If you love surfing, the challenge imposed by the ever increasing waves and the adrenaline that pounds when you tame them, if you are always looking for new breaks, here are ten unexpected destinations to experience different adventures and enjoy your passion. Discover the newborn surfing community in Iran, play with seals in Namibia and be careful not to let the sea lions steal the scene in Uruguay.
1 Tahiti and French Polynesia
The conditions are legendary, with breaks on the reef and a barrel suitable only for very experienced surfers. Teahupo’o is notorious for its huge and dangerous barrels (ending up in the water can have serious consequences) – but there are six quieter and less frequented breaks nearby. Ava Mo’a Pass offers a pleasant surf and the island of Moorea break of remarkable beauty. In the islands there are a myriad of protected lagoons, ideal for stand up paddle where you can sail on coral gardens, climb the waves and paddle downwind.
The Kiribati archipelago is a paradise for surfers as it never happens to have to ride in two the same wave. Kiritimati, the largest of the atolls, has a 5 km stretch of coastline with 24 breaks, eight of which are left-handed and reserved for experienced surfers.
With the waves of the Atlantic and a very rugged coastline, Uruguay has no shortage of surfing sites, but Cabo Polonio is special. Protected by huge sand dunes, it can only be reached on foot with a 7 km walk or off-road vehicle. There is only a small fishing community, without running water and electricity, and this isolation makes it a unique site where it has been possible to protect the natural environment and preserve the ancient traditions. When you go out with the table it is probably only you and the sea lions who will steal the best wave from you.
In the rarely visited province of Sistan and Baluchistan a large community of young Iranians is imposing the culture of surfing along the coast. The fishing village of Ramin is the cradle of Iranian surfing. Don’t expect many facilities, but if you are willing to bring your equipment and share knowledge and experiences with the small but friendly local community, then it could be one of the most rewarding experiences you have ever had. Contact the founders of We Surf in Iran to find out more.
There is only ocean between Brazil and the coast of Namibia, so the great waves of the southern Atlantic gain strength before they break on the coast of the country. And with sharks, seals, sandstorms and incredible solitary breaks, there are all the prerequisites for good adventures. The coastal town of Swakopmund is one of the most visited by surfers. The best waves are in Nordstrand, near Vineta Point – there’s a perfect coral reef at high tide when the waves come from west-southwest. Tiger Reef, at the mouth of the Swakop River, is another good choice. There is an exceptionally long left-hand break at Bocock’s Bay, a remote location about 160 km north of Swakopmund. The waves, which break on a sandbank, are very constant, and generally the place is deserted. Cape Cross, 30 km south, has calm waves, but you need to be prepared to share the water with tens of thousands of seals. April and May are the best months to surf, but conditions are also good between March and October. The number of sharks increases in low season, which coincides with the period of their reproduction.
The coast of Togo is quite short, but the beaches offer numerous sites where surfing is of remarkable level, not least around the pleasant capital of the country, Lomé. Surfing is also possible in Aného, further east towards the Benin border. The Cycling Mountain Biking Canoeing Kayaking best breaks are found around natural or artificial sandbanks. Conditions are optimal between July and October.
The Irish waves are the best in Europe, and with a thick wetsuit you can spend a lifetime exploring the wild coastlines of the country. From County Donegal in the north to the counties of Cork and Wexford in the south, the rugged, undulating coastline offers ideal waves for beginners and experts alike. For years, the classic left-hand and right-hand surfers in Easky, County Sligo, have been the favourites of Irish surfers, but today they can see their boards whizzing along the crest of the waves all along the coast.
Bundoran remains the best place to get in touch with Irish surfing for the first time with its magnificent beach breaks and reef breaks. Some of the world’s biggest waves are in Mullaghmore, but the ‘perfect’ wave is Aileen’s, a 12-metre monster that at certain times of the year rises in front of the Cliffs of Moher in County Clare – the name, which comes from the nearby headland Aill na Searrach (the foal cliff), comes from John McCarthy, a local surfer who rode it first.
Discovered’ by surfers hired by the producers of Apocalypse Now, the Philippines boast some of the best breaks in the world. On Siargao Island there are at least a dozen perfect locations for medium-high level surfers, with powerful coral reef barrels and beach breaks. Beginners can go to Zambales or Baler.
9 El Salvador
The Pacific coast is home to a number of surf spots, most of them right-handed. Punta Roca is said to have the best right-handed spot in Central America, while La Bocana has a beautiful left-handed spot in the wide mouth of a river. But along the coast there are magnificent waves, less known but also less frequented, you just have to know how to look for them. You can surf all year round, but the best time of year is from March to October (the rainy season).
10 Costa Rica
Costa Rica pampers surfers with over 50 breaks – left and right, beach breaks and point breaks, coral reefs and river mouths – on the Pacific and Caribbean coasts, and the water is warm all year round. And, for the unwise scroungers, virtually every beach community offers rentals and lessons.
Salsa Brava, in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, on the Caribbean coast, is perhaps the most famous spot. It is suitable for more experienced surfers as the vigorous waves crash on a sharp coral reef.
Playa Pavones, a secluded beach with a jungle behind it in the south-western part of the country, is also famous. It is frequented by experienced surfers who challenge one of the longest waves in the world, a left point break that can be ridden for about three minutes.
Surfing is excellent along the Pacific coast, particularly at Playa Grande, on the northeastern coast of the Península de Nicoya. A few kilometres to the south, Playa Tamarindo is suitable for medium-low level surfers, while the waves in nearby Playa Langosta are more challenging. Playa Guiones, also in the Península de Nicoya, offers waves of all kinds, both for medium to low level surfers and for more experienced surfers.
Playa Jacó, on the Pacific coast, easily accessible from the capital San José, is ideal for beginners, while the nearby Playa Hermosa, where the waves can be huge and the conditions changing, is suitable for experts.
Other popular surfing locations include the quiet hippy haven of Playa Dominical and the pristine beaches of Mal Pais, not to mention Santa Teresa and Playa Hermosa.