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Destinations: Lets Go Surfing!

Okay, we’ll admit Bali is not particularly unknown as a surfing hotspot – but as it caters to every skill level it deserves a mention! The “Island of the Gods” provides surfing options year round, with the wet season being November to March and the dry season being May to September (the between months are, well, between). In wet season, you want to be on the east coast, and west coast on the dry; though keep in mind west coast in dry season is absolute peak and will be busier and pricier.

For beginners, we suggest Canggu, Katu or Seminyak, though the latter can be a bit pricy. You’ll be able to pick up lessons at these shores, either from locals or established schools that can be more expensive but back up the charge with good gear and insurance. Green Bowl, Kuta Airports and Echo Beach are all suitable for intermediate surfers, but use your discretion for when the swells are too powerful, as it can happen. For the experts out there, intermediate beaches can keep you entertained, or the well-known Bukit. You can also check out Padang Padang and Impossibles.

If you aren’t sold on Bali just yet, it is the “Island of the Gods” for good reason. Here the turquoise water is always warm, the culture rich, the atmosphere relaxed and the luxuries unrivalled.
Canary Islands
The Canary Island’s autumn, winter and springtime bring powerful waves, with summertime being a little less reliable and providing smaller waves, bigger crowds, but warmer weather. Peak season is therefore September to March across each of the four main islands, Lanzarote, Tenerife, Fuerteventura and Gran Canaria, however in Gran Canaria ‘localism’ is commonplace – meaning the surf is already occupied and can be less welcoming.

Lanzarote’s longest beach is topped by Caleta de Famara, a town that sits at the end of long Playa de Famara. Caleta has many surf schools and is ideal for beginners, but intermediates and beyond will find plenty of surf in the middle beach where the swell is stronger. Playa de Orzola is a beginner-friendly as well. La Santa on the other hand is what has put Lanzarote surf on the map, and is for experts only as it can be unforgiving and very fast.

In Fuerteventura, Corralejo is ideal for all levels depending on where you go; it also has many surf schools for beginners, as does both Playa del Morro and El Cotillo which for beginners should be visited in the summer time. If you’re looking for more of a challenge, visit El Burro, where on big days a beginner would likely be unable for the shallower sections of reef. As for experts, winter time El Hierro will be the thrill you are likely after!
Costa Rica
Here, surf excels not only in quantity but in quality due to the fact it enjoys exposure on two coastlines: The Pacific and the Caribbean Sea. The Pacific side is the real playground, and depending on the region, swells are available year-round. The surf on the Caribbean side is in season from December to March, ideal for those looking for waves that are fast and punchy. The Caribbean Costa Rica surf really focuses around one town: Puerto Viejo de Talamanca.

Back on the Pacific coast is Guanacaste, best known for Tamarindo, which is the most famous surf town in Costa Rica. It’s home to a big beach break along Playa Grande that works wonderfully for all levels, especially in the morning before the winds pick up. It’s packed with surf camps and has buzzing nightlife, so think busy crowds. Another spot in Guanacaste that can cater to all levels is Nosara, on the Nicoya Peninsula. Elsewhere around this peninsula are super spots for intermediates.

We can’t bring up Costa Rica and not include Pavones. Getting to this surf spot requires a lot of dedication and time, it is very remote, about 8 or 9 hours from San Jose, and renting a 4x4 could be your best bet. You need to be an advanced surfer for this spot, but it is absolutely worth travelling to, and if the swell is working the wave goes on forever. The typical length is between 400-900 meters, giving the title 'world's longest left' a run for the money.
Morocco’s pleasant climate and exposure to the North Atlantic’s swells make it an attractive surfing destination, with October to April being the best period to surf, and December, January and February being the most popular months within that time frame. The northwest-facing coast receives more swell than the southwest-facing points, and the main surfing hotspots are within or nearby Essaouira and Taghazout.

Essaouira is located in Central Morocco, and is best known for its strong winds that create the perfect playground for kite and windsurfing. But when the swells are right, here you will also find world-class surf spots. Perhaps the best beginner surf spot in the country, Essaouira Bay has a soft sandy bottom, an ideal place to learn the basics and brush up on your skills.

To keep all levels entertained, check out Sidi Kaouki. A long sandy beach 25km south of Essaouira, this sleepy fishing village is home to an open A-frame beach break that is great for beginners, but also for intermediate and experienced surfers between July and January. North of Essaouira is Safi, a big and sensitive beach break with rocky slabs offering hollow waves and rad barrels, powerful and curly; best suited to experienced surfers.

Taghazout, 20km north of Agadir, is dotted with surf shops, cafes, and restaurants, and boasts a booming surf and rich Arabic culture. The likely most consistent wave in the Taghazout area is found in Killer Point – so named as you can sometimes see Orca whales off the coast. There are waves for all abilities here, but when the swell really picks up, leave it to the advanced surfers. A definite must-try for intermediates and advanced is Anchor Point. It can hold waves up to 15 ft tall, and offers rides as long as 500 meters.
Fantastic waves, friendly surf culture and inexpensive in comparison to other destinations, Portugal can deliver everything you would want from a surf trip. There are waters here for every level, all year round as well, as Portugal has a coastline facing both west and south. Where and when you go depends your abilities!

For beginners, the best time to go is during summer, between May and September. This is when the swells are less frequent and the waves are smaller. We would suggest checking out Praia de Carcavelos and Ericeira, hitting these spots in early Spring is an option to avoid the crowds. Winter will bring powerful swells, however if you seek out some more sheltered spots, conditions will be suitable even then.

Those who are more experienced can enjoy the surf in the right spots year round, but we would suggest for intermediates to visit in autumn, when almost all the spots work. The crowds will have dispersed, the swells start to kick in, waves are bigger than in summer, the water is at its warmest, and there’s still plenty of sunshine to be had. Check out Sagres near the Algarve, and the waters around Lisbon.

For the advanced in search of huge swells and heavy waves, you can find the biggest and most impressive in winter. Praia do Norte, Nazaré is one of the most famous beaches, with two previous world records for biggest wave surfed achieved here.  Arrifana, located in Costa Vicentina’s National Park, has pointbreak waves that are perfect for the pro looking for some turbulence.