The sport of surfing has been variously claimed to have originated both in Peru and in Hawaii and the Polynesian island chain. While Peru may have a somewhat better claim on the sport based on recent archaeological discoveries, surfing has captured the public imagination and has gained steadily in popularity throughout the world since. For many surfers, catching that perfect wave is as much religion as sport, so finding the ideal destination for that once-in-a-lifetime surfing trip is an essential part of the surfing experience. Here are five of the world’s best surfing destinations.
North Shore, Oahu, Hawaii
The North Shore is generally accepted as one of the best surfing destinations in the world, but it’s really two of them. In winter, Oahu’s North Shore features huge, glassy waves to challenge championship level surfers, while the smaller, gentler waves of the summer are ideal for those just beginning their surfing journey.
Most visitors and surfers will stay in one of the numerous condo rentals or resorts that dot the North Shore of Oahu. Shopping, restaurants and cultural attractions are available in Haleiwa Town, which serves as the home for the North Shore Surf Girls surf school. This world-famous school is an outstanding resource for beginning to intermediate surfers.
Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia
With thirty-five miles of coastline surrounding the resort city of Gold Coast in Australia, surfers have plenty of choices ranging from the popular Burleigh Heads surf break to the aptly named Surfers Paradise. Visitors to this luxurious destination can surf with confidence, as Gold Coast boasts the largest single surf lifesaving service in all of Australia and routinely manages the shark population to reduce the risk for surfers and swimmers even further.
Travellers to Gold Coast can reserve a room at one of the glamorous high-rise hotels or opt for a less luxurious cottage or bed and breakfast. As this is one of Australia’s most popular surfing destinations expect to pay a premium price for accommodations near the beach even during the off season. Visitors can enjoy popular attractions in Gold Coast including the Warner Brothers Movie World theme park and Sea World.
One of the newest and most popular surfing destinations in the world, Cornwall’s sunny beaches are in sharp contrast to the typical image of English mist and deliver some of the most exciting surfing available. Newquay offers high-end challenges for experienced surfers, while the milder waves at Polzeath Beach is ideal to surf and sun in the near-tropical climate. Seeing as its close to home Cornwall is the place I have done most of my surfing, it is also where I learnt to surf and I still visit regularly.
One of the picturesque holiday cottages in Cornwall is the perfect choice for a stay and typically offers much more privacy and seclusion than a hotel. For me one of the best things about staying in a cottage or apartment is the convenience factor – being able to just dump your surf gear at the end of a big day riding the waves, jump in the shower and not worry about the mess – just perfect!
Cornwall is also noted as one of the most haunted areas of England, so after enjoying the waves visitors may want to hunt some ghosts by the light of the moon.
While the stereotype of the Malibu surfer that inspired a generation back in the 1960s may seem rather dated today, the thrill of taking on the big waves in the location where surfing experienced its rebirth cannot be denied. From the classic big waves at Surfrider Beach to the gentle far breaking waves of Zuma, surfers will find crowded but rewarding waves to catch all along the Malibu coastline.
Check out the notorious beachfront cottage rentals (some lack modern amenities, so look before committing to anything) or settle in to one of the numerous chain hotels available in the Malibu area. Prices are moderate to high throughout the year in this popular tourist destination.
Santa Catarina, Brazil
Located in one of the most prosperous areas of Brazil, Santa Catarina is also home to some of the world’s best surfing. Joaquina Beach attracts a crowd of locals and tourists on weekends, but visitors can often find a few moments alone on the big waves during the week. Novice surfers can try the calmer waters of Praia da Daniela, but should be prepared to share the waves with local children.
Prices for hotels in Santa Catarina are surprisingly reasonable, even in the luxury resort hotels that overlook the ocean. Be sure to reserve rooms well in advance in order to ensure availability, as these hotels fill up fast.