The Best Surf Vacations in 2022

by Feb 24, 20220 comments

6-8 minute read

Travelling comes with the “surfing package.” You will hardly meet a surfer with sedentary inclinations, who is fine to stay put and surf the same waves day-in-day-out. Quite the contrary: many people actually get into surfing because, knowingly or unknowingly, it gives them an excuse to explore the globe – and that’s a pretty darn good excuse!

But what happens when your better half isn’t as excited as you about getting three planes and five boats and camping at a secluded spot for a week with no electricity and living off canned tuna all for the sake of some perfect barrels? Or what if what was once a simple give and take between two people has now become a triad that involves packing a stroller and diapers, too?

Well, love will tell you you need to compromise. But this doesn’t change the fact that partners of surfers can sometimes feel cheated by waves, and whilst some may voice their disapproval and jealousy, stomp their feet and say enough is enough, others prefer to not make a fuss and bottle up – which, as many of us may know, is not the healthiest approach in the long run.

So, to make this compromise easier and fairer for both parties, as well as to help planning run smoother, we have created a list of the best surf vacations to take in 2022.

Nazare Surf - Portugal

Portugal: Our first stop on this list for good reason, year round waves, good climate and lots of non-surfing activities for the non-surfers on your trip.

Portugal

Over the past few years, Portugal has become a highly sought-after – if not the most sought-after destination for Europeans non-Europeans, surfers and non-surfers alike, both for travelling and for living. Some of the reasons for that usually include the country’s incredible variety of landscapes, among which are some of Europe’s most beautiful and surfable beaches, as well as the laid-back pace of life, the relatively affordable cost of living, the welcoming culture, the milder weather, the amazing cuisine…the list goes on.

For those who surf, visiting Portugal is a no-brainer. Indeed, the waves are so plentiful, varied, and consistent that the country has been considered the number one European surf destination. Places like Ericeira and Peniche have been on the radar of many travelling surfers, as has the Algarve region and, more recently Nazaré – home to one of the biggest waves in the world. But besides boasting world-class waves, one thing all these surf regions have in common is that they are located either by quaint towns or pristine nature reserves, all easily accessible by train or car. And for a couple on vacation, this means surfing – but also trying the local food, going on hikes and walks, visiting historical sites, checking out local bars or nightclubs for live music…

When To Go

Another upside of Portugal is that it is a year-round surf destination. Experienced surfers should plan their trips between September and April, when the winter storms off the Atlantic bring the largest swells with the most consistency. But if you can only get away during summertime, no problems. The waves keep on rolling between May and September, only with less consistency and size. Still, it might just be a matter of being on the lookout for a swell, then chasing it once you are there.

Piha, New Zealand

Piha, New Zealand: One of the closest spots to check once you land in NZ, just 50k’s from the airport.

New Zealand

If your partner doesn’t surf but is the adventurous type, New Zealand should be on the top of your list for a vacation in 2022. Not only does the country have an incredible number of easily accessible, world-class breaks, but it also has a myriad of sceneries to explore between the east and the west coast. Given the infrastructure of the roads and the size of the islands, the most time-and-cost-effective option is renting a car, and if you are up for it, a van, which would decrease your costs with accommodation and render an extra air of adventure to the trip.

Drive down from Auckland straight to the quintessential pointbreaks of Raglan, crisscrossing the North Island and stopping to check out the hot springs at Rotorua and the Tongariro National Park, squeezing a couple of days of surfing in Gisborne and a couple more in New Plymouth, then driving through the wine region around Napier and stopping for a day in cosmopolitan Wellington before hopping on the ferry to the South Island.

In the South, after making sure you have tried the Sauvignon Blancs of Blenheim, your choices range from the wild pointbreaks and river-mouths along the Catlins Forest Park and the chilling beach breaks near Dunedin to kayaking in the Abel Tasman National park, unwinding in the lake region and visiting the towns of Wanaka and Queenstown, or having your mind blown by the untouched beauty of the Fiordland National Park. The best thing is, with a car, you are never more than a 4-hour drive from a surf spot.

When To Go

If you still want to prioritise surfing, try to head to New Zealand in Winter, which is between June and September; that is when the swells are most consistent. But that is also when the water is the coldest and the wind blows the hardest – particularly on the South Island. Summer, between November and February, will prove more pleasant temperature-wise. And you will still get the odd north-east swells.

Florianopolis from the air

Brazil: On the radar for many, but can feel overwhelming due to the size of the country. Our advice? Book that ticket!  

Southern Brazil

The mere thought of visiting Brazil can feel overwhelming. If not for the sheer size of the country, for the diversity of landscapes, climates, and cultures. And if not for that, for all the preconceptions over its inherent dangers. And whilst all the aforementioned is true – the country is huge, the landscapes, climates, and cultures vary greatly from state to state, and the risk of being robbed can be around the corner – there is a part of Brazil which is often overlooked when considering a surf trip or surf vacation.

The Brazilian South, more specifically the island of Florianopolis and its surroundings, was put on the (surf) map as of late for being the birthplace of WCT surfers like Yago Dora, and the chosen home of World Champion Adriano de Souza. Here, surfers will find a silly number of beach breaks to choose from (the island alone has more than 20 surfable spots, all within no more than a 2-hour drive), whilst non-surfing buddies can enjoy everything from hiking and climbing to trying out the amazingly fresh local seafood, taking a boat out to one of the islets, or experiencing the city’s thriving nightlife.

