A Different New Year’s Celebration: 10 Surfing Spots for Your Winter Holidays
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Oh, the crackling fireplace, chestnuts roasting and presents waiting under the Christmas tree, getting cozy under the blanket and sipping hot cocoa while you watch the snowflakes dancing out the window… Wait a minute! Why not keep the Christmas tree but forget all about the snow and freezing cold outside?
How about a different kind of New Year’s Eve? Winter months are a great time to go on a surfing trip and try a new sport or take your skills up a notch. After all, the world’s best waves hit the coasts during winter months, and it’s summertime in the Southern Hemisphere!
If you haven’t already made plans for New Year’s Eve, we have some cool ideas for you to consider. How does watching the sunset from a palm-fringed beach while swinging in a hammock and sipping cocktails on New Year’s Eve sound like? Throw in some amazing surfing sessions on some of the world’s best waves and you have a recipe for an unforgettable winter holiday!
We’ve put together a list of the best places to surf in winter, along with the best surf camps you can spend New Year’s Eve at. We also threw in a surprise off-the-beaten-path surfing destination where crowds are never a problem.
Photo by Eelke
If the long-haul trip to Indonesia, Hawaii or the Maldives seems like too much of a drag, there’s an equally excellent option closer to Europe. And it’s much cheaper too!
Morocco has become the number one choice for European surfers, especially during those long and cold winter months. Unruly waves like Anchor Point, Killer Point, Safi, Boilers, Imsouane (The Bay) and Essaouira await experienced surfers, while dozens of gentle surfing spots near Taghazout, Agadir and Casablanca make the perfect playground for beginners.
Furthermore, winter is the best time of year to be surfing in Morocco. Excellent swells hit the coast between December and March, while the water temperature stays around 64 °F (18 °C).
Photo by Andrea Moroni
Our recommended New Year’s surf camp in Morocco:
Have a taste of Moroccan sunshine in the midst of winter on an 8-day kitesurf camp in Tamraght that welcomes all levels of surfers. You will enjoy daily kitesurfing lessons and day tours to Paradise Valley and the Agadir market.
Known as the ‘Brazil of Europe’, Portugal is a surfing mecca. Why? Are powerful Atlantic swells, wild nightlife, tons of beach bars and Nazaré, the biggest wave ever surfed in history, good enough reasons for you?
With great weather and surf conditions all year round, the prime time to surf in Portugal is between October and April. This time of year means big, powerful waves. Unfortunately, it also means cold water, so get ready to strap on your wetsuit. The average water temperature in December stays around 59 °F (15 °C). But look at the bright side – that mulled wine after a surf session will have never tasted as good.
Our recommended New Year’s surf camp in Portugal:
In the historical Coimbra district, in the charming city of Figueira de Foz, the fast and hollow waves of Cabedelo and Europe’s longest right-hand break at Buarcos await surfers from far and wide. Located only 10 minutes from Cabedelo Beach, this 7-day surf camp in Figueira da Foz includes 6 days of surfing lessons with separate programs for beginners, intermediate and advanced surfers.
3. East Coast, Bali, Indonesia
Photo by Mike Sutherland
What? Surfing in Bali during the wet season? While this might have sounded a bit crazy a decade ago, more and more surfers flock to Bali’s East Coast between November and March. World-class waves like Serangan, Playgrounds, Nusa Dua, Keramas and Green Balls are firing during winter months, and offer something for all skill levels. What’s more, surfing during the rainy season means uncrowded line-ups.
During the wet season, winds blow from the northwest, producing long barreling breaks for all skill levels. And let us not forget that, during this time of year, water temperature is sick – 79 °F (26 °C)!
Photo by Michael Dawes
Our recommended New Year’s surf camp in Bali:
Wave hunters from around the world are invited to spend their winter holidays in a heavenly tropical paradise on this revitalizing 8-day surf camp in Pererenan. Kick-start the New Year with daily surfing lessons on the island of the Gods!
Photo by Richard Rydge
Winter is a great time to visit the Land Down Under and enjoy…their summer. Australia is a world-famous surfing destination year-round, but there’s no better time to head down here than when the cold winter back home seems like too much to handle.
Water temperature stays at a ‘cool’ 75-79 °F (24-26 °C) in December and January, meaning that you can surf in board shorts and bikinis. It may be summer in the Southern Hemisphere, but it’s also cyclone season. This means great swell, off-season prices and fewer crowds. And, regardless of the season, Australia’s party scene never rests.
Our recommended New Year’s surf camp in Australia:
Experience the thrill of surfing during your winter holidays on a 3-day surf camp in Byron Bay, an excellent opportunity to surf world-class waves, meet other surfers and immerse in local culture and the surrounding natural beauty. Professional surf coaches will introduce beginners to surfing on some of Australia’s best surf beaches, while advanced surfers will be shown the best waves Byron Bay has to offer.
5. Costa Rica
Come and have a taste of La Pura Vida on Costa Rica’s spectacular coasts, where white, golden and gray sand beaches await surfers of all levels throughout the year. Surfing in Costa Rica is broken down into four main areas: the Caribbean Coast, the North Pacific Coast, the Central Pacific Coast and the South Pacific Coast. All have exceptional surf, with an average water temperature of 86 °F (30 °C).
