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10 of the Top Surfing Destinations Around the World

Surfing isn’t just a sport in these coastal gems—it’s a way of life.

people standing on a stone wall with giant wave behind it
Hi, I'm Jade!

Jade is a writer with a passion for travel, drag queens, and baked goods. Her happy place is South America, but when she's not exploring the world, she enjoys cooking and reading Gothic novels in her London flat.

The crash of the waves; the taste of salt on your tongue; the exhilaration of riding a crest until its completion. Whether you’re just starting out or honing life-long surf skills, there are few things better than getting out in the water and riding the waves. So if you’re ready to supercharge your chances of catching breaks and barrels—while soaking up some of the world’s most stunning seaside scenery—this list of global destinations is sure to help you become one with your board. So wax your thruster, attach your leash, and dive straight into this selection of surfing hot-spots.

1. Siargao, Philippines

pier with surfers at sunset
Siargao is also a beautiful destination for other adventure activities, such as rock climbing and caving.Photo Credit: zstock / Shutterstock

The uncrowded surf capital of the Philippines.

Swaying palm trees; surfboards stacked outside of wooden beach huts; clear, turquoise water that sparkles in the sun—Siargao is the epitome of a surfer’s paradise. The big reef breaks of Cloud 9 draw surfers from around the world, and at their most mighty during the rainy season of September to November. In between surf lessons, take advantage of island-hopping tours to widen your perspective of the Philippines.

2. Puerto Escondido, Mexico

surfer running from a breaking wave on the beach
Experts should head for Playa Zicatela, but beginners should visit Playa Carrizalillo or La Punta.Photo Credit: Wiktoria Sedkowska / Shutterstock

Discover world-class waves—plus tacos and tequila.

Home to one of the world’s heaviest waves, Puerto Escondido regularly tops the list of Mexico’s best surf spots. Playa Zicatela is where the waves are at their most intense—they’ve been known to smash surfboards to pieces—so if you’re a beginner, take a private class on Playa Carrizalillo and La Punta, both perfect for getting to grips with the water. Plus, nearby Palmarito Beach boasts its very own Sea Turtle Rescue offering evening release tours, making for a great way to unwind after a day’s surfing.

3. Nazaré, Portugal

surfer dropping in on a massive wave
Come to Nazaré to try your hand at breaking a world record.Photo Credit: aleksey snezhinskij / Shutterstock

Home to record-breaking surf breaks.

Perched on Portugal’s Atlantic Coast—all of which is a bucket-list destination for boardmasters—the tiny and traditional fishing village of Nazaré really packs a punch when it comes to giant waves: Garrett McNamara, Rodrigo Koxa, and Sebastian Steudtner have all broken Guinness World Records here for riding the biggest waves ever recorded. Take a day trip from Lisbon to learn more about the town’s high surf legacy or look up a local school to best your own chances of breaking records.

4. Canggu, Bali

surfers in the ocean during a pink, purple, blue sunset
The scene in Canggu is laid-back but fun.Photo Credit: Angelina Pilarinos / Shutterstock

Laid-back line-ups in a bohemian beach town.

Turquoise waves lap the black sands of this ultra-cool spot on the Indonesian island of Bali. As famous for its waves as for its yoga studios, boutique shops, and bougie brunch spots, Canggu serves up swells that have a reputation as some of the region’s most fun. The resort offers lesson and location options for beginner through to advanced-level surfers and is within easy reach of other island attractions, such as Tanah Lot Temple and the white-sand beaches of Seminyak.

5. Cape Town, South Africa

surfers surfing in front of rocky outcrop
Photo Credit: Alex Marais / Shutterstock

Surf in front of a mountain backdrop.

Haul on your wetsuit before heading to the beach breaks along Cape Town’s gorgeous coastline. Just 30 minutes from the city center, Surfer’s Corner in Muizenberg is ideal for beginners, while the more advanced swells of the uncrowded Scarborough Beach, out towards Cape Point, promise to deliver thrills and spills aplenty on this jagged South African peninsula.

6. Lajares, Fuerteventura, Canary Islands

surfer surfing at sunset
It's worth trekking to the far-flung Canary Islands for the surf.Photo Credit: Flystock / Shutterstock

White-water wonders in the Atlantic.

Thanks to their prime position between Africa and Europe, the Canary Islands are exposed to strong off-shore winds that result in top-class surfing opportunities. While Lanzarote and Tenerife both offer excellent breaks, the surf town of Corralejo on Fuerteventura is home to several surf schools offering beginner-friendly tutorials and intermediate sessions, plus easy access to further-out beaches including Cotillo and El Hierro, both surrounded by dramatic volcanic landscapes.

7. Chicama, Peru

surfer on beach with rock formations
Chicama is known for its long-peel waves.Photo Credit: andremarinst / Shutterstock

Explore the windswept wilderness of northern Peru.

While the accolades of highest and heaviest waves have already been snapped up, Chicama on Peru’sNorth Coast boasts the longest. Hailed as one of Peru’s top surfing destinations, alongside the party town of Mancora and the relaxed fishing village of Huanchaco, Chicama has the best surfing conditions during the summer months of December through March. You’ll need time to practice riding the long-peel waves, so look out for a full-day class.

8. Gold Coast, Australia

surfer on rocks in front of city skyline
Photo Credit: Still Horizon Studio / Shutterstock

The jewel in Queensland’s coastal crown.

No self-respecting list of top surf spots could skip Australia, home to the literal Surfers Paradise. This world-famous beach resort might be backed by high-rise hotels, but a bohemian surf culture still reigns supreme—the beach is awash with surf schools ready to teach every level of surfer. After, stay in the water on a snorkeling tour that reveals the rich variety of Queensland’s marine life.

9. Oahu, Hawaii, US

surfer in the barrel of a wave
Surfing has been a sport in Hawaii for centuries.Photo Credit: Christian Mueller / Shutterstock

Visit the birthplace of surfing.

Hailed as the homeland of the sport—12th-century cave paintings show people riding waves on early boards—Hawaii is the ultimate surfing destination. Oahu’s North Shore offers breaks ideal for both experts and beginners, with fully customizable classes available. It’s also home to Ehukai Beach, where you’ll find the world-famous Banzai Pipeline. For something a bit less intense, Waikiki is also a great spot to catch some sweet swell in a small-group session.

10. Tamarindo, Costa Rica

surfers walking on beach at sunset
After sunset, surf town Tamarindo is all about nightlife.Photo Credit: Colin D. Young / Shutterstock

Pure water and even pura vida.

Hemmed in by the Pacific and Caribbean oceans, Costa Rica benefits from constant swells on both sides. While there’s stiff competition for the country’s best surf town, the crest crown has to go to Tamarindo—a town built on waves. It might be much busier than other hot-spots, but a single bay with breaks for every level makes it the ideal place to learn and develop your surfing skills. Plus, there’s plenty of wildlife to discover, as well as a fun-packed party scene for after the sun sets.

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