Are you craving some epic surf sessions to kickstart your new year? If so, you’re in luck, because we’ve rounded up ALL the best places to surf in January!
January might be a cold and snowy month for many, but for surfers, this month can bring some amazing surf.
From the Pacific shores of Hawaii and Mexico to the tropical paradises of Sri Lanka and Costa Rica, and even some hidden gems in Europe, we’ve rounded up all the best January surf destinations.
This roundup also includes a mix of cold and warm water surfing destinations, and a mix of surf spots suitable for beginner surfers, intermediate surfers, and advanced surfers.
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- 11 Amazing Places to Surf in January
- 1. Oahu, Hawaii – Best place to surf in January in the US
- 2. Puerto Rico- Closest Tropical January Surf Destination for East Coast Surfers
- 3. Baja California, Mexico
- 4. Costa Rica
- 5. New Zealand, North Island
- 6. Taghazout, Morocco
- 7. Canary Islands, Spain
- 8. Bocas del Toro, Panama
- 9. Sri Lanka South Coast
- 10. Ericeira, Portugal
- 11. Sayulita, Mexico
11 Amazing January surf destinations
Here is our guide to the 11 best places to surf in January. Enjoy!
1. Oahu, Hawaii – Best place to surf in January in the US
Let’s dive right into one of the best surf destinations in January: the breathtaking Oahu, Hawaii. This enchanting island, the third largest in the Hawaiian chain, boasts not just stunning scenery but also powerful and consistent swells that draw in surfers from across the globe.
Oahu’s North Shore, in particular, is one of the best January surfing destinations, as the Pacific winter swells bring about large, powerful surf, particularly suited for experienced surfers.
Oahu, Hawaii surf conditions in January
January sees Oahu’s North Shore in its full glory. The average wave size can range from 8 to 20 feet, depending on the break and the weather.
The waves are highly consistent, and crowds are to be expected, particularly at renowned spots.
However, the island is versatile, with South and East coasts offering smaller, more manageable waves, ideal for beginners and intermediates.
Cost of a surf trip to Oahu in January
Budgeting for a week-long surf trip to Oahu can vary significantly, but here are some rough estimates:
- Flights: From mainland US, expect around $500-$800; from Australia, about $800-$1200; and from Europe, around $900-$1400.
- Rental car: Rates range from $400 to $600 per week. You can use Discover Cars to find the best car rental rates on Oahu.
- Accommodations: For a mid-range hotel, expect to pay between $150 and $250 per night. You can use booking.com to check for the best hotels on Oahu.
- Food: You’re looking at approximately $50-$70 per day for meals and drinks.
Oahu water temperature in January
In January, the air temperature in Oahu ranges from 66°F to 81°F (19°C to 27°C), while the water maintains a warm temperature of about 77°F (25°C).
Given these conditions, a rashguard is sufficient for sun and reef protection, and a light spring suit can be handy for early morning or late evening sessions when the air is cooler.
Looking to take a surf trip in February? Check out our guide to the best places to surf in February!
2. Puerto Rico- Closest Tropical January Surf Destination for East Coast Surfers
Now, let’s navigate to our next January surf destination: Puerto Rico. A bit of a hidden gem among surf spots, Puerto Rico is an excellent choice for those wondering where to surf in January.
Especially for surfers on the East Coast of the United States- it’s a quick and easy flight!
Known as the “Island of Enchantment,” Puerto Rico is endowed with stunning beaches, warm tropical waters, and most importantly, impressive waves suitable for all levels of surfers.
Whether you are an experienced surfer looking for bigger waves, or a beginner seeking gentler waves, Puerto Rico has something for you.
The vibrant culture, delicious cuisine, and friendly locals are the cherry on top of this January surf destination.
Puerto Rico Surf Conditions in January
January is peak surf season in Puerto Rico, and surfers can expect consistent waves with an average size of 4 to 12 feet.
While popular spots like Rincon can attract crowds, the island is dotted with numerous breaks offering enough surf to go around.
The diversity in breaks makes Puerto Rico an excellent destination for all skill levels, and one of the best places to surf in January.
