We live in a post- exploration era in which even the most remote, difficult to get to breaks hold at least whispers of others having visited before you.

Many surfers are celebrating the upside of more waves, despite the fact that some are mourning the loss of discovery. Surfing is more open than ever. We are in a golden era for surf travel, but there is less to discover.

Professional surfers, photographers and surf writers share their favorite European surfing spots in the book.

A surfer in full gear covering them head to toe surfs a wave at a bay. There is snow on the rocks of the beach.
Surfing the big waves at Unstad, Lofoten Islands © golfer2015 / Getty Images / iStockphoto

Unstad Bay, Norway

Surfers seek out larger waves to test themselves. Chris wanted to go to the north of Norway.

I felt pain in my body as the shower water hit me. I was attempting to get the feeling back. Trying to speed up re-warming can cause serious nerve damage. I have been back here three times since, and am almost always on the verge of freezing when I visit.

Sitting in the water, I feel like I'm small in nature. There is a lot of beauty in the Lofotens. Some of the world's hardiest men, women and children have been protected from harm by these old rocks for the last couple of thousand years.

There isn't much difference between a 6mm wetsuit and viking battle armor. You are going to war when you enter the Unstad Bay.

The beach break, left and right point break are the types of waves.

The average water temperature is around 12F in the summer and 6F in the spring. A thick hooded wetsuit, boots and gloves are required. There is little daylight between November and February and between April and August.

There are myths and legends in Norway'swilder landscapes.

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Thurso, Scotland

The barrels of Thurso, Scotland, were not easy to photograph. He has known where and when to look since he first saw them.

I made the drive again a couple of years later. Things were not the same this time. The bay was calm and like a millpond. I thought I had been lied to a second time. A man with a 7ft pintail and another man with a semi-gun were seen by me.

The water behind Thurso turned dark when swells pass by. There were lines in the bay soon. The set was thick and moving at a fast pace. The waves thundered down the line with incredible precision. It was double overhead and barrelling all the way.

The swell that followed changed the course of my life. I may have already been on a path to combine my two greatest passions, waves and photography, but it was the perfect setting that sealed the deal.

There is a right reef break.

Surfing in Scotland has boomed in the last few years, so don't expect a wave for yourself. Some of the waves are completely devoid of people.

Scotland's hiking trails are some of the best in the world.

The back of a surfer holding a board and looking out to sea at other surfers approaching large waves
Checking out the waves at Hossegor © Jochen_Conrad / Getty Images / iStockphoto

La Gravière, France

Brendan Buckley went to Biarritz to eat at a cafe. He moved there for good after sampling Hossegor's famous beach break.

"Hossegor is the epicenter of wave riding on the European continent, hosting the entire spectrum of surfers: long-haired longboarders with groovy vans, performance-obsessed short boarders, who do jumping jacks in spring suits, and little girls who shred." Biarritz has some great surf, but it doesn't have the world-class waves of Hossegor.

"All kinds of surfers make a pilgrimage to La Gravire, whether to paddle out and take on the notoriously fast, barrelling beach break, or just to stare out at the bombs as they explode so close to the sand it's hard to imagine getting a few turns in." If you haven't been to France, you've probably heard so much about it that you feel like you've seen it. It's a wave that surfers like regardless of what the reports say.

The wave type is barrelling beach break.

If you look at the waves in France, you are already too late. It is indeed. The waves can be turned on and off in an hour. Don't be too stubborn and keep your options open.

The best beaches in France should have a health warning.

A small harbor and a village by the sea
Staithes’ residents are hemmed in by cliffs on one side and wild seas on the other © Lukasz Pajor / Shutterstock

Staithes, England

The best reef break in England is too far north for a lot of people. Surfing is one of the UK's greatest hits.

Surfers come from all over the UK for the three fast, powerful reef breaks that rear up here from the North Sea. After being funneled down and diverted shorewards, the groundswells traveled all the way from the north. Waves sometimes encounter offshore winds. Staithes fires.

"Most of my trips to Staithes unfold under a backdrop of sea and sky, blended in a grey-brown wash, an atmosphere where the thrill of anticipation is tempered by the somber scenery and the chilly waters. Regardless of the weather, something funny happens when a great wave comes along. Taking off on one of the bowly lefts that mark The Cove, feeling that weightless drop before hooning along the face and seeing the lip of a barrel unfurl in front of me, I feel
like I could be in Portugal."

The left-hand reef broke on the shallow reefs.

It's important to know that the ideal equipment is a high- performance shortboard or a semi-gun. A minimum 5/4mm wetsuit is required for winter.

Road trips in England.

Nazaré, Portugal

The people of Nazar, Portugal, have depended on the sea for hundreds of years. This evolution has been observed by a Portuguese photographer.

