20 Of The Best Surfers In The World (Surfing’s Greatest)

the best male and female surfers in the world

With over 23 million surfers worldwide you need to be doing some pretty incredible surfing to be considered one of the best surfers in the world.

But there are a select few human beings who are gifted with a truly unique talent for riding waves.

And with the right guidance and circumstances, all this raw talent can be honed into one specific goal, winning.

Let’s meet some of the individuals who’ve devoted their lives to mastering the art of surfing so they can realise their dreams on the global surfing stage.

The Best Male Surfers In The World

Let’s meet ten of the best male surfers in the world right now all battling it out on the prestigious WSL world tour.

Kelly Slater

  • Date of birth: February 11, 1972
  • Hometown: Cocoa Beach, Florida
  • Stance: Regular

While Kelly may not be at the top of the WSL ratings these days he still sits as the best surfer alive and an inspiration for ageing bald men worldwide.

Slater began surfing as a little grommet and it didn’t take him long to decimate local competitions and make his way onto the global surfing stage.

Slater has won 11 World Surf League (WSL) championships, more than any other surfer in history!

He’s had battles with greats like Andy Irons and Owen Wright and his trademark carving 360 will never be forgotten.

Kelly has struggled on tour this year and at the time of writing, he just fell foul of the mid-season cut after a closely fought battle with Aussie upstart Liam O’Brien at the Margaret River Pro.

Thankfully between the Kelly Slater Wave Co, Slater Designs and Outerknown, Kelly’s got plenty of surf brands to get his teeth stuck into.

Gabriel Medina

  • Date of birth: December 22, 1993
  • Hometown: São Sebastião, Brazil
  • Stance: Goofy

Being the first Brazillian to win a world title firmly places Gabriel Medina as one of the best surfers in the world.

From a lethal backhand snap to an aerial arsenal to match any other surfer on tour, Gabriel is the definition of a competitive force.

Out of the water, he’s a laid-back, super-friendly guy but as soon as that bell rings he turns into a surfing monster.

Medina has won two championships characterized by his aerial acrobatics, helping him to push the limits of what is possible in surfing (his backflip in Brazil coming to mind).

Gabriel sits as a firm contender for the title every year and without him, I don’t think Brazil’s current grip on the world tour would be quite as tight.

John John Florence

  • Date of birth: October 18, 1992
  • Hometown: North Shore, Oahu
  • Stance: Regular

John John is everyone’s favourite surfer, whether they want to admit it or not.

His large powerful carves in waves of consequence are a thing of real beauty and his sometimes magical barrel riding skills are unrivalled in big waves.

He hails from a family of surfing stars with brothers Ivan and Nathan Florence both holding their own in Hawaii’s many world-class surf spots.

He’s got two world titles to his name but injury has plagued his surfing career and held him back from several other world title chances.

Filipe Toledo

  • Date of birth: April 16, 1995
  • Hometown: Ubatuba, São Paulo
  • Stance: Regular

I’m going to put it out there, Filipe is the best small wave surfer on tour, no one else is even close!

Whether you agree with me or not it’s undeniable, put any surfer up against Toledo in punchy waist-high waves and they’re getting smoked 9 times out of 10.

From perfectly crafted combos of airs and snaps to serious power carves at point breaks like Bells it’s no wonder he’s earned himself the 2022 WSL championship.

Now he’s moved his family over to San Clemente, California it’s just a matter of time before he finds himself facing off against the world’s best at Lowers for the final surf-offs.

Griffin Colapinto

  • Date of birth: June 29, 1998
  • Hometown: San Clemente, California
  • Stance: Regular

Sticking with California our next surfing star is a native and America’s big hope to bring home the trophy this year.

Griffin has been getting better every year and he’s now poised as a real threat to take out the WSL finals this year.

Coming from San Clemente he spent his younger years surfing alongside greats like Mike Parsons, Dino Andino and everyone’s favourite shredder, Dane Reynolds.

His surfing sits somewhere between Joel Parkinson and Taj Burrow with a smooth style and powerful carves but with the ability to go sky high when a section allows.

He’s another notable shredder who’s benefitted from the teaching of Jake Patterson during his time on and off tour alongside others like Ramzi Boukhaim and Leonardo Fiorvanti.

João Chianca

  • Date of birth: August 30, 2000
  • Hometown: Saquarema, Brazil
  • Stance: Regular

João Chianca has been making some serious waves on tour this year and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.

After a rather lacklustre year on tour in 2022, João’s reversed the trend and started taking down some of the world’s best surfers in the world’s best waves.

