Surf’s up — worldwide. All you need to experience Nirvana is a steady break, a board and the courage to try. To get you started, here is my list of three surfing beaches you must visit:
In This Surfing Article You Will Discover:
Surfing is the greatest sport ever devised by man. I ski, fish, motorcycle and ride my bike like I’m being chased by Death Himself, but none of it matches the rush and euphoria of riding a wave. If you surf, you understand. If you don’t — you must try. I won’t tell you standing up is easy, but I bet you find it easier than you imagine (especially with a long board). To get you started, here are my three picks for surf beaches you must visit:
Long Beach, Vancouver Island, British Columbia
Vancouver Island’s Pacific Rim National Park Reserve offers the world’s greatest coldwater surfing — there are secluded breaks on boat-accessed sections of this park that are known to bring in 20-foot, perfect-pipelining waves during winter. However, we’ll start you off easy with the most chilled-out place to ride waves: Long Beach.
Long Beach, located just south of the town of Tofino (voted by Outside Magazine as North America’s Best Surf Town), is a massive stretch of silver sand that harbours decent surf 365 days of the year. Waves can be a bit sloppy, and if you’ve never surfed in a wetsuit, it takes some getting used to, but this is where Canadians learn to ride. Surf rentals are available in Tofino or Ucluelet (to the south), or en route from the Island’s east coast, and run about $50 per 24 hours, for a board and a wetsuit. Don’t even think about heading out without the suit — water temperature is single-digit-Celsius, even in summer.
Beyond the waves, Long Beach could be the most beautiful beach in the world if it weren’t so cold. Yes, chilly beaches just don’t get the same attention as their sweaty counterparts, but as you stand on a piece of this 16-km-long sandy beach that stretches from town-to-town, gaze at the Sitka and cedar trees rimmed by weather-worn driftwood, listen to the waves crash as they roll past Incinerator Rock and watch the fog roll across the horizon, you’ll get it.
It truly is one of the world’s great beaches, and deserving of a place on this list.
Hookipa Beach, Maui, Hawaii
OK — you know how to surf, right? No? Well, then you may want to make this a spectator beach. Yes? And you’re good? And you know surf etiquette? Then slap on the rashie and grab your short board for one of Maui’s great surf breaks.
Located at the start of the famous Hana Highway, Hookipa Beach Park is where locals surf — and respectful tourists too. Waves can get absolutely huge in winter, and bigger still at the famous nearby offshore break, Jaws. How big?
Let’s just put it this way — Laird Hamilton lives nearby. ‘Nuff said.
In spring and summer, breaks are more manageable for the intermediate-and-above surfer, but watch for strong rip currents, unless you fancy a swim to California and whatever you do — don’t drop-in a local. Please.
But warnings aside, Hookipa Beach is probably the best surf break on Maui for those of a variety of skill levels. The water’s warm. The scenery is second to none. Buy a boxed lunch from nearby Paia and spend the day.
Kuta Beach, Bali, Indonesia
As a born-and-raised Vancouver Islander, I feel a little guilty admitting this is my favourite surf beach of the bunch. Yes, I know I should be loyal to Long Beach, but Kuta is just so damn appealing. The water is warm like a bathtub, for one, and once you’ve surfed sans wetsuit, it’s really hard to go back. Surf rentals cost about $10 CDN or less per day. The waves are consistent and smooth (watch for shore dumps, though). Après food and beer is cheap as can be.
And, well, it’s Bali — one of the world’s most beautiful islands and a true South Pacific Gem.
I spent five days surfing Kuta Beach, and it remains my best ever surf experience. Locals are too friendly — and can even be hired for private lessons for mere dollars and the weather is fantastic (pack sunscreen). Unlike Hookipa, where rip tides are your constant companion, or Long Beach, where the breaks are relentless and choppy, Kuta offers quintessential tropical surf — smooth waves roll in from the southern ocean throughout the day, breaking just far enough off shore to allow for good rides but not so far as to intimidate. At times, it can be a while between sets, so surfers can float about, fluttering their hands in the tepid seawater (no, there are no sharks), waiting patiently for that perfect four-footer to make you look like a champ. It’s just… paradise.
Advanced surfers will find massive offshore breaks around the Island of Bali, but for me — Kuta rules.
What is your favourite surf beach?
Also Read: Best Surfing Beaches in Bali