It's a sign of the times that seemingly all surf shops must now come equipped with a Slayer espresso machine operated by a pretentious barista. No longer contented to simply fondle a few handshapes and leave with bar of wax, surfers—particularly urban-based surfers—also need an exotically sourced pour-over from a third-wave coffee purveyor and a selection of artisanal baked goods, while they scope out new surf crafts. It's clear that the needs of surfers have evolved quite a bit since the post-war years of Kivlin, Quigg and company, content to eat canned meats and retire to improvisational thatched-roof shelters after hours of riding waves on the North Shore. Today, it seems that coast-adjacent, dense, urban areas best meet the needs of the contemporary surfer.
In the gig economy, cities—regional and global centers of industry, commerce, and culture—are where the jobs are. Modern cities have become walk-able, gastronomic and booze-centric, tolerant and progressive playgrounds for a Millennial generation primed to live and work in a more communal, stimulating environment. And when you stir in an accessible coastline and roughly a hundred days of ridable waves per year, a city can also provide a surfer a dynamic and balanced existence.
So in case you're considering a relocation opportunity, we pored over job statistics, surf reports, and city guides—taking into consideration surf proximity and quality, employment opportunities, and quality of life—to narrow down the world's best surf cities. The list we've assembled includes ten world centers, economic hubs revered for their cultural institutions where one can find a steady job and consistent-enough surf to satiate the most wave-obsessed among us. These are cities where, even if you're resigned to only surf with the weekend warrior crowd, you'll never be bored—provided you haven't handed over all your disposable income to some pretentious barista.
Next on the list…
Tel Aviv, Gush Dan
It ain't SoCal and it certainly ain't the Sunshine Coast, but Israel's got surf. And with the surprising amount of fetch it picks up off the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, Tel Aviv beachbreaks like Hilton Beach Jetty and Dromi to the south can provide some punch, while northern reef breaks like Bat Galim add some variety. It's about as far off the known surf map as one can wander, but that's part of the appeal—as is the region's warm water and the city's richly eclectic and international cultural scene.
Tel Aviv's economy is surprisingly dynamic, with world-envied business and scientific research sectors and an upstart high-tech scene, which has helped earn Israel the nickname "startup nation." A rapidly developing city with a raging tourist economy and relatively high minimum wage (north of $2k/month), Tel Aviv's got a plethora of opportunities for those looking to work in the service industry and construction. Meanwhile, the financial sector, built around the renowned Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE), is bolstered by several international venture capital firms and investments in the previously mentioned high-tech industry. It's expensive, so if you want to live and work here, it's best to come correct with some experience, expertise, or resilience—but preferably all three.
QUALITY OF LIFE:
The existential threat related to the region's centuries long geo-political turmoil is of less concern than one might think in Tel Aviv. Ignoring the potential for impending harm, an international contingent of tourists and ex-pats flock to the city and Tel Aviv greets them with immutable sunshine, delectable Middle Eastern cuisine, and a 24-7 party atmosphere from the beach to the discotheque.
Median Income: $30,000
Top Industries: Technology, Construction, Tourism, Financial Services
Median Home Price: $764,000
Median Rental Price: $1,325/month for a 1BR in city center
Water Temperature Range: 62-81F
Surf Spots: Hilton Beach, Dromi, Maravi, Galim