Bali is an Island with a beautiful and peaceful vibe. Once considered one of the last great global surfing locations it is now a very popular starting destination for wave-riding pilgrims on tour in Indonesia. Bali’s appeal (outside the wonderful scenery and people of the island itself) is the variety among its surf. You can find gentle waves and safe beach breaks ideal for novices at Kuta or Sanur but also the A-grade barrel reef breaks for which Bali is famous in places like Padang Padang. All this means that even in the peak season of April to October you can find a quiet spot to surf.
Fuerteventura, Canary Islands
After serene and placid Bali it would be hard to imagine a more antithetical location than Fuerteventura. Exposed to the thump of the North Atlantic, Fuerteventura can be a surf spot which should only be tackled by more experienced surfing inductees. Apart from the hefty swells, hazards include shredding reefs, strong side-winds and the occasional lurking sea urchin. However, adventurous tourists will find regular breaks on the island’s north where the temperatures rarely drop below 18 degrees. A must have addition for a hardcore surfer’s trophy cabinet.
Newquay is surf central in the UK, the home of the English surf scene and (despite often unpredictable British weather) is among the most surfable global surf locations. The town itself is a surfer’s haven and hangout with backpacker hostels and surf cafes aplenty accompanied by a very chilled atmosphere. Fistral beach, a tantalisingly exposed headland, is ground-zero with waves that will brighten up even the gloomiest of winter days, just make sure you remember your wetsuit.
Costa Rica, through the eyes of a surfer, is essentially two extremely surfable coastlines and two great expanses of water separated by an inconvenient mountain range. It is a relatively safe, friendly and developed destination with breezy beaches and temperate waters. Its geographical position lends it the rare appeal of year-round surf opportunities, with the rainy season of May to September throwing up surf on the Pacific coastline and the warmer dry season offering swells south of Limon on the Caribbean side of the country.
The Gold Coast to Byron Bay, Australia
The East coast of Australia is rightly recognized as a global surfing location that shouldn't be missed. Around 70km (43 miles) of superb beaches are set amongst a laid back and extremely tourist friendly environment — there is a reason that the Gold coast has become known as known as a surfer’s paradise. With point breaks such as ‘The Spit’ providing awesome riding from January to July, there is also Byron Bay, only a short hop away which is a perfect place for newbies to cut their teeth in a town which epitomizes surfing mentality.
From the warmth of Eastern Australia back to the unforgiving pulse of the Atlantic, Ireland is a rising star in the surf world. Some the best surfing to be had on the Emerald isle is in County Donegal where gems like Bundoran offer awesome riding on deep, opaque green fluxes which rival the surf in some of the world’s more well-trod destinations. You will need a wetsuit to stave off the frigid temperatures but the draws to this still relatively new destination are clear, with the surrounding county being one of Ireland’s most picturesque.
Samoa, New Zealand
Samoa is another one of those somewhat unique year-round global surfing locations. The pair of Polynesian Islands are pretty much everything you could wish for as a surfer. Warm water and consistently high quality waves all centred around Edenic, tropical islands. The best among the available surf crashes into the southern side of Upolu and reaches its peak from April to October. The country is making a staunch and steady recovery from the horrors of the 2009 Tsunami. If you needed any reason to visit other than the awesome surf and implausibly idyllic scenery then being part of the rebirth of these beautiful islands might make up your mind.
Jeffrey’s Bay, South Africa
Rated among the surfing faithful as one of the world’s best destinations, Jeffrey’s bay is home to some of the most surfable waves you’re likely to see in this life or the next. It throws up quite simply sublime tubes for more seasoned devotees to rip up until they can no longer lift their boards. The attraction that the waves provide has led to the town becoming a surfing hub with the community growing nearly as fast as one of the bay’s great swells.
Puerto Escondido, Mexico
Back to Central America as we build to the crest of our ride through global surfing Elysiums. Puerto escondido, the “Mexican Pipeline”, is home to the infamous Playa Zicatela, where some of the world’s most powerful waves shake the earth as they suck back from the shore. This place is no joke; the careers of many surfing pros have been dashed and ended on this brutally shallow break.
Finally, if you only surf in one place in your lifetime, make it Hawaii − the spiritual home of surfing. It is from this North Pacific island that the earliest written testimony of surfing originates, recorded by James King newly annointed captain of the HMS discovery in 1778.
Today surfing may have grown to be recognized across the globe but in its motherland, among the Polynesian cultures of the Pacific, it is still as ingrained in the culture as it was when King observed the native inhabitants of Hawaii surfing on their hardwood planks.
Hawaii is one of the proving grounds for anyone who wants to be considered a serious surfer. The North Shore is among the world’s most iconic surfing locations and is exposed to the full fury of the North Pacific which generates some of the world’s biggest swells. Hawaii also has plenty to keep newbies entertained in places like Waikiki on southern Honolulu.