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After casting an eye over the current surfing landscape, Rhys Stacker lays out the best waves of 2010 and when to find them.

IT’S HARD TO BE a serious surfer without also being a serious traveler. As fun as it is to surf your local beach, it’s the chance that perfect waves are just around the next corner — or around the world — that keeps us on the road.

[Editor's note: Once you're finished checking out the spots below, make sure to visit Matador's surfing resources page].
Peniche, Portugal

Each year Rip Curl holds its premier WCT surf contest, The Search, at a different break around the world. Past locations have included Bali, Mexico, and Chile. In 2009 it was Peniche, a quaint fishing town about 1.5 hours north of Lisbon.

If the experience of past destinations are anything to go by, Peniche is likely to see an influx of traveling surfers keen to score the same waves they watched the world’s best compete in.

Peniche once had the distinction of being one of the smelliest surfing spots in the world due to local fish processing plants. Thankfully the factories have been cleaned up, but the world-class waves remain, the result of an undersea ledge that consistently produces hollow waves in clean swells.

Best time to go: Anytime. Portugal is temperate year round and has non-stop waves.

Photo: SR Eyes

Bali, Indonesia

Expect the rediscovery of Bali as a surf destination to continue in 2010.

It’s been almost mandatory for the surf magazines to run Bali features for the past couple of years, filled with photos of the likes of Jamie O’Brien and Makila Jones, who camp out there for months during the Hawaiian off-season. Big names like Rob Machado and Taj Burrow have even relocated there permanently.

And what’s not to like? Bali still offers long, tubing lefts (Uluwatu), fun river mouth rights (Keramas), and a variety of beach breaks (Dreamland, Canggu) against a backdrop of cheap and delicious food, warm weather, and some of the friendliest people in the world.

Best time to go: January to March to avoid the crowds, May to September for the best swells.

Sri Lanka

For years, the fighting between the Tamil rebels and the Sri Lankan army made visiting parts of Sri Lanka a risky proposition. But the end of hostilities in early 2009 has, at the time of writing, improved the security situation.

The coastal areas are also getting back on their feet after the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami, meaning there’s no better time to experience the range of fun waves Sri Lanka‘s southern region has to offer.

Unfortunately, lots of people have the same idea, so don’t expect to have it to yourself. Arugam Bay and Hikkaduwa are the main surf zones; avoid these hot spots to find some solitude.

Best time to go: November to March (west coast), May to September (east coast).

Photo: Mark Cummins

Bournemouth, UK

The UK’s first artificial reef opened in November 2009 at Boscombe (just upshore from Bournemouth), on England’s south coast. Early reports describe it as a short, intense peak that suits surfers ranging from intermediate to experienced.

The $4.8 million reef has spurred on the redevelopment of the once-run-down Boscombe seafront, which now has new bars, a boutique hotel, and colourful beach pods — a modern take on the quaint English bathing box.

Unfortunately, the new reef doesn’t guarantee good waves on this notoriously fickle British coastline, so time your visit accordingly.

Best time to go: October for a combination of warmer water and a better chance of getting a good swell.

Kirra, Australia

Could 2010 be the year Kirra finally regains its former glory?

This sand-bottomed point break in Queensland offered one of the longest tubes in the world through the 1970s and ’80s. But a sand replenishment scheme that created perfect waves at the Superbank around the corner turned Kirra into a close out.

Many believe a big storm — and this stretch of coastline sees several cyclones each year — will be enough to clear out the excess sand and bring Kirra back.

Mind you, even if Kirra doesn’t turn on, there are still half a dozen world-class waves in the area, including Burleigh Point, Duranbah Beach, and Snapper Rocks.

And the nightlife? Very healthy. Surfers Paradise to the north offers everything from beach bars to upmarket nightclubs.

Best time to go: February to April to have the best chance of scoring a big cyclone swell.

Photo: dalli58

Iceland

Iceland’s a bit cheaper these days, so more folks are braving the icy conditions to find uncrowded surf. Most of the waves are concentrated around the Reykjanes Peninsula in the southwest, a 30-mile drive from Reykjavik.

On offer is a variety of reefs, point breaks, and a couple of beachbreaks. It’s also uncrowded — just a few dozen regulars call Iceland home.

The downside is that it’s cold. Very cold. A 5mm wetsuit with thick gloves, booties, and hood is mandatory.

Best time to go: October and November, after the busy summer high season but before it gets frigid!

Kovalam, India

India could be the next big thing if a proposed artificial reef comes about. The company behind the Boscombe reef has announced plans to construct a similar one at Kovalam, on India’s southwest coast.

Costing around $1.5 million and due to be finished in the first half of 2010 (although these reefs are notorious for demolishing timetables), the design should create left and right breaking waves, as well as supposedly protect the beach from erosion during monsoon season.