Cost of a surf trip to Puerto Rico in January
Here’s a rough guide on what a week-long trip to Puerto Rico may cost you:
- Flights: From the mainland US, costs can be as low as $200-$400; from Australia, approximately $1200-$1800; and from Europe, around $600-$900.
- Rental car: Expect to pay around $200-$300 per week. You can use Discover Cars to check for the best Puerto Rico car rental rates.
- Accommodations: Mid-range hotels come in at around $100-$200 per night. Booking.com is a great place to find the best places to stay in Puerto Rico.
- Food: Daily meal costs are estimated at around $30-$50.
Puerto Rico water temperature in January
January in Puerto Rico enjoys air temperatures of around 70°F to 85°F (21°C to 29°C) and water temperatures hovering at a pleasant 80°F (27°C).
3. Baja California, Mexico
Wondering where to surf in January? You’ll want to check out Baja California, Mexico.
This Mexican treasure offers rugged, unspoiled coastlines and consistent winter swells that lure surfers into its blue waters.
The Northern Baja coast, with spots like Ensenada and Rosarito, is particularly popular. From reef to point breaks, Baja’s diversity of surf locations accommodates all levels. While the waves are a major draw, the area’s vibrant culture, incredible food (NOTHING beats post-surf tacos), and welcoming locals amplify the experience.
Baja California, Mexico Surf Conditions in January
January is an ideal time to visit Baja California, with the Pacific Ocean generating consistent swells. The average wave size varies between 3 to 8 feet, making it ideal for intermediates and advanced surfers.
With numerous surf spots scattered across the coastline, there’s a decent spread of crowds.
Plus, a lot of folks are pretty nervous to travel across the border, which means less US crowds in the water!
Cost of a surf trip to Baja California in January
Mexico is one of the cheapest surfing destinations in the world, but there is definitely a range of prices when it comes to taking a surf trip to Baja.
- Flights: From mainland US, about $200-$400; from Australia, approximately $1000-$1300; and from Europe, around $600-$900.
- Rental car: About $200-$300 per week.
- Accommodations: Mid-range hotels typically charge $20-$130 per night. There are a few places where you can camp for a pretty low price too.
- Food: Around $5-$40 a day.
Baja Mexico water temperature in January
The water is not warm in January in Baja! However, if you don’t mind a chill, Baja is still one of the best places to surf in January if you’re after a bit of adventure.
January’s air temperatures in Baja range from 60°F to 70°F (15°C to 21°C), and water temperatures are usually around 58°F to 64°F (14°C to 18°C). A full suit, 3/2mm to 4/3mm, is recommended for the cooler waters.
4. Costa Rica- Best tropical January surf destination for beginner surfers
Next up, Costa Rica is one of the best places to surf in January. I’ve spent the last three Januarys in a row surfing in Costa Rica, and there’s a reason I keep coming back- it’s pretty amazing.
The Guanacaste province, on the Pacific coast, offers particularly amazing waves throughout January. Santa Teresa, Dominical, Tamarindo, and Nosara, all have great surf in January.
Costa Rica Surf Conditions in January
January is part of the dry season in Costa Rica, which means consistent swells, off-shore winds, and less rainfall.
Waves usually can range from 2 to 6 feet, depending on the break, although I’ve seen a few big north swells here where the waves are about double overhead at some of the most exposed surf breaks.
While popular spots may get crowded, there’s always a secluded break to be found if you know where to look.
Cost of a surf trip to Costa Rica in January
Here are the rough estimates for a week-long trip:
- Flights: From the mainland US, around $400-$800; from Australia, about $1300-$1900; and from Europe, around $700-$1200.
- Rental car: About $300-$400 per week.
- Accommodations: Expect to pay between $70 and $120 per night for a mid-range hotel. However, you can find hostels for as low as $20/night and surf camps in Costa Rica for as low as $400/week!!
- Food: Roughly $30-$50 per day.
Costa Rica water temperature in January
January in Costa Rica by the coast enjoys air temperatures of around 77°F (at night) to 90°F (21°C to 32°C) and warm water temperatures of about 80°F (27°C).
A light rashguard and some sunscreen is typically enough for sun protection and preventing surfboard rash. If you’re not sure what to pack for your trip, just take a look at my Costa Rica surf trip packing list.
