Sunny South Africa is one of the best surfing destinations in the world. Here, you'll find the famous triple barrel at Jefferys Bay and hundreds of picturesque surf spots up the west coast. Every year, as the crowds of summer tourists flock back to their home cities, the large winter swell starts to roll through. And that's when things start cooking.
Almost every single person in Cape Town has tried surfing at Muizenberg Beach at least once. It's a rite of passage and the perfect spot to start your epic surf trip. "Muizies," as locals call it, is ideal for beginners to learn on longboards and for the more advanced surfers to practice their 360 airs in safe conditions. And from here, it only gets better.
Elands Bay is just over a two-hour drive from Cape Town and is home to one of the most drool-worthy left-hand waves in the world. A powerful point break makes this surf spot perfect for high-performance speed runs, turns, and carving.
Weekend warriors make up the bulk of surfers here, so if you want to snag a quiet, peaceful session, head up during a weekday and rent out an Airbnb or hire a campervan and make your base at the local campsite. The town is known as a sleepy little vacation "dorp" on the beautiful west coast. Named after the nearby historic cave paintings of Eland — a large type of antelope — there's plenty of sightseeing for you to do after or between surf sessions.
After Elands, the east coast is your proverbial oyster. Follow the gently curving coastline up to Durban, and indulge in epic surf spots like Hole-in-the-Wall along the way! (Tip: Watch Blue Crush 2 for some South African surf trip inspiration.)
Luckily, adulting isn't an affliction that concerns surfers. The moment we see the waves working, we drop work, call in sick, make excuses to our partners, and practically sprint toward the water. Professional sports surfers aside, all that expended energy means we like a good chill sesh on either side of our surf. And what better place is there to chill than Bali? Beautiful Bali, the country where flowers scent the air and locals are always smiling. That surfboard of mine is practically packing itself every time someone says, "How about Bali?"
Padang Padang beach in Bali is one of the lesser-known pipes in the world, but well worth the trip. However, Padang Padang's powerful waves aren't for the weak of heart. The wave here is an epic left barrel that's been coined by professional surfers as "the Pipeline of Bali." If you're a beginner surfer, head to the friendlier inside break called Baby Padang.
But when Bali gets crowded, there's another corner of the world that I just can't get enough of — the Caribbean. It's home to thousands of paradise islands, where waves of all sizes glisten like gems in the warm, gentle trade winds. All. Year. Long.
There are so many epic Caribbean surf spots to choose from, but two stand out to me as the most unmissable: Puerto Rico and Barbados. Puerto Rico stands out because it's home to Punta Borinquen, the first Caribbean destination to be classed as a "World Surfing Reserve." It's no wonder this area was top of the list; the entire 5-mile coastline is dotted with beaches you can surf. A surf spot called Gas Chambers often has thundering right-hand barrels, and the nearby Wilderness is home to a massive open ocean that's a true playground for experienced surfers.
Puerto Rico sells itself, but when I chat with my surf buddies about Barbados, the excitement wanes. "It's just for the mega-rich," people say. "The platinum coast has ruined the local culture," they complain. Well, forget what the tourist books tell you. Because on the other side of the island, along the western coast, you'll find the true soul of Barbados surfing alive and kicking. This side of the island is a long-held secret where locals will swear you to secrecy to protect their empty lineups. There are dozens of spots that are cooking all year long, including the famous "Soup Bowl," where the traveling Atlantic swell culminates into an epic 35-foot wave — advanced surfers only on this one!
One last honorable mention for my fellow beach lovers is Moorea, an island near Tahiti. It's kind of out of the way of … well … everywhere. It's an eight-hour flight from Los Angeles and a nine-day sail from Brisbane to reach Tahiti via cruise liner. But Moorea makes it all worth the effort. The island is protected by barrier reefs 1-mile offshore, and the surrounding lagoon practically begs you to jump in the warm water and surf the slowly curling reef breaks.
As grateful as I am for the stunning natural world around me, I can't help but feel wanderlust calling my name. There are thousands of beaches waiting for us in the big wide world. We haven't even touched on surfing in the Arctic under the northern lights or what it might be like to rip on waves with the local groms in India. Mother nature has truly gifted us surfers with a lifetime of adventure in this world.
I think it's time to pack my suitcase again.