All waves are not created equal. If they were, surfers would never leave their home breaks. Thankfully, each surf spot has its own distinct personality and style. Some, like California's San Onofre State Beach, are mellow and cruisey, while others, such as Oahu's famed Banzai Pipeline, are high-performance, teeth-gnashing barrels. On this list you'll find ten of our favorite worldwide surf spots. These aren't simply great waves. They're iconic spots that have kept surfers coming back for generations. Think of this list as a menu. Whether you're a beginner or a salty surf veteran, there's something here to suit your taste. Pick your favorites and hit the road…and then the beach.
10. Old Man's, San Onofre State Beach, California
If you want a taste of classic SoCal beach culture, head 80 miles south of Los Angeles to San Onofre State Beach. San-O is home to a thriving longboard scene with a rich history that rivals Oahu's Waikiki in terms of aloha.
9. Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, Outer Banks, North Carolina
Once known as the "Graveyard of the Atlantic" because of its treacherous waters and frequent shipwrecks, North Carolina's string of narrow barrier islands, including Cape Hatteras, rope in some of the East Coast's punchiest beach-break surf. By far, the most consistent spot on the Outer Banks is the Hatteras Lighthouse, which picks up swells from every direction and works on all tides.
8. Les Cavaliers, Anglet, France
Surfing in France? You bet. Actually waves like Anglet's Les Cavaliers in the South of France boast peeling rights and lefts that would make any Californian surfer salivate.
7. Pavones, Costa Rica
At the southernmost tip of Costa Rica near the surfy little frontier town of Pavones, you'll discover one of the longest left point break waves on the planet. Though it can be fickle, with a solid summertime south swell Pavones switches on and cranks out waves that can provide three-minute-long rides—that's an eternity considering the average ride on a beach-break wave lasts just ten seconds or so.
6. Surfers Point, Margaret River, Australia
Located in a relatively isolated region some three hours south of Perth, the town of Margaret River is the hub of Western Australia's surf culture and home to its crown jewel, Surfers Point.
5. Restaurants, Tavarua Island, Fiji
You'll probably notice the words crowded or busy used to describe every other surf spot on our top ten list. Pretty much goes with the territory as the best waves are usually the most crowded as well. But what makes Restaurants so notable is its uncrowdedness. One of the premier waves on the private Fijian island resort of Tavarua, which limits the numbers of surfers on the island each week, Restaurants is a long, hollow left that's nearly perfect.
4. Surfrider Beach, Malibu, California
The ‘Bu, as some locals call it, first gained national attention during the 1950s thanks to the novel and film Gidget. Today, it's still the mecca of California cool and one of the best right point breaks on the West Coast.
3. Hanalei Point, Hanalei Bay, Kauai
A near-perfect crescent of white sand on Kauai's north shore, Hanalei Bay is one of the most scenic surf spots anywhere on earth. Sure, the two-mile-long beach is bordered by mist-shrouded cliffs and verdant mountains spilling waterfalls, but the surf at Hanalei Point is why you came.
2. Banzai Pipeline, North Shore, Oahu
Ground zero of the surf action on the infamous North Shore, Pipe is arguably the most famous wave in the world. Most years from October to March, when the westerly swells are in season, this spot grinds out massive waves that are so perfect and hollow they look almost cartoon-like.
1. Supertubes, Jeffrey's Bay, South Africa
Widely considered the finest right-hand pointbreak in the world, J-Bay is worthy of all the accolades it receives and definitely worth the trip. There are several world-class sections here, the most famous of which is Supertubes. The name itself should clue you in to the greatness of this lightning-fast wall that morphs into a large throaty barrel, especially when southwest swells rope into the bay from June to August.
Need some pointers?
Check out Away.com's guide on where to learn the trade and master the culture: Learn to Surf
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