How to Find Great Places to Surf on Vacation Overseas


Setting off on that first overseas surfing trip is an incredibly exciting event for surfers of all levels. Whether they’re heading to a surf camp or finally catching that legendary wave, there’s more to finding a great place to surf on an overseas vacation than just seeking out new breaks. Even the most avid surfers have to spend some time on land.

Overcrowded beaches, unwelcoming locals, a lack of suitable accommodations, and other issues unrelated to the surf can ruin what would otherwise be an amazing vacation. Instead of heading to the same overcrowded surf spots that everyone else hits, read on to learn how to find great places to surf on vacation overseas.

Determine Travel Goals

Some surfers literally only care about catching waves, and they’d be happy to retire at the end of an epic day to a shack on the beach. Others want to find great places to surf that also have plenty to offer in the way of nightlife and accommodations. Everyone’s expectations for the perfect vacation are a little different, and determining needs before making plans is a great way to narrow down surf spots.

Set a Budget

The best-known international surf spots also tend to be the most expensive. That may be fine for independently wealthy surfers, but it’s not a great situation for vacationers traveling on a tight budget. The good news is that there are tons of amazing surf spots that have yet to be discovered by the masses, and they tend to be less expensive. The north Pacific coast of Nicaragua is a great example of an up-and-coming surfing and vacation destination that has yet to fall prey to the high prices that come along with international fame.

Do Your Research

Here comes the fun part. Now that surfers have set clear budgets and determined their unique vacation needs, it’s time to start investigating actual surf spots. The best place to start is online on surfing forums. International travelers are almost always happy to share their favorite destinations, so this can be a great way to determine what general area to hit.

Start with thorough research on popular surf destinations. Countries like Australia, Indonesia, Portugal, and Costa Rica are renowned for their surf spots. Websites, surf magazines, and online forums are great resources. Look for information on surf conditions, best seasons, and the type of waves you can expect.

Once you arrive at your destination, connect with local surf shops and surfing communities. They can provide valuable insights on the best local spots, current surf conditions, and even some hidden gems that only locals know about. These interactions can also enrich your cultural experience and may lead to new friendships.

Take a Look

Once aspiring international travelers have some recommendations for specific beaches or out-of-the-way surf spots, it’s time to take a look. Modern surfers are spoiled compared to their predecessors in that they don’t have to fly halfway across the world and then hike through rough terrain to see if that secret spot suggested by the friend of a friend really is any good. Google Earth is a fantastic resource for those who know how to use it.

Leverage technology by using surfing apps and websites that provide real-time information about wave conditions, wind, and tides. Apps like Surfline, Magicseaweed, and Windy have detailed reports and forecasts for surf spots around the world.

Plan the Perfect Surf Trip

There’s no sure-fire way to guarantee that surfers will find the best waves every time. Eventually, the best option will be to pack those bags and take off for a new locale. Even if recommendations turn out to be overblown or the beaches are crowded, vacationers will have access to resources on the scene that they couldn’t access from afar. In other words, ask the locals.

Finding a new spot to surf can be tough when there’s no way to head to potential sites in person, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth the effort. More often than not, surfers find that the best trips aren’t the ones that let them hit the most popular waves but those that bring them to new locales, allow them to meet new people, and create amazing memories.

Consider hiring a professional surf guide, especially if you’re exploring remote or lesser-known areas. Guides can ensure you find the best spots safely and efficiently. They can also offer tips to improve your surfing skills.

Joining a surf camp or school can be a great way to discover excellent surf spots while getting instruction to improve your technique. These camps often have local knowledge and can take you to the best spots for your skill level.

Respect Local Surf Culture

Understanding and respecting the local surf culture and etiquette is crucial. Remember, you’re a guest in their waters. Observe how local surfers interact, and always show respect to both the people and the environment.

Safety First

Always prioritize safety. Check the local surf conditions, be aware of your skill level, and don’t take unnecessary risks. Be mindful of local wildlife, reef breaks, and other natural hazards.

