5 Best places in the world to surf with dolphins

You are never alone in the ocean. That fact doesn't have to be scary.

Your chances of a finding yourself in the surf with sharks is next to non-existent. This doesn't change the fact our oceans are teeming with life, intriguing and mysterious. You do have better chances of finding yourself in the surf with dolphins.

Fact: There are 38 species of marine dolphins on our planet.

What's great about finding yourself in the surf with dolphins is the spontaneity of it. While you can't plan for it, you can increase your chances of finding yourself in the surf with dolphins. There is nothing more memorable than being on your surf board behind the break, to have a couple of dolphins swim by and say hi.

Encountering dolphins in their natural habitat definitely beats the horrible swim with dolphin experiences you'll come across in touristy places around the world.

Occasional dolphin sightings are not unusual when you go surfing. But there are several places where they are more likely to occur. In some parts of the world, not only will you see dolphins in the water, you may even have to wait your turn while they steal your wave. The following destinations are places you'll likely surf with dolphins:

1. Surf with dolphins in New Zealand

Thanks to New Zealand’s climate, pods of dolphins can be found swimming here all year round.

Dolphin sightings are a common part of life both in the North and the South Island.

Porpoise Bay and Curio Bay in the south are home to several surf spots for surfers of all abilities. Quite possibly, you'll surf with the smallest dolphins in the world, known as Hector dolphins. Increase your chances of seeing them in the wild by surfing in the morning.

Kaikoura, on the east coast of the South Island of New Zealand, near Christchurch, is one of the best places in the world to spot and surf with dolphins.

Similar to San Diego, Kaikoura is a location where you can surf and snowboard in the same day.

2. Surf with dolphins in Western Australia

If you’re looking to get away from the crowds and possibly surf with dolphins, then Western Australia is for you.

In the Golden Outback, one of the largest regions in Western Australia, the Esperance coastline is home to beaches, islands, and reefs. Plus, endless surf. You'll also likely see spinner dolphins swimming around you as you surf.

Some of the most powerful left-handers in Australia can be found at Kalbarri, including the gnarly break at Jakes Point. This remote surf spot is located many hours north of Perth, and you might actually need to fight with dolphins for your turn on the wave.

South of Perth, Rockingham is yet another excellent place for spotting bottlenose dolphins, with over 200 of them residing near these shores. Rockingham is also popular for its water sports, offering excellent windsurfing and kitesurfing opportunities, as well as a good number of breaks for surfers of all levels.

Best time of year for dolphin sightings: Between September and May.

3. Surf with dolphins in Oahu, Hawaii

The tropical Hawaiian Islands are already famous for their dolphin tours. But how about actually being alone with them in the water while paddling to catch your next wave? The west coast of Oahu, the birthplace of surfing as we know it today, is a sure-fire destination to spot dolphins on a daily basis.

If you go surfing at Waikiki Beach, you’ll have some company all the time. I’m not just talking about fellow surfers but also about spinner dolphins. The gently rolling waves in the protected bay at Waikiki are excellent for all levels, with the biggest and most consistent waves hitting the shore during summer (June to September). Luckily, you can paddle alongside spinner and bottlenose dolphins all year round!

Yokohama Bay is famous for its hollow and powerful beach break with a demanding take-off, recommended for experienced surfers only. It is also home to a great number of spinner dolphins that come close to shore each morning.

Kahe Point, also known as Electric Beach because of the power plant nearby, is home to a rocky reef break with a sandy bottom that produces some fun waves. You will see plenty of charter boats in the distance doing dolphin excursions. But you don’t need to pay big bucks for such an experience. Why not swim or surf with dolphins on your own?

Best time of year for dolphin sightings: Pods of dolphins reside here all year round. Winter months bring big swells to the islands of Hawaii, but that doesn’t mean that there won’t be any dolphins around. In fact, it appears as though dolphins like to surf too.

4. Surf with dolphins in Sri Lanka

December and April, is the best time to surf with dolphins in the southern part of Sri Lanka.

There are over a dozen species of dolphins residing in the warm waters around Sri Lanka, and large pods can be found all along the country’s coast, especially spinner dolphins. Which are the most acrobatic of all species of dolphins. You'll likely see more dolphins in the northwest and in the southern half of the country. Most of the surf in Sri Lanka is in the southern part of the country.

In Kalpitiya, Sri Lanka you'll see the most dolphins. Especially huge pods of dolphins come to shore. But if you’re looking to combine surfing in Sri Lanka with dolphins, then you're in luck. Most of the best surf spots in Sri Lanka are frequented by dolphins.

In the Southern Province, Mirissa, you'll find a reef break perfect for all surfer abilities. Plus, a lot of dolphins. Mirissa is also known to be a great place to whale watch.

On the southern tip of the country, Dondra Point, dolphins known to frequent. There are also some very gently waves to catch if you're just starting a s asurfer.

In the Eastern part of Sri Lanka, Trincomalee. you'll find a great surf spot for all abilities. It's also a great area to book a surf camp.

5. Surf with dolphins in Costa Rica

July through October and from December to May are the best times to possibly surf with dolphins in Costa Rica.

There are plenty of resident dolphins in these waters that can be seen all year round. Over 30% of the world’s different dolphin species can be found in the warm tropical waters around Costa Rica. Which means you'll likely see dolphins leaping out of the water while waiting for your next wave.

When it comes to surfing in Costa Rica, the North Pacific coast of Costa Rica is the most popular. Specifically, in the Guanacaste region (also famous for its dolphins), large pods of dolphins reside near Playa Tamarindo, which is the most popular surf spot in the country.

Dolphins can also be seen along the coast of the Manuel Antonio National Park further south in places like Uvita. Uvita is a great destination for whale and dolphin watching, located just south of Playa Domincal.

Perhaps the best place for dolphin watching in Costa Rica is Golfo Dulce, located on the southern Pacific coast of Costa Rica. All year round, you’ll likely surf with dolphins. Typically, the dolphins in this area will be in larger pods of up to 500 individuals. Though, pods of this size can only be seen from a boat offshore. Playa Pavones right at the mouth of the gulf is one of the longest left-hand breaks in the world.

It is the country’s Caribbean coast that sees the largest and most powerful waves in the country, typically produced by offshore storms between December and March. Head on over to the small seaside town of Puerto Viejo, where you can take surf lessons and ride the mellow waves together with bottlenose dolphins in the morning.

Book Your Surf Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Book your flight
Find a cheap flight by using Google Flights. They are our favorite search engine because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know you're getting the best flight.

Book your surf hotel or surf accommodation
You can book a really unique and local place with AirBnB anywhere in the world. We used it recently in Sri Lanka to book a place withing a 3 minute walk to a surf break. If you want to stay somewhere other than an AirBnB, use Booking.com, as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and hotels.

Don’t forget travel insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, surf gear theft, and cancellations. Basically, you get protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a surf trip without it. We’ve been using World Nomads for close to ten years now.

Protect your personal data
When you travel, you're constantly logging into public Wi-Fi. VPNs are designed to protect all of your Internet traffic. This includes email, streaming music and video, voice calls, and anything else you can think of. We use ExpressVPN when we're on a surf trip.

Looking for the best companies to save money with?
Check out our resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! I list all those I use — and they’ll save you time and money too!