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Best Bets for Fall Surf Travel

The best travel destinations for surfing and adventures in the northern hemisphere's best surf season.

With the end of summer approaching, the thoughts of surfers everywhere are on the upcoming fall that ushers in crisp mornings, offshore winds, cooler water and a mix of swells.

Students are back in school, the lineups are a bit less congested and surf destinations locally and worldwide beckon.

Here are a few suggestions to snag some great waves this fall.

California: This is the golden season for our great state. The wind turns offshore; we get a variety of swells from all directions and our beautiful beach breaks turn on. The further north you go, the better your chance of snagging early season northwest swells. This is an especially great time to score bombs in Ocean Beach while enjoying the sophisticated life in San Francisco.

Southwest France: Arguably the best place to be in the fall for a surfer. Sip fine wines, eat exquisite food, ogle beautiful women and surf the world’s best beach breaks. The waves have power, diversity and beauty, and so does the landscape. If I ever retire, I’m going to figure out how to surfing France.

Northern Spain: Rugged mountains, empty beaches, amazing food, Mundaka–one of the world’s most crowded and perfect rivermouth waves, castles, hidden reefs and hearty people. “Throw in the best food you've ever had with world-class surf,” said , who knows the region well. I was there last October and caught great waves.

Scotland: Indo meets Braveheart. Surf the rugged waves of Thurso and explore the coast for hidden nooks and crannies. Hike the stunning countryside and savor a delicate dinner of haggis accompanied by a pint of Good Island Bourbon County Stout while attempting to decipher Scottish accents.

Portugal: A climate and coastline that allows you to meander among points, reefs and hollow beach breaks. Friendly surfers who rip and great food.

Baja California: Empty lineups, warm water, pristine desert points, whale sharks in the Sea of Cortez, friendly fishermen, fresh seafood, and cold cerveza. Our neighbor to the south still offers California surfers the world’s best road trip and surf adventures.

Canada: The snowy peaks, bald eagles and salmon of Vancouver Island or the perfect points of the northeast. Take a pick and you won’t regret it.

Ireland: The newest ultra cool destination for big-wave chargers and surfers obsessed with dousing their frustrations at the ever-changing weather with a big pint of Guinness.

Taiwan: Tropical water, powerful reefs, insane food, a new surf culture and the crazy modern Taipei. Taiwan receives a lot of the same swells as Hawaii so you’re bound to score some great north swells without the crowds.

Japan: The secret is out—some of the world’s best waves happen during the typhoon season and the food is out of this world. Don’t forget to meander away from the coast and visit Kyoto, filled with temples and the remnants of ancient Japan.

So go somewhere and do something. The memories that sustain us are the moments where the unexpected happens and we reward ourselves with the slivers of wonder that only happen when we seek out adventure.

Tell us in comments.

Do you have any favorite fall surf destinations?

Serge Dedina is executive director of WiLDCOAST, an international conservation team that conserves coastal and marine ecosystems and the author of Wild Sea.

joao August 23, 2012 at 02:37 PM
Yes, try including surf in the maldives from March until October is great. check out the Surfinn Maldives video http://www.surfinn.travel/surfcamps/maldives/kandi-hibaru stay cool
Joe Phillipson August 23, 2012 at 05:43 PM
Just got back from a trip to Puerto Villarta (Punta Mita). Hired a surf guide named Jose Figueroa (puetrovillartasurfguide.com) Great waves and a great guide made for an unbelievable vacation. A little hot right now but fantastic.
Joe Phillipson August 23, 2012 at 05:48 PM
By the way Jose (Pepe) graduated from Bonita Vista High and is from Bonita. Great guy! Will not only show you the surf spots but best places to eat and shop. Great fun Brutha!
WaterWays Travel August 29, 2012 at 07:03 PM
Great list of surf destinations for the Fall. Nicaragua is another great spot and November is one of the best months to visit with great weather, strong swells and fewer travelers. Here is some more info: http://www.waterwaystravel.com/surf_nicaragua/
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