As one of the original extreme sports, surfing enjoys an extensive and cultured history. Having originated on the beaches of such isolated and naturally beautiful locations as Tahiti and Hawaii, the art-form is believed to have been part of Polynesian culture for many centuries now. Picked up by and integrated by westerners in the early part of the 20th century, surfing began the journey towards its current form on the sun-drenched beaches of California and Australia in the 1940’s and 1950’s, where it successfully established itself as a legitimate sub-culture. By the end of the 1960’s, knowledge of the pass-time had spread far and wide, and what began as a select few hundred participants in the sport soon became millions of infatuated enthusiasts.
In the time since, surfing has spread to all corners of the world, with thousands of annual competitions acting to upkeep the sports reputation amongst peers. Possessing a certain aesthetical beauty and vouched for fully by just about everyone who’s ever tried it, surfing is championed as one of the most accessible sources of instinctual fun that can be had. All that’s needed to surf is a wave and a board, and as a result there is little in the way of exclusivity when it comes to the sport. In fact, every coastline on earth will have a bay, beach or harbour that’s surf-able- the following 10 merely being some of the well-noted.
10. Hossegor, France
Located on Frances south western Atlantic coast, Hossegor has a long standing reputation as one of the European continents finest surfing spots. Dubbed by many as the surfing capital of Europe, the township has become associated with the rich, affluent and influential on account of its beautiful scenery and weather alike. Though the water temperature can get rather low (it is the Atlantic Ocean after all) many surfers favour the spot due to its impressive tubes. Australian surf wear company ‘Quicksilver’ also hold their ‘Quicksilver Pro France’ annual tournament on the beach at Hossegor.
9. Bundoran Beach, Ireland
A spot set aside only for those with the grit and will to take on some of the most perilously cold waters known within the international surfing community. Situated in Ireland’s north-west, just miles from the Northern Irish border, Bundoran Beach is a secluded and naturally beautiful spot offering some of the British Isles’ most impressive surf conditions. With long rolling waves occurring off the back of the offshore flat rock reefs, this site is as suitable for beginners as much as it is able to provide a challenge to more experienced surfers.
8. Watergate Bay, England
While the more renowned ‘Fistral Beach’ lays just several miles along the coast from Watergate Bay, many would favour the lesser known of the two on account of its less dense annual visitor count. Located on the northern coast of the Cornish peninsula, Watergate is just one of many highly rated surf spots in Kernow (Cornwall), offering quality breaks all year round which may range from a half metre to 15ft. Accessible from the hip surf town of Newquay, you can expect water temperature fluctuations all too familiar with the UK.
7. Cloudbreak, Fiji
As one of the founding nations of surfing, Fiji does do extremely well in its accommodation of patrons of the modern sport. As a place offering a limitless amount of breaks over its many stunning islands and subsequent coastlines/beaches, Fiji is suitable for surfers of all levels of expertise, offering tiny breaks perfect for beginners still honing their technique, alongside huge swells the likes of which would only be taken on by the most nihilistic of professionals. Cloudbreak, situated on Fijis tiny outlying Tavarua Island, offers a break most definitely more suited towards the latter group. Forming around one and a half kilometres off the beach, the waves here maintain their shape long enough to provide a 500 meter ride and can reach up to 10 meters in size. Rad.
6. Surfrider Beach, USA
Easily the most internationally famed beach on this list, Surfrider is located amongst the tropical surroundings of Malibu, Southern California. Becoming synonymous with the sport in the 1950’s and 1960’s as a result of its association with surf pioneers such as Miki Dora and Johnny Fain, the beach remains the most visited spot in Los Angeles County. Though providing a more often than not wonderful break and temperate conditions for most of the year, Surfriders notoriety is what brings it down- to put it simply; it attracts far too many visitors to make a trip down on a good day worthwhile.
5. Manu Bay, New Zealand
Featured in seminal 1966 surf movie ‘The Endless Summer’, during which original surfers Mike Hynson and Robert August embark on a round-the-world trip in pursuit of year-round summer surf, Manu Bay has since become a world famous spot amongst surf enthusiasts. Providing modest yet entirely reliable swells of anywhere between one and four meters, the Bay even throws out the occasional barrel. Aside from workable and mild surf, the community itself is the embodiment of cool- built pretty much entirely around the activity; it’s well worth a visit if you’re ever on the North Island.
4. Superbanks, Australia
Of all the legendary surfing locations on the Australian sub-continent, many of the best are situated along the eastern coast. Warm, solid and unbelievably surf-able, Superbanks lies marginally south of the city of Gold Coast, on the unmistakably beautiful Queensland coast. Isolated and completely tropical, this break has been a favourite of many surfers, both native and touring, for a very long time indeed. From tubes to solid walls, nine days out of ten Superbanks will give you something to shout about- just watch out for the sharks.
3. Mavericks, USA
Situated some 50 miles up-coast from the trendy settings of Malibu’s Surfrider, Mavericks is an entirely different beast altogether. Lying on the coast adjacent to Northern California’s Bay Area, the region produces some of the USA’s most formidable waves, constructed by an abundance of off-shore storms blowing in from the north Pacific. Mavericks is a serious surf-spot reserved only for the most sure of experts, frequently playing host to waves of up to 25 meters in height. While only usually surf-able with the assistance of a jet ski tow line, the spot has remained extremely popular with big-wave junkies for the best part of three decades. Admittedly, visitor numbers were quelled slightly when in 1994 Hawaiian pro-surfer Mark Foo drowned under a wave here.
2. Jeffrey’s Bay, South Africa
Another spot to be featured in ‘The Endless Summer’, this location is Popular with professionals from all over the world on account of its vast range of surf options. Jeffrey’s Bay, or ‘J-Bay’, has risen to become one of the planets most famed spots over recent years. Supplying enthused visitors with ‘Kitchen Windows’, ‘Magna Tubes’, ‘Boneyards’ and the most notable of all ‘Super Tubes’ (which are said to stretch over 300m), Jeffrey’s Bay is an intense break reserved for those surfers seeking the extreme. Situated directly on South Africa’s southern tip, surf here prevails all year long and temperatures are often more than pleasant.
1. Pipeline, Hawaii
As the internationally recognised heartland of surfing, it will probably come as little surprise too many of you that Hawaii is to play host to today’s top-spot location. The offshore US state is in many ways responsible for pioneering the modern sport- and still maintains a prominent location for many top surfers. The pipeline; or ‘Banzai pipeline’ as it is known by some, is a reef break notorious worldwide on account of the sheer danger it poses to those who dare to surf it. The perfectly formed tubes that are consistently produced here are done so as a result of the ocean meeting a shallow offshore reef. While conditions are perfect for surfing, with the air temperature as well as the water temperature high all year round, the dangers held by the combination of a shallow break + sharp reef seabed make it a prospect far too daunting for most surfers. In the last ten years alone, five people have died on the pipeline.