Our List of the Top Warm-Water Winter Surfing Destinations
Winter is coming, and everyone knows that surfing in cold water is always a challenge. No matter how good your wetsuit is, nothing beats jumping into the water with just a pair of boardies. So if you live somewhere in the northern hemisphere, it’s time to start planning your getaway to somewhere the sun is shining and the water is warm. Here is a list of amazing winter surfing destinations you can visit to escape the cold and practice your skills at the same time.
Central America is an excellent option for both beginners and advanced wave riders looking for a winter surfing destination. You will find fun beach breaks that are perfect for learning how to surf, as well as some nice, challenging reef breaks where you can get barreled. Here are a few places you can live the endless summer dream in Central America:
With coastlines fronting both the Pacific and the Caribbean, Costa Rica has many surf spots to offer. A quarter of the country is covered by protected jungles, with high biodiversity including spider monkeys and quetzal birds. Other attractions are the volcanoes and perfect tropical beaches. Here are a few of the best spots to surf in winter:
- Santa Teresa
It's always offshore in Nicaragua!!! The vast Lake Managua guarantees that the wind is almost always blowing toward the ocean, 360 days of the year. The beach breaks are the most popular surf spots, with perfect barreling waves breaking all along the empty coastline. But if you want to find mellow beginners waves, don't worry, there are a few of those as well. Here are some great winter surfing options:
- San Juan del Sur
- La Talanguera
Panama is the country that links Central America with South America. There are waves on both coastlines, but the Pacific side is more consistent, with a good variety of waves all year round. The capital, Panama City, boasts plenty of casinos, skyscrapers, and a very active nightlife. And the country also houses one of the greatest feats of human engineering, the Panama Canal.
Bocas Del Toro
Located on the Caribbean coast of Panama, this island destination has lots of accommodation and restaurant options. There are people from all over the world traveling to the area, which creates a fun and exciting atmosphere. And the heavy beach breaks and reefs only serve to make things more exciting, and are great for surfing in January.
In the north of Panama on the Pacific side, the remote island of Morro Negrito is surrounded by mangroves. Access is by boat and limited by the tides, which decreases the crowds. If you're a die-hard surfer, you will love this location and the perfect, long, uncrowded waves.
Brazil is a massive country with a vast shoreline that offers a huge diversity of waves. Most of the surf spots are sandy beach breaks, but you can also find a few rocky point breaks in the south and some reef breaks on the northeast side of the country. At the end of the year it's summer vacation across the country, so the fun is guaranteed. Lots of parties and events provide the cultural experience that you are looking for. There are great spots for surfing in January, and the end of February sees Carnival take over Brazil, which is one of the craziest and most exciting parties you will ever see and be a part of.
Here are some recommended spots for you to visit in Brazil:
Everyone who goes to Bahia falls in love with the place, and no one ever wants to leave. The food is flavorful, the scenery is exotic, the people are friendly and the weather is just perfect. This is the place where the Portuguese arrived in the 1500s, so the culture is rich and very interesting.
This island is located in the south of Brazil. Floripa, as the locals call it, has fantastic waves, and is also a recommended option if you’re into kite surfing.
If you are going to Brazil, you have to save some time for Rio. The city is surrounded by lush green mountains and is full of adventure. You can be surfing the beach one minute and jumping into a waterfall the next. At night, the city offers many bars, restaurants and parties where you will have the time of your life. There are plenty of surf spots, so you don't have to worry about the crowds. There is always an empty break waiting for you somewhere, it’s just a matter of taking the time to look for it.
Located in the northeast of Brazil, Ceara is one of the biggest tourist destinations in the country because of its natural beauty, the paradisiac beaches and the warm hospitality of the local people. There are many surf spots here, and the state is known as one of the best places in the world to kite surf. The winds are strong and consistent, especially between December and January.
The mecca of surfing, Indonesia is every surfer’s dream. Magazines and surf videos have long been full of images of Indonesia's beautiful islands and perfect waves, and rightly so. No place in the world is better for barrels than Indonesia. The country has more than 17k islands, and most of the waves are long reef breaks that can be either super mellow or hollow and intense, depending on where you go. Besides surfing, Indonesia also offers amazing local food and diving. Here are a few spots worth checking out:
The Island of Gods, Bali is the gateway to Indonesia. There, you will find everything you need, from the best local food to cheap surf equipment for your trip. The best place to surf is down south in the Bukit Peninsula, where you'll find all of the famous surf spots like Uluwatu, Padang Padang and Bingin (which are great for experienced surfers). If you're looking for a more beginner to intermediate wave, you can go to Balangan, which is also on the southern peninsula. There are also waves on the west coast in Canggu, or on the east coast in Sanur.
Bali is known for its very active nightlife, and the streets of Kuta are full of bars and nightclubs that light up after sunset. A big night out is guaranteed, but don't drink too much, as the waves might be pumping in the morning.
Located in West Sumatra, this chain of islands has the most perfect waves in the world. The trip to get there is a bit long and tiring, including a few flights and a 4- to 6-hr boat ride, but the amazing setups and consistent swells will guarantee you the best surf trip of your life!
You can either stay in a charter boat that will travel along the entire archipelago or choose a resort on one of the tiny islands and be immersed in the island life.
Located to the east of Lombok, Sumbawa is growing as a popular surf destination. But it is still off the beaten path. The local gold mine helped create just the right amount of infrastructure to make tourism possible in this area. This can be a great winter holiday destination, even though many people think of that as the offseason. During the wet season the scenery changes from dry to lush green vegetation, the waterfalls come alive, and the waves are perfect for intermediate surfers who want to improve their reef break skills.
Sri Lanka is an island located to the southeast of India, and is becoming a trendy surf destination among beginners and intermediate European surfers. With beautiful tropical beaches on the coast and tea plantations inland, the scenery is stunning wherever you go. The food is delicious, and the locals are the nicest people you will ever meet. Not all of them will speak English, but they will always welcome you with big smiles on their faces. If you can get your hands on a cold golden coconut, do not pass that opportunity up!
The main surf spot in Sri Lanka, A-Bay can get crowded, but it's a really fun, long right-hander with a couple takeoff points.
Arugam is a good base, with plenty of accommodations and restaurants, and you can easily explore the other surf spots from there on day trips. The surf season in the Eastern Province is from May through September.
Peanut Farm Beach
There are no accommodations at Peanut Farm, but you can get a tuk-tuk ride from A-Bay.
Mirissa is located on the southern coast of Sri Lanka, and goes off between November and April, making it one of the best places to surf in winter in Sri Lanka.
No matter what time of year it is, it's summer somewhere. By staying flexible with your travel, it is possible to enjoy warm water and fun waves a short flight from home, wherever home may be.