Surfing is one of the most thrilling water sports out there. Riding the waves gives an adrenaline rush like no other. With countless surf spots spanning the globe, it can be challenging to figure out the best surf destinations for your skill level. This guide covers the top surf spots around the world for beginner, intermediate, and advanced surfers.

What Makes a Good Surf Spot?

When looking for the best surf spots, there are a few key factors to consider:

  • Wave size – Smaller waves are better for beginners, while bigger waves appeal to more advanced surfers.
  • Wave power – This refers to how much force the wave has. Powerful waves are exciting but can be difficult for less experienced surfers.
  • Break type – The shape and type of the wave break also affects the surfing experience. Long, peeling waves are considered ideal.
  • Wind and seabed – Offshore winds and sandy seabed bottoms produce the best surf conditions.
  • Consistency – The most popular spots have good waves on a regular basis.
  • Crowds – Less crowded surf spots are preferable so you can catch more waves.

Different Types of Surf Spots

There are a few main types of surf breaks:

  • Beach breaks – These occur along sandy shorelines and produce peaky, crumbly waves. The waves break at different places depending on conditions.
  • Point breaks – These happen alongside headlands and points, creating consistent, peeling waves that break in the same spot.
  • Reef breaks – Waves break over coral or rock reefs, resulting in tubular waves. These spots are usually for experienced surfers only.
  • River/estuary mouths – The mixing of fresh water and seawater creates waves at the mouths of large rivers and estuaries. The waves can be quite variable.

Choosing the Right Surf Spot for Your Skill Level

When selecting a surf destination, it’s essential to match it to your abilities. Here’s a quick guide:

  • Beginners – Choose gentle beach breaks with smaller waves, minimal currents, and soft sandy bottoms. Avoid crowded spots.
  • Intermediate – Look for point and reef breaks with more powerful waves to up your skills. Head to the shoulder or edges of the lineup.
  • Advanced – Experienced surfers can handle big waves at exposed spots with fast barrels, while avoiding hazardous rocks and coral.

Staying Safe While Surfing

To make the most of your surf session safely:

  • Check forecasts and only paddle out in suitable conditions.
  • Don’t surf alone at isolated spots. Go with others in case you need help.
  • Avoid surf spots with rips or currents beyond your swimming ability.
  • Watch out for rocks, coral, and other hazards that can cause injuries.
  • Be respectful and share waves in the lineup.
  • Use a leg rope and know how to duck dive under waves to avoid your board hitting others.

Best Surf Spots for Beginners

When you’re just starting out with surfing, you’ll want to stick to beginner-friendly spots. Here are some of the top surf spots around the world for learning:

Bondi Beach, Sydney, Australia

Bondi Beach is arguably Australia’s most famous beach. The southern end tends to be better for learners, with gentler waves breaking over a sandbar. There are surf schools and lifeguards on duty.

Waikiki, Oahu, Hawaii

Hawaii is surfing paradise, and Waikiki Beach is ideal for novices. The long, rolling waves break over a sandy bottom. Just watch out for the crowds, as it can get packed.

La Libertad, El Salvador

The surf town of La Libertad has a sandy point break called La Paz ideal for beginners. The waves break both left and right, and there’s usually a friendly local scene.

Nags Head, North Carolina

On the Outer Banks, Nags Head has several surf schools and shops. Gentle waves roll in off the Atlantic over the sandbars, perfect for getting started.

White Beach, Biarritz, France

Biarritz has a thriving surf scene on France’s Atlantic coast. White Beach often has small swells that are great for learning on longboards.

Best Surf Spots for Intermediate Surfers

Once you’ve gotten the hang of surfing basics, you’ll be ready to start tackling more challenging waves. Some top intermediate surf spots include:

Rincon, Puerto Rico

Rincon is legendary for its epic surf, but the main beach break is just right for progressing surfers. The waves peel perfectly over a sandy bottom. Beware of riptides.

Playa Hermosa, Costa Rica

Located on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast, Playa Hermosa lives up to its name with its picture-perfect waves. It’s ideal for intermediates looking to improve their skills.

Byron Bay, Australia

Byron Bay has a mix of beach and point breaks. Wategos Beach is a favorite for intermediates, with fun left and right peaks. Surf lessons are readily available.

Sayulita, Mexico

This coastal village in Mexico has a consistent beach break with peaks left and right. There are surfboard rentals and lessons available for all levels.

Hossegor, France

Hossegor is Europe’s top surf town. La Gravière is the main intermediate break, with long rides over a soft sandy bottom.

Best Surf Spots for Advanced Surfers

Expert surfers looking to take on more extreme waves should check out these intense surf spots (if you have the skills):

Teahupo’o, Tahiti

Teahupo’o is home to one of surfing’s most challenging waves. It’s a shallow reef break with thick, hollow barrels and a definite risk of injury. Not for the faint of heart.

Pipeline, Oahu Hawaii

Pipeline on Oahu’s North Shore is known for huge, hollow barrels that break in shallow water over sharp reefs. Waves can reach over 20 feet (6 meters).

Mavericks, California

Mavericks only breaks with the right conditions, but when it does this big-wave spot can see 50+ foot (15 meter) faces. Take safety precautions if attempting Mavericks.

Punta de Lobos, Chile

Punta de Lobos is where you can surf one of the longest left-hand point breaks in the world. Massive swells wrap around the point for over one kilometer.

Dungeons, South Africa

Off the southern tip of Africa, Dungeons serves up monstrous walls of water in winter. It takes a jet ski or helicopter to even get out to the break.

Planning Your Ultimate Surf Trip

A surf trip is an amazing way to explore the waves of the world. Here are some tips for planning your ideal surf getaway:

  • Pick a destination that matches your skill level. Choose beginner-friendly spots if you’re just starting out.
  • Research the location. Check which months have the best wind and swell conditions. Look at surf forecasts before you go.
  • Allow enough time. It takes a few days to get used to a new break. Ideally, spend at least a week in one spot.
  • Bring the right gear. Pack a board suited to the waves. Don’t forget wetsuits, surf wax, and accessories.
  • Check travel requirements. Make sure your passport is up to date and get any required visas.
  • Stay close to the surf. Book lodging with easy access to the breaks you want to surf.

With some planning, you’re sure to score epic waves on your customized surf adventure. It’s time to start daydreaming about that perfect point break or beach break waiting for you in paradise. Wax up your board and make it happen.