Top 5 Digital Nomad Destinations (for Surfers)!

After 5 years of living around the world, I have rounded up the best digital nomad locations for surfers! Prioritizing internet speed, entrepreneurial community, food, and surf. It’s been a blessing being able to travel the world with my online business, and teaching my clients how to do the same. If you are looking for a new area of the world to explore, or if you are manifesting this lifestyle for yourself, tune in!

Tune in or read the blog version below!

Prefer to read? Here’s the blog version…

Some food for thought to start off today’s episode: most people overestimate what they can accomplish in a day and underestimate what they can accomplish in a year.

Have you ever looked back on a specific year in your life where everything has just changed?

Maybe it was when you decided to take a leap and your life shifted upside down.

If you’ve never experienced one of those years, it can just seem like a pipe dream, but believe me, and believe many members and testimonials in our community: your life can change drastically in a year’s time!

In today’s episode, I’m going to be sharing my top five digital nomad destinations for surfers. It’s crazy to think I didn’t even start surfing until 2019!

And so for me to be recording this episode for other digital nomads, remote workers, and surfers out there, if you had told me that I would be doing this while I was working a corporate job, I probably would’ve thought you were insane.

Girl surfing on a wave
Ocean therapy

Reflecting on my early Digital Nomad days

I used to work a corporate finance job in New York City. I quit my job in 2017, started traveling the world full-time in 2018, took on surfing in 2019, and now surfing is such an integral part of my life and business.

So if you think that you don’t have the power or the control in your life to make these big, massive scary changes, welcome to my show and know that you are basically going to be proven wrong.

You can do really hard things in life, and I fully believe you have the power to design a life that you are wildly obsessed with.

So to preface, my online business journey and my digital nomad journey has gone through many iterations.

When I first started traveling full-time, I still traveled like someone who was working in corporate, I would country hop and tried to do something every single day.

I really had no base because when I was working in finance, I was given limited vacation days.

And so I really maximized every single day to be go, go, go.

What that led to was burnout was overwhelm. I felt like I didn’t have enough time to spend in my business. I couldn’t focus and there was just so many distractions.

I was staying at hostels all the time. And for those of you who are familiar with hostels, you’ll know that it’s a very party environment. You’re constantly meeting new people, new backpackers, and it’s just really not that conducive to getting work done.

When I did find time to work, I was trying so many new things on my Instagram, on my blog, on my website shop. I remember my first product I had found on AliExpress. It was this gold necklace with a world map pendant and I put that on my shop.

I was going to dropship it and I didn’t make any sales. I also remember I wrote an affiliate post on my website. I thought I was going to be able to travel and make money from affiliate postings, and I didn’t make any sales either.

I understand it can be so frustrating when you feel like you’re just throwing spaghetti at the wall, you’re trying to learn and you really don’t know what’s going to work for you or whether you’re doing the right things on a day-to-day basis.

But again, do not underestimate what you and your business can do in a year.

I’m so happy to say after years of growing my business, scaling it to multiple five figure months consistently on a monthly basis, giving me the freedom to choose where in the world I am based.

I would not have it any other way. 

Best Digital Nomad Locations

Man surfing with a lot of ocean spray
Ragz shredding

After the past few years of traveling full-time and learning that I work best when I am based in a location for at least a few months.

This allows me to really integrate with the local community, create my routine, create my workflow, and plan out my day optimally without feeling rushed or without feeling like I have to constantly be on the move, I have rounded up the top five digital nomad destinations for surfers.

I want to be really transparent this might not apply for everyone. Maybe you have different hobbies, maybe you have different interests, maybe your business runs differently. 

But for me, most of my clients are in America. I am super flexible with the times of day I work outside of those client calls.

I sometimes have group calls throughout the year group business coaching calls where I also need to be uploading call replays. And so I require a fast internet connection to work remotely.

I also upload podcast episodes and YouTube videos. So I need the internet to be strong enough to support those business functions, whereas if you don’t do any calls and you just need internet to post on Instagram or send some emails, maybe your requirements are going to be different.

I have traveled to over 60 countries. I have lived in a handful of them over the past few years.

I also want to preface that my partner, Ragz and I, we both surf. I am a longboarder, so I prefer tiny manageable baby waves, whereas he is a shortboarder and he hunts for bigger barrels.

Surfing is a non-negotiable for us both. So we tend to gravitate towards beachside, oceanside, surf towns with a thriving digital nomad, entrepreneurial expat scene.

One thing that gives us peace of mind as we travel all over and helps us prepare for the unexpected is our travel medical insurance through SafetyWing.

