10 Best Surf Towns in the World
There is something truly magical in a good surf town. The salt in the air, the beach-side cafes, the barefoot surfers walking around, and of course the good waves.
A good surf town is different in every country, but yet they all still have the same charm. Even if you are not s surfer, there is something about them that is so inviting, and so relaxing.
Nothing screams vacation more to me than visiting a good surf town. There are so many worldwide, but we thought it would be fun to break down the best surf towns in the world.
Below are 10 of the best surf destinations across the globe.
They’re famous for their amazing waves, great beachside restaurants, laidback vibes and they all would make wonderful vacations.
Let’s duck dive into it.
- 10 Best Surf Towns in the World
- 10. Puerto Escondido, Mexico
- 9. Canggu, Bali
- 8. Mirissa, Sri Lanka
- 7. Siargao Island, Philippines
- 6. Encinitas, California
- 5. Byron Bay, Australia
- 4. Haleiwa, Hawaii
- 3. Jeffrey’s Bay, South Africa
- 2. Biarritz, France
- 1. Tamarindo, Costa Rica
- Final thoughts on the Best Surf Towns in the World
10 Best Surf Towns in the World
10. Puerto Escondido, Mexico
Puerto Escondido is located in Southern Mexico in the state of Oaxaca. It’s one of the best places in Mexico to surf because it’s known for its monstrous 20-foot wave curls.
It has been gaining popularity among the surf community, but it’s still a small beach town and hasn’t become over-commercialized or too touristy.
Playa Zicatela is the main beach for surfing but it’s for advanced riders only who can handle the very large waves. Beginners and intermediate riders can surf other great beaches in the area like Playa Carrizalillo where it’s safer for their level of expertise.
The waves and conditions are consistent throughout the year, which is why surfers flock here. There are boutique hotels here that add to its charm.
Puerto Escondido is also known for its nightlife, so you won’t ever get bored.
The best time to visit Puerto Escondido for surfing is from April to September. This is when the wave swells are the largest. However, you can surf any time of year.
If you want to surf but without the craze of people, you should consider visiting in May or September which is just before or just after most surfers visit and while the waves are still very large.
9. Canggu, Bali
Canggu is located on the southwest coast of the island of Bali. This hip surf town is now full of digital nomads, surfers, and quaint establishments like cafes, yoga studios, and holistic retreats.
The waves attract people from all over the world and there are even some great surf camps where newbies can learn how to ride.
There are stellar waves for both beginners and advanced riders. It can get pretty busy at times but it’s definitely worth it.
The surf in this beach town is best for intermediate surfers because the waves are bit more challenging but beginners can find some spots to learn.
Some of the best beaches to surf include Echo Beach, Batu, Bolong, and Berawa. Canggu has a very laid-back and bohemian vibe that people are loving.
It’s not over-commercialized and while its gained popularity, it has managed to stay boutique style. Bali is full of great surf spots.
The best time to visit Canggu for surfing is May through October. This is when the conditions for the waves are best. May and July are especially popular times to visit.
Due to the strong currents, most swimming is prohibited but this is great for surfers because it leaves the coast clear of people.
8. Mirissa, Sri Lanka
Mirissa is located on the south side of the island of Sri Lanka. It’s a quaint surf town with great waves and a popping nightlife scene.
Surfers from around the world visit for the waves and the experience. Mirissa has both left and right-hander waves, and there are reef breaks that reach up to 6ft. There is a wave for all skill levels here.
The best thing about this spot is you can also find waves all day long with all tides.
The best wave conditions are from November through April. At this time, there are a variety of breaks and great quality waves.
Temperatures usually range from 86 to 104 Fahrenheit so it can get pretty hot, especially in the afternoon. During the offseason surfing months, there are still good waves but if you want the best surfing experience you should visit during peak season.
Off-season from May to October isn’t the best time not only because the wave conditions aren’t as great, but many hotels and restaurants shut down because there isn’t enough tourism to support staying open.
The best thing about Mirissa is you never need to wear shoes. The whole town is built along the beach, so rather than walking on the roads, everyone just walks along the beach and cuts up into town when they need to.
Giving it that ultimate surfer vibe.
7. Siargao Island, Philippines
Siargao is a teardrop-shaped island that is part of the Philippines. It’s known as the surfing capital of the Philippines and attracts people from all over the world.
There are both small and big reef breaks which accommodate beginners to advanced surfers. Cloud 9 is the most popular place in Siargao to surf and it’s known for its world-class waves.
Not only that but it is considered one of the top waves in the world. Quicksilvers is another popular place in Siargao to surf.
There are also many surf schools where you can learn or practice your skills. Siargao is a unique place to visit and the amazing waves make it so worth the trip. This is why it makes the list for the top surf towns in the world.
The best time to visit Siargao for surfing is from July to December and specifically from September to December which has the best and largest waves.
Besides the world-class waves, there is something special to this place that will make you never want to leave.
6. Encinitas, California
Encinitas is about an hour north of San Diego in Southern California. It’s a laid-back beach town and surf city worth visiting for its great waves and welcoming culture.
