Planning an epic surf trip for 2019 and trying to narrow down the list of top surf destinations?
From firm favourites like J’Bay to lesser known spots like Newcastle in Australia – I chatted to some of my fellow wandering surfers to bring you the list of Top Surf Destinations For 2019, covering everything from the best beginner surf destinations to spots for those chasing epic barrels….
Or check out my 20 top surf destination for 2020!
The Top Surf Destinations For 2019
Coffee Bay, South Africa
Margherita from the Crowded Planet
During our month-long road trip across South Africa last year, one of my wishes was learning how to surf, and so I ended up having lessons in various places around the Garden Route and Wild Coast – and my favourite surfing beach was definitely Coffee Bay!
Well, I may be biased because it’s the first place where I actually managed to stand up without falling in the ocean, but to be honest I also preferred it to places like Cape Town and J-Bay first of all because it was less crowded, and the water was also much warmer!
The best base for surfing in Coffee Bay is the wonderful Coffee Shack Hostel, where you can stay in dorms or double rooms located in rondavels (traditional huts), or even camp on a lawn near the beach. The place is popular with backpackers so if you like the ‘hostel atmosphere’ you’ll love it – and you can also join the cheapest surf lessons in the world at only 50 rand per person!
Bingin Beach, Bali
Jules from Dont Forget To Move
Bingin Beach, on the Bukit peninsula of Bali, is not only an awesome spot to surf, but this sleepy little beach is perfect for a few days of relaxing and taking in local Balinese life.
Bingin is a left handed reef break, so be prepared to throw on the booties and brave the jagged reef below.
On high tide cruise across the face of a fatter, smoother ride that peels down the coastline. As the tide drops, the wave starts to hollow out against a very shallow reef underneath. When the swell is up you could find yourself in a nice little barrel, but be aware you could also be surfing across a few feet of water.
There are a number of awesome guesthouses, Airbnbs and hostels to stay at while visiting Bingin, and I’d highly recommend Kelly’s for smoothies and breakfast in the morning, and visiting the beach at night for fresh seafood cooked on the beach for dinner.
Another notable location just a short 25min boat ride from Bali island is Nusa Lembongan, where you’ll find a perfect snapshot of what bustling Bali would have looked like before the tourist invasion.
With half a dozen prime surf breaks, the lineups aren’t super crowded and the waves are well worth the boat trip over.
Ben from Horizon Unknown
Australia is a well-known country for beaches and surfing. A lesser known gem on the east coast is a city by the name of Newcastle.
Often overlooked by travellers to Australia, Newcastle is a great destination if you’re looking to catch some great breaks. There are many golden sandy beaches hugging the shoreline of Newcastle, each providing different conditions and swell, so there’s something to suit every surfer!
If you’re looking for a multi-day trip, there are plenty of hostels and hotels scattered throughout the centre of the city. Ranging from around $25 and up, there’s always an option to suit your budget and needs.
For land-based activities, make sure you visit Nobby’s Lighthouse. The most iconic figure of Newcastle, this pure white tower is hard to miss. You can also learn about convict history that helped shaped this city throughout many memorials and catch a beautiful sunset at the newly built ANZAC Memorial Walk.
There’s plenty of reasons to visit Newcastle, Australia other than the amazing surf available all year round – if you’re game enough to brave the chilly waters in winter.
Siargao, The Philippines
The tiny island of Siargao really does epitomise the mantra ‘eat sleep surf repeat”. Known for its amazing waves and home to the famous barrelling “Cloud 9” spot, Siargao in the Philippines is one of the best places for surf in the world.
For a small island, there are a ton of incredible spots you can go to! From the powerful left at Stimpys, to the long right hander at Rock Island, to the even longer left at Cemetary, or the heavy Quicksilver – these are just a few of the long list of fun waves there.
Not all the spots in Siargao are crazy double-overhead barrels though; if you’re just starting out, Jacking Horse, Guian and Daku are some of the easier, less-terrifying waves on the island.
