Where are the best places to go surfing in the world? This is a question we get asked time and time again, and for good reason!
There’s a lot of ocean out there. That means there are tons of great surf spots to discover, and sometimes we need a little information and inspiration to plan our next surf trip. To give you a push in the right direction, here’s our opinion on the best waves on the planet. Needless to say, there are many more world class waves. freak waves, big waves spots and remote waves that still needs to be discovered.
North Shore of Oahu – Banzai Pipeline (Hawaii)
Possibly the most classic and famous spot on the list, the north shore of Oahu lures the best surfers in the world to sample its towering glassy wave in the capital of the surfing world – Hawaii. The North Shore of Oahu really sets the bar in the surfing world, so if you want to make a name as a surfer, you’ll have to go through the locals and charge Pipe with all you got. Although less experienced surfers can get a taste of some of the smaller and more gentle waves in the summer months, this spot is generally only surfed by the pros. 2 of the most famous pipeline locals are John John Florence and the charismatic Jamie O’Brien.
This place hosts some of the world’s leading surf competitions during the winter months including the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing which is held from November to December.
If you’d like to witness 8ft plus waves, visit this spot from November through February.
Located on the south-east coast of the island of Tahiti (French Polynesia), the village of Teahupoo is home to what is quite possibly the heaviest wave in the world. This wave can be ridden by ‘semi-skilled’ surfers when it is small but, when it is big, this is strictly expert-level surfing. Teahupoo is one of those freak waves with a very specific wave mechanics. You can read the analysis here.
Teahupoo (pronounced ‘Cho-Po’) is the site of the Billabong Pro Tahiti surf competition and is included in the Association of Surfing Professionals World Tour route.
Jeffrey’s Bay (South Africa)
Providing surfers with one of the longest rights consisting of many sections for rail to rail riding and tube riding. Jeffrey’s Bay is located in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa and is one of the most well-known surfing spots on the globe. There are plenty of sections to choose from including Albatross, Point, Boneyards, Kitchen Windows, Magna Tubes and – perhaps the most renowned of them all – Supertubes.
As every year, Jeffrey’s Bay has been surfed in the World Surfing League last week and can provide the perfect wave, time after time. This spot is best surfed between the months of June and September when it is widely considered to be one of the best places to go surfing in the world. It’s only a 7 hour drive from Cape Town which is one of the best cities in the world if you want to surf as much as possible and like a vibrant lifestyle. On our surf trip in Cape Town we might drive to Jeffreys Bay when the forecast is on.
Also known as Plengkung Beach, G-Land is an internationally acclaimed surf spot located on the Grajagan Bay, East Java. The brother of Mike Boyum was the discoverer of G-Land and told Mike straight away about this magical spot. Mike Boyum created the surf camp concept here in the 1970s which triggered a series of other surf camps in Indonesia and all around the world in many different forms. Michiel, founder of Viral Dreaming, also has a history in organising surf camps in France and Spain and is now hosting guided surf trips to Cape Town.
There are 4 main sections to the break which are all appropriate for experienced surfers due to their large, gaping and nasty barrels. It was long believed this remote left wasn’t surfable at low tide as it wouldn’t have enough water over the reef … until it was done.
Mavericks – half moon bay (California)
Located about 3km from the shore at Pillar Point Harbour in northern California, Half Moon Bay produces waves that commonly crest at over 12ft and top-out at more than 30ft. This world-renowned big-wave reef at Pillar Point is for professional surfers who are seasoned in tackling big waves.
The first documented person surfing Mavericks was Jeff Clark in 1975. For 15 years Jeff surfed this wave alone. To this day few surfers are prepared to risk their lives at Mavericks when the conditions are ripe. If you dare to tackle it, it may be one of the best places to go surfing in the world. Mavericks is one of the top 10 big wave spots in the world.
If you look for a good movie to watch tonight, consider ‘Chasing mavericks’ or other adventure sport movies.
Cloudbreak can reach up to 10 metres in height and should only be surfed by expert surfers. Located on the Fijian island of Tavarua, this surf spot can be merciless; often forming 1,600 metres from the coast and providing fast barrelling lefts over a shallow reef. Cloudbreak easily is one of the best places to go surfing and is often included in top ten lists that document the most challenging waves ever – and for good reason.
This spot provides the optimal conditions when the wind travels from a SW direction although southerly winds also bring good breaks.
Skeleton Bay (Namibia)
Widely considered the longest sand-bottomed left-hand wave in the world, Skeleton Bay and only appeared on the surfing world’s radar in 2008 when the winner of the Google Earth Challenge run by Surfing Magazine got the opportunity to visit the now-famous surf spot along with others. It was at this time that Cory Lopez pulled into a ridiculously long barrel, much to the amazement of onlookers.
Skeleton Bay is a freak of nature,providing surfers with a thick but longest and fastest tubes in the world, Skeleton Bay is for pro surfers only. Work on your cardio before your trip as the locals introduced a rule you’re not allowed to take the 4×4 back to the peak. Quite a run for a 2km wave. Ow, and take a few boards as the take of is gnarly.
Skeleton Bay is proof that there are still waves to be discovered in uncrowded places as the South of Chile, cold surf locations as Greenland or dangerous places such as Ethiopia or North Korea.
Talking about long waves, Chicama is widely considered the longest wave in the world, Chicama is an accessible (and breath-taking) left wave for surfers of all levels who often end up hopping off the wave due to its vast breadth which extends approximately 4km in length. On a good day, you can expect to catch 3-5 different waves on your way down.
Puerto Escondido (Mexico)
In recent years, Puerto Escondido has been associated with large uncompromising sand-bottomed barrels. This surf spot produces some of the fastest waves in the world and is only suitable for the most experienced surfers who, themselves, succumb to the might the waves and occasionally experience board-breaks and broken bones.
Puerto Escondidos is considered to be the Mexican pipeline and can handle very big swell. This spot has gained a lot of ‘brand awareness’ over the last 10 years because of the many big wave surfers charging Puerto Escondidos.
Margaret River (Western Australia)
Approximately 10km west of the town of Margaret River lies Surfer’s Point, a magical place with an amazing view over the reef (called, the surgeon’s table). These lefts provide peak swells of around 2m in height as well as breath-taking drops and cutback walls which characterise the spot also known as, ‘Margaret River Lefts’. Optimal conditions at this spot are a solid W swell, thin E wind, and a medium-to-high tide to forge the picture-perfect barrel.
Margaret River is also a venue of the WSL. This spot can hold a lot of swell and some are taking rights.
The main break at surfers point is only 1 of the many world class waves though. One of my favourite waves to watch is ‘the Box’.A super hollow slab at the other side of the (Margaret) river mouth. (see photo)
Located in northern Spain in the Basque Country, this surf spot produces a fantastic left-hand and could quite possibly be the greatest river-mouth wave on the planet. Mundaka generates tubes with rides in excess of 400m high when facilitated by a SSW wind and a strong NW swell.
The only downside is that it is uncommon for good conditions to last more than two days here and the wave is only rideable for approximately 50 days out of the calendar year.
Huntington Beach (California)
Huntington Beach’s notoriety has barely changed for half a century and remains a classic beach break that catches any swell, commonly having a decent wave even when other areas along the coast are flat. The best time to surf at Huntington Beach is during the winter months when swells are bigger and the long stretch of beach offers some awesome hollow waves.
12 Best Places to Go Surfing
If you want to read more about some of the best surf destinations, you can read the posts about the surf sports around Cape Town. Cape Town provides much more good times than only surf, even though any forecast will do to have world class water time.