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Surfing

Paddling out into the swells at sunrise, just you and your board, the vast powerful ocean before you, and some of your best friends; surfing is addictive, exhilarating, challenging and an incredibly rewarding way to experience the natural world around us.

A bunch of decisions come into play when you’re deciding on the best surf location for you and your friends or family. Proximity to the beach, nearby towns and activites, cost, weather, local culture, and of course reliability of the waves for your ability level. Basing yourself out of a local surf haunt is the best way to get up-to-date information, meet new friends, and work out the local protocols for the breaks and accessing them.  

Surfing is an amazing way to travel the world and see new places, and your bucket list will never be empty, with nearly two thirds of the earth covered by ocean, and surf breaks in coastal regions throughout the globe, the biggest decision is where to go next. Key locations include Indonesia, Australia, California, South Africa, Hawaii and Tahiti. While less well known places such as Morocco, Ireland, Fiji and New Zealand offer unique experiences for those prepared to explore further.

Ability

For learners - no specific ability or skills required apart from being relatively fit and strong with an ability to swim and be comfortable around water. For intermediate or advanced riders, and depending on the breaks visited, a well-developed technique couple with an ability to read the local conditions and waves is super important. Locals are always a great source of knowledge about their ‘backyard’ and we strongly suggest connecting with people who know the breaks well.

Gear Required

For beginners who are attending a surfing school, generally all gear is provided including board and wetsuit (if required for local conditions). For those on a surfing based holiday, bringing your own boards and gear is recommended as remote destinations can have little or no gear that can be purchased or hired onsite.

Purakanui Bay, Catlins - NZ full

exploreGO's Top Surf Destinations

  • Playa Grande is one of Costa Rica’s best surfing spots, which offers a cool vibe in town to be based from
  • Bundoran Beach in Ireland for the adventurous
  • Jeffreys Bay, South Africa for iconic African waves
  • Huntington Beach and San Clemente in California – classic Californian surf lifestyle  
  • Bondi Beach, Sydney for true Aussie surf culture and lifestyle at its best
  • Taghazout, Morocco for something unique and exploratory
  • Teahupo'o, Tahiti for exotic surfing in a stunning island getaway
  • Mentawai Islands, Indonesia – incredible surfing, lifestyle and low cost
  • Exotic Southeast Asian surf locations such as Sumatra, Sumba, Bali, Lombok, Philippines, Vietnam

Best time to travel

When it comes to surfing, it’s important to be in the right spot at the right time. Weather patterns, tide and swell can vary massively even within the dates below. Below are general seasons.

Australia – High season between March and May, with sunny and warm weather. Powerful swells hit the coasts between June and September when it’s also less crowded.

Brazil – A year-round destination. Surfing season in Southern Brazil is between April and September, and in Northern Brazil between November and March.

California – A year-round destination, the best time to surf in California is during winter months.

Chile – A year-round surfing destination, Due to its coastal configuration Chile has around 300 days of surf per year.

Costa Rica – A year-round destination, best time is between May-October and November-March.

Fiji – A year-round surfing destination, the best surf can be expected between April and October.

France – High season between June and October, with warmer water. Winter months receive heavy swells and cold water.

Hawaii – High season is between November and March when large swells kick in. Prime time is between March and May, with quality waves and fewer crowds.

Indonesia – High season between May and October. The wet season between November and April also receives quality swell. In Bali, the high season is between May and September, with good surfing conditions between November and March as well.

Mexico – A year-round destination, best time is between June and September.

Morocco – High season between September and April. The best time to travel is between December and March when powerful, heavy waves hit the coast, suitable for more experienced surfers.

Nicaragua – A year-round destination, prime time in Nicaragua is between May and November.

Peru – A year-round destination. Northern Peru receives consistent swell all year. In South Peru, the surf season is between April and October.

Philippines – A year-round destination, the best surf hits the coasts between December and April.

Portugal – High season between May and September, with warm and sunny weather and gentle waves for beginners. Prime time is between October and April, with big waves and cold water.

South Africa – High season between February and November. April and May are the most pleasant months. You can expect cooler weather between May and July.

Spain – Prime time is between September and April, with powerful swells and cold water. Summer months receive beginner-friendly waves. On the Canary Islands, the high surfing season is between October and February.

 Sri Lanka – A year-round surfing destination, the surf season on the east coast is between May and September. On the west coast, the season lasts from October through April.

Thailand – High season between April and November. Gentle waves can be found during winter months, suitable for beginners.

UK – High season between September and May. The best surf can be found during autumn months.

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exploreGO Top Tips:

  • One of the best ways to learn and fastest ways to progress is through a surf school. Teaching yourself can be very slow, and potentially put others at risk if you don’t know the local area or waves. So connect with a solid and reputable surf school and learn from the professionals.
  • Talk to the locals before surfing a new spot and watch at least one set roll through before paddling out so you can assess any potential hazards as well as the best entry and exit spots.

Related Experiences

Interested in Surfing but seeking a different experience right now? Check out some suggested experiences below or click the link to browse our full suite of activities.

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