Top 10 Surfing Spots in the World
(*Author’s Note: Any “Top 10” list is bound to cause some controversy, and even more so when dealing with a subjective topic like surfing spots. This list attempts to include different surf spots for different styles and levels of surfing, so while some destinations might not appeal to one brand of surfer, they all represent the cream of the crop for their respective sub-cultures. The top 10 surfing spots are presented in no particular order.)
Spot 1. Tavarua, Fiji: The Ultimate All-Inclusive Surf Camp
When it comes to catered luxury, idyllic tropical setting, and downright epic waves, Tavarua Island in Fiji is the camp against which all others are measured. Although no longer boasting wave exclusivity, Tavarua still has beachfront access to the machine-like perfection of Restaurants and is located a short boat ride from Cloudbreak—two of the world’s best lefthand surfing spots. Complete with comfy bungalows, five-star food and drinks, bar-side hot tubs and even massage services, this is the gold standard of surf camps—as the sky-high nightly rates and multi-year waiting list for bookings indicates.
Bonus Tip: To surf the same waves on a budget, stay cheap on Viti Levu, where you can charter daily water taxis out to the the same surfing spots the guys at the Tavarua Resort have.
Spot 2. Oahu’s North Shore: The Proving Ground
While the north shore doesn’t boast the longest, emptiest or most perfect waves on the planet, it does have the most challenging surf, making this the ultimate proving ground. Anyone looking to make a name for themselves in heavy water invariably makes the annual pilgrimage to the Seven Mile Miracle each November, taking on the consistent long-period swells at Sunset Beach, Pipeline and Waimea Bay.
(Bonus Tip: For a less crowded but just as challenging experience, schedule your trip for after all the pros have left. Hawaii still picks up plenty of swell in March and April.)
Spot 3. Noosa Heads: Longboard Heaven in Sunny Australia
Although the town of Noosa Heads is a veritable tourist trap, the adjacent national park maintains the serenity of decades past—and also happens to house five red-hot point breaks. From the soft peelers of First Point and Little Cove to the freight training double-ups of Nationals and Tea Trees, Noosa is arguably the best place in the world to be a natural-footed longboarder, but can also be quite fun on any type of trim-influenced board, including single fins, fish, hulls, SUPs, and even finless boards.
(Bonus Tip: The points stop working around early May—but the eastern beach breaks fire during Australia’s winter, making this a year-round destination.)
Spot 4. New Zealand: The Classic Southern Hemi Road Trip
Both the north and south islands of New Zealand are heavily saturated with a variety of surf breaks, most of which see little to no traffic due to the relatively small size of the local surf population. Add a relatively consistent swell season, beautiful landscapes, excellent road systems and cheap caravans for hire, and you are looking at one of the best indie surf/road trips in existence.
(Bonus Tip: Due to the fact that New Zealand’s islands are quite narrow, it is possible to surf both coasts on the same day—a convenient fact to bear in mind if the wind changes suddenly.)
(Beginner to Advanced)
Spot 5.Southern California: Surf Extravaganza in the Heart of the Industry
With one of the most densely populated coastlines in the world and more waves per square mile than just about anywhere else, it is no surprise that Southern California should come to be the epicenter of the surf industry. Although the crowds may be a deterrent for some, moderate water temps, consistent swell seasons, raging parties and marquee waves like Malibu, Rincon, Blacks and Lower Trestles make this one of the most popular surf destinations on the planet.
Spot 6.Northern Peru: The South American Goofy-Footer’s Paradise
Peru is one of the most culturally rich countries on the planet, but the land of the Inca is holding more than color and food and millennia-old ruins. For those who like to go left, there are very few places in the world that can beat the reefs and points of northern Peru, which include such famous names as Lobitos, Cabo Blanco, Panic Point and Chicama (one of the longest waves in the world).
(Bonus Tip: Not all of Peru’s waves fire in the southern hemisphere winter. Certain waves in this region can also fire with northern swells between November and March.)
Spot 7.Costa Rica: The Classic Central American Escape
With a wide variety of waves, year-round swell, warm water and a raging nightlife, Costa Rica has long been a favorite of US-based travelers. With waves ranging from playful points to dredging beach break barrels and the occasional reef, there is something for everyone in the land of Pura Vida.
Bonus Tip: Don’t forget about the Caribbean coast, which is holding a number of epic setups, with less crowds and more consistency during winter.
Spot 8. Maldives: The Perfect Honeymoon Surf Trip
Since Tony Hussein Hinde established the Maldives’ first surf camp over 30 years ago, the Maldives have established a solid reputation as one of the world’s most luxurious surf destinations. With a number of high-end land camps fronting white sand beaches and perfect reef/point setups, the Maldives are as good for sunbathing as they are for surfing, making this a great place to bring your significant other.
(Bonus Tip: The Maldives also have a number of live-aboard boat tours catering to a more surf-centric experience.)
Spot 9. Teahupoo, Tahiti: The World’s Heaviest Left
As if picturesque beaches and a magnificent, fertile backdrop weren’t enough, Tahiti also happens to house the barrel against which all others are measured—Teahupoo, the backless mutant at the end of the road. For any hellman barrel charger looking to push his limits in surf of consequence, Teahupoo is a must-visit.
(Bonus Tip: Many people don’t realize that Teahupoo doesn’t really start doing the crazy backless thing until around six foot. Score a smaller swell and you just might get fun overhead barrels to yourself.)
Spot 10. France: Culture, Waves, and the Best Nightlife in Europe
It’s hard to say which are best known—France’s women, wine or waves—but one things is for certain: when the three combine, they make for one of the best all-around surf travel experiences in Europe. The beach breaks around Hossegor produce some of the best sand-bottom barrels in the world, and the scenery on the beach is nothing to balk at either.
(Bonus Tip: To score waves to yourself, forego the nightly festivities and rest up for the dawn patrol.)