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Surf’s Up: World’s Finest Locales to Hang Ten

Check out our guide to some of the world’s best surf spots. Check out our guide to some of the world’s best surf spots.


It was in the late 1700s when British lieutenant James King made surfing history. On an excursion to the Big Island of Hawaii, he watched in wonder as the locals competed in what amounts to the world’s first recorded account of a surf competition:

“They wait the time of the greatest Swell that sets on Shore, & altogether push forward with their Arms to keep on its top, it sends them in with a most astonishing Velocity,” he wrote while completing the diary of his late commanding officer Captain James Cook, “& the great art is to guide the plan so as always to keep it in a proper direction on the top of the Swell, & as it alters its direct. If the Swell drives him close to the rocks before he is overtaken by its break, he is much prais’d.”

In the centuries that following that initial account, man has gone to great extremes and all corners of the earth in search of the perfect surfing spot. Many exist where one would expect, along the coast of California and across all of the Hawaiian Islands. But there are many amazing surf swells to be found in the most unexpected places.

Surveying the globe’s top spots for “gleaming the cube,” this is a look at five of the world’s most essential spots of 2012.


Old Man’s - San Onofre State Beach, California

Considered by many as the world’s archetypical surf spot, riders have been hitting this San Diego County state beach since the 1940s. Summer brings warm southwestern swells that make them the prime months to pay a visit. It’s a relaxed and welcoming place for beginners to literally get their toes wet without local surf thugs getting surly. Nearby San Clemente is the epitome of laidback beach town, perfect for a post-surf chill-out.


Les Cavaliers - Anglet, France

The rumors are true: There is world-class surfing in France, even hosting the ASP (Association of Surfing Professionals) Championships. With the tastiest waves breaking through the summer and into the fall, the beach is often not large enough to accommodate diehard locals (who aren’t known for being the friendliest to outsiders) and the consistent influx of tourists alike. Exploring along the coast heading north usually results in a little more elbowroom.


Surfer’s Point - Margaret River, Australia

This spot is renowned as the heart of Australia’s surfing community, boasting consistently awesome swells as well as a clutch of nearby wineries to explore after a long day of riding the waves. The wineries are also a welcome respite for more inexperience surfers not up to the intensity of the area’s breaks. The beach is home to the annual Margaret River Classic Surf competition, which will celebrate its 32nd year in the fall of 2011.


Restaurants - Tavarua Island, Fiji

This heart-shaped Fiji Island is as gorgeous as it is exclusive. The private resort island takes great pains to limit the number of surfers allowed to ride the waves, creating a consistently idyllic spot for the high-end surf tourist. The break known as Restaurants is known for long left-hand waves that can get quite large, not to mention razor-sharp coral lining the floor beneath the water. It also breaks on the exact same spot every time, earning it the nickname of “The Machine.”


Banzai Pipeline – North Shore, Oahu, Hawaii

One would be hard pressed to find a more famous stretch of surf in the world. More than seven miles long, the westerly waves reach their peak in the late fall and through the spring. Peak season is also when only the most seasoned surfers should venture into the breaks, as crests are known to routinely top out at over thirty feet. But for fans of big-wave riders, the Banzai Pipeline is arguably the globe’s best spot to watch the pros brave the sky-high swells.


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One surfer documents his day at Banzai Pipeline.
Last modified on Friday, 28 September 2012 03:37

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