We’ve covered some of the best beginner surf vacations, but for those who have caught the bug or simply want to improve, location is all-important.
Intermediate surfers need good waves, but not ones that come with zealous crowds or skin-grazing coral. We’ve trawled the planet to find vacation spots that offer plenty of easy surf stoke, but also the option to test your comfort zone.
The new hipster hub of Bali, this stretch of sand and reef provides a myriad of surf breaks to explore as your surf knowledge increases. The longboard waves of Old Man’s and the adjacent Batu Bolong are playful entry points, breaking over reef, but offering slow and tapering waves perfect for gaining confidence.
At Echo Beach, Canggu’s river-mouth breaks boast world-class waves and a world-class crowd, so you’ll need to get up early to have a chance of catching a few. Accommodation options within walking distance are endless, surf school and surfboard hire options are plentiful and the post-surf nightlife is as good as the waves.
The Moroccan town of Tazhagout has hosted surfers since the late 1960s and its warm weather, sand-bottom points and sandy beaches still offer something for every surfer. Near the town, the beach offers great learning waves, while just to the south, Banana Point is a protected pointbreak with beachside cafes offering post-surf tagines.
As your surfing progresses, the famed Anchor Point is a 10-minute walk away. Its 300-yard walls provide fun perfection from about 3 foot, but as it gets bigger it starts to get beyond the intermediate pay grade. That’s the time to order a mint tea and watch the show.
It’s not exactly on the beaten path, but T-Land, located near the Indonesian island of Rote, offers one of the most perfect, and least crowded, options for surfers just moving into the realms of rapid improvement.
T-Land is one of the longest waves in Indonesia, and thanks to its three sections, it offers surfing at all different levels. You will stay a short boat ride away in the small village of Nemberala; we recommend T-Land Resort. After a week, you will be amazed at just how far your surfing has come.
Byron Bay, Australia
Warm water, an incredible climate and a vast array of surfing options have made Byron Bay one of the great surf towns of the world. At the top of town, the Pass offers some of the longest and most perfect peelers anywhere, but, alas, it comes with crowds to match. South of the lighthouse, Australia’s most easterly point, Tallows, offers endless peaks and shelter from the summer’s predominant northeasterly winds.
You can choose any wave to suit your ability, any bar to suit your cocktail preference and within an hour’s drive lay premier spots like the Superbank and Lennox Head. All you will need at Byron is time, because you will never want to leave.
Punta de Mita, Mexico
On the other side of the peninsula, the once-sleepy fishing village turned hip surf town of Sayulita boasts a more challenging pointbreak, plus some punchy beachbreaks. They can be handy if El Anclote’s gentle rollers and crowds aren’t providing enough excitement.
Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka
Hikkaduwa, located on Sri Lanka’s southwest coastline about 60 miles south from the capital, Colombo, offers awesome waves and a truly unique cultural experience. Best from November through April, the area around the old town offers a good range of 3- to 6-foot waves, both left- and right-handers.
There’s a beachbreak (imaginatively titled Beach Break), while Main Reef offers accessible A-shaped waves over coral. Away from the surfing, snorkeling, visits to the historic town of Galle and some of the most delicious curries on Earth will keep your post-surf stoke levels up.
Emerald Coast, Nicaragua
The Emerald Coast is a 20-mile stretch of the Nicaraguan coastline between the towns of Tola and Astillero. Surfers have always been drawn here by the well-known breaks of Colorados, Manzanillo and Popoyo and now regular tourists are discovering the stunning beauty of the Pacific Coast.
Those breaks mentioned are better, but not solely, for more-advanced surfers, but a new highway that hugs the coast has opened up the unspoiled white-sand beaches and numerous surf spots that offer something for every level of surfer.
Turtle Bay, Hawaii
The North Shore of Oahu is no place for intermediates, you might say, conjuring images of thunderous Pipeline or huge Waimea Bay. However, in the fall, before the winter swells arrive, it’s possible to find great waves for those not wanting to have to wear brown board shorts.
Turtle Bay, with its resort and protected Kuilima Cove and Kawela Bay waves just out front, is a good starting point, despite being a 10-minute drive from those famous big-wave spots. Waikiki’s gentle rollers are also less than hour’s drive away, meaning that surfing’s spiritual home needn’t be just for the experts and kamikazes.
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