8 Surfing Destinations With More Than Great Waves

Dedicated surfers notoriously have a one-track mind when it comes to their passion, with chasing swells taking precedence over pretty much everything else. Naturally, their vacations often tend to be oriented towards the pursuit of waves as well.


While this leads to some breathtaking beaches in dreamy tropical locales, prime surf spots can also be remote and isolated, with not much else to do outside the ocean. From time to time, especially when traveling with non-surfing family, friends, or especially a significant other, other considerations will be necessary when deciding upon the next holiday destination. Here are some locations that will keep everybody happy both in and out of the water!

8/8 Southwest France

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Photo by Ilona Bellotto on Unsplash

Biarritz, France landscape

What better way to incorporate a bit of culture into a surf trip than heading to France? Sitting about 30 minutes apart from each other on the southwest coast are Hossegor and Biarritz. Both boast world-class waves, with Hossegor hosting a World Surf League event every year (usually in August/September) and the Biarritz Surf Festival held annually as well.

Hossegor is also popular with golfers, cyclists, and nature lovers. There is a large lake, a sprawling forest, and a boat harbor. Biarritz is a lively yet charming resort town set against the backdrop of the Pyrenees mountains. It features several museums, an aquarium, and plenty of nice shopping and dining options.

7/8 Bali, Indonesia

A rite of passage for all surfers, the ‘island of the Gods’ is literally surrounded by world-class waves catering to every level from beginner – expert. There are also numerous international surfing competitions held annually.

Non-surfers of all sorts flock to Bali as well, whether to enjoy the infamous dining, parties, and nightlife or, on the contrary, the thriving health and wellness scene. Areas like Canggu and Ubud are favorites among the international yogi community. There is something to suit every taste and budget in Bali, making it a versatile destination that is sure to keep everyone happy.

RELATED: Visiting Bali? Here Are 10 Things You Can Do There

6/8 Basque Country, Spain

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San Sebastian, Spain
Photo by Raúl Cacho Oses on Unsplash

San Sebastian, Spain

Another option for a European surf getaway is heading to the north of Spain. The waves in Mundaka are renowned as some of the biggest and best in Europe, but surfers will enjoy the entire stretch of coastline to San Sebastián.

Out of the water, the options are amazing. The region is a foodie haven, boasting the second-most Michelin-star restaurants per capita. Let’s not forget its ranking as one of the world’s leading wine producers as well, so wineries are an ideal addition to the non-surfing agenda. But wait, there’s more! Visit the Guggenheim art museum and stroll along the riverfront promenade of Bilbao. The road trip scenery on the way there from San Sebastián is an attraction in itself; Enjoy both historic landmarks and jaw-dropping views.

San Sebastián hosts a famous film festival every September and a Jazz festival in July.

5/8 Vancouver Island, Canada

surf check in Tofino, BC
via Jaimee Terese

surf check in Tofino, BC

While surfing may not be the first thing to come to mind when someone mentions Canada, the country’s west coast is home to a thriving surf scene. While there are numerous wave-rich regions, the epicenter lies in the postcard-perfect town of Tofino. Those who can endure frigid ocean temps and thick wetsuits will be rewarded with the quality of surf on offer.

The cozy seaside hamlet surrounded by ancient forests is a dream for any nature enthusiast. There is hiking galore, ziplining, 4×4 tours, cycling, golfing, and more. The adorable downtown packs a lot of punch for its small size, with dozens of shops, artists, indigenous history museums, and galleries. Enjoy an array of dining options, pubs, breweries, and dispensaries too.

4/8 Baja Norte, Mexico

Just a few clicks south of the US border, northern Baja is an excellent option for those looking for a budget-friendly getaway with a diverse mix of offerings. Surfers will enjoy thousands and thousands of uncrowded waves while their better half can sip cocktails from an affordable seaside abode.

The arts and entertainment precinct of Rosarito sits right next to the surf, so there is no shortage of dining, shopping, and nightlife. This, of course, is in addition to the nearby urban mecca of Tijuana. For something more relaxed, the cozy coastal inlet of Ensenada offers tons of outdoor activities and is renowned for some of the region’s best seafood. Add some wine tasting to the itinerary and head to Valle de Guadalupe too. There are more than 100 wineries and an award-winning culinary scene.

3/8 Cape Town, South Africa

Sharaan Muruvan on Unsplash“”>

Cape Town, South Africa
Photo by Sharaan Muruvan on Unsplash

Cape Town, South Africa

For a surf trip unlike any other, head to South Africa for a truly unique experience. Situated below the towering Table Mountain, Cape Town has been repeatedly named one of the most beautiful cities in the world. It is also one of the most iconic surfing locations not only in the country but on the entire African continent.

A city rich in historical significance, visitors should take advantage of the ample opportunities to learn about its struggle to overcome apartheid (especially with a trip to Robben Island). There are tons of cultural offerings with the city’s infusion of European, Afrikaans, and Muslim traditions. Like numerous other destinations on this list, Cape Town is also one of the world’s premier wine regions.

2/8 San francisco California

The thumping waves of the Bay Area will give surfers another reason to leave their hearts in San Francisco. While the city-side break of Ocean Beach is for experienced surfers only, there is a multitude of gentler options in Pacifica to the south and in Marin County to the north.

While the endless days of sunshine and beach culture of SoCal are more often associated with surfing, nowhere else in California has as much to offer outside the ocean. History, nature, art, culture, music, food, nightlife, sports, events, and shopping, it’s all here at your fingertips, just steps away from the sea.

RELATED: Across The Golden Gate Bridge: Have You Been Missing Out On Marin County?

1/8 Florianopolis, Brazil

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aerial view of Florianopolis, Brazil
Photo by Cassiano Psomas on Unsplash

aerial view of Florianopolis, Brazil

Home to over 60 stunning beaches, it is the go-to destination for a Brazilian surfing vacation. At the same time, it was once named the ‘party destination of the year’ by the New York Times, so clearly so, there is no shortage of fun for the non-surfing cohorts as well.

Foodies are sure to love La Ruta Gastronomica, which boasts an endless trail of world-class seafood restaurants. Be sure to sample the oysters for which the region is especially known for. Visit the bustling historic central market and be sure to check out the Cantinho da Arte for handcrafted, one-of-a-kind souvenirs instead of the mass-produced variety.

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