For a lot of surfers, the best spot to surf would be the one where wind, swell, direction, tides, and seafloor meet. Wind creates the quality of the surfing waves, while its force and interaction with the direction of the swell, the tide in a certain hour, and type and status of the ocean floor create a certain wave condition. Popular surfers have traveled the world looking for the best waves, so here is a rundown on what they found to be the best surfing spots in the world.
Considered to be ‘surfer’s paradise,’ Gold Coast has been known for its 70 km of beaches and four epic point breaks including the Superbank, which is considered one of the world’s finest breaks. This will give you the ride of your life as it produces tubes and solid walls. Gold Coast has been known for luring and welcoming surfers for decades not only for the quality of its waves, but also for the large expansive area that can accommodate all the surfers that flock there making it one of the top must-travel surfing locations.
The best place to go surfing in the United States, Oahu has been a popular surfing destination and ranks at the top of every seasoned professionals list of great surfing spots. Every surfer’s dream is to ride the perfect crest of Pipeline, the big daddy of all waves. One of the heaviest waves in the world, it is but fitting that you can find it in Oahu, the island that created surfing. The waves grow in size over six meters of a shallow base of razor-blade table reef, so if you dare charge this flawless tube, you will experience one of nature’s finest formations.
The cold may deter a surfer who is just beginning, but not the seasoned ones. For die-hard fanatics, the shimmering green waters with its rolling waves from the moody Atlantic that are shaped by bouncing off of the headlands and flat rock reefs is enough to draw them into Bundoran, a few hours away from the city of Dublin. This is one of the world’s best surfing spots in Europe where huge waves are recorded in the area over time, though the average is in the ten-foot range.
The Mentawai Islands are made up of 70 wave-rich chains off the western coast of Sumatra, Indonesia. If you want to be hit by a barrage of beautiful waves, the four picks of the southern and northern points of Pagi, Siparo, and Siberut are your best choices. One of the most consistent surf destinations in the world, you can get the most of your surfing experience by visiting the biggest swells that occur during the months of June to September. Accessible only by ferries or charters, the top Mentawai waves include Bankvaults, Lance’s Left and Lance’s Right, Macaronis, and for beginners, the Gilligan’s.
Known to many surfers as ‘J Bay,’ this is one of the most famous surfing destinations of the world located in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa. This offers long fast barrels off the intense point breaks and has plenty of choices including Boneyards, Kitchen Windows, Magna Tubes, Point, Albatross, and the mother of all waves, Supertubes. Supertubes is something all surfers at any levels of expertise should see and try as it offers the highest walls of water in the area where unexpected scenarios can happen when the waves start to roll on over to form their tubes. Visit J Bay during the winter months from June to August, or go to the annual Billabong Pro WCT in July and enjoy a great ride in some blue-flag beaches.
Peru has over 1,500 miles of coastline and though there are only a few locals who rent surfboards to backpackers and the pebbled beach and gray waters do not look appealing, it is still one of the most popular surfing destinations in the world as Lima, the capital of Peru, offers some of the best waves in all South America. The waves range from a meter and up, which breaks in three sections – large, medium, and small – great for surfers of all abilities. These waves are comparable to those found in Hawaii, with significantly less competition for waves and crowds.
Part of the Canary Islands, Fuerteventura is the Mecca for surfers off the coast of Africa. With temperate climates between 18 to 24 °C, surfers from all over the world will be happy with its weather conditions. However, you will need to fend off some unfriendly and aggressive locals who will not voluntarily give you a turn on their waves, so go for a paddling race to get a shot at riding the expert right-hand tube The Bubble, which works best when it is a head high to double overhead though a little short for a left-hand ride. Aside from The Bubble, other popular waves include the Rocky Point, Harbour Wall, Shooting Gallery, Generosa Suicides, Mejillonas, El Hierro, German Rights, Cotillo, and Esquinzo, which are best experienced from October to March, the top season for great waves.
Black Beach is for the seasoned professional as it has the most powerful breaks that come with strong currents, and are not advisable for beginners. Considered the best surfing spot on the mainland of the United States, it can host a number of expert surfers in every direction. In addition, the winds do not affect the waves, so you can still have fun until late in the day giving you plenty of time to experience the best waves in the Western Hemisphere, but do avoid weekends as it can get too crowded.
Dubbed as ‘the surfing capital of Europe,’ Hossegor is located on the Atlantic and is known for the rich and famous mansions and holiday homeowners who lived near its beach. Here, you can watch professional surfers ride tubes and heavy waves that break on the shallow sandbank that can rival those in Hawaii, without the corals.
Bordering the Pacific Ocean between Guatemala and Honduras, El Salvador is a natural tourist attraction that is gaining popularity with surfers. Popular surfing spots include El Zonte, Sunzal, and La Libertad because they are not very crowded. Visit the main swell season from March to October where you can expect the south swells to get up to 10 feet high. Just look out for the rocky points and bring along your booties.
Costa Rica is a legendary surfing location where most ‘hardcore’ surfers congregate not only for the year-round waves, but for the number of great surfing spots as well. From April to October, you can expect the coastlines to produce great waves with major swells especially in Playa Naranjo and the river mouth point break at Potrero Grande or Ollies Point. The downside, the road systems are not very good, but this is a small price to pay for the ride of your life. For beginners and experts alike, try the 30-meter waves at the Tamarindo Beach in Tamarindo, a half kilometer of beach with warm waters.
For daredevils who want to experience dramatic and powerful reef break that crashes onto shallow razor-sharp coral with left and right rides, Cloud Nine will let you experience a slice of paradise. These magic mushroom-like hallucinations are powerful waves that are wrapped with a Cornish pastry-shaped cocoon of water. However, do not ever slip if you do not want your skin and bones to be ripped to pieces by the ocean bed, definitely for pros only.
Santa Catarina, the ‘Florianopolis’ or capital of Brazil is not only the country’s most visited place, but is also known as a surfer’s playground due to the great consistency and huge variety of its waves, including the Santinho and Mocambique. Other world-class surf spots in Floripa include the Joaquina Beach, Praia Mole, Campeche, and Lagoinha do Leste. If you are into surfing competitions, head on to Sao Francisco do Sul on the east coast for some fun-loving atmosphere and tasty grub as well.
Across the Maldives’ painfully beautiful 1,190 coral islands is a consistent reef wave that is absolutely pumping in the spring. However, you need to go with a live-abroad outfit to experience the waves as the rocks can be very hazardous. One of the most famous waves in the Maldives is the Pasta Point, a break that offers both left-hand rides and 100 meters of pure tube riding out to sea. However, there is a catch if you want to experience this great wave, as you have to be a guest at the exclusive Dhonveli Beach Resort, which can cost you US$343 a night.
The Samoan Islands is an archipelago in the South Pacific Ocean, just northeast of Fiji. This is one of the best surfing destinations as it offers warm waters, a tropical paradise, and most importantly, consistent quality of waves from April to October when big waves are created by the big blows down near Antarctica, although there are plenty of swells coming from every direction the whole year through. Classic waves include Special K, which at 500 meters is a perfect immediate peak for all surfers; and the Coconuts, which break over live corals on top days for 150-meter rides.