Learn to Surf at the Best Beginner Spots in the World
This piece originally appeared on Travel + Leisure.
Learning to surf can be as hard as it looks. After all, humans weren't really built to stand on water. But with the help of friendly waves, warm ocean temperatures, and dedicated on-site instructors, the chances of catching your first wave are high at these beginner-friendly beaches.
Byron Bay, Australia
A premier surfing destination that can be enjoyed year-round, thousands of travelers experience their first waves and wipe-outs in Byron Bay. For good reason, too. There are a number of surf schools to choose from, and a welcoming, new-age hippy vibe that makes wiping out easier to handle.
La Jolla Shores, California
Located in the heart of one of San Diego's upscale coastal towns, La Jolla Shores offers mellow waves that are well supervised by La Jolla's lifeguard team. It's not uncommon to share waves with dolphins and curious sea lions, who often poke their heads out of the water to check out the surf scene. When the lesson is over, practice your balance by renting a standup paddleboard and paddling to the nearby caves.
Legian, Bali, Indonesia
Cleaner and less crowded than neighboring party hot-spot, Kuta, Legian offers an easygoing atmosphere. The waves break close to shore, which means less time paddling and more time hanging ten. During low season, it's even possible for a surfer to have the waves to his or herself. Local men often wander the beach offering one-on-one lessons, but it's wise to go with a certified school.
Miles of sandy beach paired with endless waves have earned Hossegor the honor of being Europe's surf capital. With over twenty surf camps to choose from, gifted teachers are easy to find on this stretch of the French Atlantic. From driftwood-lined campsites to Basque-style villas, there's a beach break and accommodation suited for every type of traveler. Hossegor is also known for its delicious coastal cuisine, so indulge in fresh seafood as a post surf-session treat.
Tamarindo, Costa Rica
Tamarindo was one of the original surfing safari destinations for Americans, and it remains a popular surf paradise today. With warm waters fringed by dense jungles, and many low-priced luxury accommodations, this spot is beloved by beginning surfers hailing from colder parts the world. Visit between December and April, and keep board wax away from the hands of grabby howler monkeys, who live in the national park that encompasses Tamarindo.
Muizenberg, South Africa
Most people associate surfing in South Africa with sharks, specifically great white ones with sharp teeth. Fear not: the chance of meeting one of these toothy creatures in the water is next to none. South Africa's surf scene was born in Muizenberg, which boasts gentle waves that are ideal for beginners. Beyond tourism, Muizenberg has a range of volunteer programs for travelers that build community spirit through the joy of surfing.