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Ditch the Wetsuit in These Warm-Water Surfing Destinations

by Octavia Drughi

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Imagine riding those perfect peaks and barrels wearing nothing but boardshorts or a tiny swimsuit, lazing in the shade at midday, swinging in a hammock on a palm-fringed beach… You can have all that in a tropical surfing destination!

Most surfers will agree that it’s easier to learn, train, and see progress in warm water. You feel looser and more relaxed. You can, therefore, focus more on your technique and the challenges in front of you. 

Escape the winter and ditch the wetsuit in these warm-water surfing destinations where you can hang ten any time of year:


Costa Rica


Image credit: Selina

A legendary surfing destination, the country of Pura Vida, Costa Rica is home to world-class beach breaks, points, and reefs. With both Caribbean and Pacific coastlines, its sandy beaches receive consistent swells all year round and are dotted with surf camps.

The best surfing conditions on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast can be found between April and November. Between December and April, the swells are a bit less reliable, but when northern swells are combined with offshore winds, you can score some epic, ultra-clean waves.

Costa Rica has a tropical climate and year-round warm water. Throughout the year, water temperatures hover around 77-86°F (25-30°C). Therefore, you don’t need a wetsuit, only your favorite swimwear and, preferably, a rashguard. 

On the Caribbean coast, Puerto Viejo is home to the country’s biggest waves. On the Pacific coast, TamarindoPlaya GrandePlaya AvellanasSanta TeresaNosara, and Jaco are some of the best surf spots in Costa Rica

» READ MORE: All You Need to Know About Surfing in Costa Rica




Image credit: Free Spirit

With some of the best waves in Central America, Nicaragua has an ace up its sleeve – its prime surfing season is longer than average, spanning for nine whole months, between May and November. This is when the waves are at their biggest and the conditions are most reliable. Between December and April, the waves are smaller and mellow, making it a great time for beginners and intermediate surfers.

Overall, Nicaragua receives consistent offshore winds and has warm water all year round, hovering around 80ºF (26ºC). 

Panga Drops is a renowned wave magnet and the inner reef at Popoyo is home to some of the best waves in Nicaragua. San Juan del Sur is perhaps the most popular surfing destination, thanks to its numerous surf camps and its proximity to Playa Maderas, which has very consistent waves for beginners and experienced surfers alike. If you want to go off-the-beaten-path, head on over to the renowned left-hand point break Lance’s Left. You can get here by boat from Playa Gigante or by hiking from Astillero.


Bali, Indonesia


With a postcard-perfect scenery, Bali is the new Hawaii. It is on top of everyone’s list, be it a honeymoon, a yoga retreat, some relaxing vacations, or a surfing holiday.

The best time to go surfing in Bali is during the dry season, between April and September, when the island receives consistent swells and offers world-class waves for all levels. However, it is very much possible to surf during the wet season too. Between November and March, the waves on Bali’s east coast come to life. Plus, the island is less crowded and the prices tend to drop during this time.

The water is warm all year round, between 77-85°F (25-29°C).

With gentle beach breaks and plenty of surf schools, Kuta Beach and Canggu are excellent for beginners and intermediate surfers. Canggu has some pretty challenging waves on the menu as well. These two are the most popular surfing destinations in Bali.

Luckily, there are dozens of waves on the Bukit Peninsula for all surfers to enjoy, lefts and rights, beach and reef breaks, mellow and barreling, fast and long, you name it!

For example, the powerful waves at Uluwatu are close to perfection and are recommended for intermediate and advanced surfers. Padang Padang is home to consistent barrels and a left-hand point break known as the Balinese Pipeline, which is considered the most dangerous and most hollow wave in Bali. The racy break known as Impossibles gets powerful swells and barrels, a challenge even for experienced surfers.

» READ MORE: All You Need to Know About Surfing in Bali


The Maldives


A total of 1,190 coral islands make up the 26 ring-shaped atolls in the Maldives. The archipelago benefits from sull exposure to southern swells. No wonder its waves are considered among the best in the world!

The waves are usually shoulder-to-head high and are slightly less powerful than those that reach the Indonesian archipelago. Of course, this does not mean they are any less spectacular. Their beauty lies in the perfect barrels and incredibly long rides, which make the Maldives a great destination for intermediate and advanced surfers.

The best time to go surfing in the Maldives is between March and October, with the biggest waves firing between June and August. The swells are amazingly consistent during this time of year, and there are surf spots all throughout the archipelago facing different swell and wind directions.

You can find great waves between November and February too, but there can be flat days. The water stays around 81ºF (27ºC) throughout the year. 

» READ MORE: Surfing in the Maldives: Your Guide to the Best Waves


Sri Lanka


Image credit: Surfers Paradise Weligama

Spices, tea, coconuts, sandy beaches, fishermen, tuk tuks, and friendly waves… With some of the most reliable surfing conditions in the Indian Ocean, a tropical climate, and year-round warm water, Sri Lanka is a surfer’s paradise.

There are two distinct surfing regions – the Southern Province and the Eastern Province –  each with its own surfing seasons. The best time to surf in the Southern Province is during the dry season, between November and April. The surfing season in the Eastern Province runs from May through September. 

Water temperatures hover around 80-84°F (27-29°C) all year round. 

There’s a great variety of surf breaks to choose from. Most of the waves are user-friendly, which makes Sri Lanka a great destination for beginners and for intermediate surfers looking to amp up their skills and improve their technique. That said, there are a few spots for advanced surfers as well. 

» READ MORE: All You Need to Know About Surfing in Sri Lanka




Tahiti is a renowned big-wave destination, but the many reef breaks on the south and southwest coast of the island offer something for every level. Even better, Tahiti has two surf seasons – between October and March, when it receives northerly swells, and between April and September. 

The water is warm throughout the year, with temperatures averaging around 79-82°F (26-28°C).

The indisputable surfing paradise in Tahiti is Teahupo’o, a big wave spot that counts seven top-notch reef breaks along a five-mile (8km) stretch of beach. This is the famed venue of the annual Billabong Pro Tahiti Surf Competition. With some of the world’s fastest waves, Teahupo’o is reserved for advanced surfers. For beginners, Papara is a great place to start.

Tahiti still has great untapped surfing potential, with plenty of reef breaks that remain off-the-radar and many more that are waiting to be discovered.


Final words

Warm water destinations do have a drawback – they tend to get crowded. So try to stay off-the-beaten-path to catch those waves without having to wait in line. Are there any other downsides to warm water surfing? None we can think of!


Thinking about escaping the cold weather back home? Are you sick and tired of wearing a wetsuit even on the sunniest of days? Join a surf camp in Indonesia for a complete change of scenery!

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