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The World's Best Surfing Destinations for Beginners

by Octavia Drughi

The go-to resource for planning your surf camps. Find all you need to know about the top destinations and take your surfing to new heights.
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When was the last time you packed up and left for a new destination, leaving routine way behind you? If you’re reading this, you’re already taking the first steps towards discovering your passion. Kudos to you! But if you’re going to learn to surf, make sure you do it the right way!

Besides beginner-friendly waves, there are other aspects that you should consider when planning your first surfing trip. Good vibes, highly rated surf camps with experienced instructors, the crowd factor, localism, the food, and the nightlife are just as important.

» It’s time to cross-surfing off your bucket list. Go on a surf camp for beginners!

We’ve rounded up the best beginner surf spots on the planet where you can have all of the above in just one place. Read our complete guide to find out where to begin your awesome new journey and catch your first wave.

1. Lagos, Algarve, Portugal


Think surfing in Portugal and epic waves immediately come to mind. Nazaré, Ericeira, and Peniche are on every die-hard surfer’s bucket list. But if you want easy waves, warm water, a gorgeous natural backdrop, and great food in just one place, then head south!

The warmest coast in mainland Europe, the Algarve picks up swells from every direction; there’s always a spot to surf, any time of year. Lagos is an old fishing town that is renowned for its dramatic beaches with archways, coves, and colossal limestone cliffs that seem to drive straight into the Atlantic.

Just in front of town, Meia Praia is a long sandy beach and heaven for beginner surfers. But Lagos is also a great base camp for the other surf spots in the Algarve, like the nearby beginner-friendly Praia da Luz, or Praia do Amado and Praia da Arrifana near Aljezur.

Best time to go if you are a beginner:

Summer, between May and August, brings smaller waves and warm water, between 22 to 25°C (72 to 77°F), so you’ll only need a shorty at most at dawn or dusk. The beaches can get crowded in summer, and you can avoid that by choosing early autumn or late spring for your surf trip when the water is slightly colder and a 3/2 mm wetsuit is required.

» From the surfing seasons to the surf culture and the necessary budget, here’s all you need to know about planning your surf trip to Portugal.

Top-rated surf camp for beginners in the Algarve

2. Taghazout, Morocco


Morocco has been on the surfing map ever since the 1970s, who escape the cold winters back home and take on the legendary waves that hit its Atlantic coast, often described as freight trains. But that doesn’t mean beginners cannot have fun too. Just north of Agadir, Taghazout is at the core of Moroccan surf culture and has plenty of mellow waves for first-timers.

In Taghazout and the nearby Berber village of Tamraght, there are more surf camps than surf spots, so finding the right one for you should not be a problem. What else? Over 300 days of sunshine per year, warm weather, long-period groundswells, and offshore winds. Simply put, that means excellent surfing conditions. Did I mention it’s cheap too?

Best time to go if you are a beginner:

All year round! Early autumn has smaller waves and warmer water, between 20 to 22°C (68 to 72°F), and you can surf in a shorty or a spring suit. Expect big swells from November till February, when the water is at its coldest, between 16 to 19°C (61 to 66°F), and you’ll need a 4/3 mm wetsuit. That being said, you can still find sheltered breaks during winter in Morocco.

» For more on the surfing seasons, best destinations, what to eat, and how to budget your trip, read our guide to surfing in Morocco.

Top-rated surf camp for beginners in Morocco

3. Tamarindo, Costa Rica


Embrace Costa Rica’s pura vida lifestyle and learn to surf in a real-life tropical paradise. The Guanacaste region and the Nicoya Peninsula are home to the largest concentration of surf spots in the country, suitable for all levels of surfers.

Tamarindo is already synonymous with surfing in Costa Rica. The long beach in the center of town is great for beginners, and there are several other breaks nearby for all levels. Also worth checking out are the less crowded beach breaks at Santa Teresa and the main beach break at Jaco, the country’s biggest surf town.

Best time to go if you are a beginner:

Between November and May. Throughout the rest of the year, Costa Rica receives bigger swells. The water is warm all year round, ranging between 26°C (79°F) in September and 29°C (84°F) in March.

» Plan the perfect trip with the help of our comprehensive guide to surfing in Costa Rica.

Top-rated surf camp for beginners in Tamarindo

4. Weligama, Sri Lanka


Boasting the highest biodiversity density in Asia, Sri Lanka is a startling and yet unbelievably affordable destination. When it comes to its surf, it is renowned for its incredibly long waves that even first-timers can handle.

There are two surfing seasons in Sri Lanka, one for the south coast and one for the east coast. Therefore, surfing is possible all year round. Towards the southern tip of the island, in the Matara District, Weligama is quite possibly the best place to learn to surf in the country. Less crowded than Arugam Bay, Sri Lanka’s surfing mecca, the surf town offers many lefts and rights and long rides on slow waves.

Best time to go if you are a beginner:

November through April is prime surfing season in Sri Lanka. To beat the crowds, go in September, October, or May, when the waves are still working well. The water stays warm all year round, and never goes below 26°C (79°F).

» From the surfing seasons and the best waves to the surf culture, what to eat, and how to budget your trip, here’s all you need to know about surfing in Sri Lanka.

Top-rated surf camp for beginners in Weligama

5. Canggu, Bali, Indonesia


Bali is renowned for its legendary reef breaks, but beginners can still find a place to learn to surf in this exotic paradise. The island receives constant swell all year round, the water is always warm, and there are plenty of surf schools.

