Top 5 Surf Spots

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­Surfing has been around for thousands of years, and it continues to grow in popularity as both a sport and a way of life. Originating among Polynesian fisherman who learned that riding the waves was an easy, quick way to arrive back on shore, surfing is now an international sport that attracts both hard-core, year-round surf devotees and vacationers just looking to have a few hours of fun in the sun. A distinct culture has developed around the surf lifestyle, and surfers seek out new places to chase the next big wave.

What makes a spot great for surfing? It's important to keep in mind that surfing is a year-long sport and not just summer activity. So, prime surf locations have good conditions during each season. But this doesn't mean it has to be warm and sunny out. In fact, winter weather patterns and tide movements often cause the biggest waves to break. For example, the temperature in Bundoran, Ireland­ is chilly even in the summer months, and the water can dip to frigid temperatures during the winter. But the huge swells of waves that crash here continue to attract adventurous surfers looking for a wild ride.

And sometimes the best surf spots aren't the ones that attract thousands of visitors; often, the best beaches for catching waves are known only to locals and surfing enthusiasts who will travel far and wide for the perfect wave. Surfers play their cards very close when it comes to hot surf spots. An onslaught of tourists could ruin the surf-style vibe and result in overcrowded conditions.

Where are the best spots to catch the biggest waves? Where can both beginners and pros alike enjoy the surfing spoils?