A winter surf sojourn is a cathartic experience. It serves as tropical therapy from the relentless cold and dwindled daylight, a chance to charge rare pumping swells, or simply an exhilarating change of scenery. There are many reasons to pencil one onto your calendar. The challenge isn’t so much finding a motivation why but deciding where. That’s why we dove into our TransWorld SURF research lab and did the analysis for you. Here are five of our go-to destinations, diverse in culture and climate, but equally enticing for the winter wanderer. –Mike Fish
In the summer the Caribbean, although idyllic and exotic, looks like a giant lake. But in the winter, it’s a surfer’s paradise with consistent swell and endless nooks and crannies. Where to start? Barbados, which some claim holds the Atlantic’s most consistent surf. This isle in the Lesser Antilles is home to a variety of breaks and is open to swell on all sides. However, its eastern shore receives the majority of attention because of Soupbowl, an epic right-hand reef break that’s almost always rideable and sometimes world class. Nearby are a number of other fun spots, and a short drive will unveil even more. Conditions range daily (and hourly) from onshore and messy or glassy and playful to offshore and tubing. Locals are always out at the ’Bowl, as are droves of visitors, and the takeoff spot is narrow. But if you visit for two weeks, stay on top of it and show some respect, odds are you’ll return home sunburned, surfed out, and smiling for months afterward.
WHAT TO KNOW
Water Temp: 81 degrees.
Consistency: Plenty, the wind is the real wildcard.
Crowds: Claustrophobic on the best days at Soupbowl, moderate during normal days—other spots are mellower but not as good.
Local Scene: Irie Bajan culture and a true glimpse into the Caribbean, as well as plenty of rum at beachfront watering holes.
Watch Out For: Sea urchins and theft.
Links: www.surfbarbados.com; www.surf-barbados.com; http://barbadossurf.typepad.com/zeds_surfing_adventures