If you’re a surf beach bum, or a wanna-be beach bum, then good news: summer is almost here. That’s right, you can almost feel the sand between your toes, you can hear the ocean, and in a matter of months you can kiss that pale, dry, winter skin goodbye and get geared up for some serious sun-kissed, surfing fun. But where to go? Most of us don’t live near the beach, though an oceanfront home might be on your bucket list. And it’s no surprise that summer travel can make certain popular beaches really crowded and not exactly conducive to catching great waves. But if you’re looking to plan a surf vacation, you want a spot that is guaranteed to offer great conditions, great weather, gorgeous waves and ideally, not too many other people.
Before you plan a trip, you need to remember that everyone has a different idea of what makes a perfect surf day. You have to consider your skill level, physical fitness abilities, and your ideal kind of wave. According to Pat O’Connell, pro surfer and star of The Endless Summer II, in an article for Men’s Journal, “a bunch of factors come into play when you’re looking for great surf…It depends on who you’re with, your ability, and your state of mind.” So before you commit to a surf destination, think about what kind of surfing experience you are looking for, and do you research so that you don’t get in over your head, or end up on a beach that could literally swallow you whole. Here are 5 awesome surf beach spots that are off the beaten path, so you can enjoy your adventure with minimum exposure to crowds of fellow surfers and spectators.
Read Related: New Turf: A Newbie’s Guide to Getting on Surfboards
Yes, Fiji is far, and yes it is a top honeymoon destination, which typically indicates it’s a romantic place to relax and unwind. And that might be true, but it’s also a great place to ride some serious waves. In the winter the waves are huge with big breaks and cooler water; while in summer the waves might have shorter swells, the surfing is still epic, and the sights don’t suck either. There are tons of surf beaches to choose from, such as Namotu Left and Cloudbreak, each of which offers unique wave qualities and conditions. And in summer when the water is a little calmer, it’s great for beginners, and it’s far less crowded.
2. Costa Rica
Costa Rica offers no shortage of adventurous activities for visitors, ranging from hiking to exploring wildlife to zip-line and snorkeling. And surfing is a huge attraction as well. And in addition to the awesome quality of the surfing in Costa Rica, and the fact that there are several beaches to choose from, it is consistently less crowded than Sydney, Australia, Southern California and Hawaii. You can choose from the Caribbean coast and the Pacific coast, and each beach boasts special perks. Playa Grande offers consistent conditions and a quiet setting that rarely disappoints. Boca Barranca in the Central Pacific coast has the longest rides, and if you go early it’s not terribly crowded. And for a totally secluded surf among rainforest and not much else, you should check out the South Pacific coast, where you can find some of the best surfing in the world.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Chile has some awesome wave spots—the country is almost entirely on the South Pacific coast, and yet most people don’t think of Chile when they think of surf destinations. But truth be told the waves in Chile can be really big, and the beaches fairly unoccupied. While Pichilemu is a pretty famous spot for surfing (it’s where the national championships are held), Ritoque is arguably better surfing and more beautiful.
Imagine a beach that offers consistently awesome waves, warm water, great weather and gorgeous views year round. Now imagine that beach is almost always empty. Too good to be true, right? Wrong? Nicaragua offers some of the best beaches and surf conditions without any of the crowds. The beaches that are hardest to access are understandably the quietest, but in general you’ll always find a spot that has some action in the water but not much action as far as tourists go.
5. Malibu, California
We know, we know. Malibu is hardly off the beaten path. In fact, it’s kind of the mecca for surfing in the USA. The beach culture in this Southern California destination is unlike anywhere else; the surf scene is epic and because it’s close to the Pacific Coast Highway, it’s easy to get to (aka often crowded). That said, with so many other surfing options in SoCal, such as Huntington Beach (Surftown USA), Venice Beach and even San Diego, Malibu isn’t the only option, so it’s not as packed as it once was. And it offers smooth, regular waves that are great for a surfer of any skill level.