement for ๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง citizens: Visa on arrival for 30 days
Visa requirement for ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡บ citizens: Visa on arrival for 30 days
Visa requirement for ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ citizens: Visa on arrival for 30 days
Visa requirement for ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ฑ citizens: Visa Refused
Visa requirement for ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช citizens: No visa required for 90 days
Official Language(s): Arabic
Currency: United Arab Emirates Dirham
Plug Socket(s): Type G
Driving Side: Right

A relatively stable nation that's seen regular appearances on this list, the United Arab Emirates is no stranger to Sandboarding around the world.

The United Arab Emirates is home to other spectacular sporting spectacles such as the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as an official leg of the Formula One sports competition and the Nad Al Sheba racecourse where the Dubai World Cup is contested; but you'll also find sand dunes based around ... which don't host contests as large as the Dubai World Cup or Formula One, however because of that; you'll probably find less tourists.

"Al Ain Desert - Dune Sand By Eng. Fadi Fayyadh Al Toubeh - panoramio" by Fadi Fayad Al Taoba
is licensed under CC BY 3.0.

Despite the fact that the UAE holds a large portion of the Arabian Desert, the majority of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi (also the nation's capital) holds a lot of this desert; well known sandboarding sites in the country include Liwa Oasis and this particular Oasis include the "Singing Sands of Liwa" and the "Moreeb Dune" which is one of the largest sand hills in the world, the Abu Dhabi Motors Club states that "its altitude reaches to about 300 metres with an acute angle of 50 degrees." - (Abu Dhabi Motors Club, n.d.)

There are also dunes at Al Shwaib which lie near the border of the Abu Dhabi and Sharjah emirates, and at Al Ain.

The United Arab Emirates is a welcoming country that is no stranger to tourism; despite holding conservative and traditional Islamic values, the country is open to visitors (not including Israeli citizens) and despite being a rich country it's also very adventurous for the keen and eager sandboarding aficionado!

Have a look at this dirt biking video; it may be of bikes instead of boards, but the Great Big Story meets Dana Miskulnig who is inspiring girls all over the UAE to take up dirt biking on the dunes... You might want to be on a sandboard being pulled by a dirt bike... I wouldn't as I simply don't have the courage!

#6 United States of America

(appearances: 2015, 2016 & 2017)
(last year: did not appear)
(highest place: 1st, 2017)

Crime Index: 47.13
Cost of Living Index: 69.91
Internet Speed: 109.48 Mbps (fastest internet on this list)
World Happiness Report position: 19th
Quality of Life Index: 179.2
Pollution Index: 33.95
Health Care Index: 69.41
Visa requirement for ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ citizens: None, because you're American.
Visa requirement for ๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง citizens: E-Visa
Visa requirement for ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡บ citizens: E-Visa
Visa requirement for ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ citizens: No visa required for 6 months
Visa requirement for ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ฑ citizens: Visa required
Visa requirement for ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช citizens: E-Visa
Official Language(s): None at a federal level, but English is considered national.
Currency: United States Dollar
Plug Socket(s): Type A & Type B
Driving Side: Right

If you thought that being 1st place in 2017, then disappearing from the Top 10 last year, and then coming back to the Top 10 this year wasn't impressive enough; you'll also be amazed that the USA is a hot choice for sandboarding!

This nation has pretty much almost every kind of climate within itself, whether you're looking for a snowstorm in Alaska or a sandstorm in New Mexico, the United States will serve your needs; It's also home to many kinds of sports; for example, Snowboarding is common in Colorado, surfing is common on the coastal states and horse racing in Kentucky. The USA is the 4th largest country in the world by land area and 3rd by population so it should be no surprise that there's a lot to offer here!

"Sand dune in Michigan" by Hooriscool is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

The USA is home to many sandboarding hot spots, the first and definitely most prominent place that sticks out is Sand Master Park in Oregon but there are plenty of other places in the nation that welcome many boarders: Such as Jockey's Ridge State Park in North Carolina, the Great Sand Dunes national park in Colorado, Silver Lake State Park in Michigan, Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park in Utah, and Bruneau Sand Dunes State Park in Colorado are some of the few; a very comprehensive and inclusive list of ten are written by Jennifer Simonson, and can be found in Fodors Travel's "The 10 Coolest Sand Dunes in America", I'd highly recommend you have a look at their list.

