So, you want to be a surfer on the East Coast. OK, here are a few things to know and a few beaches to check out.
The East Coast swell window is shorter than the West Coast.
The Atlantic Ocean is smaller than the Pacific.
July is like a lake. We live for the early fall hurricane season when we get our beaches back from tourists.
And winter can bring 30-degree air with 50-degree water making what should be frigid water temperatures feel balmy because of the difference in temperatures.
This is surfing on the East Coast. And yet, the East Coast delivers its own brand of uncrowded juicy surf.
You just have to drop what you are doing and hit it because the offshores that clean it up in the morning when it is overhead are the same winds that can knock it down to knee high by 5 PM.
Here are some of the best surfing breaks on the East Coast from north to south.
Surfing in Rhode Island. It’s cold, it’s rocky, and it can get pretty great.
Narragansett is mind-blowing wildlife refuge that has a breath-taking stretch of white sand.
The local vibe is friendly as long as you are respectful of the locals.
This is a good rule of thumb for any surfer visiting any break.
From the University of Rhode Island, it’s a short seven miles stretch.
The beach is protected from the wind making it to have long easy wave good for beginners and the experienced surfer alike.
The long stretch of the beach can be helpful if you are looking for a peak you can sit on with a friend.
Montauk sits at the most eastern point of Long Island, jutting out into the Atlantic and is a great place to surf in New York if you have the time to drive or train out to it.
This is a seasonal destination that gathers surfers in their numbers during the summer.
However, there are a handful of surfers here in the cold months too that reap the winter reward.
Some natural structures like the coves and reefs make this beach produce a variety of unique, high-quality waves.
If you are looking for a local surf trip that doesn’t feel 100% local, give Montauk a shot.
It will not disappoint.
Manasquan is the pride of New Jersey surfing. Locals lead the way here.
But that is not to say visiting surfers are not welcome as long as you stay off the main peak.
Being one of the best on the East Coast means it gets crowded during summertime.
And like many Mid-Atlantic and northern spots, the crowd thins out quite a bit in the winter months.
You will want to surf the inlet between 9:00 am and after 5:00 pm during summer.
The rest of the beach opens up to surfing when the lifeguards get off duty.
Virginia Beach, VA
Virginia Beach is marketed as for lovers. It is also loved by surfers.
The First Street Jetty is where it’s at if you want to surf in Virginia.
This is one of the better breaks to surf at Virginia Beach, but there is a whole stretch of coastline to explore where you can find a pretty decent beach break.
The nightlife in Virginia Beach can be fun as well.
Kitty Hawk, NC
Our first surf spot in North Carolina on the Outer Banks (OBX) is Kitty Hawk.
What used to be a less sought-after, out-of-the-way barrier island is now a family and surfing destination filled with shops, ample parking, surf rentals, and finger-licking delicacies.
The continental shelf is closer to the beