Sometime heading to the beach isn’t just about relaxing and catching some rays. For active beachgoers, it’s all about the outdoor action, including surfing! So, we decided to pull together a few destinations that not only offer top-notch surfing, but also have cool beach bars, renowned surf schools and fun restaurants along the water. Best of all, there’s plenty of action for non-surfers, too!
Hanalei Bay, Hawaii
This jewel of a beach on Kauai’s north shore attracts as many celebrities—many of whom stay in sprawling beachfront villas or cliffside resorts—as it does surfers, and we know why: the sapphire-hued waters hemmed by thickly forested mountains yield one of the most visually stunning landscapes in the Hawaiian Islands. That’s a no brainer, right? Surf conditions in the nearly three-mile-long bay cover all levels, from the calmness of the water near the pier to the challenging waves that roll in past the breakers. We guarantee your experience here will make it hard for you leave this tropical paradise.
PRO TIP: No trip to Kauai is complete without a glimpse of the dramatic Napali coastline, where you can hike, sail past or zoom over in a helicopter.
Want to learn how to surf? Head to Sayulita, a former fishing village located 30 miles north of Puerto Vallarta, where smooth, shallow waters make for a great locale for beginners. Post-surfing, you’ll find a low-key, boho vibe so casual that you can wear your bathing suit to fuel up on fish tacos at any one of the town’s many outdoor cafés. Sayulita is also known for its Huichol Indian heritage, so make a stop at Galeria Tanana for colorful native art and jewelry.
PRO TIP: Don’t leave Sayulita without picking up some authentic bling.
Tamarindo, Costa Rica
Located on Costa Rica’s lively Pacific coast, this surf mecca attracts all levels of surfers, who head here for the varying breaks—small to massive barrels—that are surfable all year long. It’s also a great spot for adventurous types who want to balance surf time with activities such as hiking to the waterfalls at Rincón de la Vieja National Park. Pura vida! You quickly learn why locals live life to its fullest here.
PRO TIP: Don’t miss the opportunity to spot the giant leatherback turtle – one of the world’s largest reptiles – at Tamarindo National Wildlife Refuge.
Byron Bay, Australia
Located on Australia’s easternmost point in New South Wales, artsy Byron Bay is a charming mishmash of chic restaurants, holistic healers, stylish boutiques and yoga studios. It’s also a surfer’s paradise. Rookies can get their bearings on Wategos Beach – often with pods of dolphin playing alongside – or The Pass, while those with more experience on the board should hit up the dodgy breaks along The Wreck, located almost 100 feet off the shore of Belongil Beach.
PRO TIP: Find your inner Zen with a post-surf yoga class, then shop ‘til you drop at the boutiques along Jonson Street.
... world class waves that roll in along 10 miles of uninterrupted California coastline.
Huntington Beach, California
Haute hippies flock to Surf City, USA, for its breezy, laid-back lifestyle and world-class waves that roll in along 10 miles of uninterrupted California coastline. Although surfing wasn’t invented in California, the culture runs deep with surf schools, surf shops and buff, barefoot residents clad in rolled-down wetsuits on every street. Away from the coast, 40 miles of trails loop through Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, which lies within some of Southern California’s last remaining coastal canyons. Dude! It’s the best of both worlds…awesome waves for surfers and a great trek with majestic ocean views for hikers.
PRO TIP: Spectators can walk along the 1,850-foot-long pier – the longest pier on the West Coast – to watch surfers catch waves or local fishermen reeling in the catch of the day.