"If you're having a bad day, catch a wave." Surfing living legend Frosty Hesson is quoted saying this. And while he could have meant to do it anywhere possible, there are a handful of spots around the world that could bring any surfer to a natural high. The following surf towns are home not only to the best waves but also to an easy vibe, welcoming locals, and vibrant atmosphere that could definitely turn any bad day around. Ready to paddle out?
Consistent, rideable waves all year round and long surfing history make this NoCal town every soul surfer’s dream. Classic surf spots such as Steamer Lane and Pleasure Point boast of reef breaks producing giant winter swells and huge waves enjoyed by surfers who are looking for a challenge. The town is also home to the some of the world’s surfing legends like the O’Neill brothers and the Van Dyke brothers. The temperatures get cold, but the thriving artisan community, a grand Surfing Museum, and a state park with centuries-old redwood forests make Santa Cruz a surf, culture, and nature hotspot.
It goes without saying that Hossegor has earned the title of being “the surfing capital of Europe.” With a beach spanning three kilometers, seas packing some of the warmest temperatures in the Atlantic, and heavy, world-class waves that could face off that of Hawaii’s, it’s not hard to understand why. Home to the rich and famous, several mansions and extravagant holiday getaways dot this surf town as well. But don’t get intimidated just yet. Beginners can enjoy the calmers seas at the Southern town of La Sud and there are plenty of welcoming establishments to enjoy French cuisine and great music. Best to go in September and October when the seas are warm, and the waves are picking up in size.
A teardrop shaped island south of the Philippines kissing the Pacific Ocean, Siargao has earned the nod of the global surfing community. There are over 15 surf breaks around the island to be enjoyed by pro surfers and the newcomers. Cloud Nine is the most popular break on Siargao, with a high-tide reef break with consistent waves left and right. But this spot is definitely for the professional and advanced surfers only as injuries from sharp corals could be highly possible if you are still a newbie. Siargao fits every definition of what a slice of paradise is: a coastline with immaculate white sand beaches, emerald lagoons, and tiny islets teeming with marine life. Visitors have claimed to stay longer than planned --- probably because there’s unlimited supply of fresh coconuts and locals as friendly and warm as the Pacific sun.
No surfing list will ever be complete without the birthplace of modern surfing, Hawaii. And one of the most famous and highly photographed waves in the entire world is here. The Banzai Pipeline offers some of the heaviest waves and a perfect water tube every surfer dreams to ride on. The wall of water scales as high as six meters over a shallow, tabletop reef with razor-sharp spires and spikes, making this a rightful ground to the pros. Make sure to show up during the months of November until February to fully enjoy Hawaii’s big wave surfing or actually just watch riders pound this deadly yet breathtaking work of nature --- with a coconut mojito in hand.
There are a handful of surf spots whose seas are welcoming to both beginners and pros. Algarve Coast in Lagos, Portugal is one of them. The town is blessed with breaks for almost all levels of surfing: from the gentle, newbie-friendly waves of Arrifana to heart-stopping reef breaks in Zavial and Sagres. And with swells coming from every direction, Lagos is rightfully a soul surfer’s paradise. And if this is not enough to get you there, the town is famed for its friendly Portuguese locals and their penchant for great parties. Feast on some of Europe’s freshest seafood catch and down a bottle of two of Sagres beer or medronho, a traditional fruit brandy to round up your holiday in this dreamy Portuguese surf town.
JBay could very well pass as a 90’s boyband. But nope, this nickname packs a lot of punch in the surfing world. This South African seaside town is a beautiful juxtaposition. Short for Jeffrey’s Bay, JBay may be home to the world’s best right-hand point breaks and intense, fast barrels, but it is also a crowd favorite in the chill and laidback lifestyle department. The bay’s several sections have given birth to a number of surf terms like the Coins, Impossibles, Boneyards, and Kitchen Windows. But it’s the Supertubes that you go to Jeffrey’s Bay for the best part of the wave which breaks for up to 300m long. Surf season starts in June, and the Billabong Pro Surf Contest happens every July, a gathering of surfing gods and goddesses you would not want to miss.