December is the time for hot drinks, over indulgence, and slowly becoming one with the couch. It’s that time of the year when you wake up, look out the window, and go straight back to bed because the outside world has nothing to offer.
We’ve all done it, so stop being ashamed.
It’s time to abandon that way of thinking, and start recognizing December for the surfing month that it is. The waves in the Northern Hemisphere are at their peak, and the weather in the Southern Hemisphere at its finest.
Holidays tend to be cheaper, the beaches are less crowded, and you can escape the gray skies of home.
Our guide will show you all the best places to surf in December. From newbies looking for some winter sun, to experts after the biggest waves. Forget December indoors, and start looking forward to a December on the waves.
1. Taghazout, Morocco
Surf in Morocco comes alive in December, with North Atlantic storms causing powerful breaks. Head to the town of Taghazout, which is becoming a major spot for surfers. The right-hand point break at Anchor Point is what attracts the crowds, especially those with skill.
Check out Killer Point, Safi, Imsouane, and Essaouira as well, for some world-class waves. Beginner’s can also find something to do that isn’t exploring the rich culture of Morocco, because there are plenty of classes for first-timers.
If you don’t like feeling crowded out, and are happy to do a bit of exploring, try to find the quieter spots. Waves are pretty consistent along the Moroccan coastline, so there’s always something.
The blue skies and warmer waters (around 64F in December) make this perhaps the most popular winter surf destination for Europeans, so go prepared for crowds.
2. Fuerteventura, Canary Islands
Technically European but closer to Africa, the Canary Islands are small enough that you can bounce between them for a couple of days – but Fuerteventura offers the best waves.
The swells are powered by North Atlantic storms, while the tiny island’s weather is sheltered by the African coast. There’s surfing year-round, but the biggest and best waves hit during December to March.
Fuerteventura has a relaxed vibe, and the island coastline offers plenty of directions for different waves. The popular surf spots can get crowded on good days, but Fuerteventura is almost nothing but beach. There are lots of rarely visited spots for a variety of breaks.
Fuerteventura is known as the Hawaii of Europe, and with one look at the consistent sun, regular waves, and long open beaches can tell you why.
3. Algarve, Portugal
While the rest of Europe is miserably gray, the Algarve in Portugal manages to stay sunny (although a t- shirt is recommended). In the summer, the beaches of the Algarve are crowded with tourists, but they tend to scatter in the winter. Left instead are big waves, warmer seas, and comfortable conveniences.
Sagros is the best surfing beach, but also the most popular. Luckily, the Algarve is littered with hidden surf spots. Algarve offers both west and south coast beaches. The west gets a bigger swell, where the southern coast has better shelter from bad winds
If you’ve made the trip to Portugal, head to Lisbon for a few days. This vibrant city boasts access to numerous amazing surf spots, and the crowds tend to stay off the cooler beaches. Carcavelos is considered the home of Portuguese surfing, and the long beach has a few different peaks on offer.
4. Santa Teresa, Costa Rica
It would be impossible to discuss December surfing and not mention Costa Rica. In December, the waves aren’t wild but quietly consistent. There are so many places to surf it’s almost impossible to choose a favorite, but Santa Teresa on the west coast is our pick.
For beginners, this is the best time to head to Costa Rica. Many of the towns are geared towards surfing, and the smaller winter waves are perfect for learning on. The water’s warm enough you won’t even need a wetsuit, and the laid back vibe of the beach is a welcoming paradise.
Costa Rica is all about La Pura Vida – taking a relaxed approach to life. While the breaks may not be as big in December, even expert surfers can enjoy an easy-going holiday in the gorgeous landscape of Costa Rica.
5. Siargao Island, Philippines
By December the waves in the Philippines are starting to mellow, and the crowds are thinning out with them. This just means you can enjoy some world-class breaks, without having to fight for a place.
The Philippines is made up of about 7,460 islands, so you can imagine the number of beaches. Head to Siargao Island for Cloud 9 aka one of the most famous waves on the planet.
This reef break boasts a thick and hollow barrel, for a thrilling ride accompanied by some gorgeous views. Not one for beginners – unless you enjoy losing half your skin on the reefs below.
If you don’t fancy giving that a go, there are plenty of other beaches across the island. In fact, the island is basically all beach. Try the waves at Quicksilver, Tuason Point, Cemetery, or Dako reef.
6. Noosa, Australia
If you’re after a consistent surf, then Noosa in December isn’t the best place to go. However, the offshore summer cyclones produce waves that are big and fun. Beginners can find a place to learn, intermediates can improve, and experts can have a good time enjoying the atmosphere.
Unless you live in Australia, it’s probably a long trip out. Make the most of it by exploring up and down the Gold coast and the Sunshine coast. In December, these places are enjoying some of the best weather around, and as long as you’re willing to travel, there’s somewhere to surf.
Keep an eye out on Byron Bay. This town has exploded in popularity, with more than a few of the rich and famous calling it home, but there are some fantastic waves. They’re inconsistent, so stay alert for optimum conditions.
7. Oahu, Hawaii
The home of surf itself, Hawaii is such a given it’s almost not worth mentioning. But the truth is that Hawaii’s north shore is at its very best in December, and any surfing enthusiast would be crazy to give it a miss. Oahu produces waves year round, and in December they really step it up a gear.
Home to the famous Seven Mile Miracle, a stretch of coastline so fantastic it could be in the dictionary for surfers-paradise, Oahu comes alive in December. One for those with experience, there are 36 breaks along the coastal stretch.
While the north shore is experiencing epic waves, things are quietening down in the south. Beginners and intermediates can head here, although be aware that some days are flat.
8. Mirissa, Sri Lanka
While the popular east coast destinations flatten down, Sri Lanka’s south coast comes alive. Although the waves never get too big, they stay consistent and are fun. Which goes well with the relaxed vibe that Sri Lanka has to offer.
Pleasantly warm throughout December, surfers of any level will find something to enjoy in Sri Lanka (even if it’s just the local cuisine). Beginners will appreciate that it’s a good place to learn, especially with a smaller crowd.
9. Bocas del Toro, Panama
Central America is home to some of the best winter surf destinations, but try Panama if you’re after something a little different. Bocas del Toro is the number one destination, with beach breaks and reef breaks that rank amongst the best in the world.
Winter Atlantic cyclones are the secret to Panama’s great surf, sending giant swells towards the numerous beaches of Bocas del Toro. And it really is a secret.
While the rest of the world heads to Cabo or Tamarindo, the beaches of Panama remain relatively quiet. Meanwhile, the cities are full of great nightlife, luxury accommodation, and even a few casinos.
If you really do appreciate the quiet, catch a boat trip out to Morro Negrito off the coast of Chiriqui in the north.
It’s not all about the Soup Bowl, but a lot of it’s about the Soup Bowl. The most famous wave in Barbados is also one of the most famous waves in the world.
Thick, deep, and with a lot of water in it, you’ll definitely find yourself waiting for your turn if you want to give it a go. Most surfers who come to Barbados are looking for a chance with the soup bowl – and it doesn’t always give you one.
If that doesn’t appeal to you, head instead to Freights Bay. The wave here is calmer – as are the surfers – and even beginners can give it a go.
December surfing is varied, and offers a chance to try a few unusual spots. Many beaches are quieter without the summer visitors, while the laid back atmosphere remains. Look for big breaks, warmer waters, and a chance to escape another gray December day.