The ocean is full of beauty and wonder – the crashing waves, the rise and fall of the tides, and the abundance of wildlife. One of the best ways to witness this majestic part of our planet is by surfboard. Surfing connects us with the planet and causes us to have a greater appreciation for the world around us. From Florida to California to Hawaii and Australia, there are plenty of opportunities to experience the wonder of the ocean.
Sometimes swells are small, while others are large, and water can range from crystal clear to blue, green, and gray. No matter where you are in the world, you are bound to find some incredible surf at your local beach. However, you’ll probably want to head to an island to catch some of the best waves around.
Here we bring you the top 10 best islands for surfing. But, we’re warning you: After seeing the list, you’ll get that travel itch. So, make sure your passport is ready and your board is waxed … we’re going island hopping!
- Bali, India
Easily considered the best surfing island on earth, Bali has everything to create a surfer’s paradise. Powerful and consistent waves - check. Exciting nightlife - check. Surfers have been flocking to the island to surf in the Indian Ocean waters since the 70s. Along with the killer surf, Bali offers its visitors beautiful scenery, Hindu culture, and the charm of the locals. Definitely a must-see.
- Thanburudhoo, Maldives
Just a small piece of land located in the Indian Ocean, uninhabited Thanburudhoo offers quality waves. It was once exclusively Tony Hinde-Hussein and friends’ surfing retreat, and then later became a military firing range, which, needless to say, ended surfing on this island for the time being. Now, after the end of the ban on surfing and end of flying bullets, the island is a favorite among local surf charter boats. Thanburudhoo, the last unpopulated islands of North Malé, may soon become a “boutique surfing resort” with access to the best waves in the Maldives.
- Oahu, Hawaii
This island should come as no surprise, as it has been a popular surfing destination for decades now. It’s safe to say that most aspects of modern surfing have been influenced by the events that have taken place on the island, starting with the images of the Waikiki beach boys of the 30s. Surfers flock to the North Shore of Oahu every winter to take their place amongst the world’s best surfers. This is highlighted during the Triple Crown of Surfing, three big-wave events that take place during five weeks of competitions and performances.
- Siargao, Philippines
As of late, Siargao has become one of the most popular surfing destinations in the Far East. The island has been on every travel surfer’s radar since 1992 when Cloud 9 was first introduced. Even with issues of overcrowding, the island is still a favorite among Filipino and foreign surfers alike.
Barbados, a former British Colony, is placed perfectly in the Atlantic Ocean. There are few flat days, and the occasional in-season hurricane swell makes the island an ideal location for surfers to flock to. Barbados is small in size, making it easily accessible, and getting to and from the different surf spots is a breeze. With accommodation choices ranging from mansions to one-bedroom apartments, there are options for every surfer’s traveling budget.
- Santa Catarina, Brazil
Far from hectic Rio and Sao Paulo, Santa Catarina strikes the perfect combination of quality waves and a European ambiance. The island is located in Southern Brazil and is insanely popular among the local Brazilian, Argentine, and Uruguayan surfers. The best season for killer waves (over 40 surfable waves in some areas) is March-April and September-October. Oh, and don’t worry – you’ll feel safe and sound. The island is considered one of the safest urban cities in Brazil, not to mention it isn’t short of delicious restaurants and energetic nightlife to wrap up a long day of surfing.
- North Island, New Zealand
With friendly locals, easy-to-navigate roads, and lots of waves, it’s no wonder that North Island made our list. Both the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea offer a haven from overcrowded surf territory among a backdrop of picturesque green hills. And, due to the relaxed lifestyle, many compare North Island’s vibe to that of California’s surf scene of the 1950s.
- Taiwan, China
China may not be the first destination that comes to mind when you think of great surf spots, but the island of Taiwan is a growing favorite among surf enthusiasts. Kenting, in the south of the island, is the capital of Taiwanese surfing. The town is filled with plenty of restaurants, hotels, and, of course, surf shops. To catch the best waves, you’ll want to visit the island during July to October, but, be warned of typhoon season. Since typhoons aren’t completely predictable, if you visit during this time you’ll have to be up for anything.
- Jeju, South Korea
A volcanic island, Jeju is the Hawaii of South Korea. More than 1 million people visit the island each year, but it wasn’t deemed a surf destination until recently when local Korean surfers discovered it. When a typhoon moves north from Taiwan into the East Sea, it causes bigger swells on both sides of the island. With such great waves and few surfers to ride them, who wouldn’t want to make the trip?
- Reunion, France
While most people might think of Paris when traveling to France, to surfers the real French paradise is found on the tropical island of Reunion. The waves are great, especially in the southern hemisphere’s winter season from April to October, but it is worth noting that there are big sharks in the area during this time. This doesn’t stop local and visiting surfers, but they do proceed with caution and utilize good judgment.