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Seven Epic Spots For Gap Year Surfing You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

Written by The Leap on 29 / 07 / 2015

Gap Year Advice

There are several gap year travel destinations across the globe that are renowned for surfing – Australia, Indonesia, South Africa and Hawaii to name a few.

But not everybody wants to surf with the masses and I wouldn’t blame you for dismissing such places in favour of somewhere a bit calmer, quieter and off the beaten track. Like one of these seven surfing spots...

Upolu, Samoa



Samoa offers a diverse range of challenging waves, making it a thrill for adrenaline junkies. If you can imagine the power of Hawaii, combined with the scenic beauty of Indonesia, minus the crowds, then you’ve got Samoa’s main island: Upolu.

The best places to go for a paddle here are from Apia East to Cape Utumauu and from Matautu to Matatufu, though I wouldn’t advise beginner surfers to venture to these parts, as the breaks are a little on dangerous side. In fact, even experienced surfers are advised to only tackle the waves in the company of locals, who know the rips and rocks inside out.

Upolu has several resorts catering for surfers’ needs and desires, such as Salani on the southeast coast, where well-trained boatmen work as surf guides, getting you safely onto the best waves.

Maqai, Fiji


Fiji may not be the first place that springs to mind when considering somewhere to go surfing, but this island by no means lacks adventure. An amazing surf experience is offered at Maqai, where the reefs are a dream come true.

With its warm water, paradisiacal views and non-existent crowds, it’s a surprise more people don’t come to this part of the world to surf. For an authentic island getaway experience, stay at one of the beachfront bures, which are set amongst coconut palms and will enable to you to wake up to the sound of waves lapping on the beach every morning- mmm…

Serangan, Bali


Serangan is one of the best surf spots in Bali, with its mighty, powerful waves, yet it’s not inundated by tourists. Surfers tend to prefer coming here during Bali’s long, cool dry season, when you can truly appreciate the beautiful panorama and peaceful atmosphere.

On an average day, waves reach 3-4 foot and, during mid to high tide, they make easy take offs, perfect for anyone looking to learn on these waters. Finding accommodation near here shouldn’t be difficult, as many developers have built resorts, as well as hotels and villas near the beach.

Try Paras Paros Marina Lodge, which is located just ten minutes away and boasts a swimming pool, deluxe bedrooms and stunning view of the marina.

Zanzibar, Tanzania


Despite the fact it’s one of the most visited countries in Eastern Africa, surfing isn’t exactly big in Tanzania. Most people go to Zanzibar to seek tropical paradise and relax on its endless white beaches, soaking up the mellow vibe of the island and bathing in the shade of its palms.

It is possible to surf here though. In fact, Zanzibar is one of the better surf options on Africa’s east coast - especially if you go to the reefs on its northern tip. Take part in The Leap’s 10-week volunteering placement in Tanzania and you’ll get to spend four days on this beautiful island, where you can kick back on the beaches and surf all you want.

Ritoque, Chile


Pichilemu is Chile’s most famous surfing spot, but for real beauty and smaller crowds, head to Ritoque. Located roughly half an hour north of Vina del Mar, Ritoque is where Chilean surfing was born in the early ‘70s and since then, the country has gradually embraced the sport, developing some excellent surf havens in the process.

This location offers surfers of all abilities a wide range of settings to explore, but if you’re a beginner, be sure to time your surf wisely, as waves can reach up to a whopping seven metres. There is a hotel just 20 metres away called La Ritoqueña, which features private access to the beach and offers views of the sea, mountains and sand dunes.

Sidi Ifni, Morroco


Surfing is slowly gaining momentum in Morocco and many organisations have sprung up to demonstrate to the locals the tourism potential that comes with the sport. Sidi Ifni is an all year round destination for great surf and great weather, with the summer months seeing small to medium swells, making this a better time for anyone looking to surf for fun.

Those that take their surfing a little more seriously should wait until winter, when the waves truly come to life. Due to its location, this part of Morocco is more relaxed and less crowded, with a balanced mix of locals and internationals. Ifni Surf has a surf camp near the beach with several rooms and a roof terrace, from where you get a marvellous view over the ocean and can follow the weather conditions and waves.

Montanita, Ecuador


Though it may be less known for surfing than many of its neighbouring countries, Ecuador is a great place to catch some waves and there’s no better place to do this than Montañita, a small hippy town with a laid-back atmosphere and good year-round surf. The prime season is from December to April, during which Ecuador is one of the most consistent places to score tropical waves in the northern hemisphere.

Each February, during their carneval, an international surf competition is held. Fancy visiting Montañita on your gap year? With The Leap’s 10-week volunteering placement in Ecuador, you’ll spend a week doing the famous Ruta del Sol road trip, where you’ll be able to tour the beaches, soak up the nightlife and surf your heart out.

Surf’s Up

Calling all surf fanatics out there! We’d love to hear about your experiences – let us know where you’ve been and whether you’ve got any off-the-beaten-track gap year surfing destinations to add to our list.

Photo: Done Surfing by Damin Gadal licensed under Creative Commons 2.0

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