While it’s becoming more popular, it’s still a very sleepy island. There’s little wifi and often no cash (the ATMs run out of cash most weeks!) so make sure you stock up on cash before you go so you can enjoy the slow pace of Siargao life. Don’t worry though, the island wakes up at night with a different event on every night of the week, often ending after 4 or 5am.
The most sociable places to stay are Kermits, Harana and Bravo – and make sure you book early as spots get snapped up well in advance. Even if you don’t manage to stay at Kermits, check out restaurant as they have pretty amazing wood fired pizza!
With waves for every level, the clearest blue sea, and super chilled vibes, Siargao is definitely my favourite surf spot.
Charlotte from A Broad On A Board
If crowded breaks aren’t your thing, pack your board and get yourself to Mozambique. Still relatively under the radar, the coastline of Mozambique is littered with great surf spots, although many of them are still uncharted territory. The main surf towns are Ponta D’Ouro on the southern most border, and the Inhambane Province where you’ll find Tofo (a fun beach break) and Tofinho (a super fun point break).
The water is crystal clear, turquoise, and warm all year round. The best time to go for surf is April to September. You might get waves outside of these months but more than likely the wind will be messing them up. Even in the season the wind and swell can be a tiny bit fickle, but if there’s no surf, Mozambique is a great place for scuba diving and one of the best places in the world to see whale sharks.
A Mozambique surf trip isn’t the for the newbie traveller; Africa in general can be pretty intense, and it’s not the easiest place to get around, but once you get to the beach it’s so worth it! Learning a few words of Portuguese will also go a long way.
Greta from Gretas Travels
If you’re looking for one of the best surf destinations of 2019, Fuerteventura in Spain needs to feature on your surfing bucket list. Fuerteventura is the second biggest island in the Canary Islands and is located just 100km away from the coast of Africa.
Fuerteventura is a popular destination for all sorts of water sports, thanks to the prime wind and wave conditions that make it perfect for windsurfing, kitesurfing and surfing.
The surfing conditions are especially good in winter due to decreased storm activity around the equator and tide levels, which mean smaller waves but more even; perfect for beginners.
Winter is also low season, meaning that accommodation and flights will be cheaper and there won’t be big crowds trying to catch your same waves. In low season you can get accommodation at a surf house and surf classes for less than 30 EUR per day.
I spent one week at a surf camp in Fuerteventura as a complete beginner and by the end of the week found I could easily stand on the board. The surf camp was in the town of Corralejo, in the north of the island, close to all the popular surfing beaches.
Corralejo has plenty to offer also once you get off the surf board, from trendy beach bars to cute restaurants along the harbour.
Jeffreys Bay, South Africa
Campbell & Alya from Stingy Nomads
The well-known surf town Jeffreys Bay has white sand beaches, nice seafood, a chilled lifestyle and perfect waves.
Jeffreys is famous for one of the world’s best right hand point breaks and is on the bucket list of most serious surfers.
What I love about Jeffreys is it has waves that cater for all skill levels. The foamies and sandy bottom for beginners at Dolphin Beach, progress to the chilled out waves at the point break at Kitchen Windows and the more hollow waves at Point if you know what you are doing, slower than Supers, but it gets big out there!
The perfection of the wave at Supertubes is seen as the best in the world for a good reason.
A long, fast, heavy wave, this gnarly wave can be the ride of your life! If you want to shop for some surf clothes Jeffreys must also be one of the best spots in the world.
With a ton of factory shops selling authentic Billabong, Rip Curl, Hurley and more, you will go home with awesome new threads for a fraction of the cost. Come with an empty backpack.
Weligama, Sri Lanka
Lora from Explore With Lora
Sri Lanka is quickly becoming a popular destination for surf. It’s cheap, full of friendly locals, and home to world-class beaches and waves all throughout the countries coastline.
Weligama, on the South Coast of Sri Lanka, is the perfect place to learn or brush up on your surf skills.
The waves here are perfect for beginners, but if you paddle further out there are some bigger waves for the more advanced surfers.
Plus, there are over 30 surf schools within a 500m radius in Weligama, so there’s no shortage of professional lessons for those wanting to learn. Check out Elsewhere Yoga & Surf Camp, which is happy to host both newbies and professional surfers.
