Wind, water, shelter … that’s all you need for the ultimate windsurfing adventure, right? Wrong! It’s crucial to pick just the right spot where all three come together.
1. Maui, Hawaii
Maui’s Hookipa Beach is widely renowned as one of the best windsurfing spots in the world. It also happens to be on one of the most gorgeous islands in the world! Maui is brimming with action, so there’s no fear of running out of fun things to do. Water sports are obviously a draw, but land activities like hiking, ziplining, and biking are almost equally as amazing here.
2. Fuerteventura, Canary Islands, Spain
The Canary Islands’ ideal weather conditions have always made them a hot spot for tourists and adventurers. In the southeastern part of the archipelago, the island of Gran Canaria is prime windsurfing territory, with many of the sport’s worldwide competitions held here throughout the year. Sotavento Beach hosts an annual leg of the windsurfing world’s ultimate contest, the Professional Windsurfing Association World Championship. It takes place in July, but the beach is open to the public the rest of the year for everyone from novices to experts.
3. Outer Banks, North Carolina
The Outer Banks, a narrow strip of barrier islands stretching along 200 miles, is the most accessible East Coast windsurfing destination in the US. Tourists and families flock to its beaches each year, but there’s more to this North Carolina gem than accessibility and picturesque atmosphere. Cape Hatteras has strong winds and gentle waves, while Nags Head is better for first-time surfers. The area is also packed with recreational activities for the whole family.
4. Lake Arenal, Costa Rica
Lake Arenal could be considered the world’s most adventurous windsurfing spot … it butts up against the active Arenal Volcano! The 24-mile-long freshwater lake provides views of the volcano, which regularly shoots ash and fire into the sky. Arenal is 1,300 feet above sea level and is situated between two wind-funneling mountain ranges that can set the stage for average wind speeds of 25 mph with five-foot-high waves from December to April. Cool water and warm air make for extreme conditions best suited for expert windsurfers, so if you’re skilled and eager for high-speed surfing and jumping, this is the place to be.
5. South Padre Island, Texas
The sprawling state of Texas truly has a little bit of everything, even a top-rated windsurfing spot. South Padre is known for its warm shores and tourist-filled beaches, and its appeal is largely because there’s something here for everyone. And if you do need a break from the board, there are ample kayaking, swimming, and jet skiing opportunities.
6. Cabarete, Dominican Republic
Located in the axis of the Dominican Republic’s windsurfing scene, Cabarete is ideal during the summer, the sport’s peak season. The winds can be a little less reliable the rest of the year, but with the weather changing so frequently, it’s not unheard of to ride some waves during the off-peak season. There are also many windsurfing schools here, and a two-day course can average about $250. Most of the sails are up and around Kite Beach and Bozo Beach.
7. Columbia River Gorge, Washington/Oregon
If cold water doesn’t scare you, this US windsurfing mecca on the Washington/Oregon border should definitely be on your bucket list. The entire area attracts “board heads” and windsurfing fanatics, and the culture seems to have taken over this tiny community. You’ll find shops and stores all over catering specifically to the sport.
If cold water isn’t your thing, Aruba is just the ticket. The water temperature in this tropical paradise rarely drops below 75˚ F, and with reliably constant wind speeds of around 20 knots, it’s easy to see why it’s so popular with windsurfers. The southeast side of the island is the most coveted area, and Boca Grandi, located 30 miles from Palm Beach, is particularly revered. Each July, the world’s windsurfing superstars head here for the High Winds Windsurfing Championship.
9. Baja California, Mexico
For a chilled-out alternative, Baja comes with crowd-free beaches and warm temperatures. Perpetually warm waters and strong sunshine, especially from November to March (the peak season for wind sports) when storm winds stir up bigtime waves. La Ventana and Baja Sur are great options for beginners, while more experienced surfers should head over to Los Barriles.
10. Lac Bay, Bonaire
Aruba, Curaçao, and Bonaire make up the Caribbean’s ABC Islands. Crystal waters, white sand shores, teeming offshore reefs, and steady winds make Lac Bay a water lover’s paradise. It also suits a range of skill levels. There are easily accessible spots for beginners and challenging places for advanced surfers interested in tackling powerful swells. Many world-famous windsurfing professionals call Bonaire home, a sure sign that this spot should be on your radar.