The Best Destinations for Intermediate Surfers

Marisa Megan

Portugal and Brazil

Surfers are known for traveling to the far reaches of the globe in search of epic waves, and today, more and more travelers are hitting the road to learn the sport. But for those who fall somewhere in the middle, it can be difficult to find info on where to travel to for solid intermediate surf. Looking at wave quality, crowds, local friendliness, and more, we’ve picked our top three surf destinations for intermediate surfers. 

Peru

 Huanchaco town, Trujillo, Peru.

Peru is blessed with every type of swell imaginable. From big waves to tiny peelers, warm-water breaks to wetsuit required, fast punchy rights, to the longest left in the world, this South American nation could easily be dubbed the king of surfing. Peru is also one of the first countries to practice the sport, with fisherman surfing on reed boats at about the same time Hawaiian kings were taking to the waves. For intermediate surfers, the warm-water breaks of northern Peru might have the strongest call.

Surf in Peru.

The country’s resident surf and party town, Menorca, is often likened to Tamarindo in Costa Rica. With low-key waves, warm water, and an endless nightlife, it’s easy to see why many travelers get stuck. Forty-five minutes north is the laid-back Zorritos, a more challenging surf-lover’s paradise, with natural hot springs and medicinal mud baths to boot. 

You can even catch a few waves in Peru’s lovable capital city on your way in and out of the country. Punta Roquitas, near the Miraflores Boardwalk, offers consistent lefts and rights where city lovers can practice their carves in between ceviches (try Chez Wong’s – a tiny eatery that might be the best cevicheria in Lima.)

Taiwan 

Hualian, Taiwan.

When the Portuguese first landed on this tiny, subtropical island just off of mainland China, they dubbed it Ilha Formosa, or beautiful island – and with good reason. Traveling around Taiwan, you’ll be struck by lush tropical forests, marble-lined gorges, towering peaks, and breathtaking beaches full of uncrowded surf breaks. It just might be the surfing world’s best kept secret. 

While there’s surf to be found island wide, it’s Pacific side of the island, the East coast, that is the true star of the Taiwanese surf scene. While more advanced surfers will make a beeline for Donghe, a rock bottom beach with challenging waves, intermediate surfers should drive a bit further south to the more user-friendly Jinzun. A small fishing community that’s grown (a bit) due to surfing, Jinzun offers a wider range of high-quality waves for those looking to improve their skills. Its sand bottom break runs year round, however if you’re looking for bigger swells, go between October and March, the North-East monsoon season that’s known to bring in perfect waves. You might even get to watch the Taiwan Open of Surfing – a World Surfing League longboard qualifying event that’s been taking place in Jinzuan for the past several years. 

Surf in Taiwan.

If you’re looking for smaller waves, Jialeshui, on the south coast, is a popular draw for Taiwanese surfers. The swell is more tempered and the rivermouth break can make for those excellent long waves favored by longboarders and classic riders. 

Taiwan also has a unique cultural heritage, a vibrant yet tolerant religious culture, and one of the most liberal and democratic societies in Asia, making it a very welcoming place for foreign visitors. Even if these warm-water breaks do get crowded, don’t worry, Taiwanese surfers are a friendly, chilled out bunch who take turns in the water. You won’t have to worry about any localism: true surf spirit still reigns on this island paradise. 

Sri Lanka 

 Weligama, Sri Lanka.  Aleksandar Todorovic / Shutterstock.com

Sunshine, blue skies, palm trees, and great waves:  If there was ever a place to work on your surfing habit, Sri Lanka would be it. This teardrop shaped island has been enticing surfers since the seventies – it’s rarely flat, always fun, and infrequently scary. 

Sri Lanka has the same Indian Ocean swells that hit the overcrowded Bali surf spots, however Lanka land is much more of a tropical Cornwall than a pumping Indo. While there’s a mix of beach and reef breaks on both sides of the island, there’s a lot of easy peelers to choose from where you can work on your cruisin’ style. 

Bay of Mirissa, Sri Lanka.

The surf season runs nearly year round, with swells hitting the south west from November to April, focused around the beaches Unawatuna and Hikkaduwa in the southwest, and Weligama, Midigama and Mirissa beaches further south. From May to October, the swells switch to the East side of the island, and Arugam Bay – a right hand, mechanically consistent point break – comes alive. 

Surf in Sri Lanka.

Short borders will probably want to add a bigger fish to their quiver to make the most of their holiday, however there are a few deep reef breaks on the island with un-intimidating slabs for those hunting their first barrel. 

Sri Lanka has been on the surfing map for a while, so you might have to compete with crowds here, however the incredible landscape and 27ÂşC (81ÂşF) water will keep you smiling even as you wait your turn in the lineup.