The 10 Best Female Surfers in the World

Updated on April 29, 2020
Layne Holmes profile image

Layne learned to surf in Santa Barbara and later moved to Southern California. She now surfs in colder water in the north of the state.

The 10 Best Female Surfers in the World
The 10 Best Female Surfers in the World | Source

The 10 Best Women Surfers in the World

Decades of brave waterwomen have shaped the way women's surfing is currently received in the surf industry. From big wave riders to short-boarders to long-boarders, women's surfing is now where it's at because of the many great athletes of the past. Surfing isn't just about Kelly Slater anymore. Just last year in 2019, the World Surfing League announced that it was going to offer the same prize money to both male and female surfers. The WSL is officially the first sport in the U.S. that sees athletes of different genders as equal (awesome!).

Olympic surfing, too, is slotted for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. From World Surf League Championship tour athletes, to long boarders, to big wave riders, here is a list of strong waterwomen who know how to charge.

Top 10 Women Surfers

  1. Carissa Moore
  2. Stephanie Gilmore
  3. Sally Fitzgibbons
  4. Keely Andrew
  5. Honolua Blomfield (longboard)
  6. Maya Gabeira (big wave)
  7. Kassia meador (longboard)
  8. Malia Manuel
  9. Silvana Lima
  10. Sage Erickson

Inspiration Award: Bethany Hamilton

This list is compiled of a variety of athletes, surf styles, and lifestyles—from surf icons to those that inspire—so check them out and vote for your favorites below in the comments section. Let's not forget to give a shout out to greats like Caroline Marks, Lakey Peterson, Courtney Conlogue, and Coco Ho.

The WSL league announced in 2019 that it will offer both men and women equal prize money. This makes it the first sport in U.S. history to reward athletes regardless of gender identity.

Carissa Moore: 2019 World Champion

1. Carissa Moore, Hawaii

Carissa Moore has been the World Champion four times and has eleven national titles. She's always been neck-to-neck with Stephanie Gilmore, yet the two treat each other respectfully. She is particularly philanthropic with her winnings and has donated much of her prize money to local clubs. She also advocates for women's wellness—especially around body image and societal expectations and she pushes for environmental health and conservation. She's extremely positive and loved throughout the surf industry. She will be representing the USA women's team in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

  • Stance: Regular
  • Birth Year: 1992
  • Height: 5'7"
  • Hometown: Honolulu, Hawaii
  • Ranked: #1 (CT 2019)

Stephanie Gilmore by Roxy

2. Stephanie Gilmore, Australia

Stephanie Gilmore has certainly made a name for herself throughout the years. She is the first of both men and women to win a World Title during her rookie season and holds seven in total. She is extremely aggressive in her approach and awesomely technical. She has also inspired younger generations. Stephanie grew up surfing in Coolangatta which is known as an iconic surf spot. She holds the most women's World Titles in history (tied with Layne Beachley). Gilmore will be competing in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo against her friendly rival Carissa Moore.

  • Stance: Regular
  • Birth Year: 1988
  • Height: 5'11"
  • Hometown: Kingscliff, New South Wales, Australia
  • Ranked: #2 (CT 2019)

Sally Fitzgibbons by Red Bull

3. Sally Fitzgibbons, Australia

Sally Fitzgibbons has been an athlete of many sports throughout her life, and as a passionate surfer, she's been chasing the World Title quite successfully. She was the first runner-up in her second year on Tour and came in second in 2011 and 2012. She's heavily involved with the public and offers a training program for aspiring surfers in addition to her passion for philanthropic activities. She continues to push toward the World Title and will be competing in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

  • Stance: Regular
  • Birth Year: 1990
  • Height: 5'7"
  • Hometown: Gerroa, New South Wales, Australia
  • Ranked: #5 (CT 2019)

Keely Andrew Charging

4. Keely Andrew, Australia

Keely Andrew grew up in the small surf town of Mooloolaba on the Sunshine Coast and started surfing at a very early age. She played numerous sports throughout her life but with her rad work ethic, she stuck with surfing. Much like her teammates, competitors, and friends, she is a multi-sport athlete, which likely contributed to her awesome style and technique. She is especially known for mastering fast waves. Keely continues to be a top competitor and maintains her standing on the CT.

  • Stance: Regular
  • Birth Year: 1994
  • Height: 5'7"
  • Hometown: Mooloolaba, Sunshine Coast, Australia
  • Ranked: #7 (QS 2019)

Honolua Blomfield, Hawaii

5. Honolua Blomfield, Hawaii

Honolua hails from Haleiwa, Hawaii. She began surfing at just 2 years of age. Her technique is out of this world, and it's no wonder why she holds the #1 ranking for the Women's LT 2019 and clenched the 2017 Women's World Longboard Championship. Her style is both classic and progressive, and her graceful technique has given her the visibility needed to standout from other competitors. Like other champions, she is a multi-sport athlete. Keep an eye out for Honolua, because at such a young age, she has many successful years ahead of her.

  • Birth Year: 1999
  • Hometown: Haleiwa, Hawaii

Maya Gabeira Guinness World Record Wave Nazaré 2018

6. Maya Gabeira, Brazil

Maya Gabeira is simply awesome. Hailing from Rio de Janiero, Brazil, she was born in 1987 and picked up surfing as a teenager. She is known as the "Super Woman of Surfing." She is currently one of the highest paid female big-wave surfers to date after she clenched the Guinness World Record Wave at Praia do Norte, Nazaré, on January 18, 2018, which was 68 feet high. She was also the first female surfer to charge Ghost Tree and Teahupoo. She is a fashion icon and tends to enjoy her downtime but continues to work hard and train when not chasing monster waves.

