8 Incredible Destination for a Surf Trip

Surf the world’s most famed waves, from the heavy sets of Tahiti to the fast-breaking rides in Puerto Escondido, Mexico.

Teahupo'o, French Polynesia
Tahiti is the birthplace of surfing, and the island offers a few excellent beginner breaks as well as one of the world’s most powerful waves, Teahupo’o. To hone your surfing skills, visit the Tura’I Mataare Surf School in Paea, which offers both single and multi-day lessons by qualified instructors that include equipment rentals in the fee. Located on the southern half of the island, known as Tahiti Iti, the monster wave at Havae Pass, also known as Teahupoo, is the wave that experts make pilgrimages to ride – please don’t attempt unless you know what you are doing. This is where the Billabong Pro Championships are held each year over a week in August.
Tikehau, French Polynesia
This oval-shaped atoll in the Tuamotu island group strung across the South Pacific Ocean some 300 kilometers from Tahiti is covered in pink and China white sand and surrounded by a jaw-droppingly beautiful turquoise, jade, and cerulean hued lagoon and is considered to have the best beaches in all of French Polynesia. Most are empty – it has a Robinson Crusoe vibe and still remains mostly undeveloped.

Beyond the sand you’ll find excellent snorkeling and even surfing in spots where the reef breaks. For scuba you’ll want to head to the magnificent Tuheiva Pass, where you’ll likely encounter sharks and manta rays. Lagoon excursions are also popular, and allow you to snorkel in the out-of-this world hued waters.

The Tikehau Pearl Beach Resort is the most exclusive place to sleep on the island, but there are also a number of excellent small family-run guesthouses right on the beach for those wanting to experience its “paradise lost” ambiance at more affordable rates.

Air Tahiti flies to Tikehau from Tahiti daily.
Plage de Lorient, St Barthélemy
Backed by the green of mountains flecked by red rooftops, Lorient Beach is an unspoiled stretch of white sand and beautiful blue water. Favored by locals, fishermen, and visitors, this north coast beach has excellent surfing at one end and calm water for swimming, snorkeling, and stand-up paddle boarding at the other end. The nearby village of Lorient, the site of the island’s first French settlement, is rich in culture. Here visitors are drawn to the 19th century Catholic church, historic bell tower, and Ligne Saint Barth—a famous luxury soap, shampoo, and perfume manufacturer.
México 1, Tourist Corridor, 23406 San José del Cabo, B.C.S., Mexico
Cabo Surf Hotel is a beachside property in San José del Cabo, an area popular among surfers and other outdoor enthusiasts. Located right on the bay, the hotel is ideal for guests who want to dedicate the majority of their vacation time to doing nothing more than relaxing on the sand or swimming languidly in the ocean. The hotel’s exterior evokes Southern California’s Spanish-inspired architecture, with white stucco walls and a red-tiled roof. Inside, rooms tend toward the simple side, with tile floors, wicker and rattan furniture, and neutral-colored linens. A spa and restaurant are on the premises. For guests who want to learn how to surf, the hotel partners with a local surfing school to offer lessons.
Faro District, Portugal
Few people think of Portugal as a surf destination, but the tiny country has miles of coast for surfers to explore. I visited the Algarve, Portugal’s southern most region, and based myself at Aldeia da Pedralva. The owner, António Ferreira, has a bright red VW bus which he uses to drive guests to the best surf breaks or simply for a scenic tour of the area’s most popular beach towns, such as Lagos and Sagres.
A new 16-bungalow beach retreat lures travelers to Mexico’s Pacific coast surf town of Puerto Escondido. When the sun goes down, locals and guests hit the underground dance club. From $213. This appeared in the January/February 2014 issue.
Enterprise Coast Road, Oistins, Barbados, Barbados
One of the best spots in the Caribbean for surfing is Barbados. And if you’re not one of the best surfers in the world (like me), one of the best breaks on the island to catch some waves has got to be Freights Bay. The added bonus is that most late afternoon sessions end with a spectacular flourish as the sun sets smack in the middle of the bay.
Hoba Wawi, Wanokaka, West Sumba Regency, East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia
Founded by a surfer in search of the perfect wave, Nihiwatu is a model of sustainable luxury. The resort’s remote location on the jungle-edged coast of Sumba Island lures travelers looking for true escape and the hedonistic pleasures of private, candlelit dinners in a tree house and hikes to cliff-top spas. But it’s the cultural and community experiences that set Nihiwatu apart from other far-flung hotels. Sumbanese villagers make up 90 percent of the staff, and the resort contributes to the Sumba Foundation, which funds health clinics, water wells, and educational initiatives. Guests can observe island traditions, tour the projects, or volunteer at a school lunch program. From $900. This appeared in the Nov/Dec 2015 issue.
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