Why is it that surfers always seem to discover the next ‘it’ destination before anyone else? Perhaps it’s because they don’t need much: an amazing beach, the perfect wave… But just in case you do need a roof over your head while seeking out your Endless Summer, we’ve rounded up above-board surf hotels beside some of the world’s best breaks. Wax and wetsuit, welcomed…
Chile’s position as a major surf destination shouldn’t be surprising really, given its 4,270km coastline. And yet, few people know Punta de Lobos – birthplace of the country’s surf scene and official World Surf Reserve. Here, amid the rolling waves and sealion-roamed rocks, you’ll find Hotel Alaia, which nudges up against the swell with driftwood-like buildings, ocean-view rooms and wraparound decks dotted with hot tubs. Naturally, there are boards to borrow for tackling El Diamante – a ripable, sand-bottomed section of ‘the best left pointbreak in Chile’, according to pro surfer Ramon Navarro. Take it on – ignoring the sea birds, who seem to be taking bets on whether you’ll make it out standing.
While the Algarve absorbs the majority of Portugal’s summer swell, those in the know head to Costa de Prata (the Silver Coast), which stretches for 150km along the Atlantic shore between Lisbon and Porto. The perk of being bookended by two star cities means it’s ripe for road trips, where along the way, you’ll uncover towns such as Nazaré – listed in the Guinness Book of Records for the biggest waves ever surfed, due to the presence of an underwater canyon, which throws up higher-than-houses breaks. Your base here is wetsuit-welcoming Noah Surf House, which sits beside Praia Santa Cruz, with upcycled, beachy rooms that run from bungalows to bunks, plus board racks and outdoor showers for washing off the day’s surf.
Surfers have been flocking to Byron Bay for over half a century, crowning it as Australia’s best-known surf town. Its population may have grown, but its popularity remains undimmed thanks to beginners breaks at the Pass, advanced swells off Wategos Beach and superlative sunrise surfs by Belongil. Half an hour out of town in the bay’s wild hinterland is Blackbird Byron – a nature-nodding retreat comprised of raw concrete, steel and glass. Luxurious yet lo-fi pavilions are painted in soul-soothing neutrals, and there’s an on-trend magnesium pool and an open-side kitchen on the Pacific-facing deck primed for post-surf barbies. When you’re not out riding the breaks, there’s kayaking, mountain-biking and intrepid treks through the subtropical forest to secret waterfalls.
SoCal might have given us the Beach Boys, but NorCal remains ‘the last frontier of surfing’ for its wild, windy coast running from San Francisco up to Oregon. You’ll need a thick layer of neoprene and a hearty appetite for adventure to take on these waves, but the rewards reveal themselves in Sonoma at Salmon Creek – a rivermouth break for experienced riders where wipeouts are cushioned by an underwater sandbar. Due north you can dock in at Timber Cove – an elemental retreat where nature runs wild. Here, the sound of waves sets a somnambulant soundtrack to a lodge that once captured the imagination of photographer Ansel Adams and still holds many of his prints today. You’ll find Crosley record players in the rooms if you do tire of the oceanic orchestra, plus ping-pong tables and fire pits for hanging out with other real-world escapees.
Seasoned surfers who’ve paid their dues set their sights on Nihi Sumba. Its eponymous hotel was founded by husband-and-wife surfers Claude and Petra Graves, who arrived in 1988 and camped on the island’s beaches for four years before building a hotel. The reason? Their search for the world’s best surf break had led them to Occy’s Left – a 300m long ride through ripple walls and heaving barrels – named after legendary Aussie surfer, Mark Occhilupo. What makes it particularly special is that the wave is restricted to just 10 lucky riders per day. For the less advanced, there’s also a surf school for practising your power carves, fin throws and deep-barrel rides and calmer waters near Coconut Cove for putting moves into action.
Continue your search for the perfect wave with our surf hotels around the world…