Everyone go to beaches for tranquility, inspiration, and to let go and just have fun. But for surfers, beaches are more than that. Surfers are drawn to beach cities for the surfs with the ultimate goal of riding out the waves that crash onto their shores. Ending their day watching the sunset over the horizon like an orange ball of fire dipping into the water ever so slowly.
Searching for the perfect city to enjoy a good surf is quite a task. To make that a lot easier, we’ve come up with a list of five cities famous for surfing, the world over. This will certainly help narrow down your options matching your passion for surfing. Here are five coastal cities that offer you great surfing conditions and breathtaking beauty along with other things you could do while you’re there.
1. Huntington Beach, California:
First on our list is Huntington Beach, California. This is by far one of the most vibrant places to visit if you love surfing. Huntington Beach is located about 30 minutes from Los Angeles and 90 minutes from San Diego. Getting here is quite simple, as Huntington Beach is easily accessible by buses and cars, and is around 20 minutes from John Wayne Airport.
Huntington Beach has consistent sunshine and surf conditions, and probably the most consistent wave zone in all of Southern California. The surf here has a featureless beach-break and waves are not very powerful, usually, head high. The Trestles is one of the most rideable waves in California, and a great spot for performance rides. It really is fun when the south swell, north swell, and the Santa Ana winds all hit at the same time. Huntington has an 8.5-mile beach-break. This is from Sunset Beach on its northern border right down to River Jetties in Newport. Old school long-boarders congregate on Northside, while the new school short-boarders and Huntington Beach High School surf team frequent the Southside. And just a few miles up the coast is Huntington Cliffs, is a very popular spot on all swell conditions.
Huntington Beach has a Surf Museum, Surfing Hall of Fame, and Surfing Walk of Fame that you can visit. The Huntington Beach pier is the center of attraction and happens to be one of the longest piers on the West Coast. You can take a nice stroll on the pier or fish from the pier if you enjoy fishing.
Huntington Beach has a ton of accommodations for you to choose from, all dotted along the beach and even further out in the city. There are resorts, hotels, Airbnbs, and vacation rentals to choose from. There are many cafés, bars, and restaurants to choose from when you’re hungry or just looking to hang out.
2. Tel Aviv, Israel
Tel Aviv is an incredible and unique surf city to visit, mainly because of the Mediterranean weather. Surfing in Israel is awesome that’s on almost all year round. The water temperature is around 29°C (84°F) in summer, with swells reaching heights of 1.5 to 3 feet. In winter, water temperatures hover around 14°C (57°F) with wave heights touching about 10 feet in rough conditions, making it a perfect challenge for many surfers. Over the years, surfing in Tel Aviv has gained popularity and it’s very common to see surfers on their mopeds with their surfboards on the sides zipping through the traffic.
The long Tel Aviv coastline is made of up separate beaches. The Hilton Beach, Dolphinarium Beach, and Maravi Beach are some of the most popular among surfers because of the waves that break on their shores. Tel Aviv offers a fun experience where you can rent a board, and even take lessons to hone in on your surfing skills. Another beach that is popular with surfers is Herzliya, which also has good shore-breaks all year round. If you move further north, the coastline offers even more surfing spots in Netanya, Caesarea, and the city of Haifa.
Moving around in Tel Aviv is very easy as it’s a relatively flat city. The best way to commute is by bike that you can rent. The city has many options for accommodation with many hotels, both luxury and budget-friendly, to choose from.
Tel Aviv is a melting pot of cultures that offers a wonderful dining experience for you to choose from. Some of the foods you should try when in Tel Aviv are Shawarma, Schnitzel, Falafel, Shakshuka, Burekas, and Hummus to name a few.
3. West Sumbawa, Indonesia
If you’re an adventurous surfer looking for secluded spots in South East Asia, then you’d certainly love West Sumbawa, Indonesia. Apart from plenty of shore-breaks, West Sumbawa has beautiful white sand beaches, clear blue waters, and world-class fishing making it one of Indonesia’s hidden gems.
West Sumbawa mostly attracts serious surfers because of the difficulty in accessing its beaches. With fewer surfers, you’d have perfect waves to surf for the majority of the time. Surfing etiquette is practiced by all here, and all wait their turn for waves and follow a lineup. West Sumbawa is famous for high-profile surf movies like Lost Atlas and Now Now, but it still has its relaxed and laid-back vibe.
The best time to surf here is between the months of April and October, although there are plenty of breaks to tempt you all year round. You’ll find good breaks when the winds and swell change direction.
As mentioned early on, getting to West Sumbawa is somewhat of a challenge. It takes around 13 hours from the city of Bali to West Sumbawa which involves both land and water transport. There are no direct flights to West Sumbawa, although some resorts do arrange private seaplanes from Bali to Sumbawa.
There are quite a few resorts and hotels to choose from in West Sumbawa. If you’re someone more interested in the surf and not too picky with accommodation, then you’d do just fine with the rooms here.
4. Tamarindo, Costa Rica
Costa Rica’s Pacific coast is blessed with some of the best beaches South America has to offer, with Tamarindo being one of them. Tamarindo is a town located in the Guanacaste Province. It is about an hour’s drive from Liberia International Airport which is the closest airport, and about 4 to 6 hours’ drive from Juan Santamaría International Airport in San Jose, Costa Rica’s capital. Tamarindo is one of Costa Rica’s top surfing destinations. It is easily accessible and one of the most developed beach towns in the country.
Visitors keep coming back to Tamarindo because of the pristine tropical beaches, cool waters, and laid-back lifestyle. Some of the most scenic places to surf here are the Rivermouth (Estero), Tamarindo. Surfing here in the mornings is truly breathtaking and the best time is during the mid-high tide. Another location in Tamarindo is Beach Break, which is located right in front of the parking lots. This is a place mainly for beginners, but you can get some good breaks here during the mid-high tide. Another spot to surf at is Pico Grande, which offers a good swell with rights and lefts breaking off the rock. Advanced surfers have fun here during high tide.
With a beach every 2 miles (3.22 km), Tamarindo has diverse surfs to offer. The beauty of Tamarindo is that there are waves for all levels of surfers. You can choose from river mouths, point breaks, beach breaks, and reefs.
Tamarindo can get quite crowded since it is the second biggest beach town in Costa Rica. So make sure you take a look around before dropping in on a wave.
Please be advised that there are crocodiles in the estuary, and you’d best take a Panga boat over the estuary in Tamarindo.
5. Vila do Bispo, Faro, Algarve
The region of Algarve, Portugal, is home to some of the most famous surf spots in Europe that surfers visit the world over. Vila do Bispo is among the top of those surf spots. It is located in the southernmost region of Portugal and famous for its Atlantic beaches and golf resorts. It is also known for its impressive and enormous cliffs and stunning landscape. Surfers visit Vila do Bispo because of its beaches, Mediterranean climate, cuisine, and relatively low prices.
Praia da Cordoama in Vila do Bispo is one of the main beaches for surfing and bodyboarding in the Algarve. It has good surfing conditions for most of the year, and when the conditions are perfect the banks take good shape offering you wonderful peaks. It has one of the most consistent beach breaks on the coastline and in the summer it’s one of your best bets.
The water temperature around the Algarve is cool in the summer, around 18ºC. The tide conditions are variable and it’s necessary to know them before venturing out.
Algarve is easily accessible and it takes around four hours to get from Lisbon to Vila do Bispo by bus. You can also drive down from the capital which should take you about two to three hours depending on traffic.