The Best Off-the-Grid Surf Spots You Need to Check Out
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Lately, it seems as though finding remote waves has become even more exciting than riding them. It’s human nature to grow tired of the same routine, and even surfing can lose its charm when you’re hitting the same old waves time and time again.
When monotony kicks in, it’s time for a change of scenery!
Where there’s a swell there’s bound to be an epic wave worth riding. From shallow breaks to long barrels and insane tubes, push past your limits and catch a wave in the following off-the-grid surfing spots before the crowds beat you to it!
8. Severn River, England, United Kingdom
Image credit: Alan Piper
The longest river in the UK, the Severn River seems like an unlikely place to surf. It is one of only 60 estuaries in the world that has a tidal bore. This means that the tides of the Atlantic enter the Bristol Channel and travel up the Severn River, rapidly moving upstream, reaching heights of up to 7 feet (2 m). The waves can travel for miles.
The river’s tidal range is the third-largest in the world and has given birth to a local culture centered around surfing these tides. The biggest waves occur in spring, but smaller ones can be seen all year round.
In 2006, Steve King beat the Guinness World Record for the longest wave ever surfed, riding the Severn Bore for 9.25 miles (14.8 km) straight. The record was beaten in 2016 when Andrew Cotton surfed 10.2 miles (17.2 km) on a tidal bore on the Kampar River in Sumatra, Indonesia.
» Interested in more impressive feats? Check out the most sensational Guinness Records in the world of surfing.
7. Cortes Bank, California
Surfing Cortes Bank - Photo credit TheInertia.com
Don’t be so quick to judge! We all know California is a surfing mecca, but this particular spot is nowhere in sight from the shore. Cortes Bank lies 100 miles (160 km) off the coast of San Diego, where an underwater island produces insane waves up to 80 feet (24 m) tall. These are considered to be among the world’s biggest rideable waves.
The highest point of the underwater island sits just 3 ft (1 m) under the surface at low tide, so you can imagine how treacherous these waves are. Nevertheless, this doesn’t stop big-wave surfers from hopping on a boat and putting their skills to the test.
» Want to check out more waves? Read our guide to the best surf spots in California.
6. The Mentawai Islands, Indonesia
Image credit: Southern Mentawai Outpost
Indonesia is one of the most coveted surfing destinations on the planet. And one of the most crowded too. But while most surfers flock to Bali, there is a surfing paradise that has remained untouched, just off the west coast of Sumatra. The Mentawai Islands are remote and wild, can only be reached by boat, and are one of the most wave-dense regions in the world.
There are world-class waves everywhere you look. And they can only be reached by boat, which is why a Mentawai surf charter is the best way to explore these spectacular surf breaks, ride more, and reach even the most remote and uncharted waves.
Siberut is the largest, most developed, and most accessible island in the Mentawais. To the south of Siberut, the Playgrounds area is home to some of the world’s best waves, the likes of Burger World, Beng Bengs, E-Bay, Pit Stops, Bank Vaults, and Nipussi. Some of the most remote waves can be found off South Pagai Island.
» For more on the surfing seasons, best waves, and planning your trip, check out our complete guide to surfing in the Mentawais.
5. 38th Parallel Beach, South Korea
Surfing Korea's Demilitarized Zone - Photo by Shannon Aston
On the scenic Gangwon-do coastline, just 31 miles (50 km) south of North Korea, 38th Parallel Beach is both a harbor and a military base. It is also a rest stop on the highway, where travelers can get coffee, spicy food and souvenirs. Last but not least, it is a surfing hotspot where local surfers from Seoul get together to catch the most powerful swells in the country.
38th Parallel Beach is a surfing oasis located where you’d least expect it, on the border between South and North Korea, a place known as the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). This is considered the world’s most dangerous border. This doesn’t stop locals and expat surfers, though.
4. Liberia, Africa
Image credit: Abby flat-coat
Liberia has received a bad publicity over the past decades. Considering that the country has been torn apart by civil war, it’s understandable why many people are still avoiding it. But the country has been recovering since the early 2000s thanks to UN peacekeeper intervention.