It's not just great sand dune parks in the USA that are home to the dunes, there are also many desert regions within the United States that house the perfect conditions for sandboarding: the Great Basin, the Mojave Desert, and the Sonoran & Chihuahuan deserts that also spill into Mexico.

Here is a video from OutThere Colorado that looks at some brave people sandboarding down the tallest dunes in North America.

#5 Germany
(appearances: 2014, 2015, 2016 & 2018)
(last year: 5th)
(highest place: 4th, 2015)

Crime Index: 34.51
Cost of Living Index: 67.62
Internet Speed: 64.91 Mbps
World Happiness Report position: 17th
Quality of Life Index: 187.05
Pollution Index: 28.01
Health Care Index: 74.32
Visa requirement for ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ citizens: No visa required for 90 days
Visa requirement for ๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง citizens: Freedom of Movement (EU)
Visa requirement for ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡บ citizens: No visa required for 90 days
Visa requirement for ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ citizens: No visa required for 90 days
Visa requirement for ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ฑ citizens: No visa required for 90 days
Visa requirement for ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช citizens: None, because you're German.
Official Language(s): German
Currency: Euro
Plug Socket(s): Type C & Type F
Driving Side: Right

I've been here quite a few times for tourism purposes, but not yet for sandboarding; however next year, that will change. Germany is definitely one of my favourite countries in Europe, if not my favourite; you'd be forgiven for thinking that there aren't many sand dunes here but that's where you'd discover that Germany is a fantastic location for good dunes.

Aside from the high mountains near the borders of Switzerland and Austria, you've got high sand dunes in varied parts of the country; you have the usual locations (i.e. coastlines) but you have some inland as well, there may not be too many but the geographical distribution is why I've included Germany so high in this list.

"Wangerooge Dรผne Mรคrz-2017 DSC 1376" by C. Lรถser is licensed under CC BY 3.0 DE

There are dunes in Germany that aren't commonly known; for example, Sylt Island in Schleswig-Holstein is home to some dunes as well as home to the Windsurfing World Cup in 2006, Norderney in Lower Saxony next to the border with the Netherlands, Heligoland in Schleswig-Holstein was once a British possession from 1807 to 1890, and the Sandhausner Dunes in Baden-Wรผrttemberg which is also the state that's home to the Black Forest.

But keen sandboarders like myself will instantly think about one dune that's the biggest in the country and undoubtedly the best: Monte Kaolino, which brings me onto why I will be visiting Germany for sandboarding next year...

It may not be known even to my social media followers for this blog, however I will make it absolutely clear that I will be competing in Sandspirit 2020 and I have been training and will continue to up until I can define myself a sandboarding athlete; to give you a glimpse as to what Sandboarding in Germany, Sandspirit, and Monte Kaolino is like, I have a link from German TV channel "OTV" and their coverage of the Sandspirit competition in 2018.

And if anyone's going to be there next year, I'll see you there!

#4 Australia
(appearances: 2014, 2015, 2016 & 2017)
(last year: did not appear)
(highest place: 1st, 2014)

Crime Index: 42.76
Cost of Living Index: 72.08
Internet Speed: 33.04 Mbps
World Happiness Report position: 11th
Quality of Life Index: 191.13 (best quality of life on this list)
Pollution Index: 23.97
Health Care Index: 76.38
Visa requirement for ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ citizens: E-visa
Visa requirement for ๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง citizens: E-visa
Visa requirement for ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡บ citizens: None, because you're Australian.
Visa requirement for ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ citizens: E-visa
Visa requirement for ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ฑ citizens: E-visa
Visa requirement for ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช citizens: E-visa
Official Language(s): English
Currency: Australian Dollar
Plug Socket(s): Type I
Driving Side: Left

I have always stayed away from this place because of deadly animals, and the long distance from London; however, I've changed my mind somewhat for other reasons than sand dunes. Australia is a fascinating country as it has all kinds of climate within in a lot like the United States, there are plenty of dunes to be found on this great Island and it also has a great urban-like feel in many parts of the nation if it's not desert, mountain, or ski resort (Seriously, Mount Kosciuszko has a ski resort).

Sand dunes that I'd believe are vast and great enough for sandboarding can be found in every Aussie state and the Northern Territory. Given that I have now discovered that there are dunes practically all over the country, I have still marked it down due to factors involving their immigration policy and high costs of living.

