10 Best Beaches to Surf in the World

A surfing craze has spread all over the planet.

Almost nothing embodies freedom, laissez-faire and utter cool like surfing. The sport may have started in Hawaii and the South Pacific in the 1800s but it was brought to the mainland U.S. after Jack London "discovered" it and sang its praises in a 1907 magazine article. In the 1960s, surfing hit the mainstream with stateside bands like the Beach Boys entering it into the lexicon, and it can now be found worldwide. Wherever there is a reef, a break or a wave, there is almost certainly someone on a board riding it.

Surfing the world
Surfing is the ultimate expression of freedom. Jeff_Dotson/Getty

Byron Bay, New South Wales, Australia

One of the most iconic surf spots in the world, the ultra-chill town of Byron Bay has it all—warm water, ready waves, and even some shipwrecks in the area for diving. But be alert: While shark nets have been implemented, one slipped through in February and bit a man.

Byron Bay
The Pass at Byron Bay on a clear day. DarrenTierney/Getty

Killer Point, Taghazout, Morocco

Just north of Agadir lies the small fishing village of Taghazout which has been home to surfers since the 1960s. Killer Point, named for the killer whales in the area, is the place to go for perfect, powerful breaks.

Surfing Morocco
Goats roam At the edge of the ocean near Taghazout. Jacques84250/Getty

Fernando de Noronha Island, Brazil

This small island in the north of Brazil has huge swells and reef breaks up to 15 feet high—and bonus: it's clean, unlike some of the other more famous beaches in Brazil. Double bonus: it has amazing scuba diving.

Brazil Surfing
Fernando de Noronha Island, Brazil. Roberto Palmer/Getty

Carrapateira, Portugal

Unlike its more famous, violent sister The Praia do Norte, in Nazaré, with waves that get up to 80 feet high, the beaches in Carrapateira have much tamer, manageable waves—and are usually empty.

Surfing portugal
Surfboards lined up near the beach at Carrapateira, Portugal. ah_fotobox/Getty

Hanalei Bay, Hawaii

This picture-perfect beach town on Kauai is magical. With waterfalls behind you and beautifully tubed waves in front of you, it's a beach that pro and amateur surfers alike love.

Surf Hawaii
An aerial view of Hanalei Bay, Hawaii. bjonesmedia/Getty

Cloud 9, Siargao Island, Philippines

Cloud 9 is the name of the most famous wave that haunts this island. While the locals offer surf lessons, due to the power of the large dramatic waves and the razor-sharp coral, it's best left to surfers who've been tumbled before.

Surfing Philippines
Surfers at Siargao Islands famous surf break cloud 9 in the Philippines. Alexpunker/Getty

Troncones, Guerrero, Mexico

Decent waves of all sizes can be found year-round on the beaches of this former fishing village, now surf hotspot. For beginners, there's the placid surf at Playa Troncones, and for people who want a challenge, there are the large, crashing waves at Troncones Point.

Surfing Mexico
Playa Troncones, in Guerrero, Mexico. soyalonso/Getty

Muizenberg, South Africa

Considered to be the birthplace of surf culture in South Africa, this suburb of Cape Town is home to beautiful breaks—and shark spotters, who watch for Great White sharks from the cliffs above.

Surfing South Africa
Colorful surfer shacks line the beach at Muizenberg, South Africa. SL_Photography/Getty

Shikoku Island, Japan

The smallest of Japan's major islands, Shikoku is home to an 88-temple Buddhist pilgrimage route, the feudal Matsuyama Castle and great surf. For peak season and to ensure you don't freeze, hit up the swells on the southeast coastline between June and November.

Surfing Japan
The Angel Road, Shodoshima island, Shikoku, Japan. thanyarat07/Getty

Malibu, California

It's easy to forget that Malibu started out not as the home to the rich and famous, but as a small surfing community. The Surfrider Beach is still universally popular as locals and tourists alike ride the relatively calm waves below the Malibu cliffs.

Surfing Malibu
A surfer runs to catch a wave in Malibu, California. oneinchpunch/Getty
10 Best Beaches to Surf in the World | Culture