Four Classic Road Trips

The point of a road trip isn’t always perfect waves, jaw-dropping scenery, exotic women, and endless highways … oh wait, yes it is. These are four different road trips that will point you toward the waves of your life, introduce you to new cultures, and possibly change your life-especially if you marry one of those hippie babes in Byron Bay.

Baja California

With this many surf spots, you could spend an entire summer driving from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas.

Starting point: San Diego, California U.S.A.

Finishing point: Cabo San Lucas, Baja California, Mexico

Distance: 1,059 miles (one way)

This one’s a banger. For 1,059 hot and dusty miles, you’ll have access to one of the most remote and beautiful coastlines in the world. Traveling south down the Transpeninsular Highway, or Highway 1 for short, you’ll pass by every type of wave imaginable. Baja Malibu, Todos Santos, Salsipuedes, and San Miguel are world-class waves-and you’ll hit those in the first hundred miles.

Terrain-wise, northern Baja California is much like its American counterpart, but less developed and way cheaper. Central Baja is a labyrinth of mountain ranges, fertile grape- and olive-growing valleys, and isolated, quality point breaks. Farther south, the desert takes over and civilization vanishes-until you get to Cabo, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow where cold beer and dancing women await you.

When driving to “The Tip,” keep in mind that you’re in a foreign country where English isn’t the predominant language, social customs are different, and the pace of life is much slower. Nobody will care if you’re in a hurry, so just chill out and enjoy the ride. Get weird and drive down that dirt road with a speck of blue at the end. You just may find a secret little gem of a wave at the end or maybe some abalone stew-the best thing a toothless fisherman will ever give you.

When: Swells hit the Baja peninsula year-round. Generally speaking, though, northern and central Baja are better during the winter, and southern Baja is the place to be during south-swell season.

Road Conditions: Very good to the worst you’ve ever seen. Signs are in Spanish, truckers own the narrow road, and Mexican drivers have this strange urge to pass at the tops of hills and around blind corners.

Vehicle: Something extremely dependable and preferably diesel. Diesel because of the extended range, and dependable because, duh, you’re in the desert. Don’t forget an extra spare tire, too.

Terrain: Desert intermittently broken up by mountain ranges, salt flats, and valleys.

Equipment: From cruising on a longboard at the mellow right points of central Baja to twenty-footers at Killers on Todos Santos, there’s a wave for every surfboard in Baja. Wetsuit-wise, you’ll need some rubber as water temperatures don’t get trunkable until you get almost all the way to Cabo. Bring all your camping gear-you won’t find an REI or A16 anywhere.

Good Advice: Don’t drive at night. Don’t bring drugs. And if you get pulled over by the cops, calmly explain that you would like to pay the fine right then and there, just don’t let them see your nest egg!

Music:

Calexico, Convict Pool-Indie rock fused with mariachi-influenced horns.

Sublime, 40oz. To Freedom-Classic California stoner rock that plays for hours on end.

Santana, Greatest Hits-Carlos Santana was raised in Baja and nearly drowned at Rosarito Beach-he feels your hold-down.

Five Must-Surf Spots:

Killers-On Todos Santos Island, just offshore of Ensenada, lies aptly named Killers. With waves in the twenty-foot-plus range, all you’ll need is a 9’6″ and some major cojones.

Baja Malibu-One of the best beachbreaks on the entire West Coast, BM’s is a guaranteed barrel on every wave when it’s on.

The Wall-A super consistent, cobblestone bottom, Trestles type of wave that breaks both ways. An ideal spot for camping and fishing, too.

Conejo-A big left point that breaks up tten feet. Sealife abounds, with decapitated seal carcasses on the beach-and big fish in the water.

Shipwrecks-Located in the “East Cape” outside of Cabo, Shipwrecks gets all types of south swells and is a gateway for excellent points deeper into the desert.

On The Way: As you pass by the natural-gas plant being built north of Ensenada by Sempra Energy, give them the bird. They’ve ruined one of the premier breaks in Baja, Harry’s, and deserve to be heckled at the least. Otherwise, stop by panaderias (bakeries) and taco stands, and load up on goodies for the 24-hour drive.-Justin Cotà‡

Hurricane Alley

This road trip can be the heart-pounding surf adventure of a lifetime or the most intense storm you will ever weather.

