August is a love-hate month for many surf and travel gurus: it’s a time many of the most popular surfing spots are crowded, but it’s also a time for storm swells in several locations, which promise heavy breaks and great waves.
If you’re just starting out and are trying your hand at surfing, fear not, as in other spots the swell is tamer and will give you the opportunity to improve your technique.
If August sounds like the perfect time for your surfing vacation, keep reading – we’ve put together a list of the 10 best places to surf in August…
1. San Clemente, California
San Clemente, California, offers some of the best waves in the U.S. in August, and definitely the best waves in southern California – from spots such as T-Street and Trestles to San Onofre which has been attracting surf tourists and locals alike since the 1930s.
With miles of coastline, San Clemente is the perfect surf spot for intermediate to advanced surfers, with fast and hollow beach breaks and slow and crumbly cobblestone reef breaks.
Trestles is a particularly great spot and offers five main breaks, including a classic reef-point break, as well as long and clean beach breaks that peel in both directions.
The water this time of year is around 20 degrees celsius, so you’ll need boardshorts/a costume, or a summer wetsuit.
2. El Sunzal, El Salvador
Whether you’re a novice surfer or have been riding the waves for years, El Sunzal in El Salvador, Central America, offers something for everyone.
Here you can expect to find great learning waves from November through February, and exhilarating long rides during the south swell season.
El Sunzal’s swell is consistent and particularly rippable from June to August, with a gentle wave that breaks right on the bottom of boulders.
If you’re looking for something a little more challenging, neighboring La Bocana serves a left, rock point break which is better suited for more advanced experience levels.
With tempting water temperatures of 30 degrees celsius, El Slavador is the perfect surf location if you’re looking for a tropical climate and consistent waves.
3. Puerto Escondido, México
Puerto Escondido is a Mexican surfing town that caters to all budgets and surf levels, however, its iconic waves are best suited to experienced surfers and experts. This location is known for its massive barrels and waves that can reach heights of 40+ feet!
The Puerto surf season starts from late April or the beginning of May and goes on until early September.
The busiest months will be June, July, and August, so if you enjoy a bustling beach with a lot of activity, this is a good time to visit. If you’re not a fan of crowds, maybe wait until September.
The water this time of year is warm (about 30 degrees celsius!), so all you’ll need are board shorts and a rash vest.
If you’re a beginner, you’ll want to hit Carrizalillo, while advanced surfers enjoy Zicatela’s heavy waves that often leave surfboards in two pieces! Zicatela also offers a steady supply of barrels on three main peaks and a sand bottom.
4. Tahiti, French Polynesia
As the largest island in French Polynesia, Tahiti is one of the world’s most famous surf spots, and surfing here in August is not for the faint hearted.
We don’t just mean because of the crowds, but also because of the heavy barrels and famous reef break of Teahupoo, which is considered the world’s heaviest wave! Expect a massive wave that spits out consistent barrels over a shallow bed.
Teahupoo hosts the Tahiti Pro Teahupoo leg of the World Surf League every year, but you’ll also find beach breaks and more gentle waves for beginners.
While Teahupoo offers the best waves for the pros, you can find decent waves all over the island of Tahiti and the neighboring island of Moorea. For more gentle breaks, check out the black sand beaches of Papenoo.
5. Durban, South Africa
Durban has a warm ocean temperature meaning you can hit the waves in boardshorts and a costume. Though if you’re planning on staying in the water for a longer session, you may prefer a spring suit.
August offers Durban’s most consistent surf, and the area offers a range of surf spots for different abilities. While you’ll find daunting barrels at Cave Rock, North Beach is popular among longboarders, while Express Point provides many ledge-riding opportunities.
The east coast is perfect for both pro and learner surfers. You’ll find point break waves that are ideal for those who are learning to surf by the piers towards the south, while the sand banks in North Beach’s Golden Mile provide gentle waves for beginners.
Though it’s promoted less than Cape Town, Durban offers awe-inspiring sunrises, and even the chance to spot some dolphins if you’re lucky enough!
6. Arugam Bay, Sri Lanka
August is in the middle of the dry season in Arugam Bay so you’ll find some of the best waves this time of year thanks to the strong swell.
On the palm-tree fringed beaches you’ll find long, peeling right-handers, as well other spots situated within a 45-minute drive from the main spot, including the Lighthouse which has two right-hand point breaks, Whiskey Point which is ideal for beginners, and Main Point which has a reef bottom.
While this is a great time to hit Arugam Bay’s tropical waters, bear in mind that July-August tends to attract more tourists, so the beaches will be much busier.
7. Biarritz, France
If you’re looking for a European surf destination for August, we suggest Biarritz, a coastal city in France’s Basque Country. Here you’ll find a rich surfing culture with warm water and perfect tides for beginners to intermediates.
La Cote des Basques is one of the most popular spots as it offers unwavering consistency despite the wind, though it can get busy, so you’re best hitting the water earlier on in the day to avoid the crowds.
Other surf spots include Le Miramar, La Grande Plage, Marbella and La Milady, and this popular surf city offers plenty of opportunities for surfing camps and lessons, as well as a thriving cafe culture.
8. Peniche, Portugal
Known as Portugal’s surf capital, Peniche is a surf spot which attracts beginners and advanced surfers alike.
One of the most popular spots is Supertubos, on the south side of Peniche. The name speaks for itself, and here you’ll find strong hollow waves that are best suited to experienced surfers. It also hosts the annual World Surf League.
Beginners will be pleased to know that waves become more accessible in August, and the best spots for gentle waves include Catinho a Baia, Prainha, and Gigi. More challenging waves can be found at Molhe Leste and Papoa.
9. Canggu, Bali
Canggu is full of surf camps, and there’s a reason for this: it offers predictable waves and plenty of surf spots.
For beginners, the Echo Beach and Batu Bolong area is best as here the swell is mellow, and one of the best things about Canggu is how convenient it is to stroll along the beach, rent a board, and hit whatever break entices you.
August is in the middle of Bali’s dry season, so the swell is clean and consistent during this time. The only drawback is that it gets crowded with tourists at this time of year, as do most surf spots in the tourist season.
10. Shikoku, Japan
If you’re looking for a spot steeped in history, look no further than Shikoku. The smallest of Japan’s major islands, it’s encircled by a 1,200km, 88-temple Buddhist pilgrimage route honoring the 9th-century monk Kuka.
It’s also one of Japan’s best surf destinations, offering spots for beginners to advanced surfers. While August falls in Japan’s rainy season, the abundant rainfall opens up the river mouths and transforms Shikoku as an optimal surf spot, with right-hand river mouth breaks lasting a couple of days at a time.
However, the surf can be inconsistent and weather-dependent, so it’s not worth planning a trip to the island purely for the surf.
If you’re in the area, and want to absorb yourself in Japan’s rich culture and heritage, it’s definitely worth swinging by the beach and assessing the waves.