With summertime waves hitting the beaches soon, many surfing newcomers will be getting out on the water for their first or second season. With the comfort of their home beaches firmly under their belts and a thirst for bigger and better swells, many newer surfers are ready to think about their first big trips.
As summer vacations and holiday weekends align, many of you are probably starting to plan your first surfing trips. However, what you may not know is that the summer surfing season carries with it its own conditions. As well, newer surfers often don’t have the endurance to stay on the water 24/7 during a big surfing trip. For these reasons, it’s important to find a destination that makes the most of the summer season and has plenty of awesome stuff for you to do in your off time. These are some of our top four summer surfing destinations.
Close enough to be comfortable for most North American surfers but exotic enough to be worth booking a flight, the Caribbean is a classic destination for people with all sorts of interests. It doesn’t hurt that the islands also host some great surfing. Some of the best surfing in the area can be found on the island of St. Maarten, called St. Martin on its French side.
The surfing is fantastic if you time it right. Local reefs create awesome point breaks that make for some long rides. However, it’s important to catch the tides at the right time. Now might be a good time to learn how to read a tide watch if you don’t already know.
The area as a whole is quite well-developed. An international airport on St. Maarten makes for easy travel and events like the Caribbean Rum and Beer Festival will give tired surfers plenty to cool down with.
Coconut Reef Surf School
SXM Surf Explorer
Unlike the northern hemisphere, there’s little variation in surf quality down south. Surfers who aren’t happy with the summer waves in their area might consider flying around the world to catch a good ride.
Surfing in Australia is a cornucopia of options. Since much of the country’s population lives along the eastern coast of the continent, it’s not hard to find great waves a short drive from the airport. New South Wales offers some great surfing with awesome swells near Sydney. More adventurous surfers may head north to catch waves along the Gold Coast near Brisbane.
Major cities like Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane can easily match metropolises in North America when it comes to culture and events. Ongoing events like the Ocean Film Festival will help you stay in touch with the water on your down time. Plus, you can enjoy Australia’s unique fusion cuisine, inspired by the country’s European roots and its proximity to Southeast Asia.
For many, this iconic beach is the local surfing spot. For those who aren’t lucky enough to live in the area, however, it’s a must-visit destination to experience everything that SoCal surfing has to offer.
Summer surfing in SoCal is marked by fewer swells and warmer waters, making this a great time to go for surfers who are just getting their feet wet. More daring surfers may brave the winter’s cooler waters in favor of smaller crowds and bigger swells, but if you haven’t been to Laguna and you’re looking to make a first trip, there’s no reason to delay.
For those low-surf days, Los Angeles offers plenty in the way of activities. In terms of cultural variety, Los Angeles is the New York of the West Coast. You’ve got Mexican food and culture coming up from the south, great Japanese food that settled in the latter part of the 20th century, and a new and booming Korean stripe to the town. At a place like Laguna, there’s plenty to do on off days. If you want to stay active when swells are low, local skateboarding will help you keep up your skills on the board.
For surfers who might want something a little closer to home than Australia and a lot cheaper than the Caribbean, Baja is the perfect choice. Legendary swells and the possibility of driving from SoCal make Mexico a popular destination for just about anyone, surfer or otherwise.
A word of caution, however. As with any trip to Mexico, stick to the tourist areas. In many foreign countries, it’s a good idea to go off the beaten path and experience that place’s authentic culture, but the same is not true here. Unfortunately, police corruption in Mexico is almost as legendary as the waves, and it’s not uncommon for tourists who stray too far to get an unpleasant shakedown.
With that out of the way, the surfing is world class. The tourist culture is great too. With an economy that leans heavily on tourism, Mexico knows how to flaunt what it’s got. If you shop around, you stand a good chance of finding great accommodation and great food at stunningly low prices.
Travel is one of the most exciting parts of surfing. With the right destination in mind, you can have a tubular trip on some great waves.
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