6 surf destinations you’d never think of

Sure, we all know the world of surfing revolves around Hawaii’s fabled North Shore. If you’ve ever owned a board, you can probably rattle off some of the other global hot spots: Indonesia, Mexico, South Africa, Fiji, California, Costa Rica…the list goes on and on.

Just because the same 20 places have some of the best waves on the planet, however, doesn’t mean that the rest of the globe is forced to go without. Ever since the 1966 release of the timeless surf film Endless Summer, global surf travelers have been pushing the boundaries of scoring waves in increasingly obscure locations.

Lately, it seems as if the act of finding waves in remote locations is potentially more exhilarating than the act of riding the waves themselves. Here on Gadling we’ve reported before about surfers hunting down waves from Lake Erie to Iceland in search of some stoke, and Surfing magazine has hosted contests such as the Google Earth Challenge in a modern effort to scour the globe for unknown pointbreaks and barrels.

So, in the spirit of ever-expanding global surf travel, here is a list of 6 locations you might want to put on your surf radar.

1. Namibia

Ever since Skeleton Bay was popularized by the 2008 Google Earth Challenge, this southwestern African nation has officially been placed on the surf map. Unfortunately for the casual surfer, however, a surf trip to Namibia isn’t exactly your afternoon stroll down to the beach. The water is consistently frigid, coastal access is largely controlled by heavily armed diamond miners, and large colonies of seals attract toothy predators that are unwanted in any surf lineup. For those with the resources to break down the desert barriers however, the rewards can be empty beaches that are home to some of the world’s longest barrels.

2. Bangladesh

More commonly known as one of the world’s most crowded nations, few people know that Bangladesh is also home to the world’s longest beach, Cox’s Bazar, which I’m going to go out on a limb and label the Bangladeshi Riviera. Aside from being the nation’s most popular beach resort, it’s also the home base of the Bangladesh Surf Club, which according to its website currently has over 70 members.

3. Oman

One of the most stable nations in the Middle East, Oman also boasts over 2,000km of coastline directly fronting the Arabian Sea. While the area is prone to blinding sandstorms and inhospitable terrain, it nonetheless is a popular surf getaway for the nearby urban centers of Abu Dhabi and Dubai in the neighboring United Arab Emirates. The desert nation has recently been featured in a number of mainstream surfing magazines, and online surf forums such as
Surfers of Dubai are beginning to legitimize Oman as a regional surfing outpost.

4. Uruguay

Sandwiched between Buenos Aires and Brazil, people tend to forget about Uruguay, which is a major South American faux pas. One group of individuals who consistently flock to Uruguay in droves, however, are Brazilian and Argentinian surfers who road trip to the coastal nation for a shot at some South Atlantic juice. While trendy locales such as Punta del Este get all of the attention (surf all day, gamble all night), it’s the remote sand dunes and fishing villages of eastern Uruguay that consistently see the best surf.

5. Ghana

Though waves have crashed into the West African coastline since well before colonialism, it was the boys from Endless Summer who first put Ghana on the surfing map. One of the most economically stable nations in West Africa, various surf shops and groups such as the Ghana Surfing Association have begun to spring up along the coastline to accommodate the growing legions of local and visiting surfers, their boards gliding through the tropical waves to the beat of a West African drum.

6. Thailand

Better known for it’s beaches, diving, and morally questionable tourism, Thailand is also the premier surf destination on the Southeast Asian peninsula (with perhaps the exception of southern Vietnam). Monsoon winds provide ample surf for certain parts of the year, and although the Thailand surf scene is centered around the beaches of Phuket, other islands such as Koh Lanta and Koh Pha Ngan can pull in some pretty hefty Asian slabs for anyone hanging out during the monsoon.