Starting point: Vero Beach, Florida

Finishing point: Outer Banks, North Carolina

Distance: 890 miles (one way)

During hurricane season, a section of land otherwise known as “Storm Bait” absorbs beautiful, warm water bombs produced by that which destroys the majority of what lies before it-a hurricane. “Storm Bait” is the stretch of land from Miami, Florida to Cape Hatteras, North Carolina with a temperate climate and for the most part, unpopulated breaks. With the right hurricane, these spots are ready to be exploited, but keep in mind you’ll be enjoying stolen moments. Nature doesn’t like that.

Will you catch it or will it catch you? The answer lies within your knowledge of previous hurricane paths, the right spots for the right storm, and how to cover the greatest distances in the least amount of time. The most important part of this equation is your ability to predict the path of the storm. The best storm to chase will make its northerly turn up the Atlantic seaboard about 400 miles offshore. This distance will give you sunny skies, offshore winds, a well-developed swell, and time to get the hell out of there if you get caught with your hand in the cookie jar.

Once you’ve picked the storm, it’s time to pick the spot and follow the mass of wind and water until you hit the empty playground of the Outer Banks or your gas card gets maxed out.

When: August through November. Keep in mind this season is patchy. Plan more around the storm rather than just picking a random week.

Road Conditions: Well-maintained highways. But there is a difference between driving on the interstates of the southeast versus the sandy, empty expanse of the Outer Banks. Don’t do it with your two-wheel-drive 1988 Honda. At times, you’ll have to pay to use certain highways. Keep a bunch of spare change handy.

Vehicle: Any vehicle will work for this trip, but a 4×4 truck with a camper top is ideal. This will allow you unlimited access to the Outer Banks and somewhere to sleep if the rain starts.

Terrain: Flat, flat, flat-not the surf, the terrain.

Equipment: This is a serious all-or-nothing trip. Bring two of your best sticks. You may need a spring suit or a 2mm top, depending on how far north and how late in the season you go. Bring all the standard gear: first-aid kit, camping gear, mosquito repellant, and rash guard for when you go out to the clubs-you know, the usual. A good GPS loaded with East Coast maps, and a weather radio are key, too.

Good advice: While surfing in the “Storm Bait” area use terms like “dad gum” and “som’nuv a bitch.” And don’t wear anything shiny. On the West Coast, the sharks are attracted to things that look like seals, and on the East Coast, the sharks are attracted to things that look like fish (shiny stuff). So forget wearing that silver banana hammock you’ve been meaning to break out.

Music:

Alabama, Ultimate Alabama-Use this one if you get stranded at a fish fry. You’ll fit right in!

June Of 44, The Anatomy Of Sharks-This one will pump you up and scare the crap out of you, which is good, because you’ll need both of these emotions.

Modest Mouse, This Is A Long Drive For Someone With Nothing To Think About-Scream “Beach Side Property” prior to your last session, and finish on a high note.

Five Must-Surf Spots:

Sebastian Inlet-A great, ledgey right-hander that holds a decent sized swell, but it will get packed! The later you go in the season, the less likely you are to run across large groups of sharks migrating up the coast. No man-eaters, but they’re big enough, so hold high whatever you don’t want to lose.

Blow Hole (St. Augustine, FL)-This spot will manhandle a hurricane swell from the south and the north, and it will keep you out of Jacksonville. Trust us on this.

Sandbar (18th Street jetty on Tybee Island, GA)-Go here for a fun chest-high swell. Don’t go here if the swell gets over eight feet because the Continental shelf is really shallow off the coast, which slows a big swell into a sloppy closeout.

Washouts (Folly Beach, SC)-A diamond in the rough. A punchy, chest- to head-high wave that gives great speed for those super long, violently ending floaters.

Shipwrecks (Outer Banks, NC)-The closest the East Coasters will come to perfection outside of driving to the frigid waters of the Northeast. Keep in mind that the Outer Banks are always shifting. Spots do change, and there will always be a perfect wave left undiscovered because it wasn’t there a week ago.

On The Way: You must spend a night in Charleston, South Carolina. Go into town to a lounge/bar called “Charley’s Little Bar.” It’s located near the College Of Charleston, where the chicken to rooster ratio is nine to one-are you getting the picture? It’s suggested to go surfing before you go to the bar, not after. Surfing with an extreme hangover is never a good idea, and chances are you’ll be miles away from the beach at one of the chickens’ house when the swell hits. Everyone knows you can get chickens anytime, but you can only get the swell of a lifetime once.

-John Paul King

A Simple Adventure

Take a short road trip on New Zealand’s North Island, and you’ll soon realize that God is a goofy-foot, and he lives outside of Raglan.

