Beyond the Swell: 5 Top Surf Spots for the Adventure Traveler
As an avid traveler and an aspiring surfer, I’ve drifted across a few continents on my quest for the perfect swell. It’s tempting to make a bee-line for the beach before your plane even hits the ground, but far more rewarding to spend time getting to know the cities whose waves you partake in. For every top surf spot, there is a culture and history worth getting to know. If you find yourself in one of these top spots, dive past the clichés and get dirty in the cultures, you’re there anyway.
Get Up Down Under: Byron Bay, Australia
Before you pack up the surfboard, or brush up on your how-to of surfing, make sure your personal information is all intact, guarded while you’re catching some killer waves. Identity security is mostly compromised when on vacay. Byron Bay holds a special place in my heart, as I learned to surf here. Founded in 1770 by Captain James Cook, Byron Bay has played host to many industries and adventure seekers over the years. Surfing is just one slice of Byron’s many offerings. Byron Bay is like Disneyland for hippies, with seemingly more festivals than kangaroos. Getting to know the locals is an experience on its own, the level of community involvement is admirable, and makes any activity- from a drum circle to a fire dance quite the achievement.
Sportige notes that surfing is ingrained in every aspect of Byron Bay life. Cruise down main street and you’ll see five surf shops almost back to back. It is said that you can feel the tension in the air when there hasn’t been a good swell for awhile. Byron Bay also has beaches that cater to all walks of surfer, from beginner to expert, facing every direction.
An Ancient Vibe: Taghazout, Morocco
Taghazout is tucked into Morocco’s southwestern underbelly, and is quickly becoming abuzz with surfing devotees, reports The Guardian. Walking through the streets of Morocco is as enchanting as it is unique. It calls to mind ancient eras swelling with culture. Taghazout was originally inhabited by Berber people as a place to store their fishing equipment, and what a waste that was!
The surf in Taghazou could warrant its own entire feature. Elongated right hand breaks consistently lick the uncrowded coasts. Taghazou is one of the few places on earth where you can literally surf from village to village, over 2km, starting at a place called Anchor point and finishing at a beach break by Panorama’s. Taghazou boasts a number of beaches for all levels of surfer, so you can let your significant other or little sister tag a long and they’d have a blast too.
Sleepy Village Turned Hedonistic Paradise: Shonan Coast, Japan
Shonan is the backdrop for the era-defining film “Season of the Sun,” which was such a hit in Japan that it spawned its own subculture of pleasure-seeking beach bums. Shonan’s beaches are a stunning blend of rich, dark volcanic sand, reefs and rocky coastlines. Yuigahama beach is a perfect summer spot for beginners, with slowly lapping right and left sand bottom waves along the beach. Inamuragasaki offers surfers world class waves, with a main break being a deep water reef left hander breaking in front of cliffs.
Ignore the Movie Stars: Zuma Beach, CA
A list of top surfing spots wouldn’t be complete without the obligatory mention of California, according to travelblissful.com. If you haven’t been to California (which is highly unlikely for a surfer), then it’s quite the modern marvel worth checking out for more than just the killer waves. Zuma is located in Malibu, and has been a treasured surfing hot spot for decades. If you’ve ever seen “Baywatch,” then you know what Zuma looks like with bouncing body parts all over it, imagine what it looks like with your surfboard wreaking havoc across it. Although Zuma has a notoriously strong rip tide, the steady pipeline of waves makes it well worth the trip.
Dodge a Zebra, Catch a Wave: Jeffrey’s Bay, South Africa
No surfer’s passport is complete without a stamp from South Africa. Surfing at Jeffrey’s Bay has been hailed by many as a dream come true, but its beauty extends beyond the surf. You can hop on a mountain bike and experience the coast from dry land, or grab a horse and run it up and down the beach, scoping out the scenery for your next surf-stravaganza. Kabeljous Estuary and Nature Reserve is so much more than just another reserve. It features a swim-safe beach with fishing aplenty, and an abundance of rare and beautiful foul to gaze upon.
The Jeffrey’s Bay area churns with hollow beach breaks, points and classic reef breaks. The water temperature is warm all year round, so planning a trip here works with just about any schedule.