Europe

Biarritz, France

This Basque town offers decent waves all year round due to its location smack in the middle of the Bay of Biscay, under the constant influence of North Atlantic currents. Biarritz is probably the only prominent surfing destination in the world with a royal imprint: in the middle of the 19th century Eugénie de Montijo, the last empress of France, convinced her husband Napoleon III to build a palace here, turning the small city into one of the most fashionable European resorts at the time.

Surfing in Biarritz

Surfing in Biarritz. By elkhiki / CC2.0

The locals have been surfing since the 1950s, which means that Biarritz can be considered as one of the first surfing spots on the continent. If you want to avoid the summer tourist crowds, the best time to visit is September-October; if you’re looking for moderately priced accommodation, you can stay at one of the numerous rental apartments, while somewhat fancier options include Hotel de la Plage and Florida.

Bundoran, Ireland

Considered one of the best surfing spots in Europe, the Bundoran Beach in County Donegal, some hours away from the capital of Dublin, offers waves for beginners and pros alike, provided you aren’t taken aback by the challenge of surfing in not-so-warm water (and occasional rain). While the North-Atlantic waves might be rather cold, the locals are always warm towards visitors, and are happy to provide advice (and share a round of Guinness or two).

Bundoran Beach

Bundoran Beach. By _TuVeuxMaPhoto_ / CC2.0

You can get to Bundoran by taking a flight from the capital to the Sligo airport, or by car, if you want to explore the countryside in the process; the best value-for-money options to stay is probably the TurfnSurf Lodge and Bundoran Surf Lodge Hostel which both offer surfing lessons in conjunction to accommodation, but if you feel like going for a more upscale lodging, an ocean-view room in the Fitzgerald’s or The Great Northern might get you excited.

North America

Southern California, United States

When we say “surfing”, we think of California, and when we say “California”, we think of surfing. Whether you want to learn for the first time or catch a proper wave, you can’t go wrong with the West Coast – the home of the modern surfing. There are countless places to choose from, so we’ll name a few which can be of particular interest: Huntington Beach, named after the Californian land baron who introduced the Western world to surfing in 1905; Encinitas, an energetic fusion of American and Mexican influences; Black’s Beach (San Diego), for the experienced surfers who are after some real challenges.

Catching the wave on Huntington Beach

Catching the wave on Huntington Beach. By Warren Brown / CC2.0

Getting there is probably the easiest through Los Angeles or San Diego airports, depending on which part of the coast you’re planning to visit; lodging options abound, irrespective of whether you’re looking at Huntington Beach, Encinitas or Black’s Beach.

Hawaii, United States

Surfing on Hawaii

Surfing on Hawaii. By Mike / CC2.0

What better place to surf than the birthplace of surfing itself? There’s a good reason why riding the waves has been a favourite sport here long before the visitors from the mainland “discovered” it for the rest of the world – there are countless beaches in Hawaii with fantastic surfing conditions, some suitable for beginners, others – cherished by seasoned pros. If you’re here to learn, Paia on the northern part of Maui island and Hanalei town on Kauai are ideal; if you feel pretty confident (as in – “really, really confident”) about your surfing skills, the northwest coast Oahu island, with its clean tubular waves, including the fabled Pipeline, has something to keep you challenged and excited. The best time to experience the local waves is November through April; getting there will take some additional time and some additional cash, but Hawaii are well worth it.

South America

Nosara, Costa Rica

Among other destinations in the country with year-round, high-quality surfing conditions, this small town offers a unique blend of relaxed atmosphere, picturesque views and great waves. Novices will find its wide beaches and warm water quite inviting; the place is also ideal for family fun. Other good news: staying here is quite affordable, compared to the more hyped destinations; some of our favourite places include KayaSol Surf Hotel and Bella Vista Mar.

Sunset in Costa Rica

Sunset in Costa Rica. By dakine kane / CC2.0

Experienced surfers might soon get bored with the mild rollers though, in which case there are always more challenging conditions in the nearby Playa Pellada, Bocas del Nosara and Playa Naranjo. Time-wise, both the dry season (November to March) and the rainy season (April to October) are perfectly suitable for surfing, with more tourists and slightly smaller waves during the former.

Lima, Peru

It would be a stretch to call the capital of Peru a “surf-town”, yet the waves one can experience here are considered some of the best in the whole of Latin America, and are often compared with Hawaii. You can rent a board on the beach right next to the Miraflores mall, and enjoy high-quality rides whether you’re a beginner or an experienced surfer.

Surfer in Peru

Surfer in Peru. By surfglassy / CC2.0

There are several “specialized” housing options like the Paipo Bed Breakfast & Surf, yet if you feel like pampering yourself, places like Second Home Peru or Hotel B can offer a fancier experience.