He secured his first victory at the MEO Rip Curl Portugal Pro and just made it all the way to the semi-finals at the recent Margaret River Pro (he would go down to event winner Gabriel Medina).

He’s now sporting the coveted yellow jersey and if he keeps on surfing like he is there are only a few others who can rival him.

Interesting note – João’s brother Lucas ‘Chumbo’ Chianca is a big wave surfer and legend in his own right with a Billabong XXL award for best male performance in gigantic waves.

Jack Robinson

  • Date of birth: December 27, 1997
  • Hometown: Margaret River, Western Australia
  • Stance: Regular

Hailing from West Oz, Jack’s no slouch when it comes to heavy water and heaving barrels.

Like most of the surfers on this list, Jack’s been in the surf media spotlight from an incredibly young age.

His skill and ability in large barrels set him apart from nearly all other surfers his age and saw him easily navigate lineups and waves that would make grown adults cry in fear.

With a deadly air game, it was only a matter of time before Jack turned his sights on tour and it’s been a rollercoaster to the top ever since.

Despite an injury at the Bells competition this year, Jack sits as the favourite to take out the world title and with the performances he’s been putting on recently, it’s hard to argue.

Ítalo Ferreira

  • Date of birth: May 6, 1994
  • Hometown: Baía Formosa, Rio Grande do Norte
  • Stance: Goofy

Ítalo is a ball of raw surfing energy ready to be unleashed on any unsuspecting competitor unfortunate enough to draw him in a heat.

A core pillar of the ever-growing Brazillian Storm, Italo is a force to be reckoned with in waves of all shapes and sizes.

His backhand is lethal and his air game is one of the best on tour so it’s no surprise he won the world tour in 2019 and took home gold in the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics.

Ryan Callinan

  • Date of birth: May 27, 1992
  • Hometown: Merewether, Newcastle
  • Stance: Goofy

Ryan is no stranger to competitive surfing growing up around some of Australia’s best surfers in the surf town of Newcastle.

He had a rocky start is world tour career back in 2016 and got relegated to the WQS for two years of battling before making a return.

Since his return, he’s been going from strength to strength with a solid second-place finish at Bells Beach only just losing out to Ethan Ewing.

Caio Ibelli

  • Date of birth: October 11, 1993
  • Hometown: Guaruja, Sao Paulo
  • Stance: Regular

Caio may not be quite as well known as his other Brazillian counterparts but that doesn’t mean he’s not packing in some serious power and raw surfing skill.

He grew up sparring with Gabriel through Brazil’s junior surfing circuit so he’s no newcomer to competition.

Caio really comes into his element when the surf gets serious. He’s an absolute weapon in big tubes and his carves and snaps throw absolute buckets!

Additional reading – Don’t miss our deep dive into the most famous surfers in the world packed full of our sport’s newest and oldest legends.

The Best Female Surfers In The World

Now we’ve met some of the world’s best male surfers let’s meet some of the ladies that have devoted their lives to our wonderful sport.

Stephanie Gilmore

  • Date of birth: January 29, 1998
  • Hometown: Kingscliff, New South Wales
  • Stance: Regular

Steph is the proud holder of a whopping eight world titles! Making her the best female surfer of all time.

If you’ve ever had the pleasure of watching Stephanie Gilmore surf then you’ll quickly see why she holds so many titles.

Her smooth style and masterful reading of waves and the ocean make her surfing something to behold.

Growing up on the famous rights on Snapper Rocks you can see the point-break influence in her surfing with gliding carves and near-perfect rail work.

Carissa Moore

  • Date of birth: August 27, 1992
  • Hometown: Honolulu, Oahu
  • Stance: Regular

Carissa is the yin to Stephanie Gilmore’s yang. What Steph brings in style and finesse Carissa matches with sheer power and raw surfing ability.

Carissa isn’t far behind either with a not-too-shabby five WSL world title trophies to her name.

Hailing from Hawaii she’s no stranger to mighty ocean swells and challenging surf, both perfect training for the WSL’s varied competition circuit.

As of right now, Carissa is a not-too-shabby 2nd on the 2023 WSL tour, just biting at the heels of our next entry.

Tyler Wright

  • Date of birth: March 31, 1994
  • Hometown: Culburra Beach, New South Wales
  • Stance: Regular

The current owner of the golden jersey, Tyler Wright hails from one of Australia’s most famous surfing families.

Alongside brothers Owen Wright and Mikey Wright, she started surfing at an incredibly young age before going on to dominate the world tour.

Tyler’s won twice in 2016 and 2017 consecutively and if this year’s current run continues we could see a third hitting the trophy cabinet anytime soon.

