SOUTHLAKE, Texas–(BUSINESS WIRE)–March 16, 2006–Although
Polynesians have been catching waves for hundreds of years, surfing
much more recently expanded throughout the world to become a
full-fledged mainstream sport. Riding the exploding surf scene,
Travelocity editors are releasing the latest list of top wave-catching
spots from the U.S. to Europe while offering beginners the basics of
Enthusiasts recall that it wasn’t until the famous Hawaiian
swimmer Duke Paoa Kahanamoku brought surfing to the mainland in the
early 20th century that the sport finally cast its spell on the world.
Californians and Australians were the first to catch on, and by the
1960s, surf culture was booming.
“These days you’ll find a surf scene just about anyplace there are
waves,” said Adam Davis, Travelocity editor. “Even on beaches once
considered off the beaten path, you’ll often find surf shops offering
lessons and board rentals.”
Travelocity’s round-up of global surf spots includes:
Oahu, Hawaii: From the classic longboard breaks on Waikiki Beach
to the monster surf of the North Shore, this little island in the
middle of the Pacific Ocean packs in more legendary waves than
anywhere on Earth. Surfers can bring their boards on the long haul
from the mainland, but won’t have any trouble getting outfitted with a
rental on Waikiki Beach or at one of the surf shops along the North
Shore. Keep in mind that Hawaii’s surf tends to break in shallow water
over coral reefs, adding extra peril to wipeouts.
Maui, Hawaii: As if sugarcane fields, swaying palms, rainforests,
and a giant volcanic crater weren’t enough, Maui also gets its share
of legendary Hawaiian surf. During winter, waves can top out at 20
feet or more, bringing out the locals and as well as some of the best
surfers from the mainland. In the summer, conditions are more
welcoming for the rest. First-timers can head for the calm waters of
Puamana Beach Park just south of Lahaina. To step it up a notch, head
further south to Maalaea to find one of the world’s fastest waves.
Orange County, California: Long before the hit TV show, Orange
County was on the map as one of the top surf destinations in
California. From Huntington Beach down to Trestles, there are quality
breaks and temperate waters all along this 42-mile stretch of
coastline. Of course, the OC’s consistently great surf also draws a
consistently crowded line-up, especially on the weekends. To avoid it,
paddle out on a weekday morning after the kids head off to class and
the diehard “dawn patrol” surfers have rushed off to work.
Santa Cruz, California: Santa Cruz lives and breathes surf
culture. For surfers with the right stuff, it’s no trouble getting in
on the action, whether it’s waist-high at Cowell’s or overhead at
Mitchell’s Cove. In the past few years, Santa Cruz has seen a
resurgence of longboard riding, so don’t be afraid to bring the big
gun. And, remember a wetsuit for protection from the cool NorCal water
(temperatures range from the low 50s in the winter to the 60s in the
Sayulita, Mexico: Situated on a picturesque bay just 25 miles
north of Puerto Vallarta, Sayulita has evolved from sleepy fishing
village to a Mecca for surfers of all levels. When the waves are down,
beginners paddle out in droves. When they’re up, locals put on a show
while others gawk from the shore. Unlike most Mexican destinations,
there are no high-rise resorts to be found. Yet Sayulita does have
enough restaurants, shops, and Internet cafes to entertain and inform
visitors when off the waves.
Tamarindo, Costa Rica: Recently, the cast of a popular reality TV
show dropped in on one of Costa Rica’s best surf spots, which can only
mean one thing: the cat is definitely out of the bag. While there are
many surfing destinations in Costa Rica worth visiting, the town of
Tamarindo stands out as one that’s especially accommodating for
beginners, with many reputable outfits offering lessons and board
rentals, as well as all the comforts like lodging, dining and bars.
Barbados, West Indies: Where can one catch a barrel in the
morning, squeeze in a cricket match at noon and still make high tea?
The little West Indies island of Barbados may carry an air of British
pomp, but it’s also got waves that pump in this Atlantic location. It
may be taboo to say it, but hurricane season (June to November) tends
to bring the best waves to the island’s East Coast–location of the
Soup Bowl, the most famous surfing spot in the Caribbean.
Biarritz, France: Ever since the first surfers paddled out in
Biarritz in the 1950s, this former whaling town on the Bay of Biscay
has increasingly grown in popularity to become the surfing capital of
Europe. The waves here may not be the continent’s best (which are
arguably in Portugal), but there’s something to be said for the
novelty of a surf scene with a French twist. In the summertime, when
the bay is often flat, visitors can park their longboards and still
have plenty of fun people-watching along the famous Cote des Basques
Lisbon, Portugal: With hundreds of miles of beaches on the
Atlantic, Portugal is one of the top–and most affordable–surf
destinations in Europe. The waves tend to be up when tourism is down,
which makes it even more appealing as an exotic stop on any surfing
safari. Just a short drive from Lisbon are plenty of surfer-friendly
coastlines with the best of both worlds: use the city as a home base
(think: good food, vinho, and sightseeing) and take daytrips to spots
like Carcavelos and Ribeira de Ilhas.
Gold Coast, Australia: For those going Down Under for the waves,
then chances are they’ve already heard a thing or two about
Australia’s famed Gold Coast. The clear, glassy surf here lives up to
expectations, but also attracts some of the best surfers in the world.
Check out legendary spots like Kirra Point and Snapper Rocks. But,
avoid the crowds by heading south to Cabarita — technically not a
part of the Gold Coast, but golden nonetheless.
“With a bit of instruction, it’s much easier to catch a wave than
it looks,” said Davis. “But most wave riders will tell you that
becoming a great surfer is a lifetime pursuit.”
Travelocity recommends the following before taking on any wave: -- Start with small waves and a big board. Repetition is key; the more waves you ride, the faster you'll improve. Start with a longboard and practice paddling out, catching waves, and standing up at a spot that gets a steady flow of small, rideable waves. -- Take time to watch the surf. Before hitting the surf, spend time on the beach getting to know where the waves break, how they're breaking, and where it's easiest to paddle out. Observe how other surfers handle the conditions to learn what to do and not do. -- Don't steal another surfer's wave. The right of way goes to the first person to stand up closest to the breaking part of the wave. Courtesy goes a long way with fellow surfers. -- Never surf alone. Always surf with a friend or at least in the company of other surfers.
For more information on surfing spots and tips visit
Travel Deals to Get You There: -- Stay at the Punta Leona Hotel in Costa Rica from $90 per night; -- Outrigger Luana Waikiki from $123 per night; -- Santa Cruz Beach Inn from $126 per night; -- Maui Prince Hotel Makena Resort from $234 per night
Note: Rates above may not be available for all selected travel
dates and are based on the lowest average per night price for a
two-night stay based on double occupancy over a period of 45 days.
Rates may not include taxes, service charges, fees, extra person
charges, air or any other incidentals. Sample prices were gathered on
March 15, 2006
Editor’s Note: Surfing is not for everyone. The ocean’s riptides
can be deadly, and many beaches have other perils that you should know
about before paddling out.
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