Let’s be honest – no matter how much you love the hustle and bustle of the urban jungle, it can take a toll on you sometimes. When this happens, don’t you just want to go for an adventure and seek refuge in nature?
If yes, here are 20 of the world’s best beginner surfing spots to give you some adrenaline boost!
By now, you might be aware of how surfing can serve as a full-blown exercise that can help you get that summer body you’ve always strived for. However, did you know that surfing is more than just a water-based physical exercise?
Want to see what surfing has in store for you? Here are three reasons why surfing might just be the perfect hobby-and-exercise combo you’re looking for!
- Aside from the body, surfing exercises the mind
Without a doubt, ocean waves are some of the most unpredictable things on the planet. This exact unpredictability is what makes surfing a great mental exercise. From facing your fears, overcoming the oncoming waves (literally and figuratively), to medicating, surfing is more than just catching some waves.
- Surfing makes you respect nature – and yourself
To be a great surfer, you must be one with the wave. Now, how do you become one with the wave? Simple, have faith with yourself and the waters below you.
As you get to know more about surfing, it will teach you that going against the waves will not get you anywhere, but going with it will.
- You might have the greatest life realizations
Contrary to common belief, surfing emerged in different sub-cultures because of its popularity as a traditional Hawaiian sport. With its diverse background, this allows you to appreciate surfing more than just a mere sport, hobby, or a stress-reliever, but as a symbol of a rich cultural identity.
Aside from culture, a surfing experience isn’t complete with new acquaintances who might share the same (or different) sentiments as you. Whatever their reasons for surfing might be, these will allow you to get into people’s hearts a little more.
Factors to Consider in Choosing a Surfing Spot
As mentioned, the ocean and its waves are extremely unpredictable. This is why choosing the best beginner surfing spots can be a handful. However, don’t give up just yet!
Here’s your fool-proof guide in choosing the best beginner surfing spots that can level up your first surfing experience in no time!
- Always read the report beforehand
Unless you’re a local from the beach you’re trying to surf from, always check surf reports before grabbing your surfboards. Nothing’s more disappointing than getting all hyped up, only to find waves way outside your current surfing skills.
For beginners, waves ranging from one to three feet are ideal. Anything bigger than those might be dangerous, so be extra careful.
- Check if the wave quality suits your surfing type
Aside from a wave range between one to three feet (usually chest-high or lower), assessing the type of wave a surfing spot offers is equally important.
Generally, closeout waves are ideal for beginners that are still working their way in the white water. Closeout waves are the type that disintegrates all at once, giving you no shoulder to ride on.
Although a bit disappointing, be gentle to yourself and know that all of the world’s greatest surfers started here, too!
After mastering the basics of surfing, you can now move on to slow and mushy waves. Despite their soft and gentle character, this type of wave will still give you a decent shoulder to ride on.
- Assess the crowd
As a rule of thumb, beginners must avoid surfing at crowded spots at all costs. However, an exception would be beginners in a group setting or if all surfers in the surfing spot are newbies like you.
If you’re wondering why you should avoid a crowd-generating surfing spot, here’s why – for everyone’s safety. While it’s okay to commit mistakes as you’re still learning, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
- Never neglect your safety
To make sure that your first surfing experience would be memorable (in a good way), always make safety your priority. If either the crowds or waves are too big, don’t attempt to jump in the water with your surfboard.
There will always be other chances to show off your newly-learned surfing skills, so don’t worry!
Top 20 Newbie-Friendly Surfing Spots
Although your geography or science professor might have told you that the planet is 71% made of water, it’s not entirely made for surfing.
The good news is, you still have a wide selection of surfing spots to choose from! While most of them aren’t ideal for beginners like you, here are 20 of the world’s best beginner surfing spots to get you started!
- Bundoran, Donegal, Ireland
Dubbed as the “Cold Water Indonesia” of Europe, Ireland likewise caters to all surfers of varying surfing skills. With Bundoran as Ireland’s surfing capital, you can easily buy your very first surfboard here.
- Byron Bay, New South Wales, Australia
Regarded as one of the best surf towns in the world, Byron Bay is perfect for laid-back surfing sessions from top-level surfers. Combine that with its heaps of swell, and you’ll get the perfect surfing sanctuary for newbie surfers!
- Florianopólis, Santa Catarina, Brazil
A slowly rising surfer’s paradise, you’ll never run out of surfing spots at Florianopólis, what with its staggering list of 42 beaches. For laid-back waves, head out to Barra Da Lagoa. Don’t forget to rent a small villa or a beach house to get the most out of a Florianopólis surfing experience.
- Hanalei Beach, Hawaii
Aside from Waikiki, Hawaii has even more surfing spots to offer. Located in Kauai’s North Shore, Hanalei is a surf town housing different surfing spots for surfers of all levels.
For beginners, get your surfing lessons at Hanalei Pier. Complete your Hanalei experience by grabbing a rental board and catching the waves with the locals.
- Hossegor, Aquitaine, France
Hot take, but France isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think of surfing. Surprisingly, Southern France is well-known for having desirable waves at regular times of the year. With its sandy bottoms and several surfing schools, Hossegor is a perfect surfing and tourist destination rolled in one.
