Australia & NZ

Best Surf School Destinations in the World

It probably makes more bucket lists than any other sport in the world, outside of camel polo. After all, there is just no way you can look at a bloke like Kelly Slater (most successful pro surfer in history) and not say, “That looks like good times – I need to try that sometime.”

These ten top spots will help you do just that.

Itacaré – Photo credit

Byron Bay, Australia

Byron Bay is a magnet for surfers who prefer to rip waves full-time and make a career at it in concert. The tourism lodestar has scores of schools and some of the best instructors in the world, let alone Australia.

Where to stay: La Vista Byron Bay

Byron Bay Guide


No need to throw on a 45 by Jan and Dean or The Beach Boys to realise that California is a surf culture capital. Schools proliferate from Oregon to Tijuana but only Santa Cruz is “Surf City”.

Where to stay: Santa Cruz Dream Inn

Santa Cruz City Guide

Canary Islands

You can hit bombs in Spain – in the warm Atlantic waters of the Canary Islands. The likes of Lanzarote and Gran Canaria lure untold semi-pros to pass on the craft but the level of instruction on Tenerife is top-shelf.

Where to stay: Botanico & The Oriental Spa Garden Hotel Tenerife Island

Tenerife Island Guide

Algarve, Portugal

The south of Portugal gets enough swells to qualify as a choice spot for experts and duly offers up a selection of terrific schools, from Sagres to Faro.

Where to stay: Sagres Time Apartments

Algarve Guide

South Africa

From the Bay of Plenty to Jeffreys Bay, Hout Bay to Muizenberg, South Africa is singular when it comes to surf. For across-the-board excellence, Cape Town and vicinity is where you want to do your first pop-up.

Where to stay: Villa Zest Boutique Hotel Cape Town

Cape Town City Guide

Costa Rica

Desirable, paradisal Costa Rica has it all – rainforests, exotic fauna and flora, culture and, yes, surf. When we need to brush up on technique, Jacó is the first place we go.

Where to stay: El Paso De Las Lapas Eco Boutique Hotel Jacó

Jacó City Guide

Tofino, Canada

The Pacific Surf School is the way Vancouver Island grooms groms to surf. Tofino is Canada’s wave mecca and, notably, the portal to spectacular Pacific Rim National Park. Six hours from Vancouver by car or eighteen extraordinary hours by bicycle – with a ferry ride over the Strait of Georgia in between.

Where to stay: The Fairmont Waterfront Hotel Vancouver

Vancouver City Guide

Bahia, Brazil

More than Floripa, more than Rio, the state of Bahia is nirvana for hardcore surf aficionados and is the place to be for those who want to dedicate time and energy to the sport. Itacaré, just south of superb Salvador, is a prominent hub.

Where to stay: A Casa Das Portas Velhas Hotel Salvador

Salvador City Guide

Kauai, Hawaii

Hawaii is the motherland of surf culture, of course, with Kauai a bona fide Garden of Eden. For tenderfoots the island can be a challenge but, by the same token, the schools on site employ the best of the best.

Where to stay: Ko’a Kea Hotel & Resort At Poipu Beach

Kauai Island Guide

Bay of Biscay, France

Biarritz (and environs) is France’s capital of surf and lures the top male riders every September for the Quiksilver Pro France. As a result, you can be sure schools on the Bay of Biscay make the grade.

Where to stay: Hotel Du Palais Biarritz Imperial Resort & Spa

Biarritz City Guide

Know some stellar surf schools? Tell us all about it below!

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