You don’t need pre-approval and can sign up in 5 minutes even if your trip has started. My favorite thing about SafetyWing is that it has coverage in over 180+ countries, so even if I don’t know where I’ll be going next, I know I’ll be covered. You can sign up here and cancel anytime!

5. Puerto Escondido, Mexico

Clear blue waters in Puerto Escondido, Mexico with palm trees and surfers

I’m gonna start with number five, which is Mexico and where we’re actually returning to in March.

I’m gonna say each country, but I am fully aware that each country is massive and there’s just so many cities. I’m going to say in general, the areas we have visited, the areas I recommend as well as pros and cons of the country. Two years ago we spent a few months in Puerto Escondido in Oaxaca where we stayed in a midterm rental.

Pros 

We were renting on a month to month basis, which comes out always significantly cheaper than if you were to rent on a nightly or weekly basis.

For example, in New York City, a hotel room can cost upwards of $500 to $1000+ per night, but you can rent an apartment on a monthly basis for a few thousand, like $2000 per month.

So same thing with other destinations. You are always able to find a better deal the longer you stay, which is one of the perks of having a digital nomad lifestyle. In Puerto Escondido, we rented a beautiful two-story villa for around $1200 USD a month, and it was in a really central part of town. We were able to walk to a lot of restaurants and we really loved the scene there.

There was a lot to see. There were waves, the water was warm, there was a great community. We made a lot of friends and Mexican food is incredible. 

Girl surfing on a longboard in Mexico
La Punta in Puerto Escondido

Cons

But if you were to go back to my podcast episodes that I was trying to record in Mexico, I went through a lot of headaches because of the Wifi situation. Even though there were some co-working spaces like Selena, we couldn’t find a decent reliable wifi connection over 10 to 15 mbps per second. They simply didn’t have the infrastructure to support faster internet connections.

And on top of that, sometimes the internet and the data network would just go out completely without explanation for hours and hours on end.

Because I was doing live videos back then because I had coaching calls with my coach and I had to miss all of them, it was causing a lot of stress on my life and my business, and we looked to move elsewhere. 

2024 Update: Since the pandemic, Puerto Escondido has gotten SO incredibly pricy and touristy (but they have Starlink now so internet connection is not an issue). I actually would not recommend going there if you surf, because the waves are super packed. Instead, check out Chacahua a little further north!

Other locations in Mexico

Now more about Mexico, I know that on the East Coast by Playa Del Carmen and Tulum, there’s a lot more coworking spaces. However, there’s no surf because it’s the Caribbean, so it’s flat.

But if you don’t surf, you know, look on the Yucatan for a digital nomad destination.

Another place we’re looking into is Baja California. The infrastructure there is a lot better, and it’s more connected to America. So we’re going to check out that peninsula in the near future.

When we go back to Mexico this time around, we are looking to go to La Saladita, it’s in Guerrero and there’s a Mexi Log Fest, a longboarding competition, and we’re going to stay there for a month or two.

I don’t have high hopes for the internet situation because again, it’s on the Pacific coast of Mexico where there’s surf, but no infrastructure for fast internet.

We’re going to make it work. I’m not going to be planning any Instagram lives or any group calls while we’re there.

All in all, Mexico is massive. So I’m not giving up on it yet. I just know that there are so many parts of the country, so much I haven’t explored yet, especially as a an online business owner.

That is why I am giving it the number five spot. Go check it out. It is an amazing country with so much history, so much culture. If you can find a spot that works for you, let me know!

4. Ericeira, Portugal 

Pros

Home to a thriving digital nomad community, world-famous cuisine and rugged coastlines, Portugal is a wonderful choice for entrepreneurs looking for a change of scenery. We spent a few months in Ericeira, with additional visits to Lisbon and the Douro Valley.

While we didn’t make it to the south coast, where Lagos is, we have heard some incredible things. With fast internet, reliable connections and plenty of co-working spaces, staying in Portugal as a digital nomad is pretty smooth sailing.

Aside from being able to work there, one thing I absolutely love about Ericeira is the seafood. Feasting on octopus and sipping Portuguese wine on top of a cliff literally became part of my daily routine.

I also met a lot of expat families with young children and it was just so refreshing and inspirational to see them living an alternate lifestyle.

Portugal is also a lot cheaper than other European countries, which is great for digital nomads hoping to earn and save.

If you are in Ericeira, check out Kelp Cowork. We pretty much lived in this awesome space!

Cons

The biggest thing that stood out for me was that you need a car and a wetsuit to surf in Portugal. As the best surfing spots are really hard to reach, you’ll need to invest in a vehicle.

Surprisingly, the water in Portugal is also pretty cold which can be annoying, especially if your suit is really thick, like mine. We visited during March and April and it was also super windy.

