By Mark Lebetkin
The Active Times

Most people think of surfing as a sport for the sun-drenched shores of Southern California, Hawaii or Australia --- places where tanned surfer boys and girls can ride waves in paradise.

While there's a kernel of truth to that stereotype, surfing has come a long way since the days of the Beach Boys and Gidget. It’s truly a worldwide phenomenon, showing up in such diverse places as India and Morocco.

In addition, surfing is so simple in concept -- board, meet wave -- that there’s no reason for it to be exclusively a warm-weather, saltwater activity. Waves, not sunshine, are the currency of surfing; and if those waves are in the Great Lakes, on a river in Wyoming, or breaking on Iceland’s volcanic shores, so be it.

No matter the location, devoted surfers will find a way to shred. A tiny Alaskan fishing village can become the “Far North Shore” if the waves are right and word gets out, and an underwater seamount a hundred miles from land can be a place where the surfing elite flocks to ride waves the size of buildings.

A wave doesn't even need to exist in nature to be a draw. Despite being on the Persian Gulf, Dubai's state-of-the-art wave park is what puts this glitzy Middle Eastern city on surfers' radar. Munich's Eisbach, a man-made river, wasn’t even designed with surfing in mind, but surfers found it, nevertheless.

If surfers know about an amazing point break or a recurring tidal wave, chances are someone has ridden it—and someone else is checking the swell forecast at this very moment.

For the complete slideshow of the World's Most Surprising Surf Spots, go to TheActiveTimes.com.

More Stories from The Active Times:
-- Great Surf Schools at Beginner Breaks
-- World's Longest Surf Ride: Brit Catches 12.8 Mile Wave
-- Wild New Surfboard Shreds Without Waves
-- 12 Top-Secret Swimming Holes