Lonely Planet Writer

No waves, no glory - these are the fastest-growing surfing destinations in the world

If your dream holiday involves sand, sea, … and a surfboard, then this list of the fastest-growing surf locations in the world may well become your new travel bucket list.

Surfers at sunset walking on beach, Playa Guiones.
Surfers at sunset walking on beach, Playa Guiones. Image by Getty Images

After looking at 5000 surf breaks in 146 countries around the world, a team of researchers were able to discover which had grown fastest in popularity over the past two decades. The top ten are scattered across six different countries: Australia, New Zealand, Vietnam, Peru, Malaysia and Costa RicaThree beaches right beside each other in Australia were listed in eighth, ninth, and tenth place.

Rabbits, Isolators, and Yallingup, all of them in Western Australia and about 165 miles south of the city of Perth, have grown a legendary reputation for surfingThe waves there are not necessarily for the faint-hearted as this YouTube video showsIn sixth and seventh were Playa Lagosta and Playa Guiones, both in Costa Rica, which has in recent years become something of a mecca for surfers.

Lagosta is mainly for experienced wave riders but Guiones, with seven kilometres of long sandy beach, is ideal for all skill levels. Omaha Beach in New Zealand was next on the list. It’s about 70 kilometres north of Auckland and is popular with swimmers, and beginner and expert surfers alike. Dark Reef in Vietnam, Shabander in Malaysia, and Yacila in Peru came in fourth, third, and second.

Fastest growing of all was Playa Nosara in Costa Rica. It’s just north of Playa Guiones and part of the growing surf scene in the Central American country. The beaches there are particularly attractive because conditions mean surfers can do their thing with “rideable conditions” for 330 days every year. The ten beaches chosen include mostly newer destinations aside from long-established surf hotspots like California, Hawaii, and Australia.


Dr Sam Wills, a hobby surfer and researcher from the University of Sydney, who created the list explained why he had been studying which surf breaks were growing most quickly. “[I was looking] for somewhere warm and sunny with good waves. I settled on Taghazout in Morocco, thinking it would be quiet,” he said. “Flying in at sunset over the desert I noticed that everything was dark, except for one little spot that was lit up … Taghazout. “Once I arrived, I realised that this previously sleepy little fishing village had been overrun by surfers, and so I wanted to figure whether it was happening around the world.”