Kassia Meador "The Heart & The Sea"

7. Kassia Meador, California

Kassia Meador is a longboarder from Malibu, California, and is know as the "queen of norseriding" according to the New York Times. She grew up in Westlake Village inland of Malibu and picked up surfing in her teens. She is known for her free-spirited approach and continues to deliver gear specialized for women in the surf industry, including wetsuits and eco-conscious attire. She is big into media and photography, and has made many debuts in some of the most iconic women's surf films of the 2000s.

Malia Manuel North Shore Hawaii

8. Malia Manuel, Hawaii

Malia Manuel has been a known name since 2008 when she snagged the title as the youngest surfer to win the US Open of Surfing. She hails from Kauai, which is well celebrated thanks to local legends Andy and Bruce Irons. Her surfing style is both stylish and powerful. She's still after the Championship Tour victory, and many consider Malia to be one of the most underrated surfers of women's surfing, according to her WSL bio. She's extremely positive and is still chasing her dream; she's currently ranked #9 of the Women's CT.

  • Stance: Regular
  • Birth Year: 1993
  • Height: 5'6"
  • Hometown: Wailua, Kauai, Hawaii
  • Ranked: #9 (CT 2019)

Silvana Lima Ripping

9. Silvana Lima, Brazil

Silvana Lima hails from Paracuara, Brazil. According to her WSL bio, she learned to surf on a piece of wood that she outfitted with a makeshift fin. She is a two-time World Title runner up and has been the national champion eight times in a row. Her surf style includes lots of air time, speed, and lightweight maneuvers. She's had a few injuries, but keeps returning to compete adding fuel to the fire. She has been selected to represent Brazil in the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Her favorite saying is "tudo passa," meaning "everything passes."

  • Stance: Regular
  • Year Born: 1984
  • Height: 5'1"
  • Hometown: Paracuru, Brazil
  • Ranked: #12 (CT 2019)

Sage Erickson With RVCA

10. Sage Erickson, California

Sage Erickson achieved her first Championship Tour victory in 2017. She hails from Ojai, California, but relocated to Hawaii at an early age, learning to surf on Sunset Beach. She grew up with Coco Ho as her good friend in school and spent years surfing until she again relocated to California and learned to surf in the iconic waves of Santa Barbara. She may be focusing more on other aspects of the industry as of late like free-surfing and promoting iconic surfwear, but her presence in the women's surf industry is strong—she made the CT for 2020.

  • Stance: Regular
  • Birth Year: 1990
  • Height: 5'7"
  • Hometown: Ojai, California
  • Ranked: #3 (QS 2019)

Bethany Hamilton in Action

Inspiration Award: Bethany Hamilton

Bethany Hamilton is a well-known name in the surf scene. After losing her left arm in a shark attack, she's continued to hold her own as a surf champion and inspiring public figure.

Bethany was born in Hawaii in 1990 and starting surfing from a fairly early age. She is a close friend of pro surfer Alana Blanchard. At just 13 she lost her left arm in a shark attack but got back to surfing fairly soon after recovery and rehabilitation. She shared much of her experience in film and in interviews and has since received many awards since the release of her autobiography in 2004, Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the Board.

Bethany pushes for living healthfully and continues to inspire women and young girls all around the world. She and her husband have a son named Tobias.

Up-and-Coming Greats (Source)

Questions & Answers

    © 2019 Layne Holmes

    Who's Your Favorite Women's Surfer?

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      • Layne Holmes profile imageAUTHOR

        Layne Holmes 

        3 months ago from Bend, Oregon

        Hi Dora, thank you for being interested in this article. Excitingly, women's surfing is making great advances this year!!!

      • MsDora profile image

        Dora Weithers 

        3 months ago from The Caribbean

        It's great learning about successful women in a skill which I have not followed. The details you share add inspiration to their stories and make an interesting read. Thank you.

      • Layne Holmes profile imageAUTHOR

        Layne Holmes 

        5 months ago from Bend, Oregon

        Hi Liz, I enjoy the videos as well. They are all such incredible athletes.

      • Eurofile profile image

        Liz Westwood 

        5 months ago from UK

        This is a great list of female surfers accompanied by some stunning videos.

      • Layne Holmes profile imageAUTHOR

        Layne Holmes 

        5 months ago from Bend, Oregon

        Hi Lora, thanks for the read. I agree, it's so hard to choose a favorite. I really like long boarding and big-wave so Honolua and Kassia and Maya are some I really look up to. But I agree, they are all amazing athletes—even those that aren't on this list. Women's surfing is simply awesome and inspiring and big props to all the ladies who have continued with their passion in this sport. I'm very glad the WSL honors them equally. Some amazing athletes indeed.

      • Lora Hollings profile image

        Lora Hollings 

        5 months ago

        It's so hard to choose a favorite surfer as they are all such amazing athletes! But the ones that really stand out to me are Stephanie Gilmore, Sage Erickson, and Bethany Hamilton. I loved watching them all! A great sport. I could never do it myself. But I love to watch others ride the waves. Great job on this article, Layne. I really enjoyed it. Such a nice break from the winter too!

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