We can’t all be #blessed with top-notch surfing in our backyards. For the rest of us, capturing Keanu-worthy waves means hopping on a plane and trekking to one of the world’s best surf spots.
These destinations offer more than choice surf. Along with the water you’ll find exotic wildlife, postcard-worthy views, tempting cuisine, 5-star accommodations, and maybe even nudists. The search for the perfect swells spans the globe – from timeless favourites in the tropics to unexpected stops in Europe and Africa.
Grab your board and zip up your wetsuit. It’s time to hit the waves at these top surfing sites.
Teahupo’o | Tahiti, French Polynesia
Arguably the world’s most famous wave, Teahupo’o (pronounced ‘cho-po’) is the aquatic equivalent of a sonic boom. Surf journalist Gary Taylor once wrote that it “isn’t a wave, it’s a war zone. A freak of nature that some bastard decided to call a surf spot.” So is it dangerous? You bet. Teahupo’o has claimed at least five lives since 2000, but that doesn’t stop pros and thrillseekers from making the pilgrimage to Tahiti to conquer the heaviest waves in the world.
Supertubes | Jeffreys Bay, South Africa
Jeffreys Bay, colloquially known as J-Bay, hosts the annual Billabong Pro ASP World Tour each July (but you may know it better as the place Mick Fanning punched a shark). The region is home to colourfully named waves including Boneyards, Kitchen Windows, and Albatross, but the highlight is one of the finest to be found anywhere in the world: Supertubes. Expert surfers can score rides up to 300 metres long on the legendary wave.
The Superbank | Gold Coast, Australia
Australia’s Gold Coast is a mecca for surfers of all stripes and experience levels. It’s nearly impossible to choose just one wave worthy of a ride, but if you must, make it the Superbank. The world-renowned break produces flawless barrels, solid walls, and memories to last a lifetime. The downside to its stellar reputation is the crowd. On a good day, hundreds of surfers can be found fighting for a piece of the Superbank’s action.
Anchor Point | Taghazout, Morocco
Morocco’s leading surfing beach, just north of Agadir, is Taghazout – an ancient Berber encampment turned hippie haven turned surfer sanctuary. There are waves to suit beginners and experts alike, but the crown jewel is Anchor Point. A medium to large northwest swell produces an endless succession of speed walls and cutback hooks. Occasional green rooms appear on the sandy sections down the point.
The Peak | Bundoran Beach, Ireland
Ireland may seem like an unlikely surf destination, but the moody waters of Bundoran belong on your bucket list. Leave the board shorts behind and pack plenty of neoprene – the North Atlantic waves are far from warm. If you’re prepared to brave the chill, you’re in for some of the best waves of your life (and a charming pack of locals). The stand-out spot is a challenging reef break called The Peak.
Pipeline | Oahu, Hawaii, USA
Meet the wave that all other waves are compared to. Off Oahu’s North Shore you’ll find Pipeline, a potentially deadly reef break that every serious surfer hopes to vanquish in his lifetime. Visitors arrive from all over the world to try their luck on the picture-perfect but ferocious swells. It will be crowded, and North Shore locals aren’t always welcoming to outsiders, but it makes a successful run feel all the more rewarding.
Cloudbreak | Tavarua, Fiji
Located a mile offshore from Tavarua, a heart-shaped island in Fiji, Cloudbreak is known to get so large that only tow-in surfing is possible. What makes this spot especially unique is the accommodations – the entire island of Tavarua is a resort, and a world-class one at that. If your surfing skills aren’t up to the challenge of Cloudbreak, there are six other A-list waves in the area: Restaurants, Tavarua Rights, Swimming Pools, Namotu Left, Wilkes Pass, and Desperations.
Hossegor | France
Barrels, bikinis, and… baguettes? France is not an obvious destination for wave-riding glory, but it serves up some of the best barrels you’ll ever surf. Hossegor has been dubbed the ‘surfing capital of Europe’, a distinction that makes it a hub for both professional surfers and well-heeled holiday homeowners. The surrounding area is peppered with mansions belonging to the rich, famous, and chic. Fine wine, exquisite food, and bustling nightclubs await you post-beach.
Arugam Bay | Sri Lanka
Expect pristine walls, sand-bottom perfection, and a melting pot of skill levels in Sri Lanka’s Arugam Bay. The surf doesn’t get high, but it’s consistent and fun. On the rare occasion that the waves are not up to par, Arugam Bay has plenty more to offer. Try the main drag’s many restaurants and get in ample wildlife watching. Exotic birds, elephants, wild boar, and water buffalo are just some of the creatures you could come across.
Black’s Beach | San Diego, California, USA
Prime surfing spots are a dime a dozen on California’s coast, but Black’s Beach in San Diego is home to one of the most powerful breaks in the state. Take note: getting there requires a long hike down steep cliffs, currents are strong, and you may have a run-in with nudists. Black’s is not for everyone, but if you’re an experienced surfer who doesn’t mind seeing skin, you’re in for some of the finest waves in the Western Hemisphere.