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The best cities for surfing

Surfing is great but your holiday will be even more fun if, in addition to water, your destination offers other beautiful attractions. After a day of riding the waves, take time for a nature walk, visit a museum or plan an evening out on the town to complement your fabulous surfing vacation.

Fortunately there are lots of beautiful locations around the world that offer not only great surfing. Surf paradise Florianópolis offers a fantastic nightlife scene. San Sebastián is the culinary pearl of Europe. And friendly Hanalei Bay in Hawaii boasts green mountains and many waterfalls that are perfect for long hikes - if you still have energy after all that surfing.

Surf town Florianópolis in Brazil
Surf town Florianópolis in Brazil

Top 3 destinations

Caipirinhas in many colours and flavours

Florianópolis: party until dawn

With 42 beaches, the city of Florianópolis in the south of Brazil is the surf capital of the country. In addition to the many top surfing spots, Florianópolis offers great clubs and bars for a fabulous night out. Of course it will make it more challenging to hit those early waves at sunrise!


Brazil’s most famous cocktail is the caipirinha. Order the best caipirinha in Florianópolis at Box 32, an institute in ‘Floripa’. Club Pacha, where world-famous DJs spin their tunes, is perfect for dancing. If jazz music is more your style, open-air bar Boteco Zé Mané is the place to be. Preserve that relaxed surf vibe and attend one of the many beach parties in Florianópolis.

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Florianópolis, Brazil

Hanalei Bay: nature as a backdrop

Surf paradise Hanalei Bay with its charming village of Hanalei lies on the island of Kauai, one of Hawaii’s most unspoilt islands. In addition to white beaches and perfect waves, a lively fish market, colourful wooden houses and green mountains all add to the charm of this picturesque town.


Visit the Kilauea fish market for fresh fish. Every day, fishermen arrive with their catch of the day so you can enjoy delicious fresh fish tacos, a local speciality in Hawaii. Find peace and quiet in Kauai’s lush green hills which are covered in beautiful flowers. This island certainly lives up to its nickname The Garden Island! Don’t miss the opportunity to take a helicopter ride over the breathtakingly beautiful Na Pali Coast; the sparkling blue water and colourful rocks are incredible. End the day with dinner at the excellent Tahiti Nui Restaurant. This local hang-out serves delicious dishes such as Angus grilled rib eye, accompanied by local Polynesian music. Fun fact: a scene from The Descendants with George Clooney was filmed here.

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The Hanalei Valley in Kauai

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Hanalei city, Hawaii

Shonan: view of Mount Fuji

Shonan, an hour’s drive from Tokyo, was once a small fishing village. In the last 60 years, it has grown into the surf destination in Japan. The rugged coastline features reefs, estuaries and rocks that create various levels of waves. In addition to surfing, Shonan is also known for its ancient temples and sweeping vistas. One of the most famous temples is the Enoshima Jinja Shrine, which consists of 3 small temples. A popular activity is to climb the Shonan Daira hills. These hills offer a stunning view of the Shonan coast, the Tanzawa-mountains and Mount Fuji. Every springtime the Japanese cherry blossoms turn a beautiful shade of pink.

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View from Enoshima

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Shonan, Japan

The Australian Museum

Sydney: an overdose of museums

A surfing holiday in Australia begins in Sydney. Bondi Beach is the most famous surf beach in the country. A 20-minute drive away you will find Coogee Beach, which is just as beautiful but not as busy.


Sydney is also a city that offers many other activities. It is home to dozens of impressive and unique museums, including a tennis museum and an Aboriginal museum. The Australian Museum opened its doors to the public in 1827 and was the first museum in the country. This museum, with collections of vertebrates and invertebrates and palaeontology and anthropology displays, is still open to visitors and provides an interesting overview of the history of this beautiful country.

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Sydney, Australia

San Sebastián: culinary pearl of Spain

The Basque city of San Sebastián offers great surfing. A strong wind and natural wind tunnels create powerful high waves. But the city has so much more to offer than just being a surfing paradise. San Sebastián is known as the culinary capital of Europe. In 2015, the city boasts 16 Michelin stars.


Awarded with 2 stars, restaurant Mugaritz is also number 6 on the 2015 list of the 50 best restaurants in the world. In addition to many upscale restaurants, the city also has around 150 bars that serve pintxos - tapas on a skewer. Perfect to snack on with a beer or a glass of wine. Another fun food fact is that San Sebastián features around 200 cooking clubs where mainly men come together to cook. It is not the woman who rules the Basque kitchen, but the man.

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Pintxos in San Sebastián

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San Sebastián, Spain

Santa Cruz: surfing near the sequoia forests

American Santa Cruz, also known as Surf City, has a long surf history. In 1885, brothers Kawananakoa were the first to brave these waves on a surfboard. Today, the city has made a name for itself as one of the best surf towns in the world. And Santa Cruz has a lot more to offer than just great waves. The town lies in a beautiful area and is home to the oldest amusement park in California: Beach Boardwalk. The park celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2007. Looking for nature activities? Near Pogonip University in Santa Cruz lies Pogonip Park with sequoia forests, meadows and rivers where you can go hiking, biking and boating. For the most beautiful stretches of sand, head to Natural Bridges State Beach and Seabright State Beach, with rugged rocks and wide strips of coastline.

Read more about surfing and the best surf destinations on surf.klm.com

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Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park

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Santa Cruz, United States

Photo credits

  • Pintxos in San Sebastián: Shutterstock: Matyas Rehak

Top 3 destinations