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The world’s best surfing destinations for beginners

Tsurigasaki Surfing Beach: France's Pauline Ado rides a wave during women's Surfing at Tokyo 2020
Tsurigasaki Surfing Beach: France's Pauline Ado rides a wave during women's Surfing at Tokyo 2020   -   Copyright  OLIVIER MORIN /AFP
By Shannon McDonagh

Watching athletes excel in any sport can inspire even the laziest amongst us to take up sport. But for travellers, trying out surfing is particularly appealing as you can rent all the equipment and it’s mostly done in sun-soaked idylls.

The Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee pitched surfing as one of five new sports to ‘bring more youthful and vibrant events and culture into the Olympic programme.’ Early indications are that it was popular with viewers, so don’t be surprised if surf destinations and trips book up quickly.

Last weekend, athletes from 17 countries competed in three rounds at Tsurigasaki Beach, 40 miles east of Tokyo. Following the quarter and semifinals, Carissa Moore of the United States and Italo Ferreira of Brazil took home gold medals.

If all this medal winning has got you curious, there’s hundreds of surf spots you could head to. To make it a little easier for you, we’ve found the destinations where you won’t feel out of place as a beginner.

From classic Hawaiian excursions to quirky surf camps in the south of France, here are our picks for places you can get stuck in to the world’s best waves.

Seaside surf and camp in Landes, France

You might not think of France as a premier surf destination but it actually has a lot to offer. It’s the perfect place to master the waves, then you can enjoy more exotic locations when you’re comfortable on the board.

Landes is home to an incredible number of surfing packages for outdoorsy types not wanting to break the bank or miss out on the South of France’s exquisite experiences.

Dreamsea Surf has created a formidable online presence based on its camps in the likes of Bali, Nicaragua, and Sri Lanka. However, we favour its base here because of its affordability and laid back approach.

Beach-side “glamping” tents start at just €33-77 a night via Luex that attract young, multicultural crowds every summer who take advantage of the “swell magnet” that is the Atlantic coast.

Chilled out coaching in Taghazout, Morocco

When you're learning to surf, you can't go wrong by opting for the laid-back fishing village of Taghazout on Morocco’s lovely west coast - a legendary spot for European surfers.

Much Better Adventures offer two beginner-friendly surf trips there, at 3 nights and 6 nights apiece. Both include all the guidance, equipment, food, and accommodation you need to begin your love affair with the sea.

Newbie-friendly waves across Lisbon, Portugal

The Atlantic coast is quickly becoming one of Europe’s best spots for beginner-friendly surf schools, and Lisbon has become the country’s most Instagrammed location for surfers old and new to visit.

Holidu recommends taking on Costa da Caparica - the most “friendly” wave in Lisbon that is perfect for summer days and those with a little less experience.

Getting to grips with the sport's rich history Hawaii, USA

Black Tomato
The Na Pali coast of Kauai is the perfect place for being taught by Hawaii's expert surfersBlack Tomato

Hawaii is the place to head to if you want to understand where it all began. The American state is considered the birthplace of surfing as riding waves on a board is said to date back to ancient Polynesians living in Hawaii and Tahiti. Surfing was then popularised by Duke Kahanamoku, from Hawaii.

Black Tomato have curated a package that encompasses all of the beauty world’s best “reset button” has to offer, culminating in a surfing masterclass with Titus, one of Hawaii’s very own grand masters. The itinerary is spread across Maui and Kauai and takes in the island’s lush rainforests, spotless beaches, and farm-to-fork culinary delights.

A luxury heli-surf escapade starting in Queenstown, New Zealand

Black Tomato
A helicopter arriving to seek the latest swells in New Zealand's surfers paradiseBlack Tomato

Another treat from Black Tomato, this 10-day luxury surf extravaganza is shaped by where the Tasman sea is predicted to offer the best swells. You won’t know exactly where you’re headed until a week before, when you’ll be provided with a route devised by experts.

How will you be navigating the island to find them? By helicopter, of course. The island is incredibly simple to navigate with the help of your own designated pilot.

Chase velvet-smooth tunnels, supertubes, perfect peelers or gnarly freight trains (as the locals would say) from coast to coast, retreating to one of New Zealand’s finest luxury hotels, The Spire, to wind down in the evenings.