Starting Point: Auckland, New Zealand

Finishing Point: Auckland, New Zealand

Distance: 250 miles (round trip)

New Zealand is one of the most beautiful places on Earth. With that being said, the most amazing road trip you can take in this majestic country will take you from the capital city of Auckland, down to the world-renowned point break Raglan and all the way up to the wild edge of the country at a place called Reinga.

As you drive (on the right side of the road, by the way), you’ll meander past countless river mouths, lush green fields, winding rivers, a 90-mile beach, and dozens of perfect left-hand point breaks that will call to you like a playground calls a child. These breaks are mellow, long, ultra-rippable, and rarely anything even a mediocre surfer couldn’t handle.

The scenery on these roads is that of legend. Lord Of The Rings was filmed in New Zealand, so expect a variety of landscapes-even in the span of 250 miles, you will see at least five different types of countryside.

If you’re looking for beautiful nature, fun waves, friendly people, and an easy road trip, the road from Raglan to Reinga is calling.

When: This area of New Zealand has waves year-round. Your best bet for consistency is May through October. It’s gonna rain a lot and you’ll be in booties, but you’ll also be ripping waves as long as 300 yards.

Road conditions: You’ll pretty much be on one road the whole time. Bring along a simple map and you’re set. If you get off track, ask for directions-people in New Zealand are wonderful. Remember, though, it’s right side driving and there’re hidden speed cameras, so mind your roll.

Vehicle: A camper van is great for hitting up all the campsites that dot the coast. These things are cake to drive, too, so you might as well forgo a car and ride in style. You can rent them right at the airport.

Terrain: Green fields, high mountains, wide hardpacked beaches,ide Property” prior to your last session, and finish on a high note.

Five Must-Surf Spots:

Sebastian Inlet-A great, ledgey right-hander that holds a decent sized swell, but it will get packed! The later you go in the season, the less likely you are to run across large groups of sharks migrating up the coast. No man-eaters, but they’re big enough, so hold high whatever you don’t want to lose.

Blow Hole (St. Augustine, FL)-This spot will manhandle a hurricane swell from the south and the north, and it will keep you out of Jacksonville. Trust us on this.

Sandbar (18th Street jetty on Tybee Island, GA)-Go here for a fun chest-high swell. Don’t go here if the swell gets over eight feet because the Continental shelf is really shallow off the coast, which slows a big swell into a sloppy closeout.

Washouts (Folly Beach, SC)-A diamond in the rough. A punchy, chest- to head-high wave that gives great speed for those super long, violently ending floaters.

Shipwrecks (Outer Banks, NC)-The closest the East Coasters will come to perfection outside of driving to the frigid waters of the Northeast. Keep in mind that the Outer Banks are always shifting. Spots do change, and there will always be a perfect wave left undiscovered because it wasn’t there a week ago.

On The Way: You must spend a night in Charleston, South Carolina. Go into town to a lounge/bar called “Charley’s Little Bar.” It’s located near the College Of Charleston, where the chicken to rooster ratio is nine to one-are you getting the picture? It’s suggested to go surfing before you go to the bar, not after. Surfing with an extreme hangover is never a good idea, and chances are you’ll be miles away from the beach at one of the chickens’ house when the swell hits. Everyone knows you can get chickens anytime, but you can only get the swell of a lifetime once.

-John Paul King

A Simple Adventure

Take a short road trip on New Zealand’s North Island, and you’ll soon realize that God is a goofy-foot, and he lives outside of Raglan.

Starting Point: Auckland, New Zealand

Finishing Point: Auckland, New Zealand

Distance: 250 miles (round trip)

New Zealand is one of the most beautiful places on Earth. With that being said, the most amazing road trip you can take in this majestic country will take you from the capital city of Auckland, down to the world-renowned point break Raglan and all the way up to the wild edge of the country at a place called Reinga.

As you drive (on the right side of the road, by the way), you’ll meander past countless river mouths, lush green fields, winding rivers, a 90-mile beach, and dozens of perfect left-hand point breaks that will call to you like a playground calls a child. These breaks are mellow, long, ultra-rippable, and rarely anything even a mediocre surfer couldn’t handle.

The scenery on these roads is that of legend. Lord Of The Rings was filmed in New Zealand, so expect a variety of landscapes-even in the span of 250 miles, you will see at least five different types of countryside.