The beaches around here are considered to be the worst. Many people have lost their lives in the wild seas. Praia da Vila was considered to be very dangerous. Praia do Norte, where the swell triples in size and power, felt like a piece of hell.

The ocean and its magnificent shapes leave me awestruck when I watch it break. I have traveled the world many times and have never seen anything like the waves of Nazaré. These giants will always be impervious even if surfers ride them for a short time.

The type of wave is either right- or left-handed.

One of the most famous big- wave surf spots in the world is Nazaré, and it's the best spot for spectators. If you watch the show from the headland, you can get a rare view of big- wave surfing.

Europe has secret islands of adventure.

A surfer riding a wave
A surfer rides a wave in Bundoran © David Soanes Photography / Getty Images

The Peak, Ireland

Ireland's coastline is full of rideable waves. The surf town of Bundoran is located next to some of the best swells in Europe.

"Every time I surf in Ireland, and Bundoran in particular, it’s about far more than simply riding waves. The area’s wild, romantic landscape and rich culture are almost the polar opposite of the backdrop we’re used to on surf trips. My own visits to Bundoran also tend to include a trudge up the lower slopes of the 1500ft Benbulbin, which rises
like a fantastical monolith above the town. Looking around, it’s easy to see how the strange, melancholy atmosphere here has fuelled the country’s artists and poets over centuries.

I looked out at the coastline of Sligo and Donegal from the top of the hill. Ireland has some of the best waves in Europe and any surfer can immediately see how different the waves are. There aren't many flat days here. I have always been able to find a wave at my favorite spot, The Peak, as well as at the golden sands of Tullan Strand.

The type of wave is left-hand.

It's important to have a car in order to make the most of the breaks here. Cold-water waves range in size from knee high to triple overhead.

There are some of the best beaches in Ireland.

A surfer carrying a surfboard on the beach is is silhouetted against the setting sun
Surfer walking the beach at sunset © joyfull / Shutterstock

Mundaka, Spain

Some people think that Mundaka is a Basque name. Jake Howard has been to northern Spain many times, hoping for a good time.

I hadn't had a proper surf in three years. I had yet to see the wave do its job when I was in town. Many world-class breaks are fleeting, and that is what makes them so special, but Mundaka is beyond unpredictable. It needs a specific swell angle because it is protected from the Atlantic's raw energy. That is the reason why so many surfers chase it. It requires commitment when it turns on. The wave requires patience before anything happens.

I was only in the water a short time before a large, rolling set came thundering through. There were a few figures splashing around me. The first two waves were not ready for me. The last wave came my way.

I was awake." The thrill of flying down the line soothed anxiety. The session needed my full attention and the waves were serious. I had finally been allowed to enter.

The type of wave was left-hand and sand bottom.

Staying in the lineup is difficult. You can enter through the harbor. It is similar to stepping onto an aquatic treadmill once in the water.

The best hikes in Spain are trail magic.

A wide sandy cove with rocky edges. The cliff is lined with white cottages
Sennen Cove, Cornwall © tbradford / Getty Images

Sennen Cove, England

In the UK's far west, Alex Wade found a home in a place where the landscape is raw and you don't know who or what will be in the lineup.

There is a 3ft green-blue wall in front of me. There is an explosion of grey, blue and silver as I look at the wave. The dolphin is in the same wave. I stood and watched the dolphin as the wave carried us both and wished that this moment would last forever.

The best ocean experiences of my life have happened in easy reach of my home in Cornwall. Sennen Cove is the most westerly beach in the UK and is perfect for all types of surfers.

There is a type of wave.

The rip will be strong on big days. Don't park in the cove in the summer, it will be rammed. Walk to the beach from the field above the cove.

Hikes through England's beautiful countryside.

A surfer with a wave curving over the top of them
Surfer in tube at Supertubos © Francisco Caravana / Getty Images

Supertubos, Portugal

Portugal is not a good place to make mistakes. Stuart found himself in a tough spot.

The wave was larger and headed straight for me. I felt the wave pick me up after I turned. I made a datememe datememe datememe datememe datememe by dropping in and turning on the wave. In front of me, the lip made a loud noise. It was a relatively easy wave to ride. I don't remember having to do anything, just enjoy it. I was hit on the shoulder. A happy expression on my face.

Supertubos was there to collect on what it had just given me. The board was ripped out of my hands when a new set crashed on top of me. I could feel the tug on my ankle. I snapped my leash for the second time. Surf shops in Peniche are doing well.

The right tend to be better than the left at the beach break.

Supertubos can get heavy, so don't underestimate how heavy it can get. Closeouts are not that common. If you have spare leashes, bring them. Heavy crowds and a talented local crew are expected when it is good.

The beaches in Portugal are some of the most beautiful in the world.

About 9 hours ago, this article was updated.