Where To Hit The Waves Now Surfing Is An Olympic Sport
Surf lessons at Soul & Surf, Sri Lanka. Photograph courtesy of Soul & Surf
The best breaks from Costa Rica to Indonesia via Portugal and where to stay – assuming you’re not competing in Japan next year.
Next year, surfing will feature as an Olympic sport for the first time in the 2020 Games. Hosted by Japan, the decision to introduce the sport was, in part, to make the event more reflective of youth culture. Competitors will take to the waves at Shidashita Beach, outside of Tokyo, where shortboards, which are faster to manoeuvre, rather than longboards will be used to impress the judges.
Although most people would associate surfing more with Hawaii than Japan, the country actually has a wide variety of surf spots including Uchiumi, where brave souls flock to take on monster typhoon swells at Curren’s Point, sub-tropical Okinawa, where turquoise waves break over coral reefs, and Shikoku, where you can catch five-footers on Ikumi beach.
For anyone feeling amped at the prospect of having a go themselves, here are five alternative surfing retreats around the world that not only provide expert tuition but reliable conditions, meaning lacklustre seas will be a rarity.
Selina Nosara, Costa Rica
Selina Nosara, Costa Rica. Photograph courtesy of Selina
Positioned a short walk from Costa Rica’s Playa Guiones – where glassy waves roll in across a huge expanse of flat sandy, shore – Panamanian hotel group Selina opened this new surfing outpost in spring of 2019. With unobstructed swells and a constant supply of rideable waves, it is widely considered to be one of the best locations to surf in Costa Rica and because the area is protected, no hotels can be built directly on the beach, so surf classes take place daily against a backdrop of wild jungle. Before pulling on your wet suit, take part in a morning yoga flow session.
Pegasus Lodges, Indonesia
Telo Island Lodge, Indonesia. Photograph courtesy of Pegasus Lodges
Pegasus’ North Telo property is on a private island in North Sumatra. It has eight secluded bungalows facing the Indian Ocean and stays are for a minimum of 10 nights, so you really have the chance to improve your tube ride and cut backs. The lodge overlooks the playful, bowling wave Max's Right, but there are another 20 or so surf spots nearby, including the Bubble, Kindy’s and GTS, where waves typically reach three to 5ft high no matter the weather. (Surf guides will advise.)
Malibu Popoyo, Nicaragua
Malibu Popoyo, Nicaragua. Photograph courtesy of Malibu Popoyo
This all-inclusive, eco surf retreat opened at the end of 2018 in Nicaragua’s Costa Esmeralda, which offers 10 world-class surf breaks within 30 miles of the hotel including “peelers” for long boards and hollow reef breaks, although you need to watch out for the coral if you wipeout. Expanded in spring of 2019 with more rooms (now 12 in total), Malibu Popoyo will provide free 4x4 transfers to nearby beaches, as well as classes and board rental from brands such as Haydenshapes and Slater Designs.
Noah Surf House, Portugal
Noah Surf House, Portugal. Photograph courtesy of Noah Surf House
Noah Surf House in Santa Cruz also made its debut in 2018 with six bedrooms and 13 beach bungalows looking out on to Portugal’s Atlantic coast. Offering a good combination of groundswells and windswells off near-empty sand, there is a good mix of beach and point breaks (where the waves break off a headland). Noah can arrange group and individual surf classes (beginner, intermediate and advanced) that usually take place on Santa Cruz beach, but can also be undertaken on nearby Praia da Calada, Peniche or Foz do Arelho.
Soul & Surf, Sri Lanka
Soul & Surf, Sri Lanka. Photograph courtesy of Soul & Surf
A typical day at Soul & Surf starts with a banana, stretch and meditation before taking to the water for a lesson. There’s also surf theory classes and yoga to help with technique and form. Located on Sri Lanka’s south-west coastline, a little way inland, there are numerous surfing spots within a 30-minute drive of the property, and between December and March there is a good chance you will have the waves – be they A-frames or barrels – to yourself. But be prepared for conditions to be windy and wild. Surf guides will help you find less busy breaks during peak season.