World’s Best Surf Towns 

There are many epic surf towns scattered across the globe, stretches of coastline that have not only excellent waves but all the trappings of modern-day living. From wicked places to stay, a healthy backpacker scene, surf-related infrastructure and other wicked things to do, these places combine all of the above and more. 

Table of Contents

Ericeira 

Ericeira is Portugal’s best surf town, rivalled only by Peniche to the north. Ericiera has everything you could ever want as a surfer: waves like Coxos, the freight training right that put the area on the map, and mellower take on the right point, such as Ribeira D’llhas. It’s a stretch of coast that packs dozens of breaks into it, with breaks suitable for every ability. Read my full guide to surfing in Ericeira for more information. 

Ericeira Surf Town
Ericiera

Hossegor 

If Ericiera had a European rival for the “best surf town” title, it’s Hossegor. Located in southwest France, Hoseegor was once a staple on the World Championship Tour (I don’t know why it is anymore), and between the months of September and October, there is nowhere better on Earth to be a surfer. At this time of year, long period lines start rolling into the Bay of Biscay and are typically met with light offshores. The area is also beautiful, with lakes, golden sands, and the best bakeries in the world. The best way to sample some of this French gold is to grab a van and camp. Failing that, there are several accommodation options in town. 

Santa Cruz 

Santa Cruz is a core surf town in northern California famous for its hard-charging locals and cold right points. Steamer Lane is the most famous break, a high-performance right-hander wedging off the cliffs and the birthplace of Ariel surfing. Some of the best surfers to come out of the joint include Peter Mel, the late Jay Moriarity, and Jeff Clark. Clark was the pioneer of the nearby Mavericks and surfed the break alone for ten years before word got out, and Mavericks became the renowned big wave spot it is today. 

Coolangatta 

Coolangatta is the epicentre for high-performance surfing. The small Queensland town has produced countless world champions, and there is nowhere on Earth with such a high concentration of high level surfing. The Superbank is the focus of the place, which, if the sand is right, is the best wave in the world. Then, just across the NSW border is Duranbah, a hyper-consistent punchy beach break that always has something to surf. The Gold Coast is also the centre of the surf industry, and many top surf brands and shapers are based here, meaning you can get the best fibreglass under your feet for a fraction of what you can elsewhere in the world. 

Puerto Escondido

Famous for its thumping beach break at Zicatela, Puerto is one of the most prominent surf towns in Latin America. But heaving sandbars aside, there is more to Puerto Escondido than meets the eye. At the southern end of Zicatela is La Punta, a mellow left-hand point–an excellent option for intermediates and advanced surfers looking for a decompression option from Zicatela. Then, to the north, is Carazillo–a beginner-friendly left reef breaking into a stunning bay. The town is also a lively backpacker town with several great hostels and a healthy nightlife scene. My favourite place to stay is Casa Daikiri just up the hill from the sand at Zicatela. You can grab a dorm here for $12 per night. 

Snapper Rocks
Snapper Rocks || Coolangatta

Raglan 

To the land of the long white cloud and the tiny west coast town of Raglan. Raglan is a sleepy surf town known for its world-class lefts. There are actually three epic left points just outside of town. Indicators is the most swell-exposed–a fast and sometimes shallow left, a world-class wave on its day. Then there’s Whale Bay, a shorter left but can often be less crowded. But the jewel in the crown of surfing in Raglan is Manu Bay. Manu is a delectable left-hand wall that can serve up sections for turns and tubes. But as you’d expect for such a renowned area, all the points here are always crowded. 

El Tunco 

El Tunco in El Salvador is a small but lively surf town with everything you could ever want as a surfer. Right in town, you have two waves: La Bocana, a fun cobblestone a-frame, and then just across the channel, El Sunzal, a long, albeit fat, right-hand wall suitable for surfers of all abilities. Around the coast, you’ve several world-class breaks, including Punta Roca, the jewel in the crown of surfing in El Salvador. You’ve got countless affordable stays in town; check out Papaya Lodge–dorm rooms and breakfast included for $15 per night. Read more about surfing in El Salvador. 

San Clemente 

San Clemente is another surf industry centre, essentially, San Clemente is the United States’ answer to Coolangatta. Many top shapers and brands are based here, and the town has produced some of California’s top surfing talent, including Griffin Colapinto and Kolohe Andino. It’s also home to Trestles–the most high-performance wave on the planet. But if the crowds are too much there, you can find (slightly) less contested peaks in town at T-street– a super fun wedgy beach break.  

San Clemente
T-Street || San Clemente

Torquay 

Torquay in Victoria, Australia, is the home to the world-famous Bells Beach. While the wave itself gets its share of stick online, it’s an incredibly fun spot to surf. If you can get Bells Bowl at 4-6ft, there are few waves that can offer such a wide-open canvas for carves. And just next to Bells itself is Winki, which is essentially a sleeker, more refined version of the same wave. (I prefer it). Torquay is a cool town with a beautiful coastline surrounding it. From her,e you can head on a road trip down the Great Ocean Road and score countless right-hand points and empty beachies. I won’t tell you where they are, though. 

Taghazout 

Taghazout and Morocco are the European surf trippers’ winter escapes. And Taghazout mixes weather, culture, affordability and world-class waves. Closest to town, you have Anchor Point, a sick wave with sections for turns and tubes, but it’s also stupidly crowded. However, there are several other waves in proximity to a town; check out Killers and Boilers or drive further afield to score beachies to yourself. 

Canggu 

Canggu is everyone’s favourite surf town. A bustling, party, surfing, and digital nomad hotspot. While the rapid overdevelopment has changed Canggu to an unrecognisable point compared to a few years ago, it still has its charm. Old Mans is a mellow, meqnde3ring peak with waves suitable for beginners, intermediates and longboarders. But if you’re after something with more juice, check out Echo Beach, where you have a left reef, a right reef and a sand bottom wedge, all within 200 metres. Check out my full guide to surfing canggu. 

Anchor Point Taghazout
Anchor Point || Taghazout

Santa Teresa 

Santa Teresa is one of the best surf towns in the world. It combines easy, consistent waves, beautiful beaches, and all the comforts and conveniences of modern life. Here, you’ve got cool cafes, air-conditioned workspaces, dozens of places to stay, shops, supermarkets, and bars just a few feet away from a ribbon of golden sand with fun peaks bridging along it. If you’re after something easy to surf, you can’t beat Santa Teresa.  

Final Words 

So that’s a wrap. These are some of the best surf towns in the world. Obviously, there are many more spots you could add to this list, but these are places that I think combine great waves and ease of living. For more info on these posts, head to my YouTube Channel or flick me a question in the comments below. 

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