La Playita, Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica
Located in Manuel Antonio National Park, this clothing-optional beach offers mellow rides at low tide and turbulent excursions during the more dangerous peaks. It has a 99% swell rate, but it’s best to go during winter, when three-quarters of the waves are four- to six-and-a-half-feet high.
Known far and wide as the surf capital of Europe, ritzy, gay-friendly Hossegor on the Bay of Biscay has a 93% swell rate, with the best rides coming in summer, when 32% hit the four-foot mark.
Praia do Meco, Portugal
South of Lisbon you’ll find Praia do Meco, where nudity’s the norm and the surrounding forest is as welcoming as the water, which has an 84% swell average. Spring and summer are the best months for boss waves.
Port Aransas, Texas
Relatively unknown when compared to some of these other beaches, this Texas spot popular with gays also has some of the nation’s best swells. Inconsistent in size, the waves here tend to be smaller but have a swell average of 80%, making it an ideal spot for beginners to get their feet wet.
Manu Bay, Raglan, New Zealand
Made internationally famous in the ’60s surf movie Endless Summer, the breaks along this iconic bay on the northwest coast have a 75% swell average, with the cleanest waves crashing in the summer. A vibrant local art scene keeps you entertained when you’re beached.
Queen’s Surf, Hawaii
Queen’s Surf has a small swell rate -- 35% -- but makes up for it in the summer, when the rate surges to 68%, with 33% over four feet. And the flawless blue ocean is a fine consolation prize if surf conditions are a bummer.