Weekly accommodation rates start at 340 Euros during high season (October – March), and become even cheaper during low season. If you need to re-fuel your appetite after surfing there’s no shortage of restaurants in Weligama.
Check out Hangten Rooftop Restaurant across from Weligama Bay, where you can enjoy a delicious and healthy meal, and watch the surfers below.
Playa Avellanas, Costa Rica
Oksana & Max from Drink Tea & Travel
If catching waves is your thing, then Costa Rica should be a bucket list destination! With warm water and world-class waves all year round, Costa Rica is haven for surfers of all experience levels.
Some of the best waves we’ve experienced have been in Playa Negra and Playa Avellanas. Both beaches are located just 2km from each other along the Pacific Coast in Guanacaste, so you can easily experience both and compare the waves! Playa Negra is so good it was even featured in an episode of the famous surfing movie called Endless Summer.
Both Playa Avellanas and Playa Negra are best suited for intermediate and experienced surfers, but they do have suitable spots for the novice surfer as well. Beginners will also be happy to know that both beaches have resident surf schools on site with surf instructors who have been surfing the local waves for years!
We recommend using Playa Avellanas as your base to explore the region. The laid-back beach community has more to offer than just great breaks and has plenty of hotel options for every budget and every type of traveler. There are also a few restaurants and cafes, yoga studios and lots of other non surfing activities nearby. It’s a perfect destination to experience Costa Rica to the fullest!
Batu Bolong, Bali
Carlos from A Brother Abroad
Bali is a great place to learn to surf, with forgiving, beginner friendly waves, soft beach breaks, easy & cheap board rental, and cheap lessons all around.
For beginners, Batu Bolong beach is the perfect place to start.
Head to Old Man’s Bar, in front of Batu Bolong Beach, where you’ll find plenty of surfboard rental shops right next to the parking lot. Board rental will run you $3.50 USD for two hours of surfing, and that includes long foam boards to short boards and everything between the two. If you opt for lessons, $14 USD will get you two hours of lessons and a surf guide including board and rash guard rental.
Once you’re at an intermediate surfing level and decent on a shorter board, head to Berawa beach in front of Finn’s resort for head high waves with plenty of power
For costs beyond the surf experience, plan to spend $7-$10 USD per night on a good hostel (consider the Escape Hostel if you’re up to party), or $15-$20 per night for a private room at a guesthouse or hotel, easily booked via Booking.com. Eating local will run $2-$4 a meal while “posh western” meals with a beer will set you back $7 USD on average.
Brittany from The Sweet Wanderlust
When I joined a week-long surf and yoga retreat with Azrac Surf Morocco in Tamraght, 10 miles north of Agadir, my surfing skills were practically non-existent.
However, after a week on the waves near the chill, surfer town nestled in the foothills of the Berber mountains, I found myself consistently catching waves.
With great weather and awesome surf year-round, beginners will find suitable waves any time of year. For intermediate and advanced surfers, the months of October through April promise more advanced waves with dominant North-Westerly swells from the Atlantic.
Buy mint tea and donuts from vendors on the beach or walk to Babakoul post-surf for a delicious date and avocado smoothie or msemen (Moroccan pancake). You’ll find dozens of surf hostels in this little village, but I enjoyed my all-inclusive experience with Azrac Surf, staying in a guest house where all meals were cooked by the amazing Saadia with fresh ingredients from the local souk.
If you want a bit more hustle and bustle from your Moroccan surf experience the neighbouring surf town of Taghazout has a wider range of surf camps and restaurants to choose from too.
Daniel from Layer Culture
If you’re heading to Brazil and looking for the best surfing destinations, you can’t miss Pipa in Northern Brazil.
The great news is that Pipa is known by fellow surfers but not so known by many backpackers yet. This means you can surf in harmony and enjoy the perfect chilled hippy/bohemian vibe to be able to relax.
So, if you’re looking for a surf spot with world-class waves with a short 10-minute walk from the laid-back hippy town; here you have it. The spot is for beginners and experts and you can expect to see dolphins on the horizon if you go at the right time of the year.