I’m not sure if it’s just because of the season but the waves honestly weren’t as good as other places we’ve been to.

Another thing to keep in mind is that we also had a really hard time trying to find a long-term visa that would allow us to stay in Europe for more than 90 days. We were actually unsuccessful in doing so.

So, if you are hoping to stay in Portugal for longer, you’ll need to undertake some more research to find the right pathway.

Overall, I loved my time in Portugal and, even though the surf was a little underwhelming, I would definitely return!

3. Hawaii, United States 

Pros

With golden sands, big waves and laid back island vibes, it’s safe to say that Hawaii is a surfer’s paradise! From beginners to the most experienced surfers, Hawaii has a wave for everyone.

Defined by its beautiful scenery, Hawaii is great for hiking. As it’s an American state, you can expect fast internet and access to things like Costcos and Amazon Prime, which you won’t find in other countries.

Another thing I love about Hawaii is the food. With so many different delicacies on offer, your tastebuds will never get bored. My absolute favorites are poke and musubi.

If you’re looking to improve your surfing skills, Hawaii is the place to be. The reason for this is because everyone around you is surfing and the skill level of the surfers is higher than anywhere else in the world. That’s because the locals grew up with it and they go into the water every single day.

If you immerse yourself into the surfing crowd, you WILL improve for sure. In Hawaii, it’s totally normal to go for a surf after work and if you adopt that same philosophy, you will notice a huge difference in both your mind and body!

Longboarding in Waikiki Hawaii

Read my ultimate couple’s vacation guide to O’ahu if you are planning your visit!

Cons

Living as a digital nomad in Hawaii comes at a cost. The high cost of living is often referred to by the locals as the paradise tax.

Everything is imported so you can expect high prices. As a result, there is also a really high number of homelessness. If you’re considering coming to Hawaii, try your best to make a budget ahead of time and do some research beforehand to get a rough idea of prices.

The other thing about Hawaii is that island fever is real. While we didn’t experience it ourselves, I’ve heard it a lot from the locals that feel like they have the same routine or that they are “stuck” on an island.

Personally, I feel that I could easily live in Hawaii without getting sick of it. It’s such a beautiful, peaceful place where you can truly unwind and reconnect with nature. There’s still so much I want to explore and I can’t wait to return!

2. Florianópolis, Brazil

Top Beaches in Florianopolis

Pros

Coming in at number two is Brazil. During my visit to Brazil, we spent most of our time on a little island in Santa Catarina called Florianópolis, also known as Floripa. The time I spent on this island was easily the best nine months of my life in South America.

The water in Florianopolis is warm and the weather is pleasant year round. For digital nomads, there is fast WiFi, co-working spaces, and mouth-watering delicacies to fuel you up for the day.

With warm waters, beautiful beaches stunning scenery and great surf, this island really has the best of both worlds.

Throughout Brazil, you’ll find a great community of like-minded expats who appreciate the slow pace of life. On top of that, the country is home to a vibrant culture with incredible celebrations including the world-famous Carnival.

Two girls standing with their surfboards behind their backs, smiling to the camera
Post-surf smiles!

Cons

When it comes to Florianópolis, there are no cons. Honestly! It’s just a beautiful place with amazing surf spots, spectacular scenery and friendly people.

Wherever you end up in Brazil, the main concern many tell you to be aware of is safety. While I didn’t personally encounter any issues, I did hear about negative experiences from other travelers who had visited the bigger cities.

I don’t believe this is a blanket statement but it’s always good to be aware of your surroundings and avoid going out at night on your own.

Other locations in Brazil 

Overall, Brazil is such an amazing country, and it is MASSIVE. I’d also like to spend more time on the coast of São Paulo and the islands around Rio. Not to mention Rio itself!

Other places in Brazil that I really want to visit that are really good for surfing like Pipa and Itacaré. I still haven’t been to Rio, so I will definitely be back in Brazil.

This should be on top of your bucket list if you haven’t visited already!

1. Various Islands, Indonesia 

Laptop open to The Wanderlover Website on a wooden balcony overlooking bright blue waters and green fauna in Rote, Indonesia.
Rote Island, Indonesia

Pros

Number one on my list, and I might might be biased because it was my first “digital nomad love” is Indonesia.

I’ve spent lots of time as a digital nomad in Bali. I am currently now in Batu Karas. I’ve spent time in Rote, and next month we are going to Nias. It is just a digital nomad paradise because it is cheap, it is easy to get around.

Girl hanging 10 on a longboard
Toes to the nose

There are so many islands to choose from, and there is fast, reliable, and affordable internet. There are so many digital nomad communities, co-working spaces, and it’s just attracting expats and entrepreneurs from around the world.

