There are plenty of ways to enjoy a beach vacation, with surfing being one of them. There’s nothing quite like paddling out to catch the perfect wave. Which is why surfing holidays are so popular among active travelers – from beginners to the pros. If you are just learning how to surf, then you’ll want to find the best places to learn to surf before booking your surfing holiday.
Picking the right place to learn to surf makes all the difference. Not all beaches are great for surfing, and not all surfing beaches are great for beginners. While you’ll want the surfing town atmosphere (complete with surf camps and surf shops), you don’t want to be thrown out amongst the pros in the big waves while still figuring this surfing thing out. You’ll want small, manageable waves, along with a fairly long beach that will give you time to get up on the board as well as excellent surf schools in the area.
Here are some of the best places to learn to surf around the world – which also all make great destinations for surfing holidays for those who are already in love with the sport.
Grab your surfboards, let’s hit the water!
Where to go for epic surfing holidays
Bali is full of expert waves, but luckily for beginners there are also a few surf spots in Bali that are suitable for beginners too. One such spot is the shallow waters of Kuta Beach. Kuta Beach is five-miles long and separated by three areas – Kuta Beach, Legian Beach and Seminyak Beach. The waves here are smaller and the bottom of the water is sandy, compared to the rockier sections at the other beaches. Kuta is also the main tourist area of Bali, so it’s packed with bargain hostels and has a lively club scene.
Beginners will find a few local surf schools that offer good deals on surfing lessons – you’ll find both group, partner or private lessons. If you feel confident enough after your lessons, then head out to join the pros at Dreamland. The waves there are powerful though, so be warned. Surfing is just one of the water activities in Bali, so make sure you’re ready to spend a lot of time in the water!
Arugam Bay, Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is a famous surfing destination that caters to all experience levels. The country has different seasonal patterns on each side of the island; when one coast is choppy, the other is calm. The best time to visit the Eastern side of the island, where Arugam Bay is located, is during the months between May and October.
You’ll find a few surf schools in this quiet surfing town, all stocked with beginner surfboards which are great for first-timers on the board. The best places to learn to surf in Arugam Bay are Baby Point (from July onwards), Elephant Rock, Whiskey Point and Peanut Farm. You’ll generally find a few surf schools that make use of these spots – often changing spots depending on the time of day or month.
Byron Bay, Australia
Byron Bay is one of the most popular surfing spots in Australia, featuring a range of breaks for surfers of all levels. One of the great beginner surfer spots here is The Pass – not only does the wave break slowly, but the run out is super long which makes it easier to stand up.
Aside from surfing, the town is packed with great restaurants and awesome coffee spots. The golden sand beaches are lined with locals with guitars and VW vans with dreadlocked drivers – all adding to its cool surfing town vibe. Oh, and dolphins. What more could you want really?
Jeffrey’s Bay, South Africa
Jeffrey’s Bay (or J-Bay as the locals call it) is one of the most popular surfing spots in the world amongst the pros. The main surfing beach, Supertubes, is renowned as being one of the most challenging surf spots in the world. Jeffrey’s Bay is also packed with surf shops (including some factory shops with great deals) and is a buzzing tourist destination during the summer months. It’s a great vibe to get into the surfing holiday spirit.
Beginner surfers can learn the basics on the beautiful Dolphin Beach – a Blue flag beach in Jeffreys Bay that is perfect for learning to surf with no major currents or rocks. There are loads of surf schools offering beginner to advanced surf lessons, as well as companies that offer surfing holidays.
Tamarindo, Costa Rica
With its multitude of surf spots, Costa Rica is a popular destination for surfing holidays for all levels. For beginners, there are several beaches with gentle waves offering ideal conditions for learning to surf. Playa Tamarindo however, is one of the most popular beaches to learn to surf in Costa Rica.
The beach is long and lined with rental surf shops and surf schools, meaning that you won’t have to look too hard to set up your surf lessons. The whole vibe of the town will draw you in, making you feel like a proper surfer in no time. Though, be ready to expect crowds as it is a popular spot.
While you’re there, check out these spots for snorkeling in Costa Rica.
Surfer’s Point, Barbados
Surfer’s Point, located on the south east coast of Barbados, is a favorite surfing spot amongst locals and tourists. There are a few surf schools set up on the beach offering surfboard rentals and surf lessons.
The popular surfing school Zed’s Surfing Adventures is run by former competitive surfer local Zed Layson. The school offers two-hour lessons and have easy-to-ride foam surfboards. The beach is also popular for windsurfing, kitesurfing, boogie boarding, SUP and kayaking – just incase the surf lessons don’t go too well.
Morocco has been a popular winter destination for European surfers since the 1970s. You’ll find convoys of VW campervans lining the beaches – mostly where the long, righthand point breaks are located. There are a variety of surf schools in Morocco, catering for beginners to the more advanced.
Taghazoute, in the south, has plenty of surf schools to choose from (almost more than surf spots!) so you won’t struggle with finding one to suit your needs and budget. The best waves for learners are around Agadir, otherwise the chilled port town of Essaouira is just three hours north and has some good beginner waves. Beginners should also head there in early autumn as the waves are smaller, with the big swells coming in from November to February.