Surfing was first discovered in Polynesia, being noted by Joseph Banks who was on the third voyage of Captain James Cook in 1769. It is part of Ancient Polynesian culture and predates European contact – the chief of the area would have been the most skilled surfer in the community and many of the islanders would surf too. The commoners were banned from the “ruling class beaches” where the richer half of the population would take to the water, but could gain prestige with their surfing skills.
Since then surfing has grown to arguably be the most popular water sports worldwide, with fanatics taking to both cold and warmer water in the hunt for a perfect wave. With the rise of surfing has come the rise of the “surfing holiday” – travelling with your board and ticking off the most famous spots for prestigious waves in the world’s best bays.
But just where are the world’s best surfing spots?
Samoa, South Pacific
Samoa offers both warm water and great waves to those who visit. It’s location in the South Pacific encourages large swells from all directions, all year round – although the best time to visit the island is between April and October when the much bigger waves are created by big lows. The most prestigious spots are the A’ufaga Village, Salani and Fagaloa Bay.
Mentawi Islands, Indonesia
Located just off the western coats of Sumatra, the islands offer one of the most consistent surfing locations in the world. Between March and October the weather and waves are great with the biggest and best swells forming in June to September. It is important to note if you are headed to Indonesia for surfing, Bali is also worth a visit for its 12ft waves but be prepared for lots of crowds!
Pipeline Oahu, Hawaii
Pipeline is one of the most famous surfing spots in the world. A combination of shallow reefs and big waves make for great tube riding, with the average height of the waves being nine feet. The area is one of the most deadly dive spots due to the extremely powerful waves – and has been responsible for the death of even pro surfers. This spot is strictly for the best of the best surfers in the world and should not be attempted by beginners.
Jeffery’s Bay, South Africa
Home to the Billabong Pro ASP world tour, the area is known as Supertubes all over the world by surfing lovers. The area is famous for its right hand tubes and long point breaks – with pro surfers visiting for 300 metre long rides. However, like with most spots on the SA coast, the area is shark territory and so all riders enter at their own risk.
Gold Coast, Australia
70 kilometres of beaches with four main point breaks offers a “surfer’s paradise” for those who visit. Australia has long been famed for its surf lifestyle and some of the biggest professionals around the world choose the area as a home base due to what there is on offer. The area offers what locals call “the ride of their lives” by producing strong tubes and solid walls – it’s a must see on most surfers bucket lists.
Mavericks has long been one of the most famous surfing spots in the world and considered the best winter destination for those of us who ride big waves. It is not for beginners though as some the waves can measure up to 25 feet and many professionals have died trying to tackle the biggest of waves. – Some say surfing Mavericks is the equivalent of climbing Everest – don’t attempt it without years of practice, optimum fitness and of course the confidence to do so.