But Tyler’s surfing career hasn’t been without its own challenges. Back in 2018, she was struck down by what doctors called Post-Viral Syndrome.

After 14 months of barely leaving the prone position she slowly started to regain her strength and now easily stands as one of the best female surfers in the world (if that’s not some recovery inspiration I don’t know what is!).

Tatiana Weston-Webb

  • Date of birth: May 9, 1996
  • Hometown: Princeville, Kauai
  • Stance: Goofy

Tatiana Guimaraes Weston-Webb dos Santos is the first goofy foot female to make our list and she’s a weapon in barreling waves.

With early life in Hawaii, it wasn’t long before she got her hands on a surfboard and hit the waves.

Despite not winning a world title, Tatiana placed an impressive 2nd on the 2021 tour and had the honour of representing Brazil (her mother’s home country) in the Tokyo Summer Olympics.

She also forms half of one of surfing’s most famous power couples alongside Brazillian shredder Jesse Mendes who has recently started commentating at WSL comps.

Molly Picklum

  • Date of birth: November 26, 2002
  • Hometown: Terrigal, New South Wales
  • Stance: Regular

Molly is one of Australia’s brightest up-and-comers and at the age of 20, I predict a long career on tour.

Molly burst onto the competitive scene with back-to-back wins at the Australian nationals before going on to join the tour and winning the coveted Hurley Pro at Sunset Beach this year.

Since then she narrowly missed out on a victory at the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach in a closely fought final against fellow Aussie powerhouse Tyler Wright.

Caitlin Simmers

  • Date of birth: October 26, 2005
  • Hometown: Oceanside, California
  • Stance: Regular

Caity Simmers is right a the forefront of modern progressive surfing and at 17 years old she’s the youngest female competition on tour.

Her surfing is fast and polished for her age and she’s easily one of the best female aerialists on tour.

With a current ranking of #5 in the world she got her maiden win at the MEO Rip Curl Portugal Pro hosted at the world-class beach break of Supertubos.

With results like this at such a young age it’s only a matter of time before we see a golden jersey and a world title in Caity’s future.

Caroline Marks

  • Date of birth: February 14, 2002
  • Hometown: Melbourne Beach, Florida
  • Stance: Goofy

Caroline is the owner of one of the best backhand snaps in the world.

The goofy foot hailing from Melbourne Beach in Florida is only 21 years old but she’s a veteran in the surfing world with 5 years on the world stage.

She’s had wins in Portugal and Australia but injury has kept her from properly competing for the title in recent years.

We can’t wait to see how a fighting fit Caroline does this season with a great showing at Kelly’s wave pool and only a few events left till the finals.

Gabriela Bryan

  • Date of birth: April 9, 2002
  • Hometown: Kilauea, Kauai
  • Stance: Regular

Gabriela Bryan, born and raised in Kilauea, Hawaii, is a fearless surfer who grew up riding the powerful waves of Kaua’i’s north shore.

She just squeaked through this year’s ruthless mid-year cut but at just 21 years of age, she’s only at the very start of her career.

Last year saw her go on to make the final at The Margaret Pro where she only just missed out to an in-form Isabella Nichols.

She’s currently holding a semi-final finish at the Hurley Pro Sunset this year but with a run of 9th-place finishes, the pressure is on to get some better results before the season wraps up.

Bettylou Sakura Johnson

  • Date of birth: March 22, 2005
  • Hometown: Haleiwa, Oahu
  • Stance: Regular

At 18 years old, Bettylou is one of the most promising talents coming out of Hawaii.

Her first chance to surf against the world’s best surfers came in the form of a wildcard to the Roxy Pipeline Pro in 2021, so not exactly a gentle introduction.

But despite only getting a 9th Bettylou set her sights on qualifying and with the new mid-season cut she found herself properly on tour by mid-2022.

Since then she’s been able to showcase her prowess in large powerful waves with 3rd places at Sunset and Pipe, making her a bit of a local legend.

Isabella Nichols

  • Date of birth: August 21, 1997
  • Hometown: Coolum Beach, Queensland
  • Stance: Regular

Isabella started her career with a bang when she won the World Juniors in Portugal circa 2016.

Isabella’s powerful style and rail game make her a perfect match when the waves get big, which led her to win her first tour event at the Margaret River Pro in 2022.

After falling to the dreaded mid-season cut this year, Isabella has been fighting to return to tour and with her recent win at the GWM Sydney Surf Pro against fellow Aussie ripper Sally Fitzgibbons, we don’t see her on the challenger series for long.