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Surfer Stephanie Gilmore’s Harbour Island

Five-Time Association of Surf Professionals (ASP) Women’s champ Stephanie Gilmore has made a career out of shredding the world’s best waves, but the 25-year-old Aussie doesn’t need swells to enjoy a day at the beach. Here she describes her perfect day on Harbour Island, Bahamas to Alex Pasquariello, and shares her favorite surf towns around the world

“The ASP Tour takes me to some of the best breaks in the world, but believe it or not I sometimes enjoy lounging around the beach rather than surfing. I recently fell in love with the gorgeous pink sand beaches of Harbour Island, Bahamas and charming Dunmore Town. My friends got married here and then I stayed for a week to chill before the upcoming Roxy Pro in Biarritz, France [July 10 -14].

We stayed in a beautiful 200-year-old Bahamian Cottage called Salt Box that was completely restored by interior designer Tom Scheerer. Scheerer kept original touches like the stone hearth fireplace in the kitchen, and filled it with original antiques and beautiful furniture. It’s just a few steps from the beach and the best spots in town. {"type": "right-quote", "text": "’Sip sip’ translates to ‘gossip’ in the local dialect, and there’s plenty of it as the drinks start to flow."}

One thing I’ve learned is that good coffee can be hard to come by in tropical locations, so I really appreciate the delicious cup of joe at Dunmore Deli where I headed for brunch. Another reason to pop in is the fresh fruit and produce – they serve the best salads on the island loaded with locally-grown greens and veggies.

We spent most of our days at Pink Sands Beach, where the sand is literally pink from coral. The morning was spent snorkeling and playing beach volleyball, but around 2 p.m. it was time for a drink break at Sip Sip, a lime-green cottage right on the beach. The lunch menu is great, but I love the cocktails. My fave may be a little controversial because it doesn’t involve rum, but I always order the pineapple-chili margarita. Try and get a table on the beachfront patio and then sit back and take in the sip sip – it translates to gossip in the local dialect – and there’s plenty of it as the drinks start to flow. Don’t wait to stop in, though, because they close around four.

One of my favorite ingredients in island cuisine is conch and the conch salad at a Queen Conch is one of my favorite dinners. It’s light and fresh, almost like a ceviche, with fresh raw conch, onions, peppers, tomatoes and an orange marinade all chopped and mixed to order. Dine alfresco on the deck overlooking the harbor, or get it to go."

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Huntington Beach, California

Surf City USA. Need we say more? Sure, they had to battle Santa Cruz for that title, but this OC original is straight out of The Endless Summer with miles of beaches, perfect waves and an old-school pier jutting 1,800 feet into the water. If you tire of shredding and/or tanning, check out the International Surfing Museum, where you can check one of Duke Kahanomoku’s original hardwood surfboards and the camera used to film the aforementioned iconic surf flick, and the International Surfers’ Hall of Fame (Gilmore was the youngest inductee in 2010 at age 22). Huntington hosts the Vans US Open of Surfing, America’s premier competition and best viewed from the pier. “Huntington Beach is so much fun,” says Gilmore. “I won my first US Open here in 2007, so it’s a special beach.”

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Cascais, Portugal

This fishing village 20 miles west of Lisbon on the Estoril Coast was transformed into a resort town when Portugal’s King Luis adopted it as a royal retreat in 1870. Today the region’s golden sand beaches are a frequented by Lisbon’s beautiful people, and you can still sunbathe like royalty at Praia da Rainha, a crescent of sand that was once the royal family’s private beach. Surfer’s swoon over Praia de Carcavelos, just east of the village and set below an ominous stone fort. Left breaks roll over sandbars here making for towering waves. It’s the latest addition to the tour hosting the new EDP Cascais Pro.

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Biarritz, France

This beach town in southwest France is less than 10 miles from the Spanish border and has (ahem) been putting on the ritz since 1854 when Napoleon III built Villa Eugénie as a summer palace for his Spanish bride. While the opulence remains, Biarritz has evolved into one of Europe’s surf capitals since its incredibly consistent swells were “discovered” in 1957. Depressions in the North Atlantic generate epic swells that funnel into the Gulfe de Gascogne (Née Bay of Biscay) and crash ashore in frothy waves that make the ASP Roxy Pro here a premier stop on the tour. “I’m a foodie, so I love Biarritz. It’s a sophisticated mini-city on the sea with Basque, Spanish and French influences,” Gilmore says. “And the Roxy Pro is a top event on the tour because of the haute scene – and the waves.”

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Gold Coast, Australia

This 43-mile strip of Queensland’s coast is a little bit SoBe and a little bit Disney, mixing glam clubs and mod high-rise hotels with theme parks and golf courses. The star of the show is the white sand beach, which runs the coast’s entire length. Roll south down the Gold Coast Highway and the glitz gives way to Tweed Heads, the most northerly town in the state of New South Wales and home to Rainbow Bay and Snapper Rocks, which combine to produce a long right-hand break. Snapper Rocks is not just host of the ASP Roxy Pro, but also Stephanie’s home break. “I’ve surfed all over the world,” she says, “but this is still one of my favorite beaches and breaks. And farther south, the beaches of northern New South Wales are also insanely beautiful.”

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Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Life’s a beach in Rio, but if you want to take a dip, stick to the ocean beaches where the water is suitable for a swim or hanging ten. Copacabana’s scalloped strip of sand is a throbbing heart of this city— and a stroll down Avenida Atlantica is a must. Stretching two miles from Pedra Dois Irmaos to Ponta Arpoador, Ipanema is more than a song; it’s a state of mind. This is the beach to see and be seen, whether you’re strutting your bikini bod or showing off your soccer skills. Surf rats make haste south to Barra de Tijuca, a 10-mile stretch famed for it multiple breaks over shifting sandbars. It’s best may be Prainha, a half-mile break where the surf is regularly six feet. Just be sure to surf this beach soon, because this region of Rio will host many of the venues for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. “I love surfing Rio because…you’re in Rio! The energy there is unbelievable,” Gilmore says.