"Climbing and descendind a sand dune barefooted" by Jorge Lรกscar is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The most appropriately named "Mount Tempest" on Moreton Island, Queensland stands 280 metres tall and is the tallest sand dune in Australia. - (Moon, R. & Moon, V., 2016) There's the Perry Sand Hills near Wentworth in New South Wales which host "400 acres of beautiful red sand dunes, many of which are suitable for sliding.  The sliding dunes are approximately 10-15 meters high, which is a great height for children to have multiple slides in a short time period." - (Sutherland-Smith, A., n.d.) In South Australia, you'll find Kangaroo Island which also aside from having an extensive sandboarding presence in "Little Sahara", is also home to nature reserves which in total, make up a third of the islands' area. In the state of Victoria, you'll find the home of Phillip Island which is south-east of Melbourne and also in the state there are many sand dunes on the riversides, a good one I discovered was the dunes on the River Powlett; and in Tasmania, a good dune region is the Henty Dunes about "20 minutes from Strahan on the west coast of Tasmania." - (Sandboard Magazine, n.d.)

Going further north west, in Western Australia; the dominating dunes at Lancelin allow you to drive off-road and rent sandboards if required; and in the Northern Territory, you'll find your best dunes in the Simpson Desert that stretch across the N.T. and 2 other Australian states, giving you an ideal chance to sandboard across a territorial/state border.

The variety and selection in this country doesn't seem to end and you will be spoilt for choice here, If you want to see a place that can personify Australian sandboarding, have a look at this video from Shonduras of what he calls: "Snowboarding on Sand".

#3 Canada
(appearances: none, previously)
(last year: did not appear)
(highest place: n/a)

Crime Index: 39.51
Cost of Living Index: 65.01
Internet Speed: 108.75 Mbps
World Happiness Report position: 9th
Quality of Life Index: 170.32
Pollution Index: 27.85
Health Care Index: 70.99
Visa requirement for ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ citizens: No visa required for 180 days
Visa requirement for ๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง citizens: E-visa
Visa requirement for ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡บ citizens: E-visa
Visa requirement for ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ citizens: None, because you're Canadian.
Visa requirement for ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ฑ citizens: E-visa
Visa requirement for ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช citizens: E-visa
Official Language(s): English & French
Currency: Canadian Dollar
Plug Socket(s): Type A & Type B
Driving Side: Right

It's the very first time that Canada has been featured in this list since I've began this feature in 2014, you'd be forgiven for thinking that Canada doesn't personify a sandboarding nation; but it does have sand dunes that are used for sandboarding, and after research on the places in this country, I have finally decided that it's worth an appearance.

I tend to think of maple syrup, maple leaves, and anything maple when it comes to Canada; I've put Canada so high in this list due to its low crime rate, low costs of living, and their friendly visa policy. This country is also home to the Athabasca Sand Dunes Provincial Park in Saskatchewan which on the face of it, looks like it should either be in Africa or on the surface of Mars. It has been described by the Smithsonian Magazine as: 'The Most Northerly Active Sand Dunes in the World' and that "The dunes now span about 62 miles across their own provincial park in Saskatchewan, with individual sand dunes rising up almost 100 feet in height and stretching out for nearly a mile. They are the northernmost active sand dunes in the world and are only accessible by floatplane or boat. (It’s recommended that you be experienced in wilderness situations prior to visiting, as there are no onsite services.)" (Billock, J., 2017)

"Tadoussac Sand Dunes (39223396261)" by Jared Rover is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.
Other interesting dunes can be found at Tadoussac in Quรฉbec, which is a small village at the confluence of the Saguenay and St. Lawrence Rivers which are still quite impressive but nothing on the scale of Athabasca. Minor systems can also be found at Jasper Lake in Alberta, and Victoria Island in the high north situated in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.

This next video doesn't have sandboards in but if I haven't already emphasised the size of the dunes here, this video will; it's from Sask Wanderer and it shows the Athabasca Park in its entirety.

