female surfer on a longboard in New Zealand
Surf travel is definitely possible for beginner surfers–you just have to know where to look

Perfect Surf Spots for Beginners

You gotta start somewhere with surfing, and these beginner-friendly spots are some of the best places in the world to begin.

Ashtyn Douglas-Rosa

Certainly, there’s a difference between a beginner and a learning-level surfer. Often, the latter has never partaken in the act at all, while the prior is pretty much working through the basics. Indeed, there are tons of places across the world where one can take surf lessons, but to implement the basics as a novice? That’s a potentially different trip.

So, what kind of wave is optimal for beginner surfers? One that’s fairly predictable and not too fast or hollow. Definitely not a surfboard-breaker. Perhaps one that breaks over sand (should you hop off after the ride). One that’s warm is always a plus. One, that’s walkable from surf schools or surf camps, or a community of potentially similarly-vibed humans.

Really, a wave in a zone that is welcoming, and ultimately, might even progress your surfing to a new level. Or, at the very least, cause you to hoot in joy when you’ve completed a ride.

Here are our top picks of beginner surf spots for all of that.

San Onofre, California

Tommy Witt noseriding at Old Mans in San Onofre

A couple of miles south of one of America’s most quintessential west coast surf towns, San Clemente, the scene is like a longboarder’s Paradise. Long, consistent, normally non-threatening lines wrap around a small point in front of campers and families bathing in the sun. Welcome to San-O, home to some of the typically warmest waters in the state of California, where riders of any length board — at any level of surfing — have been sharing mellow waves since the 30s. It’s arguably one of the best waves in California to hone your beginner skills while taking part in a historic sub-section of surf culture.

Wave type: Soft, rolling, very longboard-able righthand pointbreak

Best season: April-October

Average wave height: Waist to head-high

Bottom: Cobblestone

Best board(s): Longboards, mid-lengths, fishes, softies, whatever you want to ride

Psst…psst… If you’ve graduated from San-O in your surf journey, nearby intermediate breaks like Upper Trestles, Old Mans and Cottons are just up the point north.

Surf Orange County
A hand-picked collection of the best surf trips in Orange County — focused on authentic experiences found nowhere else.

Biarritz, France

beginner surfers at a beginner surf spot in biarritz france

Indeed, there are tons of bays and beaches with waves like Biarritz for beginners all over Europe — however, none framed in the same magnificent portrait as Biarritz. With tons of surf schools and surf camps/hostels in the area to mingle or lay your head at night, a session at Côtes des Basques, for example, cruising down turquoise lines beneath a small palace perched in the cliffs behind you is simply unforgettable.

Wave type:  Fairly chill sand-bottomed beachbreak rollers

Best season: August-October

Average wave height: Waist to head high

Bottom: Sand

Best board(s): Longboards, mid-lengths, softies

Psst…psst… If you’ve graduated from Biarritz rollers, more powerful and hollower waves exist in Capbreton and Hossegor just 40 minutes due north.

Surf France
A hand-picked collection of the best surf trips in France — focused on authentic experiences found nowhere else.

Kuta Beach, Bali, Indonesia

aerial view of kuta beach, bali, indonesia

While the “Island of the Gods,” as Bali is known, is most famous for more perfect waves like Uluwatu, Padang Padang, and Keramas, there are a plethora of great beginner beaches around the island with more gentle waves. Ground Zero is the busy, surf-school-centric stretch of coastline known as Kuta Beach. Mostly a collapsing, easy closeout to go straight on, with the high tide, beginners abound and will most certainly have a blast (if you’re not partied-out from the night before).

Wave type: Sand-bottomed learner waves for going straight

Best season: April-October

Average wave height: Knee to head-high

Bottom: Sand

Best board(s): Softies or anything you’d like to learn on

Psst…psst… It’s Bali–meaning there are a zillion consistent waves and beautiful beaches on the island should you get bored with Kuta Beach. Canggu or Berawa, for instance, is another great beginner’s zone with an uber-vibrant surf scene.

Surf Bali
A hand-picked collection of the best surf trips in Bali — focused on authentic experiences found nowhere else.

Waikiki, Oahu, Hawaii

Aerial view of longboarders out at Waikiki

Hawaiian Duke Kahanamoku–the father of modern-day surfing–didn’t hang out around Waikiki because he couldn’t get a ride out to the Country (the North Shore). The Duke just honestly loved the surf on that famous stretch of golden sands. Indeed, right behind his immortal statue, the split peak reef called Canoes (right next to Queens) is a global beginner’s hub. Both an incredible place to learn and, at the same time, the homebreak to many a local pro longboarder, Canoes and the surrounding Waikiki breaks are some of the best beginner waves in the world.

Wave type: Soft, long, rolling waves with an inside and outside takeoff zone (just watch out for other surfers on the paddle-out)

Best season: April-October

Average wave height: Waist to head-high

Bottom: Reef with a little sand

Best board(s): Longboards, mid-lengths, fishes, softies,

Psst…psst… Rent one of the 12-foot-long softboards from the beach boys by the hotels; they’re perfect for catching waves and learning (or, going tandem with a partner!)

Surf Oahu West Coast
A hand-picked collection of the best surf trips in Oahu West Coast — focused on authentic experiences found nowhere else.

Weligama, Sri Lanka

Surfer paddling out at Weligama, Sri Lanka at sunset

Known as the cradle of beginner’s surfing in the nation of Sri Lanka, the expansive and protected (from too much swell and wind) Weligama Bay holds dozens of warm-water beachbreak peaks tailormade for beginners. With a number of surf schools, surf camps, cafes and hostels lining the Bay’s shoreline, you could literally wake up, grab your board and be in the water within a couple of minutes. Tons of breaks for more intermediate surfers a short tuk tuk ride from Weligama to boot.

Wave type: Fun, rolling beachbreak

Best season: October-March

Average wave height: Waist to head high

Bottom: Sand

Best board(s): Longboards, mid-lengths, fishes, softies, shortboards

Psst…psst… If you’ve graduated from Weligama rollers, there are tons of reefbreaks and other slightly more advanced waves north and south of Weligama to progress your game at

Surf Sri Lanka
A hand-picked collection of the best surf trips in Sri Lanka — focused on authentic experiences found nowhere else.

Santa Teresa, Costa Rica

Looking at an a-frame peak through the palm trees at Santa Teresa, Costa Rica

The “Place to Be” title in Costa Rica has shifted throughout the years for beginner surfers. For a while, it was in Jaco. Then Tamarindo. Then Manuel Antonio. But these days — Santa Teresa is IT. With tons of surf schools, accommodations of all calibers, amazing eateries, and yep, great, consistent beginner-friendly beachbreak peaks…just make sure your tickets are extendable. You’ll most certainly want to stay longer.

Wave type: Easy beachbreak rollers with dreamy surf conditions. More advanced beachbreaks and reefs nearby for experienced surfers

Best season: April-October

Average wave height: Waist to head high

Bottom: Sand with some reef

Best board(s): Longboards, mid-lengths, fishes, softies, shortboards

Psst…psst… A 10-minute drive north is a great stretch of sandy beach with great surf called Playa Hermosa. A lot less bodies in the water there, too.

Surf Costa Rica
A hand-picked collection of the best surf trips in Costa Rica — focused on authentic experiences found nowhere else.


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