- Kuta Beach, Bali, Indonesia
Although Indonesia has been blessed with a variety of surfer-friendly spots, most of them are located in Bali. If you’re looking for a thrilling surfing experience as a beginner, then Bali would be a perfect match for you.
- Mal Pais, Puntarenas, Costa Rica
Mal Pais offers beginner-friendly longboard waves with sandy bottoms – making it an ideal place to start surfing. If you opt to visit Mal Pais, you can do so anytime with its consistent waves that appear all-year-round.
- Manly Beach, New South Wales, Australia
Roughly 30 minutes away from the Sydney Harbour Bridge, you can be a surfer by day and a city explorer by night! With its soft, gentle waves that break at its southern end, Manly Beach is perfect for both surfers and tourists.
- Montanita, Santa Elena, Ecuador
Known as Ecuador’s most glorified surfing spot, you’ll never run out of surfer-friendly camps and hotels in Montanita. Its laid-back and bohemian aesthetics will surely make you love the place in a heartbeat.
Upon visiting Montanita, be prepared to be showered with friendly accommodations, savory food, and affordable surfing lessons. What’s not to love?
- Muizenberg, Western Cape, South Africa
Also known as “Surfer’s Corner,” Muizenberg is the birthplace of the South African surfing scene. Packed with numerous surfing schools and experts, it’s a great place to learn the surfing basics from the best.
Also, who wouldn’t be enticed by its colorful beach-side huts where you can have a drink while enjoying the majestic view?
- Newquay, Cornwall, England
Like any other surf town mentioned, Newquay likewise offers a wide selection of surfing spots for different surfer levels.
However, the Towan and Fistral Beach, Towan, Great Western, and the Watergate Bay are all beginner-friendly surfing spots to get you started. Aside from easy-to-find surfing schools, it also offers a variety of tourist attractions you can visit after a surfing session.
- Nosara, Guanacaste, Costa Rica
From its thrilling waves, relaxing atmosphere, pristine beaches, affordable prices, to friendly locals, there are many reasons to love Costa Rica.
Despite being surrounded by great surfing spots, Nosara is a lesser-known option, making it perfect for beginners. With its soft and mellow waves, Nosara will make your first surfing experience a breeze.
- Punta Mita, Nayarit, Mexico
Surrounded by various surf towns. Puerto Vallarta is a powerhouse of surfer-approved waves. While most locals might direct you to Sayulita, a less crowded alternative would be Punta Mita in Nayarit.
Its warm waters, sandy floor, and excellent surfing schools make Punta Mita an ideal surfing spot for beginners.
- Sagres, Algarve, Portugal
If you’re looking for a thrilling surfing spot while enthralling your eyes, then Algarve might be a perfect surfing spot for you. With its bustling beach bars, soaring cliffs, and sandy islands, Algarve is truly a surfer-slash-tourist’s haven.
- San Onofre State Beach, San Diego, California
Where else would you get an authentic surfing experience aside from the place where it all started? In California, surfing is a way of life; which is why San Onofre can be a good place to kickstart your surfing experience.
Since this spot has several campgrounds, you can learn the basics of surfing in no time.
- Surfer’s Point, Barbados
If your surfing checklist includes no required wetsuit and turquoise waters, then Surfer’s Point in Barbados will seal the deal for you. Famous for its laid-back waves, this surfing spot will give you tropical surfing experience.
- Taghazout, Agadir Idawtanan, Morocco
Recently, Morocco has been starting to make a name for itself in the surfing community. While most of their waves are ideal for advanced surfers, beginners can have a fair deal out of Morocco by starting at Panoramas, Crocodiles, and its wide selection of beginner-friendly spots.
- Tofino, British Columbia, Canada
Want to experience surfing the Canadian way? For beginners, Tofino offers easygoing waves during warmer months – so it’s ideal to visit during the summer. While you might have to wear a wetsuit, its breathtaking scenery will compensate you more than enough.
- Waikiki, Hawaii
With its warm waters and bright skies, Waikiki is both a surfer and a traveler’s heaven on earth. Given its eye-catching waters, you’ll be immediately inspired to catch some waves yourself.
Hotel accommodations are only a few blocks away – so staying in for the night won’t be a problem.
- Weligama, Matara, Sri Lanka
For starters, Weligama means “Sandy Village;” and it’s as literal as it gets. By now, you might already know that sandy bottoms are perfect for beginners. With that, Weligama is an ideal spot to start your surfing experience.
If you’re worried about the crowd, most of them are beginners, so you don’t have to worry. To reward yourself from a day of surfing, sip some fresh juice or beer at Sumith’s Catamaran.
Top 5 Surfing Spots to Avoid (If You’re a Beginner)
While the surfing spots you’re about to read below are just as majestic as what you’ve seen earlier, note that they aren’t newbie-friendly. With that, here are the top five surfing spots that you might want to avoid if you’re still a beginner:
- Coolangatta, Australia
One word – crowded. That’s all you need to know. This surfing spot has been so popular that surfers can cross from one surfboard to another! Save this spot for the pros and opt for less-crowded places instead.
