Here are our top surf destinations to escape the winter cold …
Winter is here, and if you love surfing but aren’t a big fan of cold water, the only option is to get on a plane. Even at this time of year, there are still places on earth that don’t mean snow and a runny nose, but warm sunny beaches and crazy waves.
That’s exactly what we have selected for you, the best spots to go surfing where you wont need a full wet suit to not turn into an ice cube and by surfing, we mean longboarding, bodyboarding, bodysurfing or anything you wanna use to ride that wave.
1 – Mexico
A country where the weather is perfect almost all year long – especially from November to may when it’s dry season. Puerto Escondido famous waves are more for good surfers but if you’re a beginners, there are many spots for you as well. Whether it’s Zicatela, Todos Santos, Oaxaca, Sayulita or Salina Cruz, it will be easy for you to find an empty spot, but careful with the strength of the waves, because Pacific Ocean can be tricky on these beach breaks. The great thing about this destination is there is so much to see!
2 – Morocco
The locals are incredibly friendly and the landscapes leave you speechless. With a coastline of over 3,600km, Morocco is one of the most popular destinations for surfing (and kite surfing) – there, you have Safi – a wave worldwide known for being one of the best right in the world. Taghazout in Agadir is one of the most famous spots , but there are many more like la Pointe des Ancres, Killer Point, Mysteries, la Source or La Bouilloire. As you can tell, there are many spots there to have fun but if you head to Essaouira area, you won’t be disappointed either. Sidi Kaouki or Tafedna have many surprises to offer and the locals will give you a warm welcome. In winter, water is around 17 ° c so a 3 / 2mm wetsuit will do and having the beach to yourself is priceless.
3 – Australia
When it’s winter for Europe, it’s summer time down under. No need to tell you that the weather is rather nice on this side of the word from December till February.
You can also catch a couple of stops of the surfing world championship tour with the best surfers in the world. If you can afford it – do not miss out on Australia. Gold Coast is definitely on the list of must go! Margaret river (western aus), Bondi beach (NSW), Bells beach (Victoria) Superbank, Byron Bay, Noosa heads and Shipstern Bluff are these kind of places where it’s easy to find a good spot. Surfing and water sports in general are part of the lifestyle in OZ, like soccer would be in Europe. That’s what people do after school or work, they go in the water.
4 – Tahiti
French Polynesia… are you already daydreaming when hearing “Tahiti”?
I’m sure the first things that come to you mind are: clear blue water, breathtaking scenery and mythicalwaves . Teahupoo is the most famous, but we’d recommend you don’t try that one unless you’re a really really really good surfer- Papenoo or Papara are also famous beach breaks because Michel Bourez apparently caught his first waves there. Heading south Papeete, you can go to Puna’auai or if you’re going up north of the island, go to Papenoo beach, it’s a nice spot for beginners. Moorea’s lagoons with Haapiti or Temae are definitely spots you also wanna check out. This heaven on earth will mark you life and you will leave with memories that will last forever.
5 – Indonesia
Within a few years, Indonesia became one of these ‘must-go-to’ places in the world of surfing. It is the biggest archipelago in the world with no less than 13,000 islands and thousands of perfect surf spots. It is renowned for the quality and consistency of its nearly perfect waves all year long.
With its gigantic waves, and perfect condition, Mentawai islands have to be surfed if you’re heading to Indonesia but beside Bali (the west coast) there are waves like Lombok, Java, Nias, Keramas, Padang Padang, G Land, Uluwatu, Macaronis, Desert point or Sumba that you can check out, with a little stop at Kuta if you’re a beginner. Your level of surfing doesn’t really matter there; you will always hear that call of the ocean and will have to go in the water where waves and barrels are dreams come true. On the other hand, the secret has been out for a while and spots are now crowded, but the perfection of the waves is still intact.
6 – South Africa
The new El dorado of surfing . South Africa has a lot to offer and plenty for you to discover. The culture and the wild will be a complete change of scenery. Durban or Cape Town are the most renown places of the area with famous J-Bay, home spot of Jordy Smith (currently # 3 in the ranking). Located in the eastern cape province, Jeffrey’s Bay also became a staple spot for good surfers. A stop of the WCT also takes place there with its lot of surprises, like that one time surfer Mick Fanning got attacked by a shark in the middle of the final round.
