Whether you have been catching waves since you were old enough to stand up or you are looking for a fun new hobby, surfing is a wonderful pastime. And it’s never too late to try something new!
Beaches all around the country offer beginner surfing lessons for any age. Feeling the warm sun on your back and the cool water under your feet is truly a magical experience. Countless beaches have perfect waves for all surfers.
Picking your surfing destination will depend on what type of waves you are looking for and what surrounding amenities you want it to come with. Maybe you want a soft sand beach to fall back on after spending time on your board or a cute surfing town to walk through on your way to the beach. Regardless of what you are looking for, there is a surfing beach for you.
We have rounded up our favorite surfing spots as well as some essentials that will make your beach day easy and comfortable.
Gold Coast, Australia
The Gold Coast in Australia is a surfer’s paradise with year-round warm, clear water, consistent waves, and four amazing point breaks. If you want to try out Burleigh, Currumbin, Kirra, or Snapper Rocks, you might want to be a mid-level or above surfer.
These point breaks can get pretty crowded, making it hard for beginning surfers to get a spot. However, if you are a beginner, you can hop on one of the many beach breaks that line the coast. With over 50 kilometers of beaches, you will have plenty to choose from.
In fact, if you want to learn how to surf, one of the most popular places to get lessons is on Broadbeach, where the waves are calm and the water is less crowded.
As far as protection goes, be sure to bring some bottles of sunscreen (SPF 50) and be aware of the marine life that you can expect to see. While you won’t have to worry about seeing sharks on the Gold Coast, you might have to look out for bluebottles during the summertime. These animals are similar to jellyfish and can give you a painful sting.
Jeffrey’s Bay, South Africa
Jeffrey’s Bay is potentially Africa’s most iconic surf spot and one of the most popular surfing destinations in the world. You can even watch the World Surf League Competition on the beach every winter for the J-Bay Open.
If you visit during the summertime, take advantage of their smaller waves and warm water, but if you are craving an adventure, hop on the colder, bigger waves that are present in the winter.
The powerful, right-hand point break can sometimes deliver a 1200-yard-long wave, a training ground for many professional surfers. The biggest and most challenging waves are on the shore between May and September, so plan your trip accordingly.
Whenever you visit, you can immerse yourself in the culture of the nearby surf town, which attracts surfers year-round. You won’t be able to resist the surf bags, wetsuits, and souvenirs that line the shelves in the many surf shops in town — bring an extra-large tote bag!
Balangan, Bali, Indonesia
Balangan is one of the many beaches that sit on the Bukit peninsula. This vacay hotspot has always been considered one of the best places in the world to surf. Balangan sits on the north side of the peninsula and offers something for every surfer and beachgoer.
The waves vary from day to day in the dry season, reaching heights between two and 12 feet and lengths between 100 and 350 meters. This means you will have fun no matter what kind of wave you feel comfortable tackling. Plus, they have boards and soft tops for rental right on the beach.
If you want to freshen up your skills or start from scratch, sign up for the Balangan surfing lessons. Or, if you want to kick back and watch the surfers, lay out a beach throw, grab a beer and a plate of local cuisine at a nearby warung.
If you want more intense point breaks, check out Bingin, Padang Padang, and Uluwatu, also located on the Bukit peninsula. Just be sure you are properly dressed in a wetsuit or a supportive one-piece bathing suit to keep your girls in place and reduce the risk of a peek-a-boo moment.
Sunny California is home to Hollywood, vineyards, and nearly perfect surfing conditions. Malibu has become a charming and picturesque area with a thriving surfing community. With any Malibu beach, enjoy the warm white sand under your toes as you walk into the warm water, ready for a few hours of catching waves.
If your group has varying surfing skills, you might want to head to Topanga Beach. Located not far off of the Pacific Coast Highway, this beach has a consistent mix of different wave sizes. Waves here roll over both sandy and rocky terrains, meaning you can ride two to ten feet-tall swells.
For the most well-known and picturesque experience, head to Malibu Lagoon State Beach. Often used as the setting for many surfing films and TV shows, the iconic wooden pier stretching out over the beautiful blue water will be difficult to forget!
There are three areas on the beach; the first is mostly used by longboarders, the second by advanced surfers, and the third by surfers who want both left and right waves.
Surfing originated in Hawaii, which means that many people flock here every year to get a taste of the waves iconic surfers have been riding for years. However, you don’t have to be a surfing expert to cross a Hawaiian wave off of your bucket list. In fact, Waikīkī Beach in Oahu is a great place for beginners, offering calm waters and accessible surfing lessons.
To watch the professionals ride gracefully in the water or try to tackle a large wave yourself, head to the North Shore. However, the waves can get pretty intimidating, attracting the best surfers in the world during the wintertime. But taking a seat in the perfectly soft sand and watching the professionals hit a 30-foot tall wave is a fantastic way to spend an afternoon.