- Fuerte Ventura, Canary Islands
Given its thumping Atlantic swells, strong winds, localism, sea urchins, and sharp lava reefs, this might be a sea lover’s haven. However, this surfing spot is off-limits for beginners. Due to its harsh environmental setting, only experienced surfers are allowed here.
- North Shore, Hawaii
If you’re thinking that only beginners will have a challenging time here, don’t worry. Even expert surfers can’t catch up with North Shore’s waves soaring above 10 feet!
- Port Elizabeth, South Africa
Would you want to go surfing in the same waters where people swim enclosed in shark-proof cages? Of course not! Even advanced surfers might be taken aback before surfing on its shark-filled oceans!
- Puerto Escondido, Mexico
Dubbed as one of the world’s heaviest beach breaks, Puerto Escondido isn’t for the faint of heart. According to its tourists, its soaring waves can easily snap surfboards in half. Of course, no one would like to experience that!
Ready to Hop on Your Surfboard? Read These First!
By now, you might have already chosen your very first surfing spot. However, don’t grab your surfboards just yet. For a wholesome (and safe) surfing experience, here are some tips to get you by!
- Before getting into the water:
- Don’t cut yourself short – find a good surfing school or camp for beginners. Although it might be pricey, this will save you a lot of time and effort in learning the basics (and even the advanced techniques) in surfing.
- On a related note, look for an equally great surfing teacher. Do some research online before booking one.
- Use a bigger soft-top soft board to give you more working space. It also works perfectly as a great floating device. Since you’re still a beginner, you have yet to get accustomed to surfboards before buying the slender longboards you’re familiar with.
- Don’t forget to use a surf leash, always. While it might take a while before you get used to it, a surf leash might save your life.
- Always do a quick warm-up exercise before getting into the water. This will decrease your chances of getting muscle cramps, increase your heart rate, and get you pumped up for your upcoming adventure!
- Don’t rush into the water upon arriving at the beach. Take some time to get used to the environment while doing some light exercises.
- On a related note, assess the water and its waves that you’re about to catch. Observe when and how they break. See how on-site surfers approach the waters. Since you’re still a beginner, observing will take you at great heights, both literally and figuratively.
- Lastly, don’t be afraid! While becoming a pro at surfing might take some time, be proud of getting out of your busy day to learn it.
- While you’re in the water:
- No matter how excited you might be, pace yourself and don’t go at considerable speed. You have all the water in the world to surf; don’t rush!
- This might be a common-sense thing, but always start with smaller waves before tackling the bigger ones. Wait for your teacher’s go-signal before catching those thrilling, gigantic waves.
- Stay away from advanced surfers. Since you’re still a beginner, you might make a bunch of mistakes. While they’re perfectly understandable, it’s better to go surfing in peace. Don’t worry; with proper practice, you’ll be one of them someday!
- Master the art of sitting on your surfboard. While this isn’t the most comfortable position for surfing, this will keep you safe. Better yet if you keep your feet dangling as it offers more stability.
- Know the prone position by heart. This is done by lying balanced and centered on your surfboard. To achieve this, you have to keep doing it on dry land until you’re comfortable with it.
- Learn how you can do your pop-up. While shifting from a prone to a pop-up position must be swift, practicing it on land first will get you a long way.
- Like the mentioned surfing positions, paddling is another technique you have to master. Since this can be quite exhausting, this is where warming up beforehand becomes extremely helpful.
- Keep moving and shuffling your feet to avoid getting stung or bit by anything. Don’t let your feet dangle on the waters while doing your thing.
- Avoid nosediving at all costs. While every surfer might have done this once, save it for some time later. Like any other advanced surfing technique, wait for your teacher’s go-signal first.
- Get yourself used to wipeouts. Another term for falling behind the waters, wipeouts must not discourage you in any way. Although you might get some bruises as you fall, learning how to get back up fast will make you a great surfer.
- On a similar note, know how and when to wipe out on purpose. For this, your surfing teacher would be of great help.
- Don’t arch your back. As a rule of thumb, bend your knees instead of your back. Aside from maintaining stability, you will also look like you know what you’re doing.
- By either ducking or going over a breaking wave, staying perpendicular to the whitewater will keep you safe.
- Don’t force your body to go surfing for long hours. If you’re too tired, stressed, or just plain bored, head out to the shore and take a break. You have all the time and places to go surfing – don’t worry!
Which Should You Choose?
Given all the surfing spots and techniques you’ve read above, it’s easy to be overwhelmed and have a difficult time choosing the best beginner surfing spots that will work for you.
Whichever spot you end up choosing, always consider your budget, travel time, and how long you’ll go surfing. It’s easy to fall into the trap of choosing the most popular destinations; but when it comes to surfing, getting the most out of the place is what matters the most.
Admittedly, surfing is one of the most challenging sports to master. However, its timeless benefits make it an equally rewarding hobby to have. Make your first surfing experience count by unfolding them in some of the world’s best beginner surfing spots!
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