THE GOODLAND Santa Barbara, California
The desire to tame the wild Pacific surf spawned the ‘freewheeling’ way of life, and Santa Barbara is where it all began – the location for surf movies such as Gidget and The Endless Summer. These cult classics popularized the easy surf style – shaggy sun-bleached hair, bikinis, board shorts and VW campervans – for ease of movement between beach and point breaks.
Insider tip: Stay at The Goodland hotel, which taps into the carefree SoCal vibe. The look is beach-shack chic, with vintage boards and driftwood side tables as decoration.
FLORBLANCA Santa Teresa, Costa Rica
The rhythm of life in Santa Teresa is determined by the surf; you wake at dawn with a mist rolling off the ocean, grab your board and paddle out to catch a wave just yards from the door of your cottage. Stars such as Gisele Bündchen have built homes in the area, where unpaved streets are sprayed daily with molasses to keep dust at bay, and where anonymity is guaranteed.
Insider tip: Florblanca’s new surf house comes with hammocks, a sunken bath and ocean views. Surf boards and yoga mats are provided free.
LISBON SURF HOUSE Lisbon, Portugal
Golden beaches and world-class waves are only a ten-minute drive from the evocative medieval cobbled and labyrinthine streets of Lisbon’s historic center, and the arty bars, cafés and clubs of the Bairro Alto. Check into Surf House, an 18th-century converted merchant’s house overlooking the Atlantic; all white-washed walls, polished floors and a garden where you can wash and dry your wetsuit like the original wave-riders.
Insider tip: In winter when the swell is up, all you need to do is cross the road from the hotel to catch the waves.
JARDIN DES DOUARS Essaouira, Morocco
With seagulls overhead and the surf pounding at the terracotta ramparts, the atmospheric town of Essaouira caught the imagination of the beatniks of the ’60s; Cat Stevens, the Rolling Stones and Jimi Hendrix wandered around the courtyard terraces of old riads in a patchouli haze. Its six-mile windswept beach makes it as popular with thrill-seeking surfers today as it did with the zoned-out lounge lizards of its hippie heyday.
Insider tip: Stay at boho idyll Jardin des Douars, where mosaic pools are festooned by bougainvilleas and palms.
HOTEL ESCONDIDO Puerto Escondido, Mexico
For years, the sleepy fishing village of Puerto Escondido was known only to a handful of keen surfers for its legendary adrenaline-inducing waves. Now the coastline has attracted the attention of the hip Habita Group, with Hotel Escondido – a laid-back collection of 16 thatched palapas, each with its own private pool and polished concrete veranda.
Insider tip: For big waves, visit during the rainy season from early May. The surf is beginner-friendly in the dry season between November and April.
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