Best Surfing Waves
BATHSHEBA, BARBADOS: Soupbowl, a reef break with a powerful right on the island's undeveloped east coast, has been hosting wintertime surfing competitions for 20 years, but thanks to an Atlantic exposure, good waves can be found year-round. The Soupbowl scene heats up in November, when the Independence Pro (celebrating Barbados's 1966 break from Britain) draws surfers hoping for southwest winds and deep barrels. Kelly Slater won last year. For details, contact the Barbados Surfing Association (246-228-5117, www.bsasurf.org).
HALEIWA, OAHU, HAWAII: Its exposure to huge swells makes Oahu's North Shore (a.k.a. the Seven Mile Miracle) the most epic surf magnet in the universe. Winter storms generate rolling monsters made famous at spots like Pipeline and Sunset Beach, but beginners can enjoy Chuns Reef and Puaena Point, where weaker currents and a softer bottom make for a gentler entrée to the sport. For lessons ($65 for a three-hour group lesson) and rentals ($24-$30 per day) contact the Surf-N-Sea shop (808-637-7873, www.surfnsea.com).
PUERTO ESCONDIDO, MEXICO: The "Mexican Pipeline" is a legendary beach break with left- and right-hand tubes at Zicatela Beach. In March, the Central Surf Longboard Invitational is held here, kicking off the summer season of big southern swells. If the Pipeline's too gnarly for you, walk a bit farther south to La Punta, where you'll often find an easier point breaking lefta slower, rounder learner's wave. For classes, check in with the Central Surf Shop ($50 per two-hour lesson and $10-$12 for all-day board rentals; 011-52-954-582-2285, www.centralsurfshop.com).