17 Of The Best Surf Towns In The World

What comes to mind when you think of a surf town? Is it an oceanfront outpost in southern California or perhaps a tropical locale south of the border? While those spots are what most people immediately think of, there are many more diverse surf towns out there.

Maresias, Brazil

This is where the first World Champion of surf in Brazil took place. The beach breaks can be found in San Sebastião, on the north coast of São Paulo. The zone has one of the biggest surf communities in the whole country and Maresias is a reference wave, according to Surfer Galaxy. The place has been a regular stop on the ASP tour and has hosted important stops of the WQS circuit for many years.

Arugam Bay, Sri Lanka

This is the most famous wave in Sri Lanka. Arugam Bay's Main Point is known for its sweeping (400m – 600m) right hand point break. Baby Point works from July onwards and is technically the continuation of the wave from Main Point. Once the beach has fully formed and all rock and reef has been covered up by sand, Baby Point is at its peak— between 2ft – 4ft. Pottuvil Point is arguably one of the best right hand waves on the island when it works, which is usually in August and September. All levels can enjoy a ride here as a result of multiple take off locations.

Taghazout, Morocco

This tiny fishing village in southern Morocco has flourished into one of the best surfing destinations in the world. With the best conditions hitting the coast from September to April, the town is full of surfers that have traveled from near and far. Local companies offer stay-and-surf packages, but those sell out quickly in the high season, so book early.

Hossegor, France

Hossegor is one of the world's premier beach breaks and the core of European surfing; avoid going in the summer if you don't want to deal with huge crowds. Hossegor's fast, hollow waves draw people from all over the world. The beach spans about two miles, and, has four very distinctive surf spots. Of them, La Nord, can hold shape up to 20 feet; La Sud is the most beginner-friendly spot, according to Active Azur.

Uluwatu, Bali

Situated on the southern end of Bali, Ulu is world-famous left-hander. The water is warm, the waves are fast, long and hollow, and the views are breathtaking. The entry to the surf is down between the cliffs and out from the caves. Be careful of the shallow reef as well as the fast drops. It's a little tricky when dropping in, according to Bali Information Guide. Ulu gets crowded when the swell is in the 2-5 feet range during the dry season.

San Diego, California

The city has awesome wave pools in addition to a plethora of good surf spots and some of the best surf schools in the country. One of the best spots is definitely Blacks Beach, which is arguably San Diego's best wave. The 2-mile long beach is at the base of 300-foot cliffs. Winter is the perfect time to go because this is the low season – you'll see the lack of crowds, low prices and nice weather.

Tofino, Canada

Better known as a haven for winter sports, British Columbia does, in fact, accommodate surfers—just don't forget your wetsuit. Set on the West Coast of Vancouver Island, the area is rich in wildlife (including whales in the spring) and the waves are more manageable in the summer, which makes it a great time for beginners. Those looking for a challenge will have to brave the icy winter waters.

Nosara, Costa Rica

Tourists are lucky to get long pristine beaches and copious wildlife in addition to awesome waves for surfing. Playa Guiones (Nosara Beach) is where most surfers go. Wind and kitesurfing are also available. Other attractions include Ostional Beach where olive ridley sea turtles crawl ashore once a month to lay their eggs. The ecology enthusiast in you will enjoy the Biological Reserve which has hundreds of birds, monkeys, and other friendly animals. Bonus: Go on a horseback riding tour for some galloping on the beach.

Jeffreys Bay, South Africa

This is where the annual Billabong Pro ASP World Tour surfing competition takes place. The surf break is considered one of the best right-hand point breaks in the world due to its consistency and quality. What makes J-Bay special is that a wave can run for up to 2,600 feet, according to South Africa Tourism, offering surfers an unbeatable and everlasting ride. The most famous break is Supertubes where, 4- to 8-foot waves are the norm.

Bundoran, Ireland

For some, Ireland might conjure images of rolling green hills and cozy local pubs, but the country is well-known among surfers for another asset. Bundoran on the west coast has a reputation for wild weather-related swells and chilly ocean temps. The town that's known for no-nonsense surfing has hosted the European Surfing Championships a few times and is no stranger to foreign surfers. Visit in the fall, after the crowds have gone, or—for a truly unique experience, visit in the winter for great conditions (as long as you can brave the freezing temperatures).

Byron Bay, Australia

Breathtakingly beautiful beaches give way to some of the best waves you'll find anywhere in this near-perfect Australian surf town. Two of the most notable spots—The Pass and Wategos—are popular among suffers of all experience levels, but spots for the more experienced surfers aren't far off. After your time in the water, hit the town and unwind at a café, shop smaller boutiques or check out Pig House Flicks, a local cinema featuring great independent films.

Sanya, China

While astonishing places like the Great Wall are better known when it comes to China, the vast country has a few secret gems that are perfect for surfing. Hainan, a gigantic island province and the nation's southernmost point, is one of them. Crowds are practically non-existent. One of the best spots local surfers go to is Riyuewan Bay. Everything else you would expect to see in a small Chinese town, you will in Sanya. Eat fresh fish, visit ancient temples, enjoy the parks, and take the family on a trip to the Yanoda tropical forest.

Las Salinas, Nicaragua

Surfers are almost guaranteed great break almost every day due to offshore winds. The best time to go is between March and September or November and December. Nicaragua is still relatively unknown tourist destination so you can count on not dealing with hordes of people. Getting to Las Salinas is an adventure in itself, but one that is worth every obstacle.

Puerto Escondido, Mexico

Surfers love this town whose beach's nickname is the "Mexican Pipeline." The surf is seasonal, and it ranges from small to medium in size between November and April, the dry season, and from small to big beginning in early May.  The tiny town draws surfers of all levels with its serene beaches and large waves.

Teahupo'o, Tahiti

Teahupo'o is known for its glassy waves and for being a part of the World Championship Tour of the Association of Surfing Professionals circuit. The breaks are not for beginners. The shallow coral reef makes the break very heavy and hollow. There's a complete lack of a continental shelf in front of the break, according to The Surf Travel Company.

Paia, Hawaii

Set on Maui's north shore, this artsy surf town leaves a lasting impression. The laid back vibe infects all who visit and surfing options are plentiful, as long as you don't mind a bit of wind. Paia Bay is a good centrally-located option, but those looking for a challenge will find nearby Ho'okipa more suitable. Be sure to check out the local art galleries and don't leave until you've had some fresh seafood.

Huntington Beach, California

You don't have to leave to country for the some of the best breaks in the world. Surf City USA has several different-facing beaches that offer great condition for different types of surfers. Huntingdon Beach hosts the Vans US Open of Surfing, the world's largest surf competition and lifestyle festival, every year.