Carissa Moore’s 5 Favorite Surf Towns
From international hot spots to backyard breaks, here's where you’ll find the reigning women's world surf champ riding waves
Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.
Carissa Moore grew up in Honolulu, which the 27-year-old pro surfer still calls home when she’s not traveling the globe for competitions. Moore earned her fourth World Surf League Women’s World Tour champion title in 2019. In mid-March, when the WSL canceled all of the remaining events on the tour that month due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Moore was in Australia, having just won the 2020 Sydney Surf Pro. She flew home to Hawaii and has been sheltering there ever since. We called her up to ask about her favorite beach towns around the world, the places she’s most looking forward to visiting again when she’s able.
Duranbah Beach, Gold Coast, Australia
Why Visit: “I love the overall vibe of the area. It’s very chill and laid-back,” Moore says.
When to Go: Conditions are best between December and April. “During that time, the weather is usually warm and sunny, and the water is clear and inviting,” she says.
Need to Know: “You should be an intermediate-to-advanced-level surfer to paddle out here,” says Moore. “It’s a beach break, so the sand is constantly shifting and changing the way the wave breaks. You can drive down to the bottom of the hill and park a two-minute walk from the beach, or park at the top and walk down the hill. Make sure to watch out for snakes and giant lizards.”
Don’t Miss: Moore’s favorite place to eat after a morning session: Cafe Dbar. “They make amazing, fresh muffins and a divine avocado toast,” she says.
Why Visit: “White-sand beaches stretch for miles, and you can find fun peaks to surf anywhere,” says Moore.
When to Go: Late September and early October typically see prime surf conditions here. “The weather can vary, but you can score some beautiful, hot, long sunny days at the beach. The water is cool, crisp, and refreshing,” says Moore.
Need to Know: “Tide changes are huge in Europe, so the surf breaks are constantly moving,” she says. “These breaks can vary from beginner to advanced, depending on where you paddle out, how shallow the sandbank is, and how strong the current is.”
Don’t Miss: “After a morning surf, I’m all about the French pastries at Lucas bakery in town,” says Moore. “They have the pastries out in a beautiful display—it’s hard not to buy one of everything.” She also likes Nori Boy for a quick, healthy buffet lunch and Chez Minus for the best mussels and fries for dinner. “They bring out the mussels and fries in big buckets, and you just eat with your hands, which makes it taste even better,” she says. “I look forward to eating there all year.”
Sunset Beach, Oahu
Why Visit: Moore likes this North Shore beach for the power behind the waves and the fun of figuring out the lineup.
When to Go: You’ll find big, powerful, challenging waves during the winter months here—from October to April—or calm, flat water that’s great for swimming in the summer.
Need to Know: “It’s a far paddle out to the lineup, and it’s a big playing field once you get out there,” Moore says. “Sunset Beach is recommended for the advanced rider.”
Don’t Miss: Head to a nearby coffee and juice hut called the Sunrise Shack. “You’ll get yummy smoothies and a great Instagram capture,” says Moore. For a heartier meal, she recommends driving 30 minutes south to Haleiwa for a healthy breakfast at the Beet Box Café. “The pancakes are at the top of my list,” she says.
Margaret River, Western Australia
Why Visit: Even if you’re not a surfer, you’ll find plenty to do in Margaret River. “This is one of the most beautiful places in the world,” Moore says. “It’s the perfect place to reconnect with yourself and nature. The people are lovely, and there are some amazing places to wine and dine.”
When to Go: The best conditions here run from December to April.
Need to Know: “The waves are wild and woolly, and most spots I recommend for intermediate-to-advanced-level surfers,” Moore says. “There are many great trails along the beach, too. I love taking a walk at sunset with my husband to unwind.”
Don’t Miss: Moore likes to enjoy a local wine tour and stop for a bite to eat at Vasse Felix, a founding winery in the area’s thriving scene. To warm up after some morning sets, head to White Elephant Café for a muffin and a chai latte.
Waikiki Beach, Honolulu
Why Visit: This is the beach where Moore’s dad first taught her to surf when she was five years old. “This is also the birthplace of surfing,” she says. “I love paddling out and looking back at all the beautiful hotels and admiring our iconic Diamond Head.”
When to Go: This spot is firing any time of the year, but it can get busy. Moore advises heading out at daybreak to avoid the crowds and to “feel the first rays of warmth from the sun as it creeps past the height of the hotels.”
Need to Know: “This surf spot is recommended for everyone, from beginners to advanced—anyone looking for some fun and sharing the surfing stoke,” Moore says. “It can get very crowded with people who don’t know what they’re doing, though, so be careful, and stay aware of your surroundings.” Moore says she usually parks at the Honolulu Zoo and walks ten minutes from there to the bronze statue of Duke Kahanamoku, where most surfers paddle out.
Don’t Miss: Get a refreshing Banan bowl post surf. “They’re vegan, banana-based soft-serve goodness with healthy toppings,” says Moore, who has a bowl named after her at the Honolulu branch. “The macadamia nut honey is to die for.”