A photo of a man riding a wave in Santa Cruz
Emlyn Stokes, Flickr

10 Places to Ride the Curl: Surfing Around the World

By Lois Friedland; photo editing by Ross Walker
Ask 10 avid surfers about their favorite surf spots and you’ll get 10 different answers. But no matter where you decide to go, always check with the locals and lifeguards before entering the water for advice on where to find the best waves for your skill level—not to mention for a head's on on where the danger zones are. Surf lessons are offered at most of these locales. For more great surf spots and reports on daily swells, visit www.surfline.com and www.wannasurf.com.
A photo of waves breaking at Jefferys Bay
Dave Lonsdale, Flickr
Jeffreys Bay, South Africa
The waves roll onto the shore with a rhythmic intensity at Jeffreys Bay, one of the most popular surfing spots among the many favored in South Africa. An increasingly popular place for weekend and summer homes set amidst some of South Africa’s wildest coastline, "J-Bay" on the Indian Ocean is an easy drive from Port Elizabeth. The best time for waves here is the end of May through August. In July, a Billabong Pro stop is held at Supertubes beach, where the waves continually roll in perfectly formed for championship surfing. www.infojeffreysbay.com
A photo of Ehukai Beach
Jai Mansson, Flickr
Oahu, Hawaii, U.S.A.
Some surfers make the case that the North Shore of Oahu is the best surfing location on the globe. In the winter, thunderous waves have been known to reach 30 to 40 feet (9–12m), especially around Ehukai Beach, often called The Pipeline. The massive tubes formed by curling waves are only for the very experienced. Closer to Waikiki and Honolulu, the South Shore has numerous breaks where beginners can learn the sport, and experienced surfers will have fun. Waimea Beach is the site of the annual Quicksilver Eddie Aikau Invitational, held when the wave height is 20 feet (6m) or higher. This beach attracts the “big wave” surfers in the winter. While in Oahu, be sure to stop by the Honolulu Surfing Museum in Jimmy Buffett’s at the Beachcomber in Waikiki. www.visit-oahu.com
A photo of a man jumping off of a cliff in Santa Cruz
Wonderlane, Flickr
Santa Cruz, California, U.S.A
Steamer Lane in Santa Cruz is one of the most popular surf spots in California, so expect an audience when you paddle out from shore. Because of its location, the big waves from the west and the northwest even out here as they slide into Monterey Bay. Locals say that Cowells, nearby, is a better choice for the less experienced surfer. www.ci-santa-cruz.ca.us
Photo of Donegal Bay
John Picken, Flickr
Donegal Bay, Ireland
Isolated and rugged, the Northwest Ireland coastline has lately been luring both professional and amateur surfers. You’ll have to prepare for the cold weather and waters, but those same challenges keep away large crowds. Pair that advantage with the friendly Irish locals and other nearby wild and scenic destinations such as Glenveagh National Park (www.glenveaghnationalpark.ie), and you’ll understand why surfing this destination offers a unique and exhilarating experience. Bundoran makes a good home base. www.bundoransurfco.com
A photo of a man carrying surfboards in Tamarindo
Jarle Naustvik, Flickr
Tamarindo, Costa Rica
The surfing flick Endless Summer 2 put these waves on many a surfer’s radar. You’ll find big waves and great weather at breaks such as Little Hawaii and Witches Rock. There are waves for both short and long boards here. www.visittamarindo.com
A shot of Tavarua Island
Steve Kulk, Flickr
Tavarua Island, Fiji
Cloudbreak is touted as one of the gnarliest reefs on the planet, but you’ll have to stay at the private Tavarua Island surf camp to surf here. This break is in the middle of the ocean, a short ponga ride from the resort. Both Cloudbreak, a reef break, and Restaurants, which wraps around part of the island, are for experienced surfers, but there are more gentle spots for beginners. Plan on booking well in advance of when you want to go because there’s room for only 36 guests at the resort. On changeover days, non-guests may be allowed to surf here. Tavarua Island Resort: www.tavarua.com
Cloudy sunset in San Diego
Chad McDonald, Flickr
San Diego, California, U.S.A

Take your pick from a number of great surfing hot spots in the San Diego area: La Jolla Shores, Pacific Beach, Ocean Beach, and in the North County, Oceanside and Carlsbad State Beach. Strong riptides are prevalent along this coast, where waters are cold nearly year-round (you’ll likely need a wetsuit no matter what season), so be sure to check with locals before making assumptions about conditions. www.sandiego.org. La Jolla Surf Systems (tel. 858/456-2777; www.lajollasurfsystems.com); Ocean Beach Surf & Skate (tel. 619/225-0674; www.oceanexperience.com); Kahuna Bob’s Surf School (tel. 760/721-7700; www.kahunabob.com)

Photo of flowers in Hanalei Bay
Chuck, Flickr
Hanalei Bay, Kauai, Hawaii, U.S.A
Because the 2-mile long, crescent moon-shaped bay on Kauai’s North Shore is home break for some world champion surfers, the water here has become a hot spot for surfers. Locals may advise you to hang around the Hanalei pier to find out where the waves are gentle. Those looking for a bit more excitement should head to Pine Tree to watch the pro surfers rip daily in the winter. www.kauaiexplorer.com/kauai_beaches/hanalei_bay.php
A photo of Bells Beach
Madeleine Deaton, Flickr
Bells Beach, Australia
Bells Beach, a point break where waves can range from 2 to 15 feet (4.5m), is the most famous of the dozens of breaks along the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, Australia. Located about 100km (62 miles) from Melbourne, this is the spot for the Rip Curl Pro Surf & Music Festival, the world’s longest-running surfing competition, held every Easter. The area is only for experienced surfers and swimmers, but other large ocean swells land on cliff-sided sandy beaches elsewhere along the road. www.bellsbeachaustralia.com
<p class="p1"><span class="s1">The excellent break and lack of crowds draw surf aficionados to this small surf town on the <a href="../../destinations/agadir/277066#sthash.N35VoLox.dpbs" target="_blank">coast of Morocco</a>. In addition to Taghazout, advantageous breaks can be found all the way from north of Rabat (Mehdiya Plage) to south of Agadir (Sidi Ifni). The lagoon at Oualidia is a great place for beginners. Imessouane and Anchor Point are also prime destinations. Rapture (tel. 43/720-70-17-52 [Austria];<a href="http://%20www.rapturecamps.com" target="_blank"> www.rapturecamps.com</a>). Pure Blue Surf Adventures (tel. 44/1326 316363; <a href="http://www.purebluewater.com" target="_blank">www.purebluewater.com</a>).</span></p>
Heather Cowper, Flickr
Taghazout, Morocco
The excellent break and lack of crowds draw surf aficionados to this small surf town on the coast of Morocco. In addition to Taghazout, advantageous breaks can be found all the way from north of Rabat (Mehdiya Plage) to south of Agadir (Sidi Ifni). The lagoon at Oualidia is a great place for beginners. Imessouane and Anchor Point are also prime destinations. Rapture (tel. 43/720-70-17-52 [Austria]; www.rapturecamps.com); Pure Blue Surf Adventures (tel. 44/1326 316363; www.purebluewater.com)