If you’re looking for beautiful nature, fun waves, friendly people, and an easy road trip, the road from Raglan to Reinga is calling.

When: This area of New Zealand has waves year-round. Your best bet for consistency is May through October. It’s gonna rain a lot and you’ll be in booties, but you’ll also be ripping waves as long as 300 yards.

Road conditions: You’ll pretty much be on one road the whole time. Bring along a simple map and you’re set. If you get off track, ask for directions-people in New Zealand are wonderful. Remember, though, it’s right side driving and there’re hidden speed cameras, so mind your roll.

Vehicle: A camper van is great for hitting up all the campsites that dot the coast. These things are cake to drive, too, so you might as well forgo a car and ride in style. You can rent them right at the airport.

Terrain: Green fields, high mountains, wide hardpacked beaches, and generally breathtaking beauty everywhere you look.

Equipment: Two shortboards, a mid-range gun, a few good wetsuits, a pair of booties, and a camera. Bring warm clothes and rain gear for sure. A small assortment of camping gear will help you along the way, but the camper vans come pretty well-stocked with everything you need. If you forget something, you can grab whatever you want in any town.

Good Advice: Bring a camera and a ton of film (or wake up and get yourself a digital camera with a beefy memory card).

Music:

Tortoise, Millions Now Living Will Never Die-Mellow, instrumental, ambient music that will flow along with you as you drive.

The D4, 6Twenty-New Zealand’s best rock band belts out a raw mix of AC/DC and Motà®rhead-perfect pre-surf ramp-up music.

The Polyphonic Spree, The Beginning Stages Of … -Happy music for a happy place. If you’re blasting this disc during a New Zealand sunrise, your day is gonna be fantastic-guaranteed.

Five Must-Surf Spots:

Raglan-New Zealand’s most famous break. It’s a super fun, left-hand rock point that’s long, fun, and rippable. The town of Raglan is also a treat with its quaint charm and positive, mellow vibes.

Shipwreck Bay-The longest wave you will ever surf. If the swell is right, you can surf waves for up to 300 yards. This point is a goofy-footers dream! There’re also five or six points above the main point.

Scott Point Bay-Fun beachbreak with tons of space. It’s very consistent and solitary.

Piha-A long stretch of more rippable beachbreaks-fun, fun, fun!

The Bluff-Left sandbar in the middle of the 90 Mile Beach, with wedging left-hand bowls that spin across sand.

On the Way: Your road trip from Raglan to Reinga is like traveling back in time, so go slow. Stop a lot, talk to locals, eat in restaurants, and relax. The speed of New Zealand’s North coast is set at chill, so be sure to function accordingly.-Chris Cotà‡

The Pacific Highway

The drive from Sydney to the Gold Coast is so surf rich, it’s practically an exercise in restraint.

Starting point: Sydney, Australia

Finishing point: Gold Coast, Australia

Distance: 450 miles (one way)

The 450-mile stretch of coast from Sydney to the Gold Coast is quite possibly the most surf-friendly drive on Earth. As you travel up Australia’s Pacific Highway, you’ll find everything from playful beachbreaks to heavy reef breaks, as well as some of the best right points on the planet, including Dee Why, Snapper Rocks, and Kirra, to name just a few.

The northern New South Wales countryside is lush and green, with each new headland sheltering a sleepy surf town. Campgrounds near the beach abound and are cheap to stay in. If it’s nightlife you’re craving, this drive is bracketed by Sydney in the south and the Gold Coast in the north-metropolises with no shortage of cold beer, loose women, fancy hotels, pumping nightclubs, and posh restaurants.

The thing to keep in mind on a road trip in New South Wales is to keep it moving. You’re going to want to explore every little town you pass through, you’re gonna want a VB in every pub in sight of the surf, you’re gonna want to paddle out at every headland that pops up on the horizon, you’re gonna want to sleep with every hot hippie chick in Byron Bay, but if you did, you’d be here for a century. And maybe that’s not a bad idea.

When: January through July. Just like in most places, late summer, fall, and early winter are the best time for surf between Sydney and the Goldy.

Road Conditions: Great roads and signage mean no real need for four-wheel drive. Right-side drive only, though … good luck. Beware of speed cameras every ten miles or so. Aussies are pretty anal about the speed limit.

Vehicle: Station wagon or RV, depending on the size of your crew.

Terrain: Cityscapes in Sydney and on the Gold Coast; rural grasslands, forests, and picturesque beach towns in between.

Equipment: You won’t need much more t