Some divers choose combination vacations to satisfy their better half; some are multi-sport enthusiasts. Whatever the reason, here are five top surf and dive locations where you can enjoy both the underwater world and some sweet waves.
When it comes to diving, Bali has it all. There’s great muck diving in Amed and wreck diving on the famous USAT Liberty in Tulamben. There are drift dives with molas and mantas at Manta Point on Nusa Penida and great macro in Menjangan. Beautiful reefs are everywhere. And best of all, it’s easy to dive several of these spots within a few days.
The “Island of the Gods,” as it’s called, is also a great place to surf. In fact, surfers began to visit long before divers ever discovered the underwater world. From Kuta to Uluwatu, Bingin, Keramas, Canggu and Nusa Lembongan, there is something for everyone from the complete newbies to pros. There are plenty of surf schools and a few bodyboarding ones as well, which makes it a great place to learn or to take your kids.
Mamanuca Islands, Fiji
The Mamanuca Islands lying west of Nadi, Fiji’s capital, are well-known as a surfer’s paradise, home of the world-famous Cloudbreak. The area includes other great breaks as well, such as Restaurants, Wilkes, Swimming Pools and Namotu Left. There are waves for everyone here, and plenty of room to spread out.
Most of the islands’ resorts also feature diving, which offers beautiful reefs, clear and warm waters, and great marine life, such as turtles and small sharks, but also nudibranchs, shrimp and other macro animals. There are dive sites for all levels, including beautiful walls like Namotu Wall, drift dives like Wilkes Passage, and interesting topography like Plantation Pinnacles, which has three beautiful pinnacles for divers to swim around.
Port Elizabeth, South Africa
Diving in South Africa has a reputation for being challenging, but rewarding. Divers here will face cold to temperate waters, sometimes rough seas and difficult shore entries. The rewards are great, however, plenty of fish life, sharks and more. There are lots of shore dives from Port Elizabeth, as well as wreck dives such as the SAS Haerlem, scuttled in 1987. You’ll commonly see ragged-tooth, pyjama and leopard sharks around dive sites such as Phillips Reef. Port Elizabeth is also one of the launching pads for dive and snorkel trips to check out the famous Sardine Run every year between May and July, a feeding frenzy of predators attracted by gigantic, migrating bait balls of sardines.
For the surfers, about an hour’s drive southwest from Port Elizabeth is Jeffreys Bay (also known as J-Bay), home to the famous Supertubes and other surrounding surf breaks. If you go in July, you might be lucky enough to catch the Billabong Pro surf contest. Remember to pack adequate exposure protection for both diving and surfing: South Africa’s waters are temperate at best.
Hawaii, United States
Every surfer has heard of Hawaii’s most famous breaks: Pipeline, Jaws, Honolua Bay and Waikiki Beach are only a few of the many beautiful waves that Hawaii has to offer, mainly on Maui and Oahu (but there are some on all islands). Plan ahead and you can catch big competitions, such as the Billabong Pipeline Masters.
As for diving, there are fantastic sites around most of the islands. Thanks to volcanic activity, there are great caves and canyons to explore underwater, featuring unique topography. Kona (the Big Island) is most famous for the night-time manta dive, when the rays use the dive lights to feed. Other great sites include the Cave (Oahu), Three Caves (Big Island), Five Caves (Maui), The Caverns (Kauai) and The Cathedral (Lanai). If you visit from January to May, join a whale-watching excursion to spot humpback whales, which breed here each year.
With coasts on both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, Costa Rica is understandably a water-lover’s paradise. There are numerous surf breaks on both sides of the country. On the Pacific coast, surfers can choose from beach breaks and river mouths, such as Tamarindo, Dominical and Playa Negra. On the Caribbean coast there are mainly reefs breaks, such as Puerto Viejo and Playa Bonita.
Although Costa Rica’s best diving is undoubtedly at Cocos Island, much of the Pacific coast offers great dive sites as well. In the south, Caño Island’s marine reserve is one of the best areas to dive. Here you’ll find lots of reef fish and some sharks. Up north, the Catalina and Bat Islands offer numerous dives. The Big Scare is famous for bull sharks. With plenty of coastline to explore, Costa Rica will not disappoint.