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When it comes to surf culture, the world has its heavy hitters. Hawaii, Australia, Indonesia, Costa Rica. Even surf neophytes can name the biggest spots in the world to hang 10. So for those who want to explore idyllic surf spots off the beaten beach, here are 11 unexpected global spots to chase that endless summer.

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Hossegor, France

This tiny surf haven on the Atlantic coast of southern France pulls in a surf contingent from all around the world. Its golden sand is offset by deep, cobalt-colored water. The shoreline extends about four miles, with surfing most popular on the north and south beaches. Downtown Hossegor’s development has been kept to a minimum, but what travelers will find are quintessential French cafes, laid-back restaurants and high-end surf boutiques. Hossegor is also the home of international surf competitions like the Quiksilver Pro France and Roxy Pro France.

Newquay, UK

There is, in fact, a Mecca of surf culture along the coast of the United Kingdom. In the county of Cornwall, travelers will find Newquay, a top destination for surfers drawn to the misty weather, steel-colored waves, and pervasive surf culture. The best-known spot for surfing here is Fistral Beach, which has hosted competitions like the Boardmasters Festival. Other beaches for hanging ten include Watergate Bay, North Beach, Lusty Glaze, and Great Western. After catching the perfect wave, surfers head to dry land to dine at Rick Stein Fistral, which serves a menu of Asian favorites like curries and pad Thai.

Trover photo by Amy Heinen

Pororoca, Brazil

Trekking the Amazon is one thing, but surfing it is entirely another. Each year in the spring, Atlantic Ocean swells flood the Amazon and its tributaries, creating a unique, seemingly endless surf that runs for hundreds of miles. These “tidal bores,” as they are called, result in a single wave. In Brazil, this tidal bore is known as Pororoca, and some surfers have been known to ride the waves for more than 10 miles at a time. This is no spot for beginners, as surfers are battling muddy waters, trees and, of course, the critters of the Amazon.

Trover photo by Nicole Machen

Munich, Germany

And while we’re on about river surfing, Munich has its own version. Though not as treacherous as the jungles of the Amazon, the Eisbach is a man-made river in Munich that flows through the Englischer Garten. The river forms a standing wave about three fight high and has become a well-known surf spot, where experienced surfers test their skills seeing how long they can hold their balance without breaking.


Just because you can surf a place, doesn’t mean you should. In places like King George Island in Antarctica, you’ll encounter never-surfed-before waves, with left and right pointbreaks. What you won’t find is crowds—but probably for good reason: The area is one of the world’s deadliest surf spots that has only been surfed by Red Bull pro surfer Ramon Navarro. Best to leave this one to the professionals as without protective gear, death is likely, if not certain.

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Cox Bazar, Bangladesh

Beyond Bangladesh’s frenetic energy of bustling street scenes, blaring horns, air thick with the smell of diesel and street food, is a surprising slice of surf culture. On the southeast corner of the country is Cox’s Bazar, a long stretch of sand and seaside resorts, as well as the biggest surf in Bangladesh. The town’s surf culture was established by local surfer Afar Alam, who organized the country’s first surf school. In 2015, Surfing the Nations organized the first competition there. Today it is a small local scene, where the number of female surfers greatly outnumber the males.

Trover photo by Jade Schwartzentruber

Reykjanes, Iceland

You won’t find beach bums lounging here, but you will find exotic, epic surf that rivals some of the best warm-weather surf destinations in the world. The coasts of Iceland, especially around the Reykjanes Peninsula, is spontaneous and wild, and attractive to the more adventurous surfer. But the black sand beach at Sandvik is a rare opportunity for beginners to test their chops, if they can brave the frigid temperatures.

Okinawa, Japan

The 150 islands that make up Okinawa Prefecture in Japan pepper the East China Sea. It’s an adventurous location for surfers, as many of these islands have yet to be mapped. Peak surf season here is mid-June through mid-March, when consistent swells surge on the southern and eastern shores. Some of the best year-round surf spots on Okinawa are Suicide, Kochan and Ikei. Other islands in the archipelago that are fun to explore are Kudaka, which is an hour away by ferry and has a long left point break. It is also considered one of the holiest spots out of all the islands.

Trover photo by Akanksha Sharma

Sri Lanka

Though not as popular as other regional surf spots like Bali (though perhaps that’s a good thing), Sri Lanka has some of the best wave conditions in the world. The best time to surf Sri Lanka is between October and April, specifically on the southwest coast. From April to October, the East Coast becomes the peak destination. While on the southwest coast, both advanced and beginning surfers will find plenty of places to catch a wave. Weligama is the best beach for beginners. More advanced surfers will like Mirissa Right, which is about five minutes from Weligama. Sri Lanka’s lush, green jungles, electric blue ocean and dark, grittier sand make for a rustic backdrop to an unconventional surf spot.


United Arab Emirates

Desert-ringed cosmopolitan luxury can best describe the United Arab Emirates. But surfing also gives the country a claim to fame. Dubai and the surrounding areas have incredible coastlines, all with their own variety of breaks. Beginners can head to Al Khan, where surf schools and board rentals are plentiful. Experienced surfers can head to Tim’s Reef, where a man-made wave pool creates nearly perfect conditions with a consistent 6-foot high wave. It might not be ideal for surf purists, but you can’t deny it’s a fantastic ride every time.

Rockaway Beach, NYC, surf

New York City

Along the south coast of New York City’s Queens borough is the small surf community of Rockaway Beach. This skinny peninsula that juts out into the Atlantic is just as much a part of the Big Apple as Manhattan, but with a decidedly different vibe. Permeated by surf shacks, boardwalk culture and skateboarders, Rockaway Beach is a throwback to the early ’90s, but in the best possible way. Sublime can be heard blaring from the lifeguard towers, as New York City beach bums grab their boards and head into the water. Whether it’s a sweltering day in August, or a blizzard raging in February, New York City surfers are hardcore, and Rockaway Beach is where they do their dirty work.

Tagged: Brazil, Europe, Germany, Latin America

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Meagan Drillinger

Meagan Drillinger

Meagan is a New York-based travel writer, though if you give her a plane ticket today she'll be somewhere else tomorrow. Her focus and passion is Mexico, but her travel wishlist never seems to get any shorter.

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