Supertubes and Boneyards are also to be checked, but careful with the sharks and other friendly animals in the wild. You might think water would be hot, but not really, and nights are freezing so don’t forget to bring a couple of jumpers in your suitcase.
7 – Peru
Along its 2500km of coastline, Peru offers an important number of good spots to explore. For a bit of culture, go check out Machu Picchu, this ancient Inca city, and for surfing, well Chicama Beach with its wave considered as the longest left in the world is waiting for you.
When all the conditions are there, it’s a 2km long wave! It is definitely one you wanna surf once in your life. There-’s also Mancora, it’s a little bit up north. Great spot to surf because reached by the swell from north pacific and therefor waves from 1 to 3m in winter, a little bit bigger the rest of the year.
8 – Hawaii
Can we talk about surfing and not mention Hawaii ? absolutely NOT, because there surfing isn’t only a sport, its spiritual and this american archipelago is well known for its huge swell!! The subtropical climate makes it pretty nice all year long even if from December till march it’s a little bit more chilly. Hawaii is directly linked to the history of surfing as it all started on these islands.
About the spots: Jaws… the name speaks for itself, the wave looks like a mountain of water.
For a long time, jaws was considered impossible to surf… it is now a lab for tow in surfing with pioneers like Laird Hamilton. I cannot not talk about Pipeline which is probably the most famous wave in the world – you will find this beauty on the north shore of Oahu. The only thing is, the moment swell is in, hundreds of surfers turn up, and it’s war zone at the peak… locals run the place so if you backpaddle anyone, be ready for the fight that comes with it.
Waimea… big waves riding. This spot is just.. Legendary. Located on the north of Honolulu – this is where it all started for surf legend Greg Noll or Pat Curren in the late 1950’s. Waimea is a challenge for every surfer. From the moment you step in the water, you have to go through that shorebreak then you have to paddle for a couple of hundred meters and when you finally reach the peak, you realise the risk you’re taking with the violent current, the rocks around the bay and these gigantic powerful and beautiful waves
If it wasn’t risky , it wouldn’t be legendary. Waterman Kai Lenny also comes from this magical place where water sports is part of education. Hawaii is a not-to-be-missed destinations – the Mecca of surfing.
9 – California
When it comes to California, you immediately think about surfing, skateboarding and all these fun sports.
In Cali, you can surf all year in perfect conditions… Some of the most beautiful chapters in the book of the history of surfing have been written in Huntington beach, Malibu, San Diego, Newport beach, Santa Monica, or La jolla… there you will find, girls playing beach volleyball in bikinis, bodybuilders training on the beach front, but most importantly the best condition for any water sport. That being said, careful with the rocked bottoms and long piers on some spots, if you’re not used to it, ti can be dangerous.
A little drive around LA and Hollywood is compulsory with a stop at Venice beach where the local folklore is always fun to watch. The hot air current from the pacific is the reason why is doesn’t often go below 20°c even in winter. If you are a good surfer, you might wanna head to Trestles and Mavericks and if that’s not enough for you… Try The Wedge ,you can find this mutant wave just by Newport beach pier. The spot is known for its huge shore break (up to over 9 meters) and the damage it causes because that wave, my friend, doesn’t obey any law.
10 – Canary Islands
One place in Europe that is still nice and warm when we are freezing our bums in France: Canary Islands. The spots aren’t the most renown in the world, but the surrounding and temperatures are perfect for a little getaway in winter. Canary islands are better known for kiteboarding and windsurfing because the winds can get really strong therefor more fun with a wing, but surfing is also there, if you know where to go. Expect volcanic soil like soil and desert landscape, with empty beaches with surf spots for everyone from beginners to expert.
If you are a beginner, Fuerteventura (especially around Corralejo) will be ideal and Lanzarote is also a good option if you wanna get out of your comfort zone.
Locals are nice, but make sure you’re respectful if you want it all to go smooth. Careful with the reef and volcanic rocks that cut badly (oh and watch out for the sea urchins too) you might wanna wear wet suits socks or boots to protect your feet. But whether you choose to go to Tenerife or one of the seven main islands of the canary you will always find places to party and have some fun – it’s only few hours flight from Paris and you can walk around just wearing a shirt in January!
Photo : Maxence Dalysson