Are you an avid surfer who wants to take on some great waves? Or are you more of a novice looking for somewhere to develop your skills? Then you’re in the right place. Surfing is a fun and exciting sport.
But if you’re not in a location with good surfing waves, it can be hard to take off. However, there are places around the world that are fantastic havens for surfers, with strong waves and tall peaks while also cultivating a welcoming environment for anyone who loves to surf.
This list will take a look at some of the most popular, most beautiful, and most iconic surf towns in the world.
Ready? Let’s get started!
Best Surf Towns In The World
1. Hale’iwa, USA
This iconic area of Hawaii’s North Shore area is known for its surfing competitions. Home to gorgeous white beaches such as the famous Waimea Bay, the town of Hale’iwa is a surfer’s paradise.
With large waves in the winter reaching heights of 30-40 feet, the area is known for fierce surfing competitions featuring some of the best surfers in the world, including the Quiksilver Big Wave Invitational. For less confident surfers and people after a more relaxed time surfing, the gentler summer waves in the warm ocean are ideal.
There is also a great local community in Hale’iwa. The North Shore is known for its welcoming atmosphere, and as it is situated less than an hour out of Hawaii’s capital city, Honolulu, the area is well-equipped for tourists and surfing enthusiasts from around the globe.
2. Point Lookout, Australia
A small and welcoming town and the most eastern point of Queensland, Point Lookout is one of Australia’s hidden treasures for surfers. This tiny coastal town boasts a population of just over 700 people, forming a tight-knit and friendly community. It also happens to be one of Australia’s best locations for surfing.
With small remote beaches accessible by boat, Point Lookout is its own private pocket of beauty.
The warm water and great swell on the larger beaches make for a perfect surfing environment, while the remoteness of the beach keeps privacy a given. The large yet calm waves and warm ocean makes Point Lookout a great place to surf for people of all skill levels.
And if great surfing waves and friendly locals weren’t enough to convince you, the gorgeous views of the pacific ocean and common sightings of whales off the coast will. Just keep an eye out for sharks!
3. Montañita, Ecuador
Montañita is a sleepy fishing village along the southern coast of Ecuador. Though quite a small town, Montañita has a great nightlife, transforming into a lively party town over the weekend. The great surfing beaches that stretch for several kilometers alongside Montañita have brought a lot of tourism to the town, making surfing a local industry.
The town contains plenty of surfing shops, making learning to surf cheap and easy.
The beaches themselves boast strong consistent waves all along the coast. While the beaches tend to be busier over the weekend, you’ll always be able to find some privacy along the warm stretches of sand during the week.
Alternatively, you can spend time with the welcoming locals, spending time in the clubs, shops, and restaurants along the coast.
Whichever way you want to spend your time, Montañita has something for everyone.
4. Newport Beach, USA
You’d be hard-pressed to find a town in California more obsessed with surfing than Newport Beach. It is an early surfing town in the USA and is widely considered to be the birthplace of bodysurfing. With a significant history of surfing, it’s to be expected that Newport Beach also has some of the best waves in Southern California.
Newport Beach contains big and small waves and is suitable for all surfers. Because the wave height can vary along the beach, there’s something for every surfer. It’s also the home of The Wedge, a large man-made wave buffer in the middle of the entrance to Newport Harbor.
Here the tide comes in fast and strong, and you can find waves up to 30ft high if the swell is just right. Past the buffer, the waves are less powerful meaning even amateur surfers can enjoy The Wedge.
Newport Beach is also a great tourist area, featuring restaurants, museums, and amusement parks. And if you’re not interested in hitting the waves yourself, you can watch world-class surfers and bodysurfers ride California’s best waves.
5. Hossegor, France
This famous and historic surfing town in the southwest of France is known for its great beaches and waves. Suitable for all levels of surfing, the waves range from gentle-yet-consistent peaks to fast barrel waves perfect for experienced surfers.
The amazing surfing waves make Hossegor one of Europe’s premier surfing destinations and attract pro surfers from around the world.
The beaches of Hossegor are host to the annual Quiksilver Pro France competition, which counts towards the World Surf League Championship. As such, you can see some of the best surfers in the world competing during the event in late September each year.
But don’t be discouraged by the stronger waves during fall – the waves are much more gentle during summer, and are perfect for families, and both novice and expert surfers alike.
Hossegor itself is full of French culture and idyllic history, with picturesque cafes and neo-Basque architecture. The beautiful lake and forests nearby the town are also great to explore.
Whether you want to watch surfers from across the world show off their skills or spend time surfing yourself, Hossegor is one of Europe’s best surfing towns.
6. Kommetjie, South Africa
Meaning ‘Little Basin’ in Afrikaans, Kommetjie is a small town a short distance from Cape Town. Known for its fishing, Kommetjie is also one of South Africa’s best surfing towns due to the numerous beaches nearby. Long Beach, the most notable of these, stretches for 8 kilometers of gorgeous white sand.