And, if you’re deciding whether you want to buy, bring, or rent a surfboard, I wrote a whole guide about surfboards in Costa Rica you can look at.
Check out our ultimate guide to surfing in Costa Rica!
5. New Zealand, North Island
New Zealand’s North Island is a fantastic place to chase the summer swells in January. With both Pacific and Tasman Sea coasts, the North Island provides a range of breaks, from world-class point breaks at Raglan to beach breaks at Piha.
Surfing here is more than just the waves; it’s about embracing the island’s raw natural beauty, rich Maori culture, and friendly Kiwi spirit. The New Zealand North Island is absolutely one of the best places to surf in January.
New Zealand Surf Conditions in January
Wondering where to surf in January as a beginner or intermediate surfer?
January, being mid-summer, brings smaller yet fun swells perfect for beginners and intermediates. The average wave size ranges between 2 to 6 feet. Despite being a popular time for beach-goers and surfers, there are plenty of breaks to explore, reducing crowd pressures.
Cost of a surf trip to New Zealand in January
Approximate costs for a week-long trip are as follows:
- Flights: From the mainland US, $1000-$2200; from Australia, $300-$600; and from Europe, $1100-$2000.
- Rental car: Around $200-$300 per week.
- Accommodations: For mid-range hotels, you’re looking at $80-$120 per night.
- Food: Approx $40-$60 per day.
New Zealand water temperature in January
January temperatures on the North Island range from 59°F to 77°F (15°C to 25°C) for air and around 66°F (19°C) for water. For surfing attire, we recommend a spring suit or a 2mm full suit to stay warm during longer surf sessions.
6. Taghazout, Morocco
Sailing over to Africa, we find another one of the best places to surf in January, the surf town of Taghazout, Morocco.
Taghazout is often considered the surf capital of Morocco, and for a good reason. Its point breaks offer long, clean rides and consistent winter swells that make Morocco one of the best surf destinations in January.
World-class spots like Anchor Point, Killer Point, and Boilers provide challenging waves for the more experienced.
The laid-back vibe of Taghazout, the tantalizing Moroccan cuisine, and the striking Saharan landscapes make it a truly unforgettable January surf destination.
Taghazout, Morocco Surf Conditions in January
Taghazout truly shines in January, with consistent Atlantic swells providing excellent surf conditions. Waves at the main spots range from 5 to 15 feet, attracting experienced surfers, but smaller beach breaks are available for beginners and intermediates.
Cost of a surf trip to Taghazout, Morocco in January
- Flights: From the mainland US, $800-$1100; from Australia, around $1200-$1800; and from Europe, $100-$300.
- Rental car: Approximately $200-$300 per week.
- Accommodations: Mid-range hotels charge about $30-$60 per night. However, you can also stay in a dorm room in a surf hostel for as low as $10/night.
- Food: Moroccan cuisine is a bargain, with daily costs around $10-$20.
Taghazout, Morocco water temperature in January
January temperatures in Taghazout range from 45°F to 66°F (7°C to 19°C) for air and around 65°F (18°C) for water. A 3/2mm or a 4/3mm wetsuit is usually suitable for surfing in these conditions, it really depends on how cool the warm is.
7. Canary Islands, Spain
Our next stop takes us to the Canary Islands, Spain, another of the best places to surf in January. Called the “Islands of Fortune” during ancient times, the Canary Islands provide warm weather and consistent surf, making it an ideal European surf destination in January.
Among the islands, Fuerteventura and Lanzarote are most popular for surfing. With surf breaks like “The Bubble” and “Quemao”, the islands work well for advanced surfers in January. However, the islands do hold their fair share of beginner surf spots, even in January, during peak surf season.
Between surf sessions, explore the islands’ lunar-like landscapes, charming villages, and vibrant Spanish culture.
Canary Islands Surf Conditions in January
January is part of the prime surf season in the Canary Islands, when powerful Atlantic swells do their worst. Waves average 3 to 10 feet, though larger swells can occur, and often do. The variety of breaks on different islands helps distribute the crowd.