Photo by Udi
Our recommended New Year’s surf camp in Costa Rica:
On Costa Rica’s North Pacific Coast, Nosara sees fewer crowds than the other surfing hotspots in the country, despite being located in the immediate vicinity of one of Central America’s most reliable surf spots, Playa Guiones.
Give yourself the rest and peace you deserve as you prepare to welcome a new and exciting year on a 7-day surf camp in Nosara, with daily surf lessons for beginners to intermediate surfers.
6. The Canary Islands
Europe’s very own Hawaii, the chain of volcanic islands off the coast of Africa has long been on the international surfing map. Exposed to swells generated by the North Atlantic, with an abundance of consistent hollow reef breaks, year-round sunshine and vibrant nightlife, the Canary Islands are where European surfers flock to during winter months.
Surfing in the Canary Islands is great all year round, but the best waves hit the coasts between October and March. There is a wide variety of breaks, from beginner friendly to behemoths only pros know how to handle, and from highly accessible to secret spots. Did I mention that water temperature stays at a nice 66 °F (19 °C) in winter?
Our recommended New Year’s surf camp in Lanzarote:
The sleepy fishing village of Caleta de Famara on Lanzarote’s north coast lives for and from water sports, be it surfing, kitesurfing, SUP or kayaking. Here, Playa de Famara welcomes surfers and kitesurfers on an 8-day kitesurf camp in Lanzarote.
7. The Philippines
Photo by Trevor Claringbold
The surfing capital of the Philippines fires up during winter months when the Pacific Ocean sends powerful swells towards Siargao Island. This is where you’ll find one of the most famous reef breaks on the planet – Cloud 9 – a raging right-hander. While this may be a pros-only wave, there are plenty of breaks for all levels of surfers around the island and on the nearby islands.
Prime time to be surfing in the Philippines is between December and April when the average water temperature stays around 80 °F (27 °C).
Photo by Trevor Claringbold
Our recommended New Year’s surf camp in the Philippines:
Come and enjoy daily yoga classes and kitesurfing and surfing lessons on this 7-day yoga and kitesurfing holiday on Siargao Island. This wonderful combination of adventure and relaxation in a tropical paradise includes island hopping, food tours, a trip to the Magpupungko rock pools and barbecue night.
8. South Africa
Picture this – surfing the legendary Supertubes at J-Bay in the morning and observing elephants in their natural environment in the afternoon! How wild is that?
One of the world’s best surfing destinations, South Africa fires up between November and February, although surfing is pretty good all year round.
Photo by Grace Flora
Our recommended New Year’s surf camp in South Africa:
Ride the best wave in South Africa on this thrilling 5-day surf camp in KwaZulu-Natal, the country’s surfing mecca, and take advantage of the one-on-one instruction for beginners to intermediate surfers!
Durban has some of the best beaches in South Africa, and is home to an exemplary surfing lifestyle and world-famous shapers and surfers. Water temperature drops at a nice 70 °F (21 °C) during the Southern Hemisphere summer, meaning that all you’ll need is bikinis and board shorts if you wish to celebrate New Year’s Eve on these shores.
If it’s secret beaches and remote surf spots you want, look no further than Panama! Just off the east coast of the country, the stunning Bocas del Toro archipelago consists of nine islands, 52 keys and 200 islets, all with year-round warm water, consistent surf and uncrowded line-ups.
The best surfing conditions in Panama are between December and April, when cyclones in the Atlantic send massive swells towards the shore, firing up the numerous reef and beach breaks. Water temperature stays around 80 °F (26 °C) all year.
Photo by Roman Königshofer
Our recommended New Year’s surf camp in Panama:
Until recently, Santa Catalina was a well-kept secret, but many surfers now know that the beach is home to the most consistent big wave in Central America. Thanks to its remote location, it remains relatively uncrowded even to this day. While this may be a haven for experienced surfers looking for some hollow barreling waves, there are plenty of spots for beginners too.
Enjoy daily surfing lessons and five yoga sessions on this 7-day yoga and surf camp in Santa Catalina that welcomes all levels of surfers.
It may or may not come as a surprise, but Cuba is slowly gaining ground on the international surfing scene. While it may not exactly be at the top of a pro surfer’s bucket list, it sure is a must-visit spot.
Surfing in Cuba is an incredible adventure in an under-the-radar destination with plenty of uncharted territories and unexplored breaks. The largest island in the Caribbean enjoys a year-round tropical climate, with the average water temperature rarely dropping below 77 ºF (25 ºC). Furthermore, winter months are the best time to be surfing Cuba’s north coast, especially in and around Havana.
Photo by Baudesign
Our recommended New Year’s surf camp in Cuba:
What better way to welcome the New Year than by riding barely-touched waves and enjoying a glass of rum and a Cuban cigar in the echoes of African drums on the streets? Jump into the Caribbean rhythm on this 8-day kitesurf camp in Cayo Guillermo. All levels of kitesurfers are welcome to challenge the Cuban waves and winds in a stunning beach resort destination – Cayo Guillermo – located close to a 124-mile (200 km) long coral reef.
Are you looking to jump-start your New Year’s resolution by trying something new and improving your skills? Why not go on a surf and yoga camp and wave goodbye to 2017 from an exotic location?