The Top Surf Breaks Around The World
Surfing will take you to some of the world’s most breath-taking destinations around the world. It’s one of those captivating sports that has the power to engulf your entire lifestyle. Before long, your curious mind starts to wonder, just where in the world you could find all of those perfect waves, you’ve seen in your favourite surf movies. But just where will you end up, when there’s so many waves to choose from? Do you crave the challenge of towering waves, grinding along razor sharp coral, or are you happy to dance on a retro board, down the longest wave you’ve ever seen in your life? Brace yourself. You’re about to discover some of the top surf breaks around the world.
Before jumping on that plane, be sure to thoroughly research your destination. This will go a long way, as it saves a lot of time on your trip, that’s better spent towards perfecting your barrel riding style! A few key points to note about the ultimate surf trip are:
- Find out just what tide is best for the break, because the last thing you want, is to end up on the reef, when you should be surfing on the opposite end of the tide!
- Chat to the locals when you get there, they hold so much more wisdom than any Google search has!
- Keep an eye on the swell charts, so you know just what the ocean will offer you next. If you’ve always read a pre-prepared surf report, learn how to read the real deal. Think synoptic charts and how swell period and swell direction affects the quality and sheer brunt of a swell.
- Know that every wave has its own personality. Especially a reef break, which becomes predictable from breaking so mechanically over reef. Find stories or blogs from other traveling surfers, they tend to write some pretty honest encounters with the waves they have discovered along the way.
- Carefully watch the best surfers in the water. Where are they sitting to be in the perfect spot to take off? This helps to banish any fear you might have of surfing an unknown break, as you can focus on the details of nailing your knowledge of the wave.
- Respect the local culture and dress sensibly. This is particularly important if you’re a female, forget sex appeal, think safety first!
- Wherever you go, don’t forget your travel insurance, because surfing is a risky sport.
- Last but not least. Trust your gut instinct. It’s never wrong.
Top surf break #5 Snapper Rocks, Australia
Surf level: Beginners to advanced
Best surf season: All year round but best in cyclone season (January-April)
You know all those surf photos you see, of long rolling lines of swell stacked to the horizon, to such an extent that it looks entirely photo shopped? Well chances are you’ve laid eyes on one of those photos of Snapper Rocks aka “The Superbank”. Due to nearby sand dredging, this has created one of the most mechanical sand bottom waves in the world. It’s not unheard of to score a 500m ride right from Snapper Rocks, through Greenmount and right to the sister break of Kirra!
Densely populated due to its perfection, you can’t allow this break to define the meaning of surfing, as it’s quite a different arena than your usual break. Often you’re simply hoping and praying that the surfer up and riding, will lose his balance or fall from a turn, so you can quickly take off on the wave and score amidst the crowd. You might agree that this isn’t what the surfing spirit is all about, however it’s often the only chance to get a wave! While you might be waiting one hour for your turn, if you do manage to get even one wave, your smile will last for days and your tale of that wave spoken for a lifetime!
The Superbank is another stop-off point of the professional surfing tour, where the world’s best battle it out in long, groomed lines every March. Visiting at this time allows you to catch all the action, but is most certainly is the busiest time of the year.
The remainder of the Gold Coast stretches for close to 60kms, and includes the famous point of Burleigh and Currumbin (aka “The Alley”). Stepping away from the points, the Gold Coast is littered with punchy, sand bottom beach breaks, giving you the opportunity to surf less crowded peaks. The summer season offers balmy warm waters, rolling thunderstorms, dolphins and the occasional passing shark to remind you what it’s like to be alive.
Top surf break #4 Lance’s Left, Mentawai Islands, Indonesia
Surf level: Intermediate to advanced
Best surf season: April to October
For those that crave wild adventure, Mentawai Islands might just offer everything you’ve ever been searching for. Crystal clear water, vibrant fire coral, hundreds of waves scattered across the archipelago and a feeling that you’re truly lost in paradise. From stand up barrels, tropical storms that go on to offer an afternoon glass off with no crowds, exploration of local villages, and surfing ‘til your arms no longer paddle, Mentawai truly has it all.
While it can be hard to name the best break, Lance’s Left is talked about as one of the most consistent and quality waves in the area. Often compared to G-Land, Lances offers barrels on takeoff, before opening up to a beautiful green wall, where you can perfect your bag of maneuvers.
It’s not unheard of to score 200m rides and beyond! But don’t hang on for too long, the very end of the wave is aptly named “Greedys”, where the coral runs dry. Be sure to kick out well ahead of time!
Surfers that come here for ten days, often talk about their trip for a lifetime. Choose from the land based surf camp “Kingfisher” set up directly in front of Lances, or from one of the many surf charter boats that buzz around from island to island, dropping its passengers off at the best breaks on offer.
This very special part of the world will question if what you’re experiencing is even reality, or whether you’re somehow lost in a dreamland. Many of the islands are covered in dense jungle and waterfalls that fade away to coconut trees, powder white sand, colorful reef, kaleidoscopic lagoons and of course, perfect waves.
