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
Surfing the Severn River - Photo credit DailyMail.co.uk
The longest river in the UK, the Severn River seems like one of the most unlikely places to surf. It is one of only 60 estuaries in the world that has a tidal bore, which 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. Steve King holds the Guinness World Record for riding the Severn Bore for 9.25 miles (14.8 km) straight in 2006!
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.
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. This is an underwater island that 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.
6. Jackson Hole, California
Jackson Hole is famous for a number of reasons: its world-class skiing, national parks and white-water rafting. Who’d have ever imagined it is also a surfing destination? Jackson Hole has a hidden gem that has been attracting surfers ever since the 1970s. The Snake River, with its barreling rapids, is a coveted rafting spot. These same rapids produce a standing wave surfers wait in line to ride.
South of Jackson, Wyoming, the Snake River is better known for its wolves and grizzly bears. But when the snow melts, vehicles with surfboards atop flock to its banks. Please be advised that surfing rapids is very different from riding ocean waves. It is exhausting, and many give up after their first attempt.
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
Surfing Liberia - Photo by Abby flat-coat
Liberia has received a bad publicity over the past decades. Considering that the country has been torn apart by a civil war that has left at least 250,000 dead, it’s understandable why many people are still avoiding it. But the country is slowly but surely recovering, and its spectacular coastline is beginning to attract a larger number of surfers keen to explore and ride its untouched waves.
Surfing Liberia - Photo by Erik Cleves Kristensen
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 surfing 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.
Skeleton Coast, Namibia - Photo by dconvertini
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. And these are not the only superlatives – Skeleton Bay is the world’s longest left-hand beach break. The deep green waters of this southwestern African nation get 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.
Surfing Namibia - Photo by jbdodane
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 an uncrowded wave? Now’s your chance! Go to BookSurfCamps.com and choose an off-the-beaten path wave few surfers get to ride.