Cost of a surf trip to the Canary Islands in January
- Flights: From mainland US, about $800-$1100; from Australia, $1500-$1900; and from Europe, around $100-$300.
- Rental car: Approximately $100-$200 per week.
- Accommodations: Expect to pay between $50 and $100 per night for a mid-range hotel. You can also find a bed in a dorm room for $15-$25 a night.
- Food: Daily costs for food and drinks are approximately $30-$50.
Canary Islands temperature in January
In January, the Canary Islands enjoy air temperatures of 60°F to 70°F (15°C to 21°C) and water temperatures of around 66-72°F (19-22°C). A 3/2mm full wetsuit, or even a springsuit is usually perfect.
8. Bocas del Toro, Panama
Next up on the list of the best places to surf in January is Bocas del Toro, Panama, an archipelago where the Caribbean sea meets the surf culture. With its consistent waves, lush tropical scenery, and relaxed island vibe, Bocas del Toro is one of the best January surf destinations.
The region offers a mix of reef breaks and beach breaks, with spots like Silverbacks offering large, powerful waves, while Black and Old Mans provide more gentle surf conditions for beginners.
Bocas del Toro also has a pretty vibrant nightlife if you’re looking for a good time after your surf day ends.
Bocas del Toro Surf Conditions in January
January brings consistent Caribbean swells for surfing in Bocas del Toro. The average wave size can range from 3 to 8 feet. The crowd factor can vary from break to break, and more secluded surf spots are just a boat ride away.
Cost of a surf trip to Bocas del Toro in January
- Flights: From the mainland US, around $400-$700; from Australia, about $1600-$2100; and from Europe, around $800-$1100.
- Rental car: Not needed, as boat travel is more common. Boat hire starts at around $20-$50, and can go up much higher depending on the length of your surf trip.
- Accommodations: Mid-range accommodations come in at around $50-$100 per night. You can also find a bed in a dorm for as low as $10/night.
- Food: Daily meal costs can be around $20-$40/day.
Bocas del Toro water temperature in January
January temperatures in Bocas del Toro range from 73°F to 90°F (22°C to 32°C) for air and around 81°F (27°C) for water. You’ll just want a rashguard, reef-safe sunscreen, and maybe a pair of reef booties to protect your feet.
Interested in other affordable fun January surf destinations in Panama? Check out our guide to the Santa Catalina Panama surf.
9. Sri Lanka South Coast- One of the best places to surf in January in South Asia
Another most-visit on the list of the best places to surf in January is Sri Lanka, affectionately known as the “Pearl of the Indian Ocean.”
Sri Lanka is renowned for its friendly locals, delicious food, and rich cultural heritage. And its south coast, from November through April, becomes a surfer’s paradise.
Boasting a diverse range of surf spots, the south coast has something to offer every surfer.
Popular spots include Weligama, a perfect place for beginners, Mirissa for its beautiful beach and playful waves, and Hikkaduwa, which caters to all surfing levels.
A surf trip here is not just about the waves but also about exploring the breathtaking natural beauty, wildlife, and cultural landmarks the region has to offer.
Sri Lanka South Coast Surf Conditions in January
January is an optimal month for surfing on Sri Lanka’s south coast, with its warm waters experiencing consistent swells.
The average wave size ranges from 2 to 7 feet, accommodating both beginners and experienced surfers. While some spots may attract a crowd, there are still many lesser-known breaks where you can enjoy a peaceful surf session.
Cost of a surf trip to Sri Lanka South Coast in January
- Flights: From the mainland US, around $1300-$2500; from Australia, about $1200-$1800; and from Europe, around $900-$1800.
- Rental car: Approximately $200-$300 per week, but keep in mind public transport and tuk-tuks are widely available and affordable.
- Accommodations: A range of budget and mid-range accommodations are available, typically costing around $20-$60 per night. You can also find hostels for as low as $5/night for a bed in a dorm.
- Food: Sri Lanka offers a variety of delicious local meals at very affordable prices, with daily costs as low as $10-$20.
Sri Lanka South Coast water temperature in January
January sees air temperatures ranging from 80°F to 90°F (26°C to 32°C) and water temperatures of around 81°F (27°C). You’ll just want a rash guard and some good reef-safe sunscreen.
