Evolved from a tiny Californian subculture, skateboarding has become a well-recognized and respected mainstream sport all over the world. With the growth of its commercial success and universal appeal, the boardsport is practically everywhere emanating the message of individuality and freedom. What started off when ocean swells were nowhere to be found, has turned into an entire industry, but more importantly, skateboarding has become a culture and to many, an entire lifestyle.
In the earliest days of the sport, surfers tried to recreate their exploits with wooden boards attached to wheels as they maneuvered down banked driveways and slopped pavement. Not long after, the sport began to evolve, shedding its novelty and even developing a certain vocabulary of its own. As the population of skaters grew, skateboarding started expanding from the streets to empty swimming pools. This would be an important advancement for skateboarders, as they were no longer constricted to the natural flow of landscape around them; they could create and explore their own environment.
As the phenomenon grows and skateboarding culture continues to integrate around the world (even being declared an official event in the 2020 Summer Olympics), more and more skate parks and smooth concrete jungles are popping up everywhere. Here we take a look at the more natural, exotic spots to enjoy the sport, from the mountains in Norway to the Zulu heartland of South Africa.
Known for its world class beaches that stretch for miles upon miles, the most famous of Indonesian islands has deep roots in both surf and skate culture. While the island houses many skate parks for those looking to take a break from the waves, the best views are seen deep into the heart of Bali. Skateboarding on mostly empty streets, the views are unreal as you pass by the staircased rice patties and ancient temples.
Only recently arriving in 2011, skateboarding has since taken off in this lively country. Thanks to an organization called Skateistan, the NGO opened up the first skate park in the country’s capital of Phnom Penh with the aim of helping current and former street children gain confidence through learning the sport. Over a short time, the culture has spread over to such towns as Siem Reap. So why not skate around the memorizing temples, including the famous Angkor Wat?
Arriving in 1986, skateboarding has been slow to develop due to the lack of strong preexisting street culture and skating infrastructure. Over time, more and more skate parks have emerged in metropolitan areas such as Shanghai. Being the third largest country in the world, skateboarding can take place anywhere, from the perfect granite and sprawling landscapes of Shenzhen to the historic Great Wall of China in Beijing, to skating through China’s wild west in Xinjiang.
From 1978 to 1989, skateboarding was banned in Norway, spearheading hardcore devotees to flout the law and skate in secret. This geared skateboarders to construct ramps in forests and other secluded areas to avoid the police. Skaters took to remote mountain roads around the city in the Norwegian hills, which still remains as one of the most scenic routes to experience the country’s natural beauty. However, if you don’t fear the cold, head to rural Lofoten, located in the north, where you can skate the remote frozen beaches. Check out the trailer for Mot Nord (Northbound) for a more detailed look.
With its exotic wildlife and top-notch beaches, it’s no wonder the southernmost African country is considered to be one of the most beautiful countries in the world. Over the years, skating has taken a big step as more skateboarding parks have opened up to the public as well as receiving frequent visits from acclaimed skateboarders. One area you can’t miss out on is the Valley of a Thousand Hills, also thanks to Indigo Skate Camp, they’ve helped turn this area into a Zulu skate paradise.
The country’s first skate park was built just over 13 years ago in 2003, and since then, it’s become a skate mecca. With an active scene from Delhi to Bangalore and Mumbai to Goa, boarding can take place on the crowded streets to historic temple towns and ancient ruins. Skateboarding is just another way to discovering and exploring incredible India.
Over the last decade, skateboarding has proliferated in Morocco seeing more and more travelling to the North African country. The boarding adventures are endless from the streets of Marrakesh, with its colorful bazaars and perfect marble ledges, to the challenging “Road of One Thousand Kasbahs” and everywhere in-between.
Technically, skateboarding is not legal in Cuba and to be a skater on the Caribbean island requires imagination. Due to trade embargoes, boards and materials are scarce, but that hasn’t stopped anyone from hitting the colorful streets of Havana’s downtown. What started off as a little spot with more than a few park benches and a series of small curbs, has become a gathering area for local skaters. As a nod to the intersection of 23 and G avenues, skaters call themselves members of the “23 y G.” Recently the skate community has developed a strong sense of self to spread throughout the country.
Just a stone’s throw away from the Arctic Circle, this rocky archipelago sits alone in the middle of the sea, lying roughly between Iceland and Denmark. The islands are home to some of the most amazing sea cliff and waterfalls as well as unusual and unexpected spots. With its unique culture and being a hard-to-reach, lesser-traveled corner of the globe, the amazing skate views will have you content being disconnected from the rest of the world.
Host to the recent Olympics, Brazil’s skate scene started in the 1970s, which has since emerged from when it started to where it is today. With passionate skaters found throughout the colorful streets of the cities, the sport has become extremely popular. If you ever find yourself out there, take in a skate session at The Meeting of Waters where the Amazon and Tapajos rivers meet, then make your way out to the unique and completely off-the-grid Amazon Jungle.
Which destinations will you be hitting up in the near future?
- Chris Burkard, anandhapradnya, Terry Xie, Lukasz Zamaro, Emmy Park, Sam Ashley