Beach lovers who dream of escaping to a wonderful surf destination can choose from an abundance of locations across the globe. So, when you’re planning a getaway to catch your own perfect wave, looking for big waves, barrels, or beginner breaks, consider these world-class beaches.
1. Popoyo, Nicaragua
Located on the west coast of Nicaragua, Popoyo is a dreamscape for surfers. A rocky, dirt road deposits you into the heart of a small, remote village where the lifestyle is all about the surf. While many breaks revolve around swells, storms, and tides, Popoyo is consistent year-round. The spot receives over 300 days of offshore winds annually and, as a result, is often regarded as one of the best surf spots in the country. Like most of Central America, Popoyo experiences a dry season and a wet season, so plan your trip accordingly.
2. Nazare, Portugal
Nazare, Portugal, is home to one of the most iconic and biggest waves in the world. The fishing village is located in the Oeste region and Leiria District, in a historical Estremadura in Portugal. The town is one of the most popular seaside resorts on the Silver Coast. Although it’s been popular among surfers and body boarders for decades, it wasn’t until 2011 that the spot gained popular recognition. In 2011, Garrett McNamara rode a giant wave at Nazare, earning the Guinness Book of World Records title for “largest wave ever ridden.” In 2013 he broke his own record there, and in 2017, Rodrigo Koxa took the title by riding an 80-foot wave at the same spot.
3. Jeffreys Bay, South Africa
Often referred to as J-Bay, Jeffreys Bay is regarded as the surfing mecca of South Africa and home to one of the best right point breaks on the planet. Located on the western edge of South Africa’s Eastern Cape Province, Jeffreys Bay is situated inside a crescent-shaped bay that shelters many of its incredible point breaks. The region was first popularized in The Endless Summer, when Bruce Brian stumbled upon Cape Saint Francis — the spot that is now lovingly referred to as Bruce’s Beauties. Although Brian deemed the spot perfect at the time, J-Bay, located just to the east, is more deserving of surfing glory.
4. Uluwatu, Bali
Uluwatu is one of those destinations that perennially tops bucket lists. Located on the southwestern tip of the Bukit Peninsula, Uluwatu is known for its world-famous surf as well as the Uluwatu Temple: an 11th century Hindu temple. Due to its famous name and prime conditions, Uluwatu is one of the busiest surf spots in all of Bali and is best suited for experienced surfers. Consistent year round, Uluwatu offers hollow, performance waves during low tide and slower, mellower waves during high tide.
5. Nosara, Costa Rica
Nosara is a village located on the North Pacific Coast of the Nicoya Peninsula in Guanacaste and is famous for yoga and year-round surf. Technically, Nosara is a few miles inland, so when tourists visit, they typically stay in Playa Guiones, Playa Plada, or Playa Garza, with Playa Guiones being the most popular. The main break offers waves suitable for beginners and experienced surfers, and the area has many surf schools if you’re looking to learn the sport or improve upon your skills.
6. Cloudbreak, Fiji
Located just three miles south of Namotu Island in Fiji, Cloudbreak is famous for consistently being one of the most challenging waves in the world. The spot breaks over a sharp, shallow reef and offers fast, barreling lefts. As the wave progresses, it tends to speed up, presenting shallower, more critical sections. The wave is as equally amazing as it is dangerous and, as such, it attracts pros from across the globe. If you aren’t up for surfing Cloudbreak, getting an up-close view from a boat is an incredible way to experience the wave.
7. Rincon, Puerto Rico
Often referred to as the surf capital of the Caribbean, west Puerto Rico is home to a variety of incredible beaches, the most iconic of which is Rincon. Rincon has been on the map as a premier surf spot since 1968 when the Surfing Championships were held there. Located on the northwest side of the island, southwest of Aguadilla and north of Mayaguez, Rincon is one of the most consistent spots in the Caribbean. While the locals are typically friendly and a variety of surf craft can be found in the water on any given day, be sure and respect the rules of the lineup and scan the beach for hazards before entering the water. Rincon is home to a handful of stellar breaks: Little Malibu, Tres Palmas, Maria’s, Indicators, Domes, Sandy Beach, and Antonio’s.
8. San Clemente, California
San Clemente, a seaside town in Orange County, California, was founded in the 1920s and has been on the map as a surf destination for quite some time. San Clemente is home to a number of world-famous surf spots: T-Street, Upper Trestles, Lower Trestles, and San Onofre. While traffic is a regular occurrence both on and off the water, battling the throngs of people will be well worth it once you drop into a wave at Lowers. Trestles is a world-renowned wave and what San Clemente is best known for. Trestles consists of four main breaks: Cotton’s, Uppers, Lowers, and Church.
9. North Shore, Oahu
Often referred to as the “Seven Mile Miracle,” the North Shore of Oahu is home to some of the best surf in the world. While it’s typically calm and flat during the summer months, the North Shore lights up during the winter, and prime waves can be found up and down the coast. On any given winter day, a number of professional surfers can be found in the lineup, making for an impressive show for those who prefer to stay on the beach. Although there are a few beginner-friendly spots, the North Shore is most famous for the massive waves that can be found at Banzai Pipeline, Sunset Beach, or Waimea Bay.
10. Siargao, Philippines
Siargao is a teardrop shaped island located 500 miles southeast of Manila, the capital city. Like many of the islands in the area, Siargao is breathtakingly beautiful, but what sets it apart from the rest is its incredible surf. Siargao is home to over 16 miles of exposed coastline and has the feel of an older Bali. Although Siargao is made up of over thirty surf breaks, the island often experiences long, flat periods, so you’ll want to watch the swell and try to time your trip accordingly. The most well-known spot on the island is Cloud 9 — consistently recognized as one of the top ten breaks in the world due to its big, steep waves that break in both directions.