Barrels vs. Turns: Here’s Which Surf Travel Destinations are Best for Each

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Barrels vs. Turns: Here’s Which Surf Travel Destinations are Best for Each

There’s an age-old debate in surfing about what's considered a perfect wave. Is a perfect wave hollow and punchy, providing the tube rides of a lifetime but not the occasional guillotining? Or does a perfect wave peel endlessly and offer a blank canvas to surfers who can draw whichever line they see fit for hundreds of meters. It all comes down to skill and preference. For intermediate surfers, the thought of a heavy-lipped, albeit hollow and picture-perfect wave may be a bit more intimidating than it is inviting. They may prefer something with a bit more face that they can rip into, a long wall, and a lengthy ride. Regardless of which type of perfect wave you prefer, we’ve put together a list of world-class travel destinations that are sure to satisfy your cravings. Continue reading below for Barrels vs. Turns: Here’s Which Surf Travel Destinations are Best for Each. 


Nicaragua (Barrels)

 surf travel

Image Credit: Amaru Resort 

Nicaragua is one of the few places in the world with a few uncrowded surf breaks. Thanks, in part, to an unstable government, the country hasn’t ballooned in popularity like its tourism hub neighbor, Costa Rica. Nicaragua’s surf potential is up there with the best surf travel destinations. If you’re looking for barrels in Nicaragua, there are two places you’ll want to go, the Boom in Northern Nicaragua and Colorado’s in Southern Nicaragua. Each of these waves are as mean as they are beautiful. You’re all but guaranteed to take a beating surfing at either location, but the waves you do make, you’ll remember forever.


El Salvador (Turns)


surf travel

Image Credit: Perfect Wave Travel

El Salvador’s coastline may be small, but what it lacks in length, it makes up for in potency. The South-facing Pacific coast of El Salvador is lined with rocky points that mold incoming south swells into lengthy right-hand point breaks. Sure, there are hollow waves in El Salvador, like Punta Mango, but most people associate the country with rippable point breaks, and rightly so.


Bali (Both)

 surf travel

Image Credit Surfer Today

Bali, and Indonesia more broadly, is truly a surfer’s paradise. With over 17,000 islands in the country, you can find any type of wave imaginable. Bali’s Bukit Peninsula evolved from surf lore legend to one of the most trafficked surf travel destinations on the planet. Still, the appeal remains thanks to its undeniably high-quality surf. The lefts that break on the bottom of the Island of the Gods do justice to the island’s holy moniker. Uluwatu, Padang Padang, and Impossible each offer lengthy rides with plenty of barrel sections, truly the best of both worlds.


Sri Lanka (Turns)


surf travel

Image Credit: Over the Dune

Sri Lanka may be making headlines for its unstable economy, but one of its most reliable natural resources remains unaffected by inflation—the surf. Unlike Bali, this island in the Indian Ocean is not home to critical, world-class waves. Instead, it’s an intermediate surfer’s paradise. While the island does have a handful of top to bottom waves, most of Sri Lanka’s surf breaks are slow rolling points ideal for intermediate surfers. If you’re looking for a surf travel destination to fine-tune your turns in a beautiful location immersed in a fascinating culture, Sri Lanka is the place for you.


Wherever you plan to travel for your next surf trip, pack your boards in the world’s most padded surfboard travel bag, the DirtBag. The DirtBag is the ultimate surf travel companion. Nothing is worse than unpacking your boards for your first surf abroad to find them damaged and dinged. Skip the bubble wrap and pipe insulator and use the DirtBag instead.