1. Costa Rica
Photo by @photoblw, via @surfer_magazine
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Ah, Instagram. The photo sharing that can't be stopped. Its gauzy filters have moved far beyond brunch photos and whimsical shoe-shots to become a hit in all sorts of other subjects, sports included. Teams, athletes and fans from the NBA, NFL, Major League Baseball and pro soccer leagues have all flocked to the service to document and promote.
But perhaps no sports translates to Instagram as well as surfing. Give it just a little thought, and it's not hard to see why: Nature, waves and extreme situations are a pretty enticing recipe for photo success.
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For a deeper look, we recently caught up with Aaron Carrera, social media editor at Surfer magazine. Surfer has 116,000 followers on Instagram -- from what we can tell, easily the most popular account related to the sport. (Its Instagram handle is @surfer_magazine.)
Carrera says the magazine has increasingly used Instagram over the past year to build its online community, promote the work of its all-star photographers and stay relevant to readers while they're on the go. Lately they've even found success bringing fans back to their online store by posting occasional pictures of merchandise.
"We have the world's best surf photographers and they're on board with what we're doing socially -- they understand it's helping them as well as our brand," Carrera tells Mashable. "We're sharing photos fans can relate to and appreciate."
Shots from renowned and gorgeous surf spots around the world have become highly sharable for the magazine, routinely picking up more than 15,000 likes from the magazine's followers. Zak Noyle is one photographer whose images are especially popular, and some of his work appears in the gallery above.
Despite surfing's unique status and his magazine's advantageous position for Instagram engagment, Carrera looks to the more mainstream sports world for ideas as well.
"I follow a lot of other magazines, like Sports Illustrated, to see what they're doing," he says. "I'm a huge San Francisco Giants fan, too, so I like to see how they manage posting photos just of the team while also incorporating the marketing aspect of it too. They do a really good job of blending marketing and team content."
So what makes a surf photo pop on Instagram? Not totally unique to the sport, Carrera points to striking colors, unique angles and -- of course -- sunsets as reliable ingredients for success. But there's still that ethereal bit of surfing magic that can't be replicated.
"Instagram just gives people a quick little getaway," he says. "If they're stuck in their cubicle, they can get this quick little escape to Bali and think about where they want to go surfing next."
Click through the gallery above for a getaway of your own, then let us know which shot you like most in the comments.
Thumbnail image courtesy @photoblw and @surfer_magazine
This story originally published on Mashable here.