10. Ericeira, Portugal- One of the best January surf destinations in Europe
Ericeira, Portugal, is one of Europe’s finest January surf destinations.
Ericeira, the first World Surfing Reserve in Europe, is a charming seaside town with a rich surfing tradition. This picturesque town, just 45 minutes north of Lisbon, becomes a winter surf hotspot, offering world-class waves against the backdrop of stunning cliffs and beautiful architecture.
The variety of waves here is exceptional. From the challenging reef breaks of Coxos and the Cave to the more forgiving beach breaks at Foz do Lizandro, Ericeira can provide surfing opportunities for all, but due to the powerful Atlantic swells it’s more of an advanced January surfing destination.
With mouthwatering seafood, quaint cobblestone streets, and an easy-going surf culture, Ericeira is a fantastic January surfing destination.
Ericeira, Portugal Surf Conditions in January
January is part of Ericeira’s prime surf season, with North Atlantic swells providing powerful and consistent waves. The wave size varies greatly, from 3 feet to over 15 feet. Although popular spots can get crowded, there are enough breaks along the coast to find your own space.
Cost of a surf trip to Ericeira, Portugal in January
- Flights: From the mainland US, around $600-$900; from Australia, about $1300-$1800; and from Europe, around $100-$200.
- Rental car: Approximately $200-$300 per week.
- Accommodations: Expect to pay between $50 and $100 per night for a mid-range hotel.
- Food: Daily costs for food and drinks are approximately $20-$40. You can also find a bed in a dorm in Ericeira for as low as $18-$20/night.
Ericeira also has a lot of great surf camps. Check out our guide to the best Ericeira surf camps.
Ericeira, Portugal water temperature in January
In January, Ericeira sees air temperatures of 50°F to 60°F (10°C to 15°C) and water temperatures of around 60°F (15°C).
A 3/4 or 4/3mm wetsuit, booties, and potentially gloves and a hood are recommended for these colder conditions.
Check out our ultimate guide to surfing in Ericeira
11. Sayulita, Mexico
Finally, Sayulita, Mexico, is another excellent choice for where to surf in January. Located on the Pacific Coast of Mexico, Sayulita is a vibrant surf town known for its beautiful beaches, consistent surf, and vibrant, bohemian spirit.
I recently took a surf trip to Sayulita, and explored some of the surrounding surf breaks- it was pretty fantastic.
The main break in Sayulita is ideal for beginners and intermediates, offering a long, fun right-hand wave.
More experienced surfers can venture out to nearby spots like La Lancha or take a boat trip to some reef breaks. Immerse yourself in the colorful town’s buzzing nightlife, local arts scene, and delicious Mexican cuisine when you’re not catching waves.
One of my favorite parts of surfing in Sayulita was being able to go and get $1 tacos all the way until 2am!
Sayulita, Mexico Surf Conditions in January
January in Sayulita is great for surfing, especially for those looking to escape the winter chill. Expect wave sizes from 2 to 6 feet. While the main beach can be super crowded, nearby breaks are less crowded.
Cost of a surf trip to Sayulita, Mexico in January
- Flights: From the mainland US, around $300-$600; from Australia, about $1300-$1800; and from Europe, around $600-$900.
- Rental car: Approximately $200-$300 per week.
- Accommodations: A range of accommodations are available, generally around $70-$120 per night. You can find a bed in a dorm room for as low as $20-$25/night.
- Food: Daily meal costs can be as low as $20-$40. Just be sure to bring lots of cash, because Sayulita is pretty much a cash society- especially at the restaurants.
Sayulita, Mexico water temperature in January
January temperatures in Sayulita range from 70°F to 85°F (21°C to 29°C) for air and around 75°F (24°C) for water.
You might want a 1mm jacket or springsuit for early morning surfs, but the water is pretty warm here.
Check out our ultimate guide to surfing in Sayulita, Mexico!
That’s a wrap on our guide to where to surf in January! January is a fantastic time for a surf trip, no matter what level of surfer you are, and whether you’re looking for a tropical surf vacation or something a little cooler.