As a spot and pastime surfing just goes from strength to strength. The traditional hotspots for the sport like Australia and California, where surfing is an accepted way of life are popular as ever. But the sport is even infiltrating areas such as Northern Europe where it never existed before. Swide picks five top sots to ride the best waves.
Surfing was once about rebellion. In the 60’s it was disaffected youth who chose to ‘drop out’ of society and go and live the summer months in remote tropical locations eking out an existence with the help of the locals and spending all day n the water. Today it is a major tourism industry and one that continues to grow and grow. Office workers head for the sores at weekends and even as far North as Norway and Finland people are taking to the waters.
No longer a sub-culture surfing is a mainstream sport, there have been great efforts to get the sport included in the Olympic Games. The main barrier to this of course is the unpredictability of waves. That can be overcome with newly developed wave machines that generate perfect tubes for freestyle competitions. But will the legitimisation of surfing take from its romanticism? As long as there are breaks and swells off shore people will paddle out and ride the waves. Here are some of the most famous surfing locations and some a little different:
Hawaii – North Shore, Oahu
Any list of surfing destination has to include Hawaii the birthplace and spiritual home of surfing. Surfing has long been part of Polynesian culture, where it was reserved as a sport for royalty. The ancients would move from their winter homes in the North to their summer retreats on the South shores to catch the best waves all year round. The surfing Mecca can get a bit over crowded at peak swell season but f you’re looking to capture some of that old time surfing magic and avoid the crowds head to the North Shore of Oahu. Ehukai Beach Park located a stone’s throw away from the legendary Banzai pipeline where the waves form a perfect tube, site many a World Championship competition. You can find wave swelling regularly to 4-6 meters at nearby Sunset Beach is home to some of the world’s largest recorded waves. Something for everyone.
Stay at Travaasa Hana Boutique Hotel
Indonesia – Bali
Once a secret location for surfers in the know, Bali is still surfer’s paradise. Despite becoming Indonesia’s most popular tourist destination you can still find what drew people here in the first place: swells coming in off the Southern Ocean with neat 4 meter waves and enough surf to go around to keep everyone happy. The dry Winter months June to September are probably the best times to go but be prepared to face the teeming hordes. With a bit of local help though it’s possible to still live the dream and find isolated surf. Places like Padang Padang and Uluwatu have entered surfing lore not only for their waves but the surrounding landscape and general surfing experience.
Stay at a villa at the Vice Roy Hotel, Bali
Spain – Lanzarote, Canary Islands
Part of the Canary Islands and so officially belonging to Spain, Lanzarotte is closer to Africa than Europe which means temperatures rarely dip below 18° C, even in Winter. There are two main surf resorts on the island and the great fetch and strong winds throw up consistently great waves for surfing, if not the biggest you ever ridden. Sunbathing tourists tend to stay in quarantined in the more sheltered bays, leaving you to enjoy the choppy waters all to yourself. The Mars-like landscape of the island it the location for shooting ‘Planet of the Apes’, and is perfect for off road motorsports if you fancy a jaunt on a quad bike when the waves aren’t materialising. The fish and seafood is legendary local fare and after working up a hunger and suffering wind burn and sun-burn on the swell there are a multitude of Michelene-starred restaurants to sate your appetite and wet your whistle.
Stay at the Caeigo de Mozaga
Bordered by Panama, Nicaragua, the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea both coasts provide year-round waves. Although decades of stability compared to its war-torn neighbours the road network remains under developed so this is not the place to get in the car and follow the waves. Each coast offers something different but the country’s best waves are at Playa Naranjo and the river-mouth point break at Potrero Grande (Ollies Point) is not to be missed. The country is famed for the biodiversity found amongst its flora and fauna and trekking into the jungle on off days is an experience not to be missed. Unspoiled beaches and any number of breaks makes Costa Rica the ideal place to learn to surf while on the trip of a lifetime.
Stay at The Harmony Hotel, Guanacaste
South Africa – Jeffreys Bay
Located in the Eastern Cape province, J-Bay is one of the world’s most famous surfing destinations it is that for a reason. Known as one of the best right-hand breaks on the planet, it hosts the annual Billabong Pro ASP World Tour at Supertubes during July. This is one for the experienced surfer and the locals guard their waters jealously, but there is the cream of surfing talent from across the world right there for endless hours of watching. Probably surfed from way back it was the classic surf film ‘Endless Summer’ that first promoted and idolised a nearby break in St. Francis Bay. That drew surfers to the area and it wasn’t long before they discovered J-Bay waves were longer, more powerful and more hollow.
Stay at the Supertubes Guesthouse
Watch some of the best big wave surfing here:
By Hugo Mc Cafferty
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