Work and Surf: 8 Digital Nomad Destinations for Surfers

by Candice Land
Published: Last Updated on

For as long as I can remember, we’ve been choosing our digital nomad destinations based on where we can find the best swell – and whether or not we can afford the experience. Nothing beats the feeling of combining work and surf and realizing that the two go hand-in-hand.

There are plenty of surfing destinations around the world that have developed for the digital nomad. While many of these are expensive first-world countries, the opportunity to host people who work and surf has boosted tourism and technological advancements in several third-world countries too.

In our opinion, Bali is one of the best digital nomad destinations for surfers, and you can read about it here.

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What to Consider When You Work and Surf

Before we dive into the destinations, there are a few factors that will have a large role to play in the decision. While each of the locations listed here has epic surf in common, there are other details that need to be considered.

  • Affordability – as South Africans, which has a significantly weaker currency, we pay close attention to the exchange rate and cost of living whenever visiting a place to see if we can afford a longer-term stay
  • Internet speeds – most digital nomads can’t work without an internet connection – and a good one at that! Don’t get caught with your pants down by overlooking the internet speed and availability
  • Surf season – you want to make sure that you stay in a city when the swell is at its finest which may not be all-year-around

View our guide on the best places in the world to surf around the world, during each month of the year.

If you’re looking for a quick and effective overview when comparing two cities, then Nomad Travel Tools is a platform that you should bookmark. It dives deep into details needed to compare and explore digital nomad destinations.

Explore Nomad Travel Tools here.

1.   Cape Town, South Africa

Ah, home, sweet home! We can’t sing Cape Town’s praises enough as one of the top digital nomad destinations with a consistent swell. There are several coworking spaces scattered around the city, and rent is affordable with a lot of space for a desk and home office set up. The low cost of living will be easy on your wallet, and the vibrant culture will make you rich in other ways.

The coastline is expansive, giving visitors an opportunity to dip their toes in both the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian Ocean. When it’s unpleasant on one coast, you can jump in your car and visit the other.

  • Best season for surf: June – August
  • Affordability: $
  • Internet speed: 28.7 Mbps (broadband) / 31.14 Mbps (mobile)

Read more about working as a digital nomad in Cape Town here.

surfing in blouberg

2.   Oahu, Hawaii

Oahu is well known as a surf spot that boasts some of the best surf swell in the world, especially if you’re more experienced on the board.  What many people don’t realize is that Oahu is also a fantastic digital nomad destination. Oahu has grown in popularity among remote workers, with a wide choice of coffee shops and coworking spaces to set up shop.

On the downside, Hawaii has a high cost of living. It turns out that living in a lush, surfing wonderland comes at a cost. While this may make Oahu a pricey destination for us, it’s feasible for those that earn in stronger currencies.

  • Best season for surf: October – April
  • Affordability: $$$
  • Internet speed: 132.45 Mbps (broadband) / 41.68 Mbps (mobile)

3.   Canggu, Bali

Bali is known (and loved) as the pioneer of the digital nomad life. While Ubud originally put Bali on the map for working remotely, there’s no ocean in Ubud. Luckily, Canggu is close enough, offering the same low cost of living and Indonesian culture – but with some banging waves.

Canggu is an incredible spot for experienced surfers and kooks alike, with Bali surf camps available for all levels. Bali is one of the destinations that has adapted for digital nomads like no other. On one hand, there’s the rustic, tropical lifestyle that is home to the friendly Indonesian people. On the other hand, there’s a bustling coworking and coffee shop scene, with decent internet. And even better waves!

  • Best season for surf: May to September
  • Affordability: $
  • Internet speed: 20.13 Mbps (broadband) / 14.05 Mbps (mobile)

Read more about Canggu surf in our guide here.

Surfboard on motorbike in Canggu, Bali

4.   Sydney, Australia

There are a few things that are iconic to Australia: surfing, kangaroos, and the Opera House. Sydney offers two of the three. With more than 70 surfable beaches in the city, you have your choice of swell throughout the year, regardless of your level.

There’s also a thriving startup scene in Sydney, which means that there’s a lot of stimulation and inspiration. Coworking spaces, entrepreneurial meetups, and wifi-fueled coffee shops are readily available. The only real challenge is the visa process – so do your research beforehand!

  • Best season for surf: April to September
  • Affordability: $$$
  • Internet speed: 43.4 Mbps (broadband) / 63.98 Mbps (mobile)

5.   Ericeira, Portugal

Our first digital nomad destination was Lisbon, a stone’s throw away from the surf town of Ericeira. The reef break is notoriously powerful and hollow, making it the perfect digital nomad destination for those that love to shred after a day at the desk.

On the digital nomad front, Ericeira offers a laid-back lifestyle with everything that you need to work and make it work. As a bonus, it’s less than an hour-long bus trip to the bustling, historical city of Lisbon.

  • Best season for surf: May to September (beginners), September to May (intermediate-advanced)
  • Affordability: $
  • Internet speed: 39 Mbps

6.   Puerto Escondido, México

Puerto Escondido is a vibrant city that offers the relaxing lifestyle that the tropical postcards promise, with a surf spot for every person. It also has an established remote working community and coworking space.

The cost of living is decent, and the quality of life is excellent. Nothing beats the smell of sunblock, the thriving beach strip, and challenging waves to carve after a long day at work. One detail to consider is the internet connection which isn’t as readily accessible as we’d hope for. With this in mind, you may want to pack a portable internet connection.

Get your portable hotspot, MiFi, and internet solutions here.

  • Best season for surf: May to September
  • Affordability: $$
  • Internet speed: 37.23 Mbps (broadband) / 27.43 Mbps (mobile)

Keen to read about the stunning beaches in Oaxaca? Check them out here.

surfing in puerto escondido

7.   Santa Teresa, Costa Rica

There’s a variety of surf spots in Santa Teresa, pinning Costa Rica at the top of the list of versatile surf spots. The tropical destination offers an opportunity to live immersively in nature, being framed by the ocean and the jungle, within a deeply cultural community.

When you’re not duck-diving the Costa Rica swell, then you’re probably grinding to make the lifestyle a possibility. And once again, Santa Teresa has you covered. And we’re not just talking about their coffee culture. Even so, your trusty portable wifi device will come in handy again. While the internet is improving, it still has some way to go.

  • Best season for surf: May to November
  • Affordability: $$
  • Internet speed: 32.88 Mbps (broadband) / 14.9 Mbps (mobile)

Browse the best surf camps in Costa Rica here.

8.   San Diego, California

Would this list be complete if we didn’t include a Cali-spot on this list? San Diego’s Trestles is one of the most revered surf spots in the world, with a long coastline of alternatives for surfers of every level.

The city itself is advanced, with everything that you need for a smooth working day at your fingertips. In addition to a selection of coffee shops, coworking spaces, and places to rent, San Diego is also an English-speaking state which makes communication a lot easier for English-speakers. If you are looking some things to do in your downtime, check these things to do for families in San Diego.

  • Best season for surf: August to November
  • Affordability: $$$
  • Internet speed: 132.55 Mbps (broadband) / 41.68 Mbps (mobile)

Ready to Go?

This is just a taste of the awesome surfing destinations that are every surfer’s dream. Whether you’re a novice or a pro, these spots offer unlimited fun to be had when you’re finished the working day.

If you want to take it a step further, you can browse our list of countries that offer a digital nomad destination.

Read here!

We shape our bucket list based on our desire to surf. What’s your main consideration when choosing your destination? We’d love to hear. Drop us a DM on Instagram and let us know.

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