World’s 50 best surf spots The breaks and the tubes that make wipeouts worth it

Get wet and try not to wipe out, at these 50 best surf spots.

Whether you like rocky cliff faces, standing in awe at the pros charging some of the best waves in the world or getting lost searching for little-known breaks, we have you covered with everything from epic waves to beautiful, small glassy swells.

So whether you’re a beginner or an expert, here’s where to get on board.

This list was compiled by Jade Bremner, an avid surfer who has surfed many of these locations, and using contributions from other professional surfers. Thanks also to for their assistance.


Banzai Pipeline, Hawaii

1. You’re probably not good enough, yet — but you can dream.


1. Pipeline, Oahu, Hawaii, United States

Here it is — the daddy of all waves. It’s the site most surfers will never be good enough to surf, but dream of riding its perfect crest.

Aptly, it’s located at the island that created surfing, and is one of the heaviest waves in the world, scaling over six meters over a shallow base of razor blade table reef. If you’ve got the balls, charge this flawless water tube and experience one of nature’s finest creations.

Getting there: Fly into Dillingham Airport on north shore and get a taxi or drive to Ehukai Beach Park in Pupukea (expect to pay around US$50 for airport transfers).

Also on CNNGo: World’s 50 best beaches


Kuta Bali surfing


3. Uluwatu and Kuta, Bali, Indonesia

Bali has to be in the top three, but it’s a hard task deciding which break on this paradise island takes the crown. The island attracts the gnarliest surfers from Australia and Hawaii plus beginners from across the globe; all of whom can enjoy these perfect glassy faces.

With fewer waves than there are surfers, time-wasters may feel the brunt of aggressive locals at Uluwatu. But on the other hand, beginners at nearby bay Kuta are often cheered on by the more jovial locals while in the water.

Getting there: Fly into Denpasar Airport and get a very reasonably priced taxi down to Kuta for US$6 or US$12 to Uluwatu.


Gold Coast Australia,

4. Just one of many superb spots on the Gold Coast.


4. Superbanks, Gold Coast, Australia

Another of the world’s finest breaks, you may well have the ride of your life on this section, which will produce tubes and solid walls. By all means fill your boots, but save some energy for the two-kilometer walk along the beach back to your car.


mavericks California surfing

5. One wave you want to stay friendly with.


Getting there: If you’re coming from overseas fly into Brisbane and pick up a car at the airport ( for around US$46 per day. Drive down to Snapper Rocks, look for signs to Coolangatta and then turn off at Kirra and make your way to Greenmount or Snapper Rocks. 


Hossegor surfing

7. Like Hawaii, without the coral.


5. Mavericks, California, United States

The wave of legends has been surfed by only the most gutsy board riders; this mammoth peak forms due to hair-raising storms out to sea and reaches bone-chilling heights of 25 meters.

To surf here, we recommend you bring your jet ski (and a tow-in expert) and some life insurance. In 1994 skilled Hawaiian big-wave surfer Mark Foo died surfing this point. Those surfers who do conquer its peak will join a small club of over-achievers.

Getting there: Fly in to Half Moon Bay Airport and you’ll find Mavericks three kilometers from shore, off of Pillar Point Harbor, north of Half Moon Bay, Princeton-By-The-Sea. The only way to reach this wave is by boat or jet-ski, but be warned, come at it at the wrong angle and you’re fish food.

Also on CNNGo: 50 thrilling experiences


Sultans surfing

9. Surf, Maldives. Nothing not to like.


6. Lima, Peru

To the right of Miraflores shopping center (and the pier) a few locals rent surfboards to brave backpackers. Although the pebbled beach and gray water doesn’t look entirely appealing, the range of surf along this coastline is second to none.

Waves range from a meter and up, and at the pier waves break in three sections; large, medium and small (great for all abilities of surfer), while being constantly clean, long rides. Warning: try not to swallow the sauce or you’ll end up with a dodgy stomach for days.

Getting there: Fly directly into Lima and cab it to the Miraflores shopping center for around US$10. From there you’ll have a spectacular view out to sea and probably butterflies because the waves look that good.


Honolua Bay, Hawaii

10. Added bonus: whale spotting.


7. Hossegor, France

Located on the Atlantic, this expert surfing spot has been dubbed the “surfing capital of Europe,” so naturally the rich and the famous have mansions and holiday homes near the beach (previous owners include the likes of singer-songwriter Jack Johnson).

People come from miles around to watch the pros ride tubes, and heavy walls break on the unnervingly shallow sandbank. Tubes here rival Hawaii, but come minus the coral.

Getting there: Fly into Biarritz Airport and grab a taxi for approximately US$90 or hire a car for US$35 a day and follow the E70 and A63 up to Hossegor.

8. Cloud Nine, Siargao Island, Philippines

This dramatic and powerful reef break, which crashes onto shallow razor sharp coral, offers right and left death rides to those who dare.

Those who do will experience a slice of paradise, or magic mushroom-like hallucinations, as the wave wraps over them like a Cornish pasty shaped cocoon of water. Don’t slip, or your skin and bones will be ripped to shreds by the ocean bed.

Getting there: Fly in to Manila and get an internal flight with airlines such as Cebu Pacific to Siargao for as little as US$30.

Also on CNNGo: 6 in-flight myths, busted

9. Sultans, North Male, Maldives

A consistent reef wave that’s absolutely pumping in the spring. The rocks here can be hazardous but if you go with a live-aboard outfit such a, you’ll be in good hands.

These expert wave spotters will also deliver you to some of the finest points that are working on any one day, across the Maldives’ painfully beautiful 1,190 coral islands. 

Getting there: Fly into Male airport and get your live aboard company to pick you up from there. Trips range in duration and price. for details.

10. Honolua Bay, Hawaii, United States

A right-hand squeaky-clean point break should keep you occupied, but getting to it is tricky business. Locals may tell you to “go back home” and your valuables may get nicked from your car while you’re in the sea, but a little cash is a small price to pay for a world-class ride like this which comes with the added bonus of spotting whales.

Getting there: Fly in to Kapalua West Maui Airport and, depending on where you’re staying, you may get a free shuttle from the airport all the way to the beach, or just get a taxi directly there.

    • kristi
    • January 24th, 2012

    And where is famous Danang beach? The beach that GIs used way back in the 60s/70s for R&Rs with their boards?

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