By far the most popular beginner spot in Bali is Kuta, a beach break with long rolling waves, both lefts and rights and a sandy bottom. Unfortunately, its popularity also means that it gets seriously crowded. Next to Kuta Beach, Canggu is not as packed. There are three reef breaks here, throwing both lefts and rights, that are suitable for beginners at low tide. Plus, there are quite a few surf camps in Canggu to choose from, which cater to all levels.

Best time to go if you are a beginner:

During the dry season, between May and September. If you wish to avoid the crowds, October and November are still good months on the west coast. The water stays warm throughout the year, around 27-29°C (80-84°F).

» Find out all the reasons why Canggu is such a trendy surfing destination.

Top-rated surf camp for beginners in Canggu

6. Byron Bay, New South Wales, Australia


Mainland Australia’s easternmost tip, Byron Bay, has been synonymous with surfing in the Land Down Under since the 1960s. What was once a quiet hippie surf enclave has now become a city in its own right. It hasn’t lost its charm, though, and it is still considered one of the best surf towns in the world.

There are eight main surf spots at Byron Bay, with perfect peeling beach and point breaks set against a lush backdrop. Most of them never get too big, which is why it is so good for beginners. That being said, there are certain breaks that can get hollow and tricky when the swell is big. 

Best time to go if you are a beginner:

All year round! The weather is nicer, the waves are consistent, and the water is warm at 25-27°C (77-80°F) between February and May. The water temperature does not go below 19°C (66°F), so you can get away with just a spring suit during the Southern Hemisphere winter.

Top-rated surf camp for beginners in Byron Bay


7. Zarautz, San Sebastian, Spain


Great food, spectacular beaches, lush hillsides, and a vibrant nightlife. What else could you ask for from your first surfing lesson? Spain’s food capital, San Sebastian is at the heart of Basque culture. It is also a short drive from Zarautz, the country’s surfing capital and biggest surf town.

Zarautz is the birthplace of surfing in Spain. The consistent beach breaks attract all levels of surfers, and there’s no shortage of surf schools, surf shops, and beachside cafes and bars. Surfing is possible all year round thanks to the constant swells produced by the Bay of Biscay, but do keep in mind that the winter months bring in epic waves that are more suited for experienced surfers.

Best time to go if you are a beginner:

During summer, the waves are mellow and the water is warm, between 20 to 25°C (68 to 77°F). You’ll only need a spring suit to surf at Zarautz in summer. Winter months bring in powerful swells and cold water, and the waves become harder to tackle.

» For more on the waves, check out our guide to the best surf spots in Spain.

Top-rated surf camp for beginners in Basque Country 

8. Biarritz, France


In the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region, Biarritz is a small seaside resort teeming with holiday homes, turn-of-the-century charm, and is the epicenter of surfing in France. The beach in front of town is huge and offers several beach breaks with a soft sandy bottom, producing long and mellow waves, both lefts and rights. Only a few miles north of Biarritz, Anglet is home to several beaches with waves for all skill levels.

Best time to go if you are a beginner:

Summer and autumn, when the waves are mellow and the water is warm, between 20 to 25°C (68 to 77°F). You can surf with a long-sleeve shorty or a 3/2 spring suit if it’s windy. Big and powerful waves start to roll in during winter, and the water drops to 12°C (53°F).​

» From the surfing seasons and the best waves to what to eat and how to budget your trip, here’s all you need to know about surfing in Southwest France.

Top-rated surf camp for beginners in France

9. San Clemente, California, USA


There’s no better place to catch the surfing bug than California. And, if you want to experience the authentic surf lifestyle firsthand, San Onofre State Beach to the south of San Clemente is where you need to go. On any given day, you will see surfers chilling at the beach, never fighting for a wave, sharing stories, and waiting for the next lazy peak. It is an exemplary display of surf etiquette.

Best time to go if you are a beginner:

All year round! During summer, the water ranges around 18 to 22°C (64 to 72°F), and you can surf in a fully-sealed spring suit between July and September. During winter, the water is chilly, between 13 to 16°C (55 to 61°F), and you will need a 4/3 mm wetsuit or a 5/3 mm for longer sessions.

Top-rated surf camp for beginners in the USA

10. Muizenberg, Western Cape, South Africa


A suburb of Cape Town, Muizenberg is the birthplace of surfing in South Africa. Considered by many to be one of the best places in the world to learn to surf, Muizies is one of the most reliable breaks in South Africa, home to a bustling surfing community, clean and mellow beach breaks, and numerous surf schools.

Muizenberg is famous for another reason – its Great White sharks. However, their presence should not put you off. Cape Town has a shark spotting system that successfully keeps incidents at a minimum. There are many exciting things to do in Cape Town when you’re not surfing, such as whale watching, exploring the local wineries, going on a safari, or hiking Table Mountain.

Best time to go if you are a beginner:

All year round! December and January are peak tourist months. The water is at its warmest, between 19 to 21°C (66 to 70°F), and you can surf in a spring suit but the beaches are packed. August through October is a little less crowded. If you want to beat the crowds, February to June is your best bet, when the water is cold, between 14 to 16°C (57 to 61°F), and a 4/3 mm wetsuit and boot are imperative.

Top-rated surf camp for beginners in South Africa

*Prices are subject to change depending on the date of arrival.

Now that you know where to go if you want to have all aspects taken care of, what are you waiting for? Join a budget-friendly surf camp in one of the best places in the world and get ready to catch your first wave!

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