India’s beaches have been steadily gaining exposure anyway, with Aussie freesurfer David Rastovich visiting recently to film for Taylor Steele’s big-budget Castles in the Sky.

Best time to go: May through September, although be prepared to get wet during monsoon from June.

Community Connection

Surfers and travelers alike should enjoy the Matador team’s GETSOME List: Our Wishlist Destinations for 2010.

About The Author

Rhys Stacker

Rhys Stacker is an Australian surfer currently based in landlocked London. When he is not on surf trips abroad he enjoys photography and riding his bike in the city.

  • http://matadorabroad.com Tim Patterson

    Surfing India…now there’s an idea.

  • joshua johnson

    My one shot at surfing ended with sore nipples and a degraded ego…props to anyone who can catch a wave!

  • http://matadortrips.com/ Hal Amen

    If anyone has a surf guide to Sri Lanka, I’d love to publish it.

  • http://www.ibnibnbattuta.com Andrew Farrand

    For the adventurous, I’d also recommend Morocco. Like Portugal, it’s good year-round (and the two could even be combined into one trip very easily). Some accounts: http://www.ibnibnbattuta.com/2009/12/the-final-countdown-surfing-mehdiya-in-winter.html and http://vieaumaroc.blogspot.com/2009/07/surfing-south-and-other-adventures-with.html .

  • Mario Flores

    I´m from Mexico and about the article of surf destinations I really want to recommend Playa del Carmen and Cancun this beaches are so bautiful and the also the beaches from Mexico offers you a lot of things to do like snorkeling. If you think that it´s expensive, at this moment there´s a new low cost airline its named is VivaAerobus http://www.vivaaerobus.com and in its site you can find a lot of promotions and cheap prices to a lot of places from Mexico. If you come and visit Mexico you really will have a great experience!

  • jacko

    there is no surf in cancun.. duh..

  • Davis Miller

    I like this place! I love the idea and wish there was a place like this in Astoria, Queens. I am a surfer and found a “real surfer bar” in Point Break NYC. I am kinda jealous ;0PIts filled with surfers, people who like surfers, people who like the beach and people who don’t want to live close to town. I really like this place. You know what they have these real Proctor and Channel One surfboards on the wall. It’s nice for coming any day of the week and eating a late brunch. The food was outstanding. The brunch and sides were prefect and tasty. It is a perfect “escape” from city living. It is probably one of the only places where you can get a nice frozen pina colada or margarita. The service was on hit. They came up and checked on us so many times and made sure everything was up to par. It gets very active and the bartenders keep everybody having a good time. The bartender was very accommodating. He was nice enough to make a drink, that wasn’t on the menu, for me :0) Did I mention the bartenders are nice eye candy. It was amazing to see their “das boot” which is shaped like a boot filled with beer. Don’t get me wrong, I am not drunk…it’s an actual boot shaped beer container ready to be emptied. Try it ..You will love it!! Oh. How can I forget, they even have a wheel o’ shots where you just have to spin it and have to drink whatever shot it lands on!! Now call that bar creativity at its best!!! And when I spill a tray full of shots on myself, the bartender so kindly remakes them for me? Good music, too, and the decor helped us weather an otherwise overcast and rainy day. You know that old song “Brandy”? It goes, “Brandy, you’re a fine girl, what a good wife you would be. But my life, my lover, my lady is the sea.” I believe Brandy works here. No reason, I just do. And that song happens to be a guilty pleasure of mine, so that’s a plus in my book. You can simply waltz over to this colorful and warm establishment, enjoy some drinks with friends, and walk home. The bar is right at the center, so you can walk to either side for drinks, and the bartenders are friendly and at your service. There is a variety of seating, good music, and friendly neighborhood people to make your time more enjoyable. Not pretentious, very cozy, I think Point Break is a fabulous place to spend some time with friends.

  • http://www.travelaustralia360.com Donna Brown

    This is nice list of Surf paradise. Kirra going again, Last several year Gold Coast is main tourist attraction for Surfing lovers it attracts the lot’s of tourists all round the world every year. http://www.travelaustralia360.com is the Australia vacation tips and ideas.

  • http://na jcsurf

    How about surfing in North East England, don’t believe me, check this out!!

    http://blog.errantsurf.com/2010/09/21/errant-riders-score-in-n-e-england/

  • http://www.uvitasurfcamp.com/ Tito Azofeifa

    One of the best places for surfing arround the world is Costa Rica! However not manu people visit the south zone where there really good waves like Pavones( the second longest left wave in the world? or matapalo with crowded rights in the golfo, or if you are begginer there is an amazing surf spot in BAHIA-Uvita, the best i ever seen for begginers ti intermediate surfers. All surf mixed with the nature in the Osa peninsula of Costa rica!

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