Asia

Bukit Peninsula, Bali, Indonesia

If you like to take in picturesque natural sceneries and explore ancient monuments as much as riding the waves, head to the Bukit Peninsula on the southern end of the Bali island. Unlike the more touristy central Kuta, here you can taste local food at the traditional warung cafes and stay at little guesthouses – all at very reasonable prices (see for example Satria Bungalow or Ashana Hotel).

The Uluwatu temple

The Uluwatu temple. By Steve Davidson / CC2.0

Probably the best place to surf is Uluwatu on the western tip of the peninsula; apart from the magnificent waves which have consistently put this location into top-five surfing spots worldwide, this area is famous for the Pura Luhur Uluwatu, which is considered the oldest Hindu temple in Bali (historians believe it was constructed more than a thousand years ago). The ruins of the temple, now inhabited by monkeys, sit on the edge of a 70-meter cliff overlooking enthusiasts from all over the world enjoying the powerful surfs of the surrounding coastline.

Phuket, Thailand

Everyone knows Thailand as one of the most popular tourist destinations, yet much fewer people are aware of the fact that it is also home to some very decent surfing spots. For the sake of clarity, we must note that here you won’t find such awe-inspiring waves as for example on Hawaii or in South Africa – but where else can you combine your surfing sessions with so many other attractions and experiences, at prices that do not at all bite?

Surfing in Phuket

Surfing in Phuket. By Phuket@photographer.net / CC2.0

Arguably one of the best places for beginners is the Surin Beach, located north of the bustling Patong district. If you’re staying in Phuket, though, and want a more unique experience, you can hire a boat and head to one of the islands scattered along the coast of the Andaman Sea for a surfing session with no one around but tropical birds and exotic fish.

Africa

Taghazout, Morocco

This small and peaceful fishing village on the southwestern coast of Morocco was discovered as a surfing spot by hippies in the late 1960s. Since then, however, it has remained relatively untouched by tourist crowds, keeping the prices on very moderate levels. A significant share of all accommodation options have the word “surf” in their names, which means that they offer surfing lessons and equipment rental to their clients; some of the great value-for-money deals include Taghazout Moroccan Surf House, Hashpoint Surf Camp, as well as Surf & Travel Hostel.

Stretching before surfing in Taghazout

Stretching before surfing in Taghazout. By Eelke / CC2.0

The easiest option to get to Taghazout is by flying to the nearby city of Agadir; if you’re here for exploring the country in addition to surfing, Marrakesh is your best option as it offers more convenient and affordable connections by air. Those who want to experience the local travel mode should definitely hire one of the so-called Grande Taxis – an old but reliable Mercedes that will take you between any two towns of the country.

Fuerteventura, Canary Islands

Technically, the Canary Islands are Africa in the geographical sense, so we’ve included them in this section of our overview. Apart from easily reachable great-value resorts and picturesque landscapes, the Islands can also be of interest to those who like to stay on top of the wave. Corralejo in the northern part of the Fuerteventura island offers very decent surfs for all levels of experience; however, be prepared to race against the locals who will not always willingly give you a turn on a good wave.

Sunset on Canary Islands

Sunset on Canary Islands. By Dario Romeo / CC2.0

The little town is dotted with surf camps and resorts, some of the most authentic ones being Surf Riders Fuerteventura and Corralejo Surfing Colors Apartamentos. Probably the most convenient way to get to Corralejo is to arrive at the Fuerteventura Airport and take a rental car – this way you will also be able to explore the rest of the island, including the volcanic mountains of the interior and the secluded beaches in the south.

Australia and Oceania

Gold Coast, Australia

This Australian city, located just south of Brisbane, has an administrative district officially named Surfers Paradise. Convinced yet? Let’ throw in stunning nature and exotic wildlife, great food, convenient shopping, abundant lodging options and subtropical climate.

The Gold Coast vibe

The Gold Coast vibe. By Petra / CC2.0

Experienced surfers are highly encouraged to head to Snappers Rocks to try to tame the Superbanks, one of the highest-rated breaks in the world which forms clean tubes and walls.

Raglan, New Zealand

If you already happen to go to NZ, why not throw in a day or two of surfing to your itinerary?

The legendary Manu Bay

The legendary Manu Bay. By Jun Kaneko / CC2.0

Located quite conveniently just south of the capital of Auckland, Raglan is a small, quiet town still preserving some of the atmosphere from the 60s cult surfer flick “Endless Summer” which was shot in this area. The nearby coast can be divided into two parts, the Ngarunui Beach, ideal for beginners, and the more advanced Manu Bay. Swells are strong all year long, yet it is recommended to visit the country in the local summer, i.e. in November-February, as it can get quite damp and chilly in the opposite season. Tip: if the crowds get too thick near Raglan, crab a car and head south for unspoiled beaches with very decent surfing conditions.