The world’s best surf spots for all seasons

Matt Hutson
17 August 2016

Big wave surfer Andrew Cotton regularly catches swells over 40 feet high all over the world. Here are his top surf spots to visit throughout the year

I’ll usually spend these months on the west coast of Ireland. Mullaghmore, which is between the towns of Sligo and Bundoran, is probably the best spot for big wave surfing in Ireland – the swells can get as high as 40 feet. It’s cold though, so you need a thick wetsuit. The scenery is amazing and there are some incredible hikes to enjoy in the nearby mountains as well. The area isn’t just for big wave riders – there are loads of fun smaller waves in the area. The fact that it’s cold means it can be fairly quiet as well. Keen surfers will really enjoy it.

I would go to an island called Namotu in Fiji. It’s a resort totally dedicated to water sports. Namotu is surrounded by some of the best waves in Fiji, making it an incredible surf spot. All of the waves are reef passes, meaning that the waves sit on the fringes of the reef, making them crisp and perfect for surfing. Cloudbreak is probably the most famous break in that area, and the swell can get pretty large, but there are lots of smaller options as well.

It’s nice to stay in the southern hemisphere during this period, and the west coast of Australia is always a good call. You can pace yourself at some of the smaller breaks south of Perth or go in search of something more challenging. Be prepared to do a lot of driving because you can surf the whole way down that coast. And the temperature is much better than Ireland. The most famous wave in the region is at Margaret River – it’s a long, rolling wave and is where major surf competitions are held. There’s also a wave called The Box, which is great, but only for more experienced surfers because it’s very shallow and hollow. 

I usually spend this time of year in Portugal in a place called Nazare. It’s about an hour north of Lisbon and it currently holds the record for the biggest wave ever surfed at 78 feet. I surf with the current record holder Garrett McNamara a lot and we’ve both ridden waves around that height at Nazare. I love surfing big waves, it’s a lot of fun and I find myself naturally drawn to them. If that’s your thing then Portugal is the ideal place. There’s a great international community of surfers in the area and it's one of Europe’s main hotspots.