If looking for more ideas you can check my Brazil guide which has more great ideas for surfing spots you can check out in Northern Brazil.
Inma from A World To Travel
The Cantabric sea and Atlantic Ocean shores of Galicia, in Southern Europe, have attracted surfers since the seventies. However, it is still possible to find a few gorgeous spots with sweet uncrowded peaks these days, what makes this destination a gem for everyone in love with this sport.
Now, please don’t expect me to reveal any secret spots in here right now. I am based there and appreciate both my life and desert beaches.
Yet, if you want to give Galicia a try, here are three beaches that won’t disappoint you:
PANTIN: One of the most famous among international surfers, this Valdoviño beach has hosted the Pantin Classic Pro (European WSL) since 1988.
Its somewhat rocky bottom makes surveillance a must, hence sometimes the red flag will prevent people to go in. In any case, this one is next to other great four Ferrol beaches (all oriented differently) so there’s always a chance of a great bath.
ORZAN: Coruña’s main beach along with Riazor, has three different spots to suit both beginners and advanced surfers: Matadero, Middle Peak and Camallón.
A Coruña Surf Pro, part of the WSL Qualifying Series, is held there yearly.
PATOS: The Southernmost of the three is located in Nigrán, next to the lively city of Vigo and very close to the Portuguese border.
However, don’t expect the water temperature to get any better. Galicia’s mild climate in Spring and Summer usually keeps the water temperature well below 20°C.
Nigran has also two spots where to choose from: La Playa (aka ‘the beach’) where waves are great for beginners and plenty surf camps can be found, and El Pico (that literally means ‘The Peak’) suited for experienced surfers
Pasmina from The Gone Goat
Surfing in Taiwan, is that even possible? A hidden spot and a dream for travellers who love high waves, blue ocean and the peace and quiet of Taiwan’s east coast. Taiwan’s surfing spot is unlike anything I have ever seen and experienced.
Set against a backdrop of green lush mountains, riding the waves in Taiwan is described as the surf of the world-class and the Hawaii of the east, thanks to its seasonal typhoons.
Head over to Kenting National Park, Jialeshui Beach where it is located on the east side of the park. With great winds all year round, and a stunning variety of waves with all the right facilities, the beach caters to all levels of surfers. Stay in the quirky Winson House and be treated to stunning views of surfers in action as you enjoy your hearty breakfast.
And once you’re in for more adventures, discover Taiwan’s east coast on a bicycle or take a slow ride along the beach.
San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua
Ayngelina from Bacon Is Magic
Although the country of Nicaragua is going through turmoil with civil unrest, the beach town of San Juan del Sur, which is not far from Costa Rica, has maintained stability.
However, local businesses in this surfing spot have suffered as international tourism is down.
A number of hotels and resorts are offering discounts to entice travelers to visit from pricier Costa Rica, and of course you can eat traditional Nicaraguan food for a few dollars a meal, making it one of the best value destinations for world class surfing.
Claudia from My Adventures Across The World
Most people visit Sardinia in the summer to enjoy the gorgeous beaches. What most people don’t know is that surfing in Sardinia is great, and this is one of the best locations in the Mediterranean to enjoy this watersport.
The island is huge, so there are plenty of places to go surfing depending on the time of year and the wind. As the Mediterranean is a closed sea, waves are dependent on winds and temperatures so surfing in Sardinia is typically better in the winter months.
One of the best surfing spots in Sardinia is Putzu Idu, on the Sinis Peninsula on the west coast of the island and not far from Oristano, one of the main cities in Sardinia. Putzu Idu is a gorgeous white sand beach that is regularly swept by the wind, thus getting good quality waves. Not far from it, Capu Mannu gets some of the biggest waves in the Mediterranean, especially when the mistral wind blows.
Despite its reputation for being an expensive place, Sardinia can be extremely budget friendly if you organize your trip in advance. There are plenty of camping sites scattered around the island, as well as good hotels and guest houses. The daily costs of traveling around Sardinia can vary greatly also depending on the time of year, with August being the peak season.
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Check out my 20 top surf destination for 2020!
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