Top surf break #3 Uluwatu, Bali
Surf level: Beginners to advanced
Best surf season: May to October
Known as the Island of the Gods, huge storms that brew in the Southern Indian Ocean deliver perfectly groomed lines of swell, for as far as the eye can see. The “Bukit Peninsula” on the southern tip of Bali is home to some of the best and most famous waves including Padang Padang, Impossibles and Bingin.
The stand out wave in the region has to be Uluwatu. It pretty much handles any size and offers racy sections, from the outmost point of “Temples”, before linking up to the main “Peak”, and continuing to some seriously hollow and fast barrels at “Racetracks”. The paddle out is through a mystical cave, a powerful image spread across surfing history and one that will add another dimension to your surfing. Be sure to memorize where you paddled out though, as the only way in is back through that jagged rock cave, which can become a challenge on particularly large swells!
If you’re new to travelling solo, and especially as a female, then Bali is the perfect destination to begin your surfing expedition. Be patient in the water, as Uluwatu can be busy from dawn to dusk! Your patience will be rewarded with some of the most heart-racing waves you’ll ever ride.
Kuta is the most populated tourist destination, where there’s no shortage of all you can drink happy hours, noisy clubs, “special price” massages and lines upon lines of market stalls, each trying to sell you something “unique” to take home with you. In a nutshell, this area is a little chaotic, and taints the true beauty of Bali. Rather, immerse yourself along the Bukit, surf yourself silly, eat like a King from the very affordable meal options, and enjoy a relaxing massage or yoga on the beach.
If you’re after less crowded waves, the off-season (wet season) offers the chance to score perfection on the East coast, when the winds start to blow predominately from the west, from November onwards. If you don’t mind a tropical storm or two, then you could find yourself well and truly in a surfer’s paradise.
Top surf break #2 Teahupo’o,Tahiti
Surf level: Beginners to advanced
Best surf season: March to October
Undoubtedly one of the most picturesque parts of the world. The volcanic islands of French Polynesia rise out of the deep ocean, and are surrounded by some of the most stunning shades of coral you’ll ever see.
The famous wave of Teahupo’o in Tahiti, is home to the annual Billabong Pro, where surfers pull into some of the largest and death-defying waves on the planet every August. It’s often not even the size, yet the sheer thickness of the waves that put many off surfing here.
If you’re not a complete kamikaze surfer, then watching all the action from the safety of the nearby channel on a boat, will offer an experience that will leave you on the edge of your seat. If you refuse to leave the island without first surfing this famous wave, then look for opportunities to surf it at a slightly friendlier size of 3-4ft.
The main island of Tahiti is littered with a blend of beach and reef breaks, which tailor for beginners right through to advanced. The main town of Papeete is where many luxury cruise ships stop off, to allow their passengers to enjoy fine dining, nightclubs, boutique clothing stores and the famous black pearl shops.
If you do choose to visit the outer islands, respect the local surfers, as they are very protective of their waves, not wishing their lineup to be anything like the type of Teahupo’o. A smile and a quick chat will go a very long way in gaining respect.
French Polynesia has a vibrant culture, comprising of both traditional Tahitian culture and French culture, where French is the predominant language spoken. Expect a warm welcome, plenty of smiles from locals, baguettes and croissants, incredibly lush islands, deep valleys and spectacular turquoise blue waters.
Top surf break #1 Pipeline, North Shore Hawaii
Surf level: Beginners to advanced
Best surf season: November to April
The birth place of surfing, Hawaii remains as one of the most desired destinations for surfers worldwide. With the professional WSL surf tour stopping by every December for the Pipe Masters, it’s a great time to visit, to see all the action up close and personal.
Pipeline, on the North Shore, breaks so close to the water’s edge, you can almost stand on the beach and high five the surfer up and riding! This break is certainly not for the faint hearted, with many surfers losing their lives in the large, bone crushing waves and sharp coral reef. This is a wave that breaks so hard on the reef, that the ground will shake beneath spectator’s feet. Don’t forget to pack your gun.
The irony is, some surfers will never feel accomplished in their sport, until they’ve taken on Pipeline. Hell, even pro surfer Bede Durbidge wiped out, fractured his pelvis, feared never to walk again and still returned to compete at the almighty Pipeline!
If you’re not quite up for the challenge of Pipe, the entire island of Oahu is littered with many other options. A lesser known surfing location is the lush island of Kauai which will simply take your breath away. If you’re chasing gentle, beginner waves, then be sure to head to the island of Maui.
Hawaii has a rich and diverse culture, where locals are proud of their Polynesian roots. Expect no shortage of shakas, pineapples, waterfalls, towering volcanos, hula dancers and Aloha spirit.
Rather than hearing others tell tales of riding incredible waves from around the world, become the story teller yourself, and live your own version of the endless summer! You’ll find yourself on a unique experience, rich in culture, exhilarating adventure and close encounters with nature. There’s no doubt about it, you’re going to be left begging for more, after surfing the top breaks around the world. You might agree, a traveling surfer has one of the most blessed lives on the planet!