Liberia’s West Coast is one of the most spectacular and wave-rich regions in the world. Few surfers have ridden these remote waves. Those who do make the trek to the waves are rewarded with untouched warm-water barrels and perfect peaks all for themselves.
Robertsport is a small town a couple of hours’ drive from Monrovia, currently known as the surfing capital of Liberia. This place might just have the best surf in Africa, and the country is on the way to becoming a surfing mecca. With pristine golden sand beaches and impressive point breaks, there’s something in Liberia for every level and taste.
3. The Gulf of Oman
Surfing Oman - Photo by Jon Bowen
With over 1,200 miles (2,000 km) of desert coastline opening to the Arabian Sea, Oman has only seen a handful of surfers hit its waves, and the majority come from the neighboring United Arab Emirates. Don’t be fooled by the occasional sandstorms, the beach breaks and reef breaks here are definitely worth exploring. Moreover, Oman is one of the most stable nations in the Middle East.
Across the Gulf of Oman, Iran has never been considered a surfing destination. It all changed in 2011, when Easkey Britton, an Irish surfing legend, traveled to Iran and discovered its potential. That’s right, the first woman to surf in Iran was a woman! She even taught a few Iranian women to surf too.
Namibia’s isolated Skeleton Coast is considered one of the world’s most pristine shorelines, boasting an eerie landscape that’s as inhospitable as it is mesmerizing. Its hardly explored windswept dunes and rugged canyons are among the world’s last great wildernesses.
But these are not its only superlatives – Skeleton Bay is home to the world’s longest left-hand beach break. Unmissable waves include Luderitz, Walvis Bay, and Cape Cross.
The deep green waters of this southwestern African nation receive constant, heavy surf between May and September, producing some of the world’s longest rideable waves. Make sure you pack your wetsuit because it can get quite cold.
Namibia is not the friendliest place to surf. On your way to the beach, you might run into armed diamond miners and the large colonies of seals by the coast attract predators. The waters may be infested with great whites, but those long, perfect barrels are well worth the risk. If you’re willing to ignore the inhospitable climate, then you’re in for the surfing experience of a lifetime.
1. The Black Sea
Kitesurfing in Bulgaria - Photo by Vasil Raev
I bet Eastern Europe is one of the last places where you’d expect to surf. Granted, the wind swells of the Black Sea may not offer the biggest, most spectacular waves you’ve ever seen. They do have their unique charm, though. In fact, the challenge does not lie in the waves themselves but in the novelty.
Sea surfing is quite different from ocean surfing, but where there’s a will there’s a way. Surrounded by Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Georgia and Ukraine, the Black Sea has yet to be explored to its full potential. Nevertheless, this inland body of water is restless, producing large waves all year round thanks to the constant winds.
Surfing in the Black Sea, Turkey - Photo credit MagicSeaweed.com
Ever since the time of the Ottoman Empire, local fishermen in Turkey have been riding the waves of the Black Sea in a form of bodysurfing called Viya. To the north of Istanbul, a number of reef and point breaks attract a local crowd whenever there’s a swell. The most popular waves can be found in the village of Rumeli Feneri, with an impressive right-hand reef break both bodysurfers and surfers love to ride. Other spots worth mentioning are Şile Merkez, Ağlayankaya, and Woody Wille.
Most people can’t even pin Bulgaria or Romania on the map, so it’s no wonder so few have heard of their surf. The surf culture here is almost nonexistent. The east coast of the Black Sea is constantly exposed to high winds, and sea storms occur all year round. These produce powerful and fast waves, and riding them before anyone else sure is something worth adding to your portfolio.
Traveling the world to ride the most famous waves can have its downsides. When reaching your destination, you might find yourself waiting in line. Therefore, going as far off the surfing radar as possible is the safest bet. And it does have a few other perks as well – uncrowded beaches you can have all to yourself, immersing yourself in a new culture, an extra dash of adrenaline, all add to the thrill of discovering an insane wave few have touched before.
Have you ever considered a surf trip to uncrowded waves? Now’s your chance! Choose an off-the-radar surf spot and share the waves with only a handful of surfers.