What originally started as a Polynesian tradition rapidly turned into a fad, then a craze, and, ultimately, a sport. Surfing has been around for a long time, though its current incarnation exists in large part due to fanatic surfers who travel the globe looking for the best waves, regardless of the temperature or season. It isn’t just professionals who scour the world’s beaches; some IgoUgo members have been known to hang ten or carve up the face of a wave.
Without Hawaii, there is no surfing. The many beaches and South Pacific locale of the Aloha State make for some killer waves. Home to a break named “Jaws,” Maui is serious about surfing. Jglassb311 describes Maui as idyllic: “Hanalua Bay holds surf competitions every year, so we went to check that out. It’s about an hour’s drive from our condo. The bay is crystal blue.” Meanwhile, smmmarti guide gets more technical, saying that “because it's situated on the west side, a good swell comes when they get a Northern wrap; that is, the north swell hits the island in Maui and wraps around the land mass.” Finally, for beginners, listen to JohnWS, who instructs that “along south Kihei Rd. in Kihei, watch for the red bus on the beach side of the road. There is also a sign for Cove Park. This is a great place to teach the kids to surf. It is a protected cove with a long, gentle break.” Perhaps “break” is not the optimal word to use when talking about an extreme sport.
Die-hard surfers have firm opinions on where they think the best waves are. In Australia, they are as headstrong as anywhere, and perhaps with good reason. There is even a town called Surfers Paradise where Aussie EsslingerBrian claims that “if you visit Australia and leave without ever taking advantage of the great waves we have here, you are definitely missing out.” Likewise, he can direct you to Noosa, where “there are beautiful deserted beaches where you can get the entire stretch of sand to yourself. If surfing is your interest, you'll find many others that share your passion at the southern end of the main beach off Hastings St.” Meanwhile, farther south, you don’t have to be particularly manly to try your hand—or your feet—at surfing Manly Beach. Surf junkie Howdymike says that, at Manly, wave-riding is “a popular activity” because “the waves break nicely and it is susceptible to southwest swells, which are the most common.” Sounds swell, indeed.
For more Pacific riding, Mexico offers a long shoreline, and warm-weather aficionado Hal1026 recommends Nayarit, where “surfing is a central component” and where “there are world-class point breaks that lure surfers from around the globe. The coastline in this area picks up swells from the southwest to the northwest.” Don’t be too intimidated; he also says that if you haven’t surfed before “this may be the place and time to start. At Sayulita, I watched surfers of various ages and abilities catching the point break, waiting patiently for long minutes on end to catch the wave. And closer to shore, there was a little surfer-in-training, all of five years old, launching himself out from the beach to catch his own little wave back in.” You’re never too young, or old, to pick up a board.
It may seem more like a beach bum’s paradise, but longtime member parramore makes the claim that “Barbados has some of the best waves in the world if you get lucky. Experienced surfers will be drawn to the famous ‘Soup Bowls’ at Bathsheba, on the east side of the island. Best to get advice on coral and how to navigate these potentially dangerous waves from someone at the local surf shop.” If you’re hesitant, she collected that info from “a world champion,” so break out the surf wax but don’t forget the sunscreen.
Though it sticks out into the same water as Barbados, Florida doesn’t get great surf. That’s not to say that you can’t surf there. Typhoon Lagoon at none other than Walt Disney World is home to a surf school for those who may be less inclined to surf in, well, surf. According to Emily Marie, “the instructors who run the Cocoa Beach Surf School have all competed in or won various surfing competitions. Two of the instructors were from the U.S. National Surf Team. The actual instruction took very little time.” If Mickey Mouse were to surf, would he hang eight?
While it may lack the crushing size and fine barrels of the top destinations around the world, Rhode Island provides some even-tempered waves for beginners and anyone else who may not be a professional surfer. Narragansett is more of a family beach retreat, but there are enough swells to propel any rider. As our friend Howdymike says of Narragansett, “This beach is without a doubt the nicest beach I have been to in the Northeast despite the crowds that can accumulate, and I especially recommend it to any surfer or people wanting to give surfing a try.”
In case you thought the Continent had nothing to offer in the wave department, Carrie Hueseman begs to differ, saying that San Sebastian is a good spot. There you can take “a quick 15-minute walk from the main beach and rent a board right on the beach. They'll even hold your bag for you, or you can lock them up in the convenient nearby lockers and showers on the beach.”
Once you get hooked on surfing, you’ll probably want to buy a house on the water and never leave. Of course, knowing IgoUgo members, you’re more likely to chase the waves around the world.