Travelocity Shows Where the Surf’s Up This Season; From Costa Rica to California, Editors Discuss Regions and Rules of the Waves

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 the beach.

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 summer).

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 seawall.

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

    --  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.

About Travelocity

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             Amanda Borichevsky, 972-488-4790
             Andrea Collins, 212-715-2222

    SOURCE: Travelocity