Imagine finishing a full day of class, hopping in your best mate’s car or even jumping on a bus, and cruising to the nearest beach; the stress of deadlines and the weight of exams break free with the waves as you ride through the dusk and the sun falls deep into the ocean. Imagine a beachside student experience rippling with that salty breeze, glowing with crystal skies. Just imagine…

It may sound like a fantasy- well, that’s because it is- but that’s not to say it can’t be a reality. There are thousands of Universities all over the world with campuses close to golden sands and gnarly waters, but the question is, which one best suits you? To help you on your way to that seaside dream, we looked at the Times Higher Education’s top University Rankings, and compiled a list of seaside universities that have the potential to become your own student paradise:

1. Bond University, Queensland, Australia

So, how about this for paradise? For students at Bond University, this local getaway on Australia’s Gold Coast is nothing less than a little slice of heaven. Burleigh Heads is an idyllic beach that serves host to a number of international competitions, such as the Quicksilver Pro Gold Coast, and is renowned for its long, thin tube that can build up to a whopping 8ft! The beach enjoys dual popularity with those who love to float in Burleigh’s protected waters, as well as all those on boards who love to surf around the headland; Burleigh Heads Beach is a jaw-dropping beauty that has more than enough to keep anyone amused!

Bond University is home to 5,000 students, making it a tight-knit and inclusive community. It is Australia’s Highest Rating University for Educational Experience, rating the most five stars of any university for education in the Good Universities Guide, meaning it’s the ideal place to study for you brain-busting-beach-bums!

No worries if the surf is flat- join in a game of Bond Beach Cricket, or put another shrimp on the Barbie!

Nearby Beaches: Kirra (24 minute drive), Snapper Rocks (29 minute drive)

2. University of California, Santa Cruz, USA

Who needs a back garden when you can have the beach? Students at the University of California, Santa Cruz, receive a co-curricular education from nature, since the impressive UCSC campus overlooks the busy city of Santa Cruz towards the twinkling blue Pacific. Natural Bridges Beach is the prime location to swim, surf or chill as it’s just a ten minute drive from the UCSC campus. It offers a collection of tide pools, perfect for spotting starfish, crabs and vibrant sea anemones. A large portion of the beach is covered in coastal grassland that come alive in the spring with bright splashes of wildflowers; Natural Bridges Beach glows with beauty all year round, and serves as the ideal local break for UCSC students.

The University of California, Santa Cruz, is home to more than 16,000 students, making it a community that is buzzing and diverse. UCSC is currently celebrating its 50th anniversary, and has already earned international recognition for the impact of its research along with its commitment to quality undergraduate instruction- if you smell success on that fresh ocean breeze, you must be on your way to the University of California, Santa Cruz!

If Natural Bridges Beach doesn’t hit the spot, there are plenty of other options since the area is famous for its beaches and its laid-back way of life. With a number of beaches nearby to the University campus, there is sure to be something for everyone. 

Summertime is here! #santacruz #monterey #centralcoast

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Nearby Beaches: Lighthouse Field State Beach (10 minute drive), Cowell Beach (10 minute drive)

3. University of Cape Town, South Africa

Welcome back, early mornings on campus . Rise and grind – cred @tayla_george |

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The University of Cape Town is hands-down the best place to study in South Africa, so if you want to blend great grades with epic waves, this could be the place for you!

Whether you’re a surf pro or a keen beginner, Cape Town is ideal for catching waves as it has breaks for every level; Muizenberg is a great spot for beginners to ride their first wave, while spots like Kalk Bay and Misty Cliffs present a thrilling challenge for those with a bit more experience under their belts. To get the best out of Cape Town’s Coast you will probably need a car- if you get together with some friends, it shouldn’t be too expensive to hire a car for a day, and it would be totally worth it once you’d explored the most beautiful spots on the peninsula.

The University of Cape Town has a proud tradition of academic excellence and effecting social change through its pioneering scholarship, faculty and students. It is renowned for its natural beauty, with its campus located at the foot of Table Mountain’s Devil’s Peak, and a panoramic view of Cape Town; it will serve as the most stunning backdrop for those sentimental student snaps, so if you want to truly capture ‘the moment’, you best go and study in Cape Town!

Nearby Beaches: Glen Beach (17 minute drive), Muizenberg (23 minute drive), Big Bay (27 minute drive)

4. University of Hawai’i at Mānoa, USA


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If you are in search of the ultimate surf vibe to top off the student experience, look no further- the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa is clearly the choice for you! With world-class waves and beautifully tepid waters, surfing is very much part of the culture on the island of Hawai’i. Based in the capital of Honolulu, UH Mānoa is just a 45 minute drive away from every surf spot on O’ahu. The North Shore provides experienced surfers with plenty of rugged reef breaks to practice those gnarly moves, and Hawai’i is also home to the infamous Pipeline…

Students and faculty from across the nation and the world take advantage of the UH Mānoa’s unique research opportunities, as well as its diverse community, nationally-ranked Division I athletics program, and its picturesque landscape. It is consistently ranked a “best value” among U.S. colleges and universities, our students gain a unique multicultural global experience in a traditional Hawaiian place of learning—it truly is like no place else on earth, and provides a sublime student beach-life.

Nearby Beaches: Ala Moana Bowls (15 minute drive), Pipeline and most of North Shore (45-60 minute drive)

5. University of Otago, New Zealand


Even when it might #rain, the Dunedin harbour can be beautiful. #universityofotago #otagopeninsula

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Surfing throughout Otago and Southland has some of the most challenging and rewarding surf breaks that New Zealand has to offer, so if you want a First Class in surfing to accompany your degree, the University of Otago is the perfect place for you! From fun beach breaks just minutes from the city centre, to long, lazy point breaks on the and multiple gnarly reefs; whether you’re a timid learner or seasoned thrill-seeker, the range and quality of New Zealand’s Coast has a little bit of something for everyone.

The University of Otago is situated in close proximity to Dunedin City Centre. It has a population of over 20,000 students from 100 different countries, making it a warm and culturally rich place in which to live and study. Tens of thousands of Otago graduates now live in all corners of the globe, many contributing to law, health, science, business and Government. Many of New Zealand’s most renowned artists, novelists, poets and leaders also received their start at Otago, so if you were destined for greatness on the land and in the water, the University of Otago could be the one for you!

Nearby Beaches: Ocean Beach (11 minute drive), St Clair Beach (13 minute drive), Aramoana (30 minute drive)

6. University of Hong Kong, China

Hong Kong might not be considered a ‘surf hub’ of the world, but the pristine beaches that surround it, along with its global reputation for academic excellence, make it an exemplary candidate for the world’s top beachside universities!

When you mention Hong Kong most people imagine an urban jungle dense with skyscrapers that dance with glittering lights. It’s hard to see how surfing fits into the picture, but about an hour out of the city in a calm and rural setting, there are little surfing havens perfect for any level surfer, or for a peaceful day of bliss.

The University of Hong Kong has gained international recognition for its accomplishments as a research-led comprehensive university. It strives not only to attract, but to nurture outstanding scholars from across the world through excellence and innovation in teaching, learning, and its global presence; are you an outstanding scholar with an urge to ride the waves? Well, what are you waiting for? HKU is waiting for you!

Nearby Beaches: Turtle Cove Beach (30 minute drive), St. Stephen’s Beach (30 minute drive), Trio Beach (37 minute drive)