If you are visiting in the wintertime, you might be able to catch The Vans Triple Crown of Surfing, which is considered to be the Super Bowl of surfing. It is held every year in November and December at Waimea Bay, Haleʻiwa Beach, and ʻEhukai Beach.
Although the event is invitation-only, you can spot famous surfers around town all week and soak in the exciting and fun energy in the air.
Known as the surf capital of Europe, Ericeira boasts over eight kilometers of coastline that has beaches with different kinds of breaks. The water stays warm enough for surfing year-round, but beginners might want to take advantage of the smaller waves that hit the shore during the summer months. Even though the water stays warm, pack a wetsuit for the cool air if you are an experienced surfer looking to ride the big winter waves.
If you want a more intense and immersive experience than surfing lessons, sign up for a surf camp. The Magikvanilla surf camp is an Ericeira classic and offers housing and amenities you can use during your one or two-week stay. You will take daily surf lessons, a surfboard and wetsuit, and a daily breakfast buffet.
Ericeira was named to be a World Surfing Reserve in 2011, and for a good reason. For a beginner surfer, head to the southern part of town and take your board out in the Foz do Lizandro for a forgiving break.
With some experience under your belt, head to São Lourenço. This beach is on the northern spot of Ericeira and frequently has 18 feet of powerful, hollow surf.
Known for fast, hollow waves, Hossegor has been calling adventure-seeking surfers for years. That’s not all it has to offer: a trip here will bring beautiful beach-side views, warm water, and consistent swells. This beach is best for intermediate and advanced surfers since the swells are consistently strong throughout the year.
The town of Hossegor revolves around surfing, which means you can find plenty of surf shops to stock up on equipment. Additionally, a majority of locals and tourists alike love to surf, so you won’t have a problem finding people to chat with about swells, breaks, and boards.
Surfing in Hossegor is broken up into a few different areas: La Gravière, Les Culs Nuls, La Nord, and La Sud. These areas generally have large swells that require some confidence to tackle, but La Sud has the calmest breaks out of the group.
Santa Cruz, California
Another California surfing hotspot, Santa Cruz, is another city to add to your list of surfing destinations. There are seven different beaches in Santa Cruz, each offering a different surfing experience.
Steamer Lane is arguably the most popular surfing destination in Santa Cruz and is a must-see if you are in the area. This beach features a right-handed, cold water point break with consistently large waves. The beach is ideally situated, with protection from the northwest wind.
Cowell’s Beach offers waves for all levels of surfers, with many surf schools operating right on the beach. The low swells are also famous amongst longboarders.
Puerto Escondido, Mexico
If you are a surfer and have lived in or visited Mexico, you have most likely heard of Puerto Escondido. A combo of intense beach breaks, a variety of swells, and nearby Mexicana streets and taco stands has made this a vibrant and popular destination.
Although you may have heard the stories of larger-than-life swells, you can luckily find a wave that fits your skill level. If you are a beginner, you can paddle out at Playa Carrizalillo. This beach has a backdrop of beautiful palm trees swaying in the wind and soft golden sand that sits next to the horseshoe bay, offering two separate, mellow breakpoints.
If you consider yourself an intermediate surfer, head to La Punta. Here, you will find a moderately powerful swell with challenging lefts. If you visit on a day with particularly large swells, be aware of the rocky areas.
Lastly, if you are ready for a challenge, head to Playa Zicatela. This beach might offer you the largest and most daunting beach breaks that you have ever attempted to surf. The swells can rise well over ten feet tall, and the waves can peak at unpredictable points.
San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua
Last but definitely not least, San Juan del Sur is a great destination for all kinds of surfers. Beginners love to take advantage of the cheap surf classes and don’t have to worry about the waves breaking over rocks or reefs.
Unlike other beaches on this list, if you are new to surfing, head to the beach during January and February for smaller swells, and if you are more advanced, check out the surf anytime from April to September.
For premier surfing in the area, bring your board to Playa Maderas. With an A-frame break on the north side, these waves offer options for beginners and pros alike.
Time To Paddle Out
There are countless beaches across the world that offer top-notch surfing conditions, beautiful scenery, and charming beach-side amenities. Before you travel, be sure that your skill level matches the expected waves and that you have all of your gear.
Once you have your destination picked out and your swimsuits packed, all that’s left to do is hop in the water and surf until your heart’s content!
The Gold Coast's best beaches | Tourism Australia
While You Were Sleeping: The Corona J-Bay Open is Officially Underway | SURFER Magazine
Malibu Lagoon State Beach | California Department of Parks and Recreation
TRADITIONAL WAYS OF KNOWING: Surfing in Hawaiʻi | Sea Earth Atmosphere