#2 New Zealand
(appearances: 2015, 2016, 2017 & 2018)
(last year: 9th)
(highest place: 1st, 2015 & 2016)

Crime Index: 39.55
Cost of Living Index: 72.62
Internet Speed: 82 Mbps
World Happiness Report position: 8th
Quality of Life Index: 185.58
Pollution Index: 22.74 (least polluted on this list)
Health Care Index: 73.62
Visa requirement for ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ citizens: No visa required for 90 days
Visa requirement for ๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง citizens: No visa required for 6 months
Visa requirement for ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡บ citizens: Freedom of Movement (Trans-Tasman Travel Arrangement)
Visa requirement for ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ citizens: No visa required for 90 days
Visa requirement for ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ฑ citizens: No visa required for 90 days
Visa requirement for ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช citizens: No visa required for 3 months
Official Language(s): English, Maori, & New Zealand Sign Language
Currency: New Zealand Dollar
Plug Socket(s): Type I
Driving Side: Left

This year, sandboarding aside; I empathise with New Zealand as they lost to England in the Cricket World Cup and came third... behind England, in the Rugby World Cup. Their rugby and cricket teams are definitely world class but so are the dunes! New Zealand has been on this list for 5 years in a row and on 2 occasions, the Kiwis' have topped this annual list.

Sites here include the "Great Sand Dunes" at Cape Reinga, which encompass the dunes of 'Te Paki' which are south of the Te Werahi dunes, both of which are near Cape Reinga and both are considered to be part of the "Great Sand Dunes" system even though they are separated by trees and waterways; a low crime rate, relatively low cost of living, a happy population, friendly visa policy, and the fact it's the least polluted country on this list (given how much we all now appreciate the seriousness of climate change); New Zealand has earned its place on this list.

"NZ140415 Te Paki Sand Dunes 03" by Oren Rozen is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

Smails Beach in Dunedin on the South Island also have some small dunes which I'd believe would be great for beginners. Sandfly Bay which is further north than Smails Beach has more impressive dunes if you're looking to evolve your skills from a beginner to an advanced sandboarder. Mangawhai on the North Island also has an impressive dune that would be great for people looking to perform jumps on their boards, and finally on the South of the North Island, you'll discover Tangimoana which primarily hosts small dunes, not good for people with long boards.

Earlier in the year, I made a post Revisiting Death due to another tragic death from sandboarding; I had found out that from the 5 deaths that occurred in the last 10 years, 3 of the 5 deaths took place in New Zealand including the most recent incident, during the first week of February this year.

And now, this years' top spot for Sandboarding goes to...

#1 Spain

(appearances: 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, & 2018)
(last year: 2nd)
(highest place: 1st, 2019)

Crime Index: 32.46
Cost of Living Index: 54.7 (cheapest on this list)
Internet Speed: 102.36 Mbps
World Happiness Report position: 30th
Quality of Life Index: 174.16
Pollution Index: 39.36
Health Care Index: 77.77
Visa requirement for ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ citizens: No visa required for 90 days
Visa requirement for ๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง citizens: Freedom of Movement (EU)
Visa requirement for ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡บ citizens: No visa required for 90 days
Visa requirement for ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ citizens: No visa required for 90 days
Visa requirement for ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ฑ citizens: No visa required for 90 days
Visa requirement for ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช citizens: Freedom of Movement (EU)
Official Language(s): Spanish
Currency: Euro
Plug Socket(s): Type C & Type F
Driving Side: Right

It's mad to believe I came here for about an hour to buy stuff when I visited the Dune of Pilat in July of this year, I didn't do sandboarding here but I did buy items from a Spanish shop and I set foot on Spanish territory so, it counts!

I mentioned that New Zealand has been in every top 10 list for the last 5 years, Spain has been in every Top 10 list since I've started, and it hasn't come first... until now! Also, I know I said last year that I believe Spain would one of the top nations and I really did believe Spain could top this years' list, It's mad to see that I would have been right. Spain has truly deserved the honour of being this years' "Sandboarding Nation" because of its' low crime, low costs of living with high quality of life, fast internet, friendly immigration policy due to being in the European Union's Schengen Area, and if I know anything about Spain, if you can't speak Spanish, there will be a good chance that locals might know English due to the high number of British citizens currently living in Spain.

Aside from Spain being an immensely popular destination for British tourists every year, there are also sand dunes and thus making Spain this year's sandboarding nation! The most notable dunes on Spanish territory are the dunes of Maspalomas in the Canary Islands; where on my former article regarding the dunes, they are litter free and considering that the Sahara desert is in nearby Africa, the Sahara winds also do a good job at preserving the dunes, it also has nearby facilities, an 'English beach', and a golf course overlooking the dunes.

