There are two truly satisfying things in this world – more if you count silly little things like raising a happy family and being a productive member of society – that only a select few will ever experience: getting barreled and landing a truly big fish.
If you’ve done either, chances are good that you spend a lot of your time chasing that barrel or that fish. Chances are also good that you’ve organized your life, at least to some extent, to allow time to do those things. And here’s the great thing: fish live in the ocean. Surfing is in the ocean. That’s the definition of two birds with one stone. A day on a boat and on a wave is a day well spent, and because we love you, we’ve compiled a list of the easiest places to do both.
1. Hale’iwa, Hawaii
This one’s a no-brainer. On a small string of islands surrounded by nothing but vast ocean, the amount of waves and fish are almost beyond comparison, and Haleiwa on Oahu’s North Shore is the hub of the best of it. Because of the steep drop in ocean depth and strong currents around the Hawaiian Islands, bait and game fish are plentiful and, as everyone knows, so are the best waves in the world.
Head to the North Shore, get pounded by the best waves you’ve ever seen, and then head out into the blue with a rod and a butt full of sand. Oahu is home to pretty much the best open ocean fishing in Hawaii. Mahi Mahi, Ahi (Yellowfin Tuna), Ono (Wahoo), Aku, Skipjack Tuna, and of course, Blue Marlin call this area home. There’s a reason why Hemingway was obsessed with marlin fishing: it’s awesome.
2. San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua
Hoo boy, the waves here are good. Three hundred-plus days of offshores. Balmy temperatures, cheap beer, amazing people, and some of the best setups you could possibly hope for. There’s pretty much everything within a stone’s throw of San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua, from dumping beach breaks to reef-grinding barrels to giant bombs that’ll scare your pants right off.
And the fishing! Mackerel, Mahi, Roosterfish, Sailfish, and more dart beneath that Central American sea. There are a million charters around that’ll take you to that secret hole, then motor you back in, sunburned and salty, smelling of fish guts and covered in a smile. Of course, there’s a huge range of what you’ll get, but a lot of them pretty much turn you into a baby; you just lie there and get shacked off your head, then reel in a fish bigger than your family dog.
Nicaragua’s one of those places that’s great right now, but probably won’t stay that way for long. The wheels of progress grind on, and in the case of the wandering surfer, that’s usually bad. But get it while the getting is good – the roads are still dusty, the chickens still scratch in them, and there are an abundance of reasonably empty waves.
3. Queen Charlotte Islands, British Columbia
This one’s for those who like to leave the beaten path a bit. Haida Gwaii, aka the Queen Charlotte Islands, lies off the west coast of British Columbia, and is one of those places that, because of its remoteness, has had an easier time maintaining what makes it so great: the lack of people. The water is cold, the trees are huge, and the fish are hungry, mostly because there are just so damn many of them. Halibut and Salmon call this area home, and if you’ve ever caught either, you know it’s like pulling up a wiggling piece of plywood or a rocket-powered tube steak, respectively.
There isn’t a whole lot on the Charlottes – civilization-wise, anyway. What there is, however, is a more beauty that you can shake a stick at. Winter storms run down from Alaska with nothing to stop them before running into Haida Gwaii. Pristine beaches wrap the coastline, and an amazing amount of creatures fill both the land and the sea. There are hundreds and hundreds of miles of untouched coastline that most people will never see unless they’ve got a boat and a serious appetite for adventure, and somewhere within those miles is a place you’ll never forget.
4. The Outer Banks, North Carolina
OBX is an Atlantic paradise for surfers and fishermen. From New York to Florida, they offer some of the best waves on the right coast. Two hundred miles of barrier islands protecting the coast of North Carolina, the Outer Banks takes the brunt of the storms and turns spots like S-Turns into a funneling gold mine for barrel hunters.
And, of course, their position is almost perfect for some of the best fishing on the east coast of the Americas. The most popular type of fishing, partially because of the convenience of it, is simple, old-fashioned beach fishing. Casting a line off any stretch of shoreline for Mackerel, Bass or Blues, there’s a good chance of hooking something. But charter fishing is really where it’s at in the Outer Banks.
The Gulf Stream flows by the Outer Banks, providing some of the best big-catch fishing in the world. Most of the charters in the area get you up early, leaving between four and six am, so depending on tides, you’ll be back in time for an afternoon or an evening spent under a grinding OBX lip.
5. Puerto Escondido, Mexico
You knew this one would be on here. Puerto Escondido is basically a dream destination for surfing and fishing, as the Pacific Coast of Mexico plays host to some of the best waves in the world. The water is warm and there are waves everywhere you look. Between Sayulita, Troncones, Pascuales, Todos Santos, and of course, Puerto, you will find what you’re looking for, wave-wise, party-wise, and anything-you-want-wise. Mexico’s about hitting a literal dusty trail, getting sunburned to all hell, getting more waves than you should be allowed to, then kicking back with a big hat and a bigger beer.
It’s also about fishing. Most of the coastal towns began as (or still are) fishing towns. Sailfish, Blue Marlin, Dorado, Roosterfish, Yellowfin tuna, Snapper… all of them call Mexico home, and all of them are both exciting to catch and delicious to eat. Because of the tourism trade and their experience fishing off the coast of Mexico, charters are everywhere, so your only problem will be choosing one. And if you don’t feel like dropping a pocketful of dollars, just go stand in the sand and cast off shore. Catch a Roosterfish in the evening, and you’ll be doing wind sprints in the sand while dreaming about how hard you scored in the morning.