10 Best Surf Destinations
The 10 best surf destinations are the quest of the folks who follow the perfect waves. Just picking a destination doesn't mean it's always one of the ten best surf destinations. Waves are fickle and may be high one day and nonexistent the next. There are, however, a few places that have a better chance for bringing in quality surf conditions. Surfers hit the swells in the Great Lakes in the upper Midwest U.S., but if you're going to travel, it's best to pick a location with better odds for awesome surf conditions.
- Huntington Beach, California: Huntington calls itself "Surf City" as a visitors center promotion, but it also has the goods on most days. Nothing big, unless storms blow in, but a steady supply of respectable sets on most days. The ages of the surfers run a range from grommets, you know, youngsters, to seasoned veterans you'll recognize by sight, if you're into the lore.
- Trestles, San Clemente, California: Trestles is divided into Lower and Upper Trestles and is a frequent location for surf competitions due to the surf conditions.
- Hermosa Beach, California: Hermosa is another Huntington, only 30 or so minutes north on Coast Highway, depending on the day and the traffic conditions as you make your way up the southern California coast.
- The Wedge, Newport Beach, California: The Wedge can offer some primo waves for body surfing, but with exceptionally big storms that blow in a ground swell, the waves can be crunchers due to the way the sand is drawn back out into the ocean. The warnings signs are serious. If you enter the water, there isn't any lifeguard that will save your butt. You surf at your own risk. If the waves are really gnarly, a crowd will watch to see you go for the heavies or wait for you break your neck. No joke.
- Malibu Beach, California: Malibu is a California classic surfing area. Check out the beach's surf cam for a look at how things are breaking. Winter storms bring out the best at this beach.
- Santa Cruz, California: Another Huntington Beach-like location with a chance for steady sets on most days. Consistency means something when you want to get out there for some action.
- Ke’ei, Kealakekua Bay, Hawai'i: If you're looking for primo action, this is the place. Check out the southern end of the bay for the best action.
- Sunset Beach, North Shore, Banzai Pipeline, O'ahu: This location is the gold standard for waves. Located between Sunset Beach and Waimea Bay, the action here is the stuff of early surfing music and Bruce Brown films. The wave action remains the same as the 1960s. Totally awesome.
- Hanalei Bay, Kauai, Hawai'i: The north shore of the bay can churn up some mighty fine sets and some of the best in the business take on the wave action. This is not a place to practice basic skills. You'll need to bring an expert technique, especially from September through May. Look to the lifeguards for safety information during extreme wave action. Another destination that takes no prisoners.
- Waikiki, O'ahu: A traditional surf favorite location, Waikiki offers surfing schools and, on most days, sets of consistent waves. Practice here before heading out to the North Shore on this island.