One of the big draws to California is the almost year-round surfing, making it easy to go any time of year. A great beach to check out is Cardiff where the reef breaks are both rights and lefts.
Other great beaches include D Street, Ponto, Grandview, and more! Swami is another popular beach where a lot of locals hang out so it may be harder to find a good spot in the water among groups of people but it has a legendary break so it’s worth trying.
Encinitas is a cute small town within San Diego. It is a great place to visit and near a lot of other attractions in California.
Remember though, California surf is cold and you will most likely need a wetsuit.
Once in a while, you can get by in the summer without one but you should plan on needing one. This is the only downside to California surf. The weather might be warm and consistent but the ocean isn’t.
5. Byron Bay, Australia
Cape Byron in Byron Bay is the easternmost point of Australia. Because of this, there are consistent swells.
Byron Bay has some of the best point breaks, reef passes, and beaches in all of Australia and it’s one of the most popular places to surf in the country.
It’s an iconic surfing destination that people from all over the world come to visit. The Pass is the most famous wave and it’s a 400-yard right-hand wave.
The Wreck is another cool surf spot in Byron Bay and it gets its name from the wrecked warship located here. The one thing to keep in mind is that this area has more sharks to be aware of.
Byron Bay has a laid-back environment and booming nightlife. It’s a great place to surf and have a good time.
The best time to visit Byron Bay is in the Australian winter which runs from June to August because this is when the waves are the most consistent.
The surf town is great for beginners and even intermediate riders, it’s surf-able year-round but advanced riders will have the best time if they wait until winter.
You will love the hippie feel of this town. It is full of great vegan cafes and restaurants you need to check out.
4. Haleiwa, Hawaii
Haleiwa is in Hawaii on the third largest island, Oahu. Located on the North Shore, Haleiwa is the main town in the area where the shops, restaurants, and bars are located.
Making it a great spot to come surf and enjoy the vibes of the town.
It’s deemed one of the best (if not the best) surfing locations in the United States for its incredible waves.
You’ll find perfect reefs, breaks, and swells. Surfing is a huge part of the culture in this area and everyone seems to live a surfing lifestyle. Surfing is life here. So be prepared to eat, sleep, and think surf.
The main break in Haleiwa is a V-shaped reef. It’s very easy to find a break that fits your skill level in Haleiwa which makes it exciting.
The best time to surf in Haleiwa is from November to March but generally, September to May is considered surf season for this part of Hawaii. This is when the swells are the best and the waves are most consistent.
3. Jeffrey’s Bay, South Africa
We can’t have a list of the best surf towns in the world and not have South Africa on it. Jeffrey’s Bay, South Africa is one of the best surfing locations in the world.
The beach town might be small but the waves are large and the reputation is huge. It has one of the best right-hand surf breaks and people from all over visit regularly to try out the waves. Basically, every beach in the area has great surfing conditions.
Supertubes is the most famous wave and it can reach 12 feet. Other popular spots include boneyards and points. Jeffrey’s Bay does a great job of keeping its small-town feel while providing hospitality to visitors.
So whether you are coming to watch or to ride, you will enjoy this laid-back surf town in South Africa.
2. Biarritz, France
Biarritz, France is one of the best surfing destinations in all of Europe. There are year-round swells and the landscape is just beautiful on the Bay of Biscay in southwestern France.
The great thing is you can always find a wave to surf for all surfing levels. If you want to visit a more luxurious surf town, this is it. It’s the perfect mixture of amazing waves, nightlife, and chic establishments. Biarritz has many five-star hotels and amazing surf schools.
It is also one of the best spots to visit in France for solo female travelers.
Biarritz, France has waves all year-round. However, in the winter is when you’ll find the largest and most powerful waves but at this point, you’ll need a wet suit because the water starts to cool down.
You will love this French surf town and you will catch surfers walking around town with their boards year-round.
Biarritz is a great place to sit out in a local cafe enjoy some good wine, great cheese, and excellent surf vibes.
1. Tamarindo, Costa Rica
Last, on our list is Tamarindo, located in the province of Guanacaste in Costa Rica. It’s one of the best surf towns in the world because the waves are consistent year-round and you will absolutely fall in love with this little town.
Known for its high-quality waves throughout the year. Tamarindo is a great place for all surf levels.
The town itself is laid back and you’ll find places where you can take surf lessons, go scuba diving, snorkeling, fishing, and boating. There are plenty of things to do in Tamarindo.
Tamarindo is also known for its sunsets so make sure you head to the beach and enjoy the view at night.
There is defiantly something special in the air here that will make you never want to leave. It is also one of the places on this list that you will never need a wetsuit for surfing.
Its year-long warm waters make all the more reason to visit.
Final thoughts on the Best Surf Towns in the World
Hopefully, something on this list of best surf towns in the world has stuck out to you and you’re ready to book your ticket.
You’ll surely have the time of your life shredding some of the most infamous waves in the world.
The best part is that each location has different peak seasons so you could really time out your trip to visit them all at different times!
Do you have a favorite surf town that is not on this list? Say so in the comments below.