The whole beach experiences consistent medium-height waves, making this area perfect for beginner to intermediate surfers looking to improve their skills, or experienced surfers who want a more laid-back day on the waves. And with the sheer length of Long Beach, you’re guaranteed to have plenty of room for yourself.
Kommetjie is located just 45 minutes away from Cape Town, making this area easy to access. Something to bear in mind before you start surfing is the water conditions. The sea here is some of the furthest south in the world, and as a result, the water is very cold. You’ll want to bring a full wetsuit to protect against the chill.
But if you’re properly prepared for the cold, Kommetjie is an ideal place to visit for all levels of surfers.
7. Uluwatu, Bali
Uluwatu in Bali is truly one of the most gorgeous beaches in the world, with fantastic waves to match. This beach is in a beautiful location, directly at the foot of a Hindu temple.
A surfing paradise for experienced and professional surfers, the waters here are strong and fast. Waves can reach over 20 feet tall on bigger swell days, and the current is extremely fast. The five wave-breaks along the coast all offer different speeds and strengths for waves, some more challenging than others.
The Racetracks, for example, are famous for their fierce speeds, while The Bombie is known for its strong and tall waves.
Due to its position beneath the Para Luhur Uluwatu Temple, visitors to Uluwatu beach must follow the correct etiquette to respect its cultural significance.
This, combined with the beach being quite difficult to access, means that not many people visit Uluwatu’s beaches. If you’re looking for a secluded, picturesque location to master surfing, Uluwatu is the perfect place for you to visit.
8. Taghazout, Morocco
Taghazout is a small town on Morocco’s south-western coast. Peaceful and laid-back, this fishing town became a surfing hotspot in the 1960s and continues to attract surfers with its relaxed atmosphere and perfect right-hand waves.
While the town is much quieter than other cities in Morocco, there is still a welcoming atmosphere for tourists, with rooftop get-togethers and traditional Souk markets.
The area is idyllic with great waves – in fact, the spectacular right-hand waves are thought to be the best in the world. This, combined with its welcoming locals and rich culture, make Taghazout a great place to visit and surf.
While the atmosphere in the town can be quite sleepy, the steadily-growing surfing industry is wide awake.
Taghazout is the perfect choice for any surfer looking for a beach away from the business of the rest of Morocco. If you’re looking to surf there, the best time to visit is during fall – there aren’t many waves in the summer, and the tourist season will have died down by then.
9. Raglan, New Zealand
This coastal town located in New Zealand’s north island isn’t just one of the country’s greatest surfing destinations, it is also a place of great significance in New Zealand’s surfing culture. Raglan is home to New Zealand’s first sanctioned surf school, Raglan Surfing School, which is still open and active today.
The town also has a rich local Maori history, with a large indigenous population, as well as a lively music and foodie scene.
The beaches near the town are perfect for surfing, with waves that can suit both beginners and experts. Surfers can catch consistent waves of up to 10 feet along the gorgeous black sand beaches under the shadow of the extinct Mt. Karioi.
With all the local culture and great surfing waves, Raglan is one of the best surfing towns to visit.
10. Karon, Thailand
Karon’s white sand beaches are a great place for surfers to visit. Located on the southwest of Phuket island, this area showcases some of the most beautiful beaches in all of Indonesia, with some of the best waves too.
Karon Beach is nestled in between two other great surfing stretches, Patong to the north and Kata to the south. All three of these beaches are perfect for surfers of all skill levels, with waves typically reaching highs of 10 feet.
Not only that, but the area is rich with local culture. Not far from Kata Beach is a massive sculpture of Buddha, known as The Big Buddha. Karon and its neighboring towns are also full of restaurants serving delicious local food.
The great surfing waves and pristine location makes Karon an ideal destination for any surfer.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Well Do I Need To Be Able To Surf To Visit These Places?
The required skill depends on which place you visit. Some surf towns get bigger and faster waves, so check the skill level required before visiting. It’s always important to be careful and not go in over your head.
Do I Need To Bring Specific Gear?
Again, this varies based on which town you’re going to for surfing. Colder waters will need more protection, so bring a full wetsuit if you’ll be surfing in cold climates. Additionally, some places are more difficult to access, so consider the transport you’ll be taking.
What Should I Look Out For In Each Town?
Good waves aren’t the only thing you should focus on. Most surf towns have plenty of things to find other than surfing. There are important things to consider such as accommodation, public transport services, and places to get food.
You can also explore many local cultures and nightlives – don’t limit yourself to the beaches! Surf schools are also a great way to learn how to surf, so look into these if you’re an amateur surfer.
What’s The Best Time Of Year To Go Surfing?
This will depend on where in the world you’ll be visiting. Most places have stronger waves in colder months (like Hale’iwa and Kommetjie). Contrastingly, waves tend to be gentler in warmer summer months (as seen in Hossegor and Taghazout).
Summer also means warmer waters, which are safer for amateur surfers who may not be accustomed to the shock of cold water.