Surfing is fast growing in popularity, but where are the best places for those new to the sport to catch their first waves?
Being battered by six foot swell is no fun when you’re just finding your feet on a board, so surfing expert Dan Rawsthorn, founder of Global Surf Adventures, reveals his recommendations for beginner and intermediate surfers.
It’s important that holiday surfing spots are also good holiday destinations in themselves, as learner surfers can get tired quickly and need alternative diversions on their rest days, and partners or family might not surf and they need to be catered for too! These top five beginner surf spots all have good waves, great culture, and plenty of other activities aside from surfing.
And remember, timing your surf holiday right is key; be sure to visit at the right time of year for the best swell conditions for your ability.
1. Hossegor, Aquitaine, South West France
When: September or June
Hossegor, situated on the Cote d’Argent, is the longest uninterrupted stretch of sandy beach in Europe. Swell from the Atlantic Sea is focussed onto the coastal area by the Gouf, a deep water canyon, making for bigger, more consistent surf.
There are miles and miles of top quality beach breaks to suit all abilities along this coast. Hossegor is a pretty surf town with plenty to do in the area, and Capbreton, Biarritz and Northern Spain are only a day trip away.
Of course it’s France, so you know that the food and wine are great! It can get busy with surfers at these times, but with all those waves there is space for all. Stay into October and watch the world’s top surfers compete on the ASP World Tour here too. Find flights to France
2. Jeffrey’s Bay, South Africa
When: April and May
With friendly locals and a choice of different point break waves to suit all abilities, as well as beach breaks too, this uncrowded, laid back place is on every surfer’s travel wish-list. Made famous by the Bruce Brown film ‘Endless Summer’, it has some of the best right hand point breaks in the world.
For beginners, the best waves on the point are aptly named ‘Point’, where you can have long mellow rides and practice your manoeuvres. Dolphin Beach in the town also has some good waves for learning. Jeffrey’s Bay has developed around its surf culture but has expanded into a really pleasant place to stay. Of course you can’t come to South Africa without a visit to some amazing wildlife parks too. Find flights to South Africa
3. Hikkaduwa, South West Sri Lanka
When: November to March
This small fishing village has been transformed into an international beach holiday destination for all, but it is particularly popular as a winter surfing spot. It offers good waves, hot weather and warm water, and importantly for the travelling surfer – it is cheap to stay.
The surf breaks can get busy, but are worth the wait. These mellow reef breaks and good quality beach breaks offer a playground for surfers of all abilities. The reef is also great for snorkelling and diving. Buddhist temples and elephant parks make Sri Lanka a super-special destination for out of water experiences too. Find flights to Sri Lanka
4. Tamarindo, Costa Rica
When: December to March
Costa Rica is a thriving country with a growing tourism industry. Here you can choose from a 5-star hotel or a ‘cabin’ beach hut. The country has some surprises too as you can drink the tap water nearly everywhere!
The beaches around Tamarindo have consistent long distance swells and there are a variety of waves for all abilities. Remember, Costa is hot hot hot! Even in winter the sea is 26C and the air temperatures 30c+ making this a true tropical paradise.
Offering both point and beach breaks this warm water surfing paradise is good for surfers of all abilities. The stunning national parks and volcano walks are some of the best alternative activities for surf rest days. Find flights to Costa Rica
5. Byron Bay, New South Wales, Australia
When: all year round
This backpacker’s heaven has gone upmarket over the years and matured into a small city. Always a Mecca for surfers due to its small but consistent waves, it offers plenty of right hand point breaks and beach breaks to learn and improve your surfing.
The water is warm and the beaches seem to go on for miles. The Pass is a world class sand point break wave, but unusually is still suitable for beginners and improvers alike. When out of the surf, there is plenty to do: try whale watching, snorkelling or just taking in the Aussie lifestyle with a beach BBQ and a cold beer. Find flights to Australia
Dan Rawsthorn has been surfing in the UK and abroad for the last 25 years. Living in Newquay he has grown up surfing alongside UK surf stars such as Russell Winter and Ben Skinner. In 2008, after working as a surf coach in Newquay, and running surf trips to France and Morocco for many years, he set up his own surf travel company; Global Surf Adventures, which take surfers of all levels on trips to France in September and South Africa in April/May. Visit GlobalSurfAdventures.co.uk for more info.
Global operates differently than other surf companies. Dan and his surf coaches travel from the UK and accompany their customers on their holiday. Global offers a surf-centred holiday, where Dan and his team ensure the high quality of both the surf coaching and the overall holiday experience for all his customers. Dan selects holiday destinations based on personal experience of the waves, and timings are set to take advantage of the best time of year for consistent surfing conditions.