Adventure and Exploration

Part of the thrill of surfing overseas is the adventure and exploration. Don’t be afraid to venture off the beaten path. Sometimes, the best surf spots are those that require a bit of extra effort to reach.

Connect with Other Traveling Surfers

Meeting other surfers who are also traveling can provide not only camaraderie but also shared knowledge and experiences. Hostels, surf camps, and local beaches are great places to connect.

Capture the Memories

Lastly, don’t forget to capture the memories. Whether it’s through photography, journaling, or videos, documenting your surf adventure overseas will provide lasting memories of the incredible waves and experiences you encountered.

Finding great places to surf while vacationing overseas can be an exhilarating adventure. With proper research, local insights, and an open mind, you’re bound to experience some of the best surfing of your life. So pack your board, respect the local culture, and get ready to ride some unforgettable waves!

Top 20 International Surfing Destinations

Top 20 International Surfing Destinations

  1. Pipeline, Oahu, Hawaii: Famous for its massive waves and tube rides, Pipeline is a surfing mecca known worldwide.
  2. Jeffreys Bay, South Africa: Renowned for its long, fast barrels and considered one of the best right-hand point breaks in the world.
  3. Uluwatu and Kuta, Bali, Indonesia: Offers a range of breaks suitable for all levels, with Uluwatu known for its challenging waves.
  4. Superbank, Gold Coast, Australia: A surf paradise famous for its long, hollow barrels and one of the world’s longest waves.
  5. Maverick’s, California, USA: Known for some of the biggest waves globally, challenging even the most experienced surfers.
  6. Hossegor, France: Europe’s surf capital, known for powerful beach breaks and hosting major surfing competitions.
  7. Cloud Nine, Siargao Island, Philippines: A magnificent reef break known for its thick, hollow tubes, attracting surfers worldwide.
  8. Tamarindo Beach, Costa Rica: A favorite for its consistent waves, beautiful scenery, and suitability for all skill levels.
  9. Mentawai Islands, Indonesia: A remote surf paradise with a variety of world-class breaks in pristine conditions.
  10. Biarritz, France: A historic surf destination in Europe, offering a mix of beach breaks and longboarding spots.
  11. Fuerteventura, Canary Islands: Known for its crystal-clear waters and variety of waves, appealing to surfers of all levels.
  12. Rincon, Puerto Rico: Offers some of the best waves in the Caribbean, known for its long rides and perfect barrels.
  13. Taghazout, Morocco: Famous for its right-hand point breaks, offering long rides and consistent surf conditions.
  14. Teahupo’o, Tahiti, French Polynesia: Home to some of the heaviest waves in the world, reserved for the most skilled surfers.
  15. Banzai Pipeline, North Shore, Hawaii: A legendary spot famous for its perfect barrels and heavy waves, a test for professional surfers.
  16. Cloudbreak, Tavarua Island, Fiji: A challenging left-hand reef break known for its powerful swells and stunning surroundings.
  17. Santa Cruz, California, USA: Offers a variety of breaks, known as a birthplace of mainland surfing in the USA.
  18. Bundoran, Ireland: Dubbed the “Surf Capital of Ireland,” known for its consistent waves and beautiful landscapes.
  19. Arugam Bay, Sri Lanka: A surf hotspot with a laid-back vibe, known for its point break and consistent swell.
  20. Manu Bay, Raglan, New Zealand: A world-class left-hand point break, offering long, peeling waves in a picturesque setting.

Final Thoughts

Finding the perfect surf spot while vacationing overseas is an exciting and rewarding quest that goes beyond just catching waves. It’s about immersing yourself in new cultures, connecting with fellow surf enthusiasts, and respecting the majestic power of the ocean. By doing thorough research, engaging with local communities, and using technology to your advantage, you can discover hidden gems and world-class waves. Remember to prioritize safety, respect local customs, and embrace the spirit of adventure. Whether you’re a seasoned surfer or just starting out, each destination offers its unique charm and challenges, making your surfing journey an unforgettable part of your travel experiences. So, grab your board, venture into the unknown, and let the sea set you free!

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