Top 10 places in the world to learn to surf
The best surfing spots for beginners
Heading on a trip with the intention of learning to surf? It’s important to choose a location relevant to your skill level so that you can best start possible, so here is a quick guide to the best place in the world to learn to surf.
The place where you first learn to surf can positively influence your experience and learning curve – and obviously, finding a place where you can gain some surf instruction will be one of you main priorities. With this in mind, we have selected 10 of the best beginner-friendly spots to get you surfing those waves.
Learn to surf in Lanzarote
Any time is a good time for surfing on the island of Lanzarote – which is known as ‘Europe’s Hawaii’ because of its quality surf. The summer months are the best time to go if you are starting out, as the waves are smaller then. There are plenty of good surfing spots within a short distance, as going from one side of the island to the other only takes around 45 minutes.
A good places for beginners to learn to surf is Playa Famara – a long, natural beach situated in a large protected bay, which provides a safe environment for surfing beginners. Another good spot is Jameos del Agua, located on the east side of the island, which also attracts a fair number of beginner surfers.
Learn to surf in Costa Rica
Costa Rica boasts both a Pacific and a Caribbean coast, as well as some of the most consistent year-round surf to suit all levels of expertise. The warm waters make learning a particularly enjoyable experience here.
The long stretch of beach at Playa Jaco is considered to be the surfing capital of the world, as its warm waters provide waves suitable for beginners as well as advanced surfers. Playa Dominical is the spot that has the most consistent surf, while other learner spots such as Playa Guapil, Playa Hermosa, Playa Dominicalito and Playa Ventanas all make for ideal places for beginners to learn to surf, as the waves are small, gentle, and well-formed – plus they have absolutely stunning scenery!
Learn to surf in Santa Monica, Los Angeles
This location is perfect for all ages and skill levels: beginners will be catching waves and standing on their first surf lesson, and more advanced students will be able to learn more techniques to improve their performance.
Santa Monica is a great place to learn because of the gradual slope of its sandy ocean floor. The waves break gently far offshore – no matter what the ocean conditions are – and these waves are consistently perfect for beginners to practise on. Add to that the convenience of its proximity to such tourist attractions as the Santa Monica Pier, the Third Street Promenade and Venice Beach, and it all adds up to a great place in the world to learn to surf
Learn to surf in Noosa Heads, Queensland, Australia
You could take your pick of many surf locations in Australia in which to ride your first wave, but one of the most popular is Noosa Heads, which is exceptionally beginner-friendly. The waves, weather, beaches, general vibe and atmosphere make it the preferred beginner destination.
Beginners generally start at the Main Beach, which is sheltered from big ocean swells by the Noosa National Park. This means the waves are smaller, slower and gentler than those at other beaches – plus the beach doesn’t get too busy, which will allow you to learn in a relaxed environment. Other good spots for beginners in Australia include Bondi Beach in Sydney, and Byron Bay in New South Wales.
Learn to surf in Santa Cruz, California, USA
The filmmakers of the classic surf film Endless Summer shot portions of their movie in Santa Cruz, thereby confirming its legendary status among surfers – but it is also one of the best places on the West Coast in which beginners can learn to surf.
The unique shape of Monterey Bay provides a variety of surf spots in Santa Cruz, including a number of beaches facing different directions and featuring different breaks – although all have consistent waves. One of the most noted spots for beginners is Cowell’s Beach, located next to the Santa Cruz Wharf. It’s a sheltered point break with long, gentle waves and a sandy bottom, making it ideal for beginners.
Learn to surf in Chiba and Shonan, Japan
You might not immediately think of Japan as a surf location, but it is actually a great place for beginner surfers. Mellow waves, regular swells in summer and warm waters on most of the country’s beaches make them comfortable, safe surfing spots. And as Japan is a long thin island, the coast is never more than a couple of hours away.
Around Tokyo and Yokohama, both Chiba and Shonan offer perfect learning conditions. When choosing your surf spot at either of these locations, the general wisdom, according to locals, is to go for the most crowded – largely because if it’s crowded, you’ll know it’s safe and that other people will also be learning there.
Learn to surf in Peniche, Portugal
The peninsula of Peniche offers a north- and south-facing coastline, and is widely recognised as the best and most consistent surf spot in Portugal. Peniche gets the finest surfing conditions every day – regardless of the swell and wind direction.
Although the peninsula’s coastline is around 15km long and provides conditions for all levels of ability, it can get pretty crowded at times – so it’s best to be an early riser in the mornings in order to avoid the busiest moments. Several surf schools operating in Peniche like to give visitors a taste of the area by taking them to a different spot each day – which would be a great way for you to learn about the different types of surfing available!
Learn to surf in Morocco
Morocco’s diverse range of breaks – including easy beach breaks that are ideal for beginners – make it a surf destination open to surfers of all abilities. Morocco is best surfed in Europe's winter – and certainly January and February are considered the best times to go to get really favourable winds.
Tamri is a good spot for beginners as it features many peaks – so even on the worst of days you’ll find some good waves. Others good spots in Morocco for those starting out in surfing include Hash Point, Panoramas and Banana Point – although there are also many more places to go to besides these, especially in the Agadir region.
Learn to surf in Gisborne, New Zealand
Gisborne is located on the east coast of the North Island of New Zealand, and is a prime spot for surfing beginners. The east coast has a reputation for delivering reliable, consistent and top-quality surf in almost any weather conditions – so you’ll be able to visit at almost any time of the year!
Waikanae Beach is the main town beach and is considered to be the perfect surfing location for beginners, as it has smaller surf than other Gisborne beaches and there are always lifeguards on hand. Wainui Beach, Roberts Road and Sponge Bay are also popular spots in Gisborne that are considered to be excellent for beginners.
Bali, Indonesia surfing
Surfing has truly caught on in a big way in Bali, and it has excellent waves all year round, which are ideal for every kind of surfer, including beginners. Renowned surf spots in Bali include Kuta and Nusa Dua, where scores of surf schools have sprung up in recent years.
Kuta is known for its long rolling waves and by far the whitest beach in Bali. The long crescent-shaped beach at Kuta is protected by a coral reef at the southern end of the beach. The best surfing is from March to July, although it can get crowded at times. Alternatively, Nusa Dua – on the south-eastern tip of the island – has some nice reef which provides good waves for beginners.