The 5 Best Places to Learn to Surf
Last Updated: 12 November 2018
There are a number of great surf spots in the world. It’s easy to find articles about famous locations that feature “epic waves”, killer tubes and jaw-dropping breaks. But as exciting and impressive as these locations may be, they don’t always sound like the 5 best places to learn to surf. Beginner surfers need waves that:
- aren’t too dangerous
- have good surf schools that cater to new surfers nearby
- are suitable for learning
- feature breaks that aren’t crowded with other surfers, locals, and pros
In short, novice surfers need to feel safe, be in competent and qualified hands, and have stress-free access to some long, gentle waves so they can develop the proper skills and techniques in order to progress to more challenging breaks.
So where are the Best Places to Learn to Surf?
We’ve compiled a shortlist of places around the world to help answer that very question. Find below the 5 best places to learn to surf in Europe, Asia, Central America, North Africa, and Australia. That’s 5 places on 5 continents, which not only provide the surf trip of a lifetime, but are also sure to check all of those beginner surfer boxes.
1. Portugal: European charm, world-class waves
An undisputed regional gem, European surfing doesn’t get any better than Portugal. With its 943 km (586 miles) of coastline and surf spots galore, Portugal is a surfer’s paradise. Home to Europe’s most unspoiled beaches, this beautiful Iberian country has 7 surfing regions, each with their own special character.
With only 8 km (5 miles) of coastline, Portugal’s smallest surf region and the one with the highest density of world-class surf breaks is Ericeira on the south-central coast. Ericeira is Europe’s only dedicated World Surfing Reserve and home to the WSL Championship, held at Ribeira d’Ilhas beach.
Ericeira is also a great place for beginner surfers, with certified surf instructors and multiple spots that are suitable for those just starting out. Top beginner surf beaches in Ericeira include Foz do Lizandro, São Julião and Praia do Sul.
2. Bali: Eat, Pray, Surf
The Indonesian island of Bali is home to some of the most beautiful tropical beaches in Asia. It’s also home to 50+ world-class surf spots. It is the undisputed Asia surfing capital. While Bali is well known for legendary breaks like Uluwatu and Padang Padang, which regularly host professional competitions, it is also one of the best places to learn how to surf.
Bali’s Bukit Peninsula is the island’s southern-most tip. Suitable spots for beginners on the Bukit include Dreamland and Balangan when surfing conditions are favourable. World-famous Padang Padang is right beside a gentler beach break (Padang Padang Right), which provides a nice, long and unbroken wave. Padang Padang Right is a great spot to learn how to surf or hone your skills.
3. Costa Rica: Surfing and “Pura Vida”
Famous for its beautiful and diverse nature, Costa Rica is also a popular surfing destination, with most of its best surf spots located in the province of Guanacaste. Situated in the north-western portion of the country, the weather is drier and the beautiful Pacific beaches lure surfers from all over the world, all year round.
In particular, Guanacaste’s Nicoya Peninsula is home to beaches that suit all levels of surfers. Though there are several spectacular big-wave reef breaks for the experts among us, surfing schools close to the gentler beaches of Playa Avellanas, Tamarindo, Santa Teresa, Playa Carmen, and Playa Hermosa are ideally located for beginner surfers.
4. Morocco: The best of all worlds
The Atlantic coast of central Morocco offers 230 km (143 miles) of shoreline. It features a variety of beach, point and reef breaks for all levels of surfers. From absolute beginner to seasoned pro. It’s also not too hard to save money. You can get accommodation, food and surf lessons for a reasonable amount of money.
The small and cosmopolitan village of Taghazout is a center for Moroccan surf culture and a great place to learn the art. Likewise, the nearby charming Berber village of Tamraght is perfectly situated for beginners and those who wish to combine a surfing trip with other activities like yoga, hiking, sightseeing, or camel and horseback riding. Both villages are conveniently close to the busy regional capital of Agadir and its international airport.
5. Australia: Experience the classic surfing lifestyle
Apparently 1 out of every 20 Australians surf. Though that’s probably not an accurate statistic, Down Under is a huge surfing country and along with Hawaii and California. The last one was one of the original homes of modern surfing. The town of Byron Bay, a surf hub for Australians since the 1960s is home to several great surfing beaches and one of the best places to learn how to surf, especially during the months of March through May, which provide warm temperatures and consistent swell.
Surf schools are plentiful in Byron Bay as is the variety of waves in this world-famous “hippy” surf town. Recommended beginner spots include Clarke’s Beach and other spots on the actual bay. Byron’s most popular beach, the Pass, has big crowds and a higher difficulty. Because it’s close to Gold Coast and Brisbane, it makes it a great place for a family-oriented surf holiday.