For me, when I booked my first one-way flight to Sydney and then Bali, it was my first glimpse into what my life would look like if I chose to pursue full-time travel.

So many other people were doing it and it felt like a community, like a hub of digital nomads in one place. And it just opened my eyes and expanded my mind in so many ways that I truly will always love Indonesia. It’s where I first learned to surf. It’s where I made the most friends in the shortest amount of time, and it’s where I met my husband!

I honestly can’t say enough good things about it. So if you are looking for your first destination as a digital nomad, look into Indonesia, it is easy to get accustomed to. It is comfortable and it has basically everything you would need to grow your business and develop personally. 

Cons

Some cons are the time difference. So if your clients are in the Americas, I am currently 12 hours ahead of Eastern time in New York. For my client calls, they’re either early in the morning or late at night, which work really well for me.

But if you are, let’s say working for an American company, it might be harder to adjust or adapt to the time difference. It’s also really far and just in general hard to get to if you have family in the Americas like I do. So every time I go back it’s at least a one or two day journey and I am usually jet lagged and tired after. So it’s just a part of the world that’s harder to navigate to if you are American. 

Another con about Bali specifically, not Indonesia in general, is that the tourism is what I would call unsustainable. A lot of people are just building and building and building without really giving thought to the local communities. The island itself is seeing a major trash problem because so many super clubs and hotels are opening and buying out all of the local, local businesses on the beach, and they’re not really thinking about how it affects the island as a whole and the infrastructure.

So the locals are kind of getting like pushed out because of the foreign investment. So that’s just one thing I’ve noticed and that’s why I don’t really spend much time in Bali anymore because it’s just getting so busy, so hectic, and I really value my peace and empty waves.

If you would like to learn how you can be a part of the solution and not the problem, check out my episode on 5 Ways to Travel Sustainably as a Digital Nomad.

Even though it is far, I will always be coming back. It will forever be one of my bases because it’s just the loveliest country for digital nomad surfers.

Runner Up – Costa Rica

I want to include a runner up on this list and that is Costa Rica. We were only able to visit Tamarindo because again, it was COVID and we weren’t able to travel between like Liberia Airport and Santa Teresa where I wanted to go, but the internet there was really fast and the people were nice.

I wasn’t the biggest fan of Tamarindo, which is why I’m adding it as a runner up. My perception would probably change if I was able to visit Nosara and the places in Costa Rica I actually wanted to go to. But because I wasn’t, I was in a relatively touristy part of the country and the cost of living was significantly higher than I was expecting for what I was getting.

Because of that, I’m adding it as a runner up. If you haven’t visited, I know so many people who rave about it. I can see myself raving about it if I was able to go to the places I wanted to.

Conclusion

I hope that this episode gave you lots of new travel ideas, expanded where you want to go visit in the world. 

I tested out these six for you to start with, many of my clients have embarked on their digital nomad journeys themselves and started with one of these destinations and they absolutely loved it. So if they did, I know you will too.

What to do next:

Join the Digital Nomad Society

If you want to start your online business to be able to design a digital nomad life where you can travel to wherever and base yourself wherever in the world there is a wifi connection, come join us in the Digital Nomad Society!

Hope this episode was helpful and I will see you all next week!

P.S. If you’ve enjoyed this episode, it would mean so much if you could leave a review on Apple Podcasts. This helps us spread The Wanderlover mission to those who need a dose of inspiration today.

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Read Next

The Perfect One Week in Bali Itinerary for First-Time Visitors

Travel to Puerto Escondido, Mexico with Me!

Ultimate Travel Guide to Rote Island, Indonesia

How I Travel for Free Using Credit Card Points

What Time Freedom, Location Freedom, and Financial Freedom Mean To Me

Attracting Your Perfect Life Partner As a Nomad

Best Bali Coworking Spaces for Digital Nomads

Rapture Surf Camp Review | Best Bali Indonesia Surf Camp

Our Next Digital Nomad Adventure: Northern Spain!

Danielle Hu

Danielle Hu

Danielle Hu is a multiple 6-figure travel influencer, business coach, and Founder of The Wanderlover. She has traveled to over 65+ countries running her online business and surfing in remote tropical destinations. Her mission is to help creatives and coaches achieve time freedom, location freedom, and financial freedom through online entrepreneurship.

the digital nomad society

Join the success club for new and aspiring  Digital Nomads

The Digital Nomad Society

Join the success club for new and aspiring  Digital Nomads

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Hi, I’m Danielle

My mission is to help you design a location-independent lifestyle through online entrepreneurship, to achieve time freedom, location freedom, financial freedom.

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