Other dunes on the Canary Islands include Corralejo & Playa de Sotavento de Jandรญa on Fuerteventura which are both the largest sand dunes on the Canaries alongside the Maspalomas dunes on Gran Canaria. I went to Tenerife in 2015 and I never knew this at the time, but there is a very small sand dune system not far from Mount Teide (however, Teide is an active volcano so I definitely would not recommend this).

"Walking across sand dunes of Corralejo (15)" by Jarek Prokop is licensed under CC BY 3.0

On Mainland Spain, you can find the highest dunes in Spain which is in Tarifa, near Cรกdiz in Andalucia; the 1 life on earth blog wrote about these dunes: "Bolonia and the surrounding area is extremely beautiful and much more remote than other areas in Spain.  You can find horses wandering around endless pastures, windmills on the horizons and great views of the coastline of Tangier Africa.  The highlight of Bolonia is this strange beach.  Like a small model of the Sahara desert, the sand dunes of Bolonia stretch far and high into the sky." (1 Life On Earth, n.d.)

Smaller than the large dunes but yet still impressive ones can be discovered in Doรฑana national park near Seville, the beach of Cala Mesquida in Mallorca on the Balearic Islands, and there's also the Dunes of Corrubedo Natural Park in the Galician region of Spain. I believe Spain have done really well and I have seen some surfing companies especially on Gran Canaria also trying to teach sandboarding to tourists and I applaud their efforts on that! A truly magnificent sandboarding nation, as is anywhere in the world! I'll see you next year.

I'll finish the top sandboarding country of 2019 with a video of some sandboarding on Gran Canaria by Scottiegirl.

2014: Australia๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡บ
2015: New Zealand๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฟ
2016: New Zealand๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฟ
2017: United States of America๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ
2018: Chile๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฑ
2019: Spain๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ

Reference List:

Numbeo (2019) Crime Index by Country 2019, Available at: (Accessed: 15th May 2019). 

Numbeo (2019) Cost of Living Index by Country 2019, Available at: (Accessed: 15th May 2019).

M247 (2019) Global Broadband Speeds 2019, Available at: (Accessed: 24th May 2019)

Helliwell, J.F., Layard, R. and Sachs, J.D. (2019) World Happiness Report 2019, : United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network.

Numbeo (2019) Quality of Life Index for Country 2019, Available at: (Accessed: 15th May 2019).

Numbeo (2019) Pollution Index by Country 2019, Available at: (Accessed: 15th May 2019).

Numbeo (2019) Health Care Index by Country 2019, Available at: (Accessed: 15th May 2019).

Krishna, H. (2019) Countries to travel with American passport, Available at: (Accessed: 24th May 2019).

Krishna, H. (2019) Countries to travel with British passport, Available at: (Accessed: 24th May 2019).

Krishna, H. (2019) Countries to travel with Australian passport, Available at: (Accessed: 24th May 2019).

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Krishna, H. (2019) Countries to travel with German passport, Available at: (Accessed: 24th May 2019).

World Standards (2019) Complete list: Plug, socket & voltage by country, Available at: (Accessed: 10th June 2019).

Melissa (2019) Understanding the Israel Passport Stamp Restrictions, Available at: (Accessed: 22nd July 2019)

Kantor, L. (2019) Why Tel Aviv Is One of the Most LGBTQ-Friendly Cities in the World, Available at: (Accessed: 29th July 2019)

Tourist Israel (n.d.) Sandboarding in the Negev Desert, Available at: (Accessed: 29th July 2019)

Millar, S. (2007) 10 sand dunes, Available at: (Accessed: 31st July 2019)

Moon, R. & Moon, V. (2016) Australia's Super Sand Dunes, Available at: (Accessed: 26th November 2019)

Sutherland-Smith, A. (n.d.) 6 Super Australian Sand Dune Slides You Haven't Tried Yet, Available at: (Accessed: 26th November 2019)

Sandboard Magazine. (n.d.) Henty Dunes, Tasmania, Available at: (Accessed: 26th November 2019)

Billock, J. (2017) See the Most Northerly Active Sand Dunes in the World, Available at: (Accessed: 28th November 2019)

1 Life On Earth. (n.d.) Biggest Sand Dunes in Europe, Available at: (Accessed: 30th November 2019)