Malibu, California
Credit: Kyle Sparks / Getty Images

Unless the discussion revolves around Mavericks (in NorCal's Half Moon Bay) or somewhere in Hawaii, getting non-Americans to compliment American surf destinations tends to be like pulling teeth. Crowded oceans and mediocre breaks are a bad combination. Still, at least one place in the Lower 48 holds some cache among the world's best surfers: "I really like Malibu," Gilmore admits as though she's disclosing a guilty pleasure.

Recognized - for better or worse - as the birthplace of popular surf culture, Malibu should be on any surfer's list of must-go spots. Like playing hoops at Rucker Park, it's worth paddling out in the 'Bu just to cross it off your bucket list. Prepare to battle for waves though, the traffic in the lineup can be as bad as it is on the 405, especially if there's a big south swell coming in.

"It's madness to try and catch a wave in the crowd. You feel like you're on the set of a Hollywood film," she says. "It's a lot of fun though."