Surf's up at the U.S. Open of Surfing on the shores of Huntington Beach, Calif. More than 500,000 people have flocked to this 14-acre stretch of sand in southern California. Here they'll find some of the best surfing in the United States, created by unique waves that spread around Catalina Island.
Of course, iconic surfing spots are found around the globe. We take a look at some of the most popular.
Banzai Pipeline, Oahu, Hawaii
The name says it all. Huge waves here break in shallow water and roll into large hollow tubes of water. Surfers can ride into these tubes, encased in ocean water. Tourist and locals flock to this spot to catch the action. This surf spot has three different reefs rocks, sandbar or other earthly features beneath the water where the waves break and topple over depending on the size of the ocean swells .
Surfers beware: underwater lava spires poke from the seabed. The iconic name comes from the name of the surf break, Pipeline, with the beach (Banzai Beach).
La Libertad, El Salvador
This surfing hot spot may be home to some of the best waves on the continent. It's known for 30-second wave rides and surfers have been flocking to this spot since the 1970s. The main wave stretches 2,600 feet (800 m), though riding the entire distance at once is not normally possible.
During El Salvador's civil war, visitors in search of the legendary waves would trade surfboards with the locals in exchange for safe passage to the beach.
Bells Beach, Victoria, Australia
This beach was the setting for the final scene in the surfer cult classic film "Point Break." This beach is home to the world's longest-running surfing competition, the Rip Curl Pro Surf & Music Festival, which began in 1960.
The beach is about 61 miles (100 kilometers) southwest of Melbourne. It's a small bay where swells from the Southern Ocean slow and rise over the shallow reefs. The beach isn't really a beach at all, but rather a rocky cliff in front of farmland, which provides a great spot to watch the action.
Home to the Billabong Pro Tahiti surf competition, this surf spot is southwest of the island of Tahiti, French Polynesia, in the southern Pacific Ocean. Waves here can reach 7 to 10 feet (2 to 3 m) and higher, but the smaller waves are just as fun to ride. In 2010, pro surfer Andy Irons won the Billabong competition by carving through 3- to 4-foot (1.5 meters) waves.
Jeffreys Bay, Eastern Cape, South Africa
Some say the break at Jeffreys Bay is one of the best right-hand point breaks in the world. A point break is a kind of surf break where waves hit a sharp point on an obstruction such as a coral reef, rock or shoal. The points force waves to break, which forms a barreling wave that can be surfed.
At Jeffreys Bay lucky surfers can find "supertubes" of water stretching nearly 1,000 feet (300 m). Kilometer-long waves are sometime seen here, but to get the most consistent waves, head to Jeffreys Bay between May to September. [Related: Photo Story: Exploring Africa's Cape of Good Hope ]
Zicatela Beach, Oaxaca, Mexico
Zicatela Beach has earned the nickname "Mexican Pipeline" because of the similarities with Hawaii's Banzai Pipeline. Competitions such as the ESPN X Games and the MexPipe Challenge were held here.
Mid to late summer is prime time to catch surfers braving the barreling waves. Waves here can top 50 feet (16 m) and a strong undertow lurks underwater. [Infographic: Tallest Mountain to Deepest Ocean Trench ]
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