Stephanie Gilmore is the best women's surfer in the world. That's not hyperbole - if not for a broken foot, she'd be closing in on her sixth ASP World Title in seven years. Since qualifying for the World Tour at 19 and winning the world title in her rookie year, the frequency with which Gilmore has reached the podium has been unparalleled in the sport - in any sport, really - and her utter dominance on the tour makes her the closest thing there is to a "Queen of Surfing." More than that though, Gilmore is easy going, drop-dead gorgeous, and disarmingly funny - her down-to-earth vibe stifling any hint of ego. It's that, not all the accolades, that makes her the ideal ambassador for the sport at large. And this was the role that she graciously played when she stopped by the Men's Journal offices during a rare hiatus from chasing waves.
"I think [everyone] should try surfing because it's a challenge, and the reward is unlike any other," she says after gently ribbing some editors about shark-related fears. "If I could have everybody in the world experience something, it would be to get barreled. Because I just feel like it would change the world."
She laughs after saying this, seemingly kicking herself for being so philosophical, but she also seems to mean it. No small wonder. Surfing has taken Gilmore to the farthest corners of the globe and her charmed life now consists almost entirely of World Tour events, photo shoots, and training - a constant cycle of jetsetting from one world-renowned surf destination to another. If there's a good break somewhere, chances are she's surfed it. And if there's a good surf town, she's probably done more than a little hell raising there.
We asked the five-time world champ about the world's best surf spots. Here are her favorites.
Honolua Bay, Maui
Hawaii generally offers some of the best waves in the world, but one wave in particular has considerable pull with Gilmore and a number of other pros: "Honolua Bay on Maui is one of my favorite waves in the world," she says.
Gilmore isn't alone. Honolua Bay is arguably the best wave on the island - especially during the winter - making it one of the very best in the world. The Point, Cave, and Keiki Bowls offer different types of waves (groms and novice surfers should stick to the Point), and experienced surfers usually take advantage of all three. The world's best surfers, Gilmore among them, make regular pilgrimages to Honolua Bay for a reason - it's truly one of the elite surfing spots in the world.
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