When To Go

Although the southern hemisphere winter tends to bring the best swells, it also tends to bring rain and colder temperatures – both of which can compromise outdoorsy plans. That said, Winter in southern Brazil is known for bringing some amazing days of sunshine, and being low season, prices and crowds will be less. Southern hemisphere Summer, which runs from November till February, is considered high season, so expect higher prices and busier line-ups. But also expect fun, even if smaller, waves in boardshorts and acai bowls after a session.

Southwest France surf

Take a trip with freinds to France, and it will be one of the best vacations of your life for sure! 

Southwest France

Whether you are the surfer or your partner is, there is a high chance France was already on both bucket lists – despite the waves. But if you want to bring the waves into the equation for your next vacation, drag your mouse cursor over the southwestern part of France and look for the names Lacanau, Hossegor and Biarritz. Surfer: expect fun and consistent beach-break waves and plenty of barrels. Non-surfer: expect a laid-back atmosphere, quaint towns and lip-smacking gaufres, and more wine than you can conceive drinking.

Good-quality railways and reliable train connections and affordable scooters for rent allow you to travel between spots of interest with ease. Indeed, the mountains of the Pyrenees are only a couple of hour’s drive away, which, in winter, translates to epic snowboarding and skiing conditions. Another bonus to visiting this region is that you will be close to the border with Spain, where the amazing Basque waves of Mundaka and the mouth-watering tapas restaurants of Donostia San Sebastian await.

When To Go

Aim for transition seasons, that is, either autumn or spring. That is your best chance of coming across some great surfing without having the relentless Bay of Biscay winter storms or the obnoxious summer crowds making you line up for everything and driving the prices up.

Surfing Costa Rica

Costa Rica is home to some seriously World Class waves.

Costa Rica

Of all the Central American countries, Costa Rica is probably the one to tick the most boxes when it comes to a couple or family vacation. There are several reasons for that, the main one being a combination of tropical climate, year-round warm water, cheap cost of living, and the Pura Vida vibes. As for surf-related reasons, the country boasts a wide variety of waves on both coasts – from the mellow beach-breaks of Nosara to the technical river mouths around the Corcovado National Park, the legendary point break of Pavones, and the fierce reef break of Salsa Brava in Puerto Viejo. This not only makes Costa Rica a great destination for experienced surfers, but also for those keen to learn, which, if it is the case with your better half, benefits you both.

Other than that, the size of the territory and the disposition of roads allow for short trips from A to B. This means you can wake up for a dawn patrol at Playa Hermosa, for instance, and head to the Los Quetzales National Park for a hike before the sun comes down.

Speaking of National Parks, Costa Rica has plenty of them (nearly a third of the country’s land is protected). Some feature volcanoes, other archaeological sites – all buzz with exotic fauna and flora. And if what you and/or your partner seek is more of an internal exploration than an external one, some of the world’s best retreats are found here – usually not far from surf spots.

When To Go

The surf seasons in Costa Rica vary depending on which coast you want to explore. Whilst the Pacific Coast sees its best and biggest swells between April and November, the Caribbean relies on the winter storms that hit the coast between December and April to produce waves. That said, given how exposed the Pacific side of Costa Rica is, it is not uncommon to find pockets of swell here and there throughout the year, so there will almost always be a wave to ride. 

Surfers in the water at Cape Town South Africa

South Africa has so much more to offer than just J-Bay – although you should probably go there too!

South Africa

As is the case with Brazil, many people consider the [potential] lack of security a reason to refrain from visiting South Africa. And whilst it is true that one has to be more careful than if strolling the streets of Europe, the chance of nothing bad happening is still higher than of something going wrong. Indeed, considering the immensity of the country, the vibrancy of its culture, the warmth of the people, and the quality of waves, you may well go back home asking yourself why you hadn’t gone to South Africa before – or why you haven’t stayed longer.

To understand why this might be the case, just take a look at the map. With a coastline that stretches for nearly 3,000 kilometres (1,800 miles), laden with nooks and crannies that receive swells from both the Atlantic and the Indian Oceans, one thing you won’t have to worry about is waves. Then, it is only a matter of finding a spot that will suit the needs of the non-surfing half of the couple. A good option is to rent a car in Cape Town and slowly make your way up the coast towards Port Elizabeth and, if time and budget allow, to Durban – and why not Mozambique? On the way, you can surf iconic breaks like Jeffrey’s Bay and Cape St Francis whilst also going on safaris, indulging in some wine tasting, or experiencing unique cultural festivals.

When To Go

Although you will be able to find good waves in South Africa all year round, your best bet is going between April and August, when the (southern hemisphere) winter swells pulse from the South Indian Ocean. Depending on where you go, the weather should be fair even at this time of the year. But if you are happy to catch smaller waves so as to make sure the temperatures are pleasant and the days are sunny for other activities, book your trip for summer (between November and February).

Final Thoughts

There’s nothing like the anticipation of a good trip. A wise man once said, a surf trip is the best way to spend your money – you get the excitement during the build up, you actually go ON the trip, and you also have the memories and photo’s to reflect on, once the trip is done.

Anywhere you think we need to add to the list? 

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