The Best Surfing Destinations of 2020
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Another year has gone by. We caught our first waves and joined our first surf camps. We’ve learned and grown together. We’ve made great progress. But the journey is never-ending.
Make 2020 the best year ever! Learn to surf or go on that surfing trip you’ve been dreaming of. We’ve looked through our statistics and at what’s hot right now to bring you the best surfing destinations of 2020.
Check them out and decide where you want to surf in 2020! (A word of warning: this article may cause severe wanderlust).
With outstanding waves, remarkable surf culture, long sun-kissed coastline, and the warmest weather in Europe, Portugal has it all! Furthermore, it’s the most affordable country to travel to in Western Europe (not counting flights).
Portugal delivers any kind of wave you can imagine and is one of the best places on the planet to learn to surf and amp up your skills. Not only that, but if you have enough experience under your belt, you can tackle some of the world’s biggest and most powerful waves at Nazaré, Cave, and Supertubos.
The central coast is the most visited surfing destination in Portugal. It can easily be accessed from Lisbon and is home to some of the biggest, most consistent, and most impressive waves in Europe.
Peniche, the capital of surfing in Portugal, is the proud location of Supertubos, one of the best beach breaks on the planet. It’s also one of the best places to learn to surf in the country. Ericeira has a remarkably high concentration of waves that offer something for all levels and tastes.
The Algarve region has the sunniest and warmest weather in mainland Europe. Regardless of the time of year, you’ll always find a wave to surf here.
Best time to go: Thanks to its location, the country is a swell magnet. Therefore, it’s possible to surf in Portugal all year round. The most consistent surf can be found between September and April. Throughout the rest of the year, the waves are smaller and more suitable for beginners.
» For more on the waves, check out our guide to the best surf spots in Portugal.
2. Canary Islands, Spain
Europe’s answer to Hawaii, the Canary Islands offer plenty of mellow waves for beginners as well as fast and technical reef breaks for advanced surfers. The water temperature is warmer than in mainland Europe, and the weather is sunny all year round!
There’s surf on each of the archipelago’s eight main islands, but Lanzarote, Fuerteventura, Tenerife, and Gran Canaria are the top surfing destinations in the Canary Islands. A melting pot of European, African, and American influences, each island has its own personality and has waves for all levels.
Best time to go: All year round! The most reliable conditions can be found between September and April, while summer has friendlier waves.
» For more on the surfing seasons, best waves, and how to plan your trip, read our guide to surfing in the Canary Islands.
3. Lombok, Indonesia
Image credit: Mike Sutherland
With thousands of miles of postcard-perfect beaches, a fascinating culture, scrumptious food, timeless temples and authentic villages, as well as upscale resorts, Indonesia is all about variety.
The most famous surfing destination in the archipelago is, without doubt, Bali. But its often-overlooked next-door neighbor, Lombok, is slowly gaining popularity. Home to Desert Point, one of the longest left-hand barreling waves in the world, and numerous long, mellow waves, the island is still free from mass-tourism and is very different from its crowded big sister.
» Find out what are the differences between surfing in Bali vs. Lombok and decide which one is for you!
If you’re looking to learn to surf or improve your skills in a tropical paradise, this is the place to go. The waves hardly ever get crowded, and most of them are located in large bays with plenty of room for everyone. This means that you’ll be spending more time actually surfing instead of waiting around for your turn.
Best time to go: You can surf in Lombok all year round. That being said, some waves work only during the dry or the wet season. During the dry season (April-September), the west coast is your best bet. During the wet season, the east-facing waves on the southern coast receive more swell.
Image credit: Dfrost Almugar Surf House & Yoga Morocco
A premier winter surfing destination, Morocco’s Atlantic coastline comes to life during the cold season. Thanks to its proximity to the Old Continent, many European surfers flock to this colorful and fascinating African country to escape the winters at home.
But the many beginner-friendly surf beaches near Essaouira, Sidi Kaouki, Taghazout, and Tamraght, as well as the powerful, spine-tingling waves at Anchor Point, Killer Point, and Boilers draw an international crowd.
Morocco is the land of the right-hand point break. Most of the waves are beginner-friendly, even the more challenging ones, which makes the country a wonderful destination to learn to surf and progress.
» For more on the surfing seasons, best waves, what to eat, and how to budget your trip, read our complete guide to surfing in Morocco.
Best time to go: Although Morocco is considered a year-round surfing destination, the most reliable conditions can be found between October and April, when powerful groundswells hit the coast, producing world-class waves. For beginners, there are plenty of sheltered surf breaks any time of the year.
5. Costa Rica
With year-round surf, waves for all skill levels, a friendly tropical climate, warm water year-round, and probably more sunshine than you can handle, Costa Rica is a surfer’s paradise and one of the most beginner-friendly surfing destinations in the world.
Surfing is top-notch on both the Caribbean and the Pacific coasts. You’ll find uncrowded surf beaches, downright scary waves like the Salsa Brava reef break, laid-back surf towns like Nosara and Jaco, and world-class surf spots in Costa Rica that offer something for all levels, like Playa Tamarindo and Santa Teresa.
» Find out more about the surfing seasons, best waves, and how to budget your trip from our surf guide to Costa Rica.
Best time to go: All year round! On the Caribbean Coast, the best conditions can be found between December and April, during the dry season. On the Pacific coast, the waves are more powerful between May and November.
If you’re looking to surf some of the best beach breaks in the world, France is the place to go. From historically-rich Normandy and Brittany up north all the way south to Biarritz and Hossegor, its Atlantic Coast is blessed with quality surf.
Southwest France is the birthplace of surfing in Europe and is the most coveted surfing destination in the country, dotted with chic surf towns and exhaling surf vibes at every corner. The highest concentration of quality beach breaks in Europe can be found along the coastline between Seignosse and Biarritz. The area also hosts numerous prestigious surfing events, from WSL competitions to festivals.
» Not sure where you can learn to surf? Find out what are the best surf spots for beginners in France.
Best time to go: France is a year-round surfing destination. Autumn and winter receive consistently large swells, and this is the best time for intermediate and advanced surfers to come. The waves are mellower in summer, which is a good time for beginners.
Mexico has been the surfers’ radar for decades. Its Pacific coastline is dotted with powerful point breaks and barreling beach breaks, beginner-friendly surf beaches as well as ferocious waves that are bound to give you the chills.
Northern Baja California, with its epic waves at Rosarito Beach and Ensenada, is a popular weekend getaway for South Californian surfers and is often crowded. Luckily, the further south you go, the emptier the beaches become.
On the central coast, Mazatlán and Nayarit are swell magnets. However, the number one surf spot in Mexico remains Puerto Escondido in Oaxaca, the birthplace of surfing in the country and home to La Zicatela, also known as the ‘Mexican Pipeline’.
» For more on the waves, read our guide to the best surf spots in Mexico.
Best time to go: Between May and October, during hurricane season, when big and powerful waves hit the coast and the conditions are more reliable. That being said, you can surf in Mexico all year round.
Image credit: Surf Yoga Retreat
The waves in the Maldives may not get too big, but they are the embodiment of perfection. Think glassy waves, endless barrels, and empty line-ups. The archipelago is a great destination for intermediate and advanced surfers, but beginners will find plenty of spots too.
The majority of surf spots in the Maldives are located on the outer reefs and are only accessible by boat.
The North Malé Atoll is the most visited surfing destination in the Maldives, thanks to the many resorts that make the surf breaks more accessible. The Central Atolls are blessed with the longest swell window in the archipelago, and most surf breaks can only be accessed by boat.
The off-the-beaten-path Southern Atolls are home to the most impressive waves in the Maldives. Unfortunately, they are exposed to the shortest swell window.
» For more on the waves, read our guide to best surf spots in the Maldives.
Best time to go: It depends on the atolls you wish to visit. Generally speaking, September and October are the most reliable months. You’ll find great conditions between March and May, while June to August usually receive bigger swells.
9. Hawaii, USA
A dream holiday destination and the birthplace of modern surfing, Hawaii is the ultimate bucket-list destination among surfers. This is the land of the reef break and the home of the world-famous North Shore of Oahu, the testing ground for the world’s best surfers, and Jaws in Maui, one of the most dangerous waves on the planet.
With Waikiki and the North Shore, Oahu is the most visited surfing destination in Hawaii. Its legendary North Shore has the biggest and heaviest waves on Earth. Between Haleiwa and Velzyland, there are 36 surf breaks scattered over seven miles (11km) of coastline, including Haleiwa, Waimea, Off the Wall, Banzai Pipeline, and Sunset Beach. In the surfing world, this is known as the Seven Mile Miracle.
While Hawaii may have earned a reputation for its incredibly heavy waves, there are surf spots for all levels. Waikiki is the most popular beginner surfing destination and Maui has the highest number of beginner-friendly waves among the Hawaiian Islands.
» For more on the waves, read out guide to the best surf spots in Hawaii.
Best time to go: While it’s possible to surf in Hawaii all year round, the conditions on the northern shores differ from those on the southern coasts.
Winter (October-April) is the best time to surf on Hawaii’s northern shores. During this time, the southern shores have mellow waves for beginners. Summer (May-October) is the best time to surf on the southern shores. During this time, the northern shores are tamer and more suitable for beginners.
Image credit: Mojosurf Australia
With the Gold Coast, Superbank, Byron Bay, Sydney’s Northern Beaches, Bondi Beach, Torquay, and many more legendary surf spots, it’s no wonder that Australia is on every surfer’s bucket list. Surfing has been a part of the Down Under for over a century, and it’s currently home to the second-largest population of surfers after the US.
With a wide swell window and a high density of waves for all levels, the East Coast is the most visited surfing destination in Australia. Queensland and New South Wales are dotted with world-class waves, hip surf towns, and surf camps.
The Gold Coast is home to Burleigh Heads, considered the best surf break in Oz, and the Superbank, which can offer the longest rides of your life. Byron Bay is a surfing mecca, with several breaks welcoming all levels of surfers. Bondi Beach is one of the world’s most famous beaches and a favorite place to learn to surf, while Sydney’s Northen Beaches have written surfing history.
The further south you go along the East Coast, the more deserted the beaches become. And if you’re up for a surfing road trip, head on over to the Great Ocean Road to explore its challenging waves. And let us not forget Margaret River and its powerful reef breaks in Western Australia, most of which will send shivers down your spine just by looking at them.
» For more on the waves, read our guide to the best surf spots in Australia.
Best time to go: You can surf in Australia all year round. The Australian autumn and winter (March-August) is the most consistent time of the year and the beaches are less crowded. Summer (December-February) is less consistent but the cyclone season can deliver epic conditions for days.
Make 2020 a year to remember! Take that dreamed surf trip in one of the world’s best surfing destinations.