Whether you consider yourself to be a surfer or not, you’re likely influenced by surf culture. If you drop a “dude” from time-to-time, highlight your hair blonde, or pack board shorts and flip flops for a beach vacay you’ve been impacted by the laid-back, ever-cool vibe of surf culture — even if you’ve never stepped on a board. It’s a culture so imbued with cool that even the Beach Boys (most of whom didn’t surf) used it to inspire their sound and lyrics.
That’s why surf spots matter. Even if you have no intention of riding a wave — let alone going in the water — visiting a surf beach delivers a front-row seat to surf culture. And whether you’re like the Beach Boys and want to keep your toes firmly planted in the sand, or a pro surfer looking for the next great swell, there’s really no reason why visiting a super-cool surf spot shouldn’t be at the top of your list.
When you’re ready to join the sun-kissed squad, the essentials are few: sunscreen, a swimsuit, and a board — or a book, if that’s more your style. To get started, here are some of our favorite surf spots where you can get your fill — and then some — of the ever-cool surf world.
Surfer’s Corner, Muizenberg, South Africa
Muizenberg Beach is a great spot for beginners — with consistent waves and a sandy floor — and the pros at Gary’s Surf School are on hand to teach the surf-basics, if needed.
Soup Bowl, Bathsheba, Barbados
Join the likes of Kelly Slater and the Malloy brothers who come to the Soup Bowl year after year. The swells here can be heavy, so if you’re a newbie, head to the southern coast of the island to visit the more consistent breaks found at South Point and Brandons.
Diamond Head, Oahu, Hawaii
The Hawaiian island of Oahu is full of surf spots — from Waikiki for beginners to the iconic Pipeline for the pros — for those who fall somewhere in the middle, we recommend a visit to Diamond Head.
Sayulita Beach, Sayulita, Mexico
This tiny surf town is a great place to learn and hone your surf skills. When you’re worn out, sit on the beach and nosh on fish tacos or head back to this treehouse bungalow for a nap.
Kuta, Bali, Indonesia
June is the perfect time to visit this Indonesian island as Kuta beach sees some of their best and most consistent waves between March and November. Grab a board (and maybe a lesson) from Odysseys Surf School and hit the water.
La Côte des Basques, Biarritz, France
You don’t have to travel to an island or the tropics to surf; on the border between France and Spain is a reliable year-round swell with several surf spots. We suggest a visit to La Côte des Basques where you can enjoy a view of the surrounding cliffs and Spanish coast from your surfboard perch.
Santa Barbara, Azores, Portugal
São Miguel, the biggest island in the Azores, delivers a north-facing beach break and minimal crowds that’ll entertain surfers of all levels. We suggest a stay at the Santa Barbara Eco-Beach Resort and time spent riding the waves at Santa Barbara beach.
La Bocana, Bay of Huatulco, Mexico
There are over 25 beaches on the Bay of Huatulco, but surfers will want to head to La Bocana and Barra de la Cruz for the best waves. After a day of surfing, put up your feet and settle in at La Brisas Huatulco.
Surfrider Beach, Malibu, California
Surfers will be rewarded with a long, right-hand break while non-surfers can watch from the pier above. If it’s too busy — which it often is — Trestles further south is worth a try.
Big Wave Bay, Hong Kong
Hong Kong may be a densely populated island, but there’s still great surfing to be found. Big Wave Bay is a surfer paradise with its low-key beach break and a public transport accessible location.
Playa El Tunco, El Tunco, El Salvador
The surfer vibe is alive and well in this tiny beach town. Barefoot, bikini clad surfers grab a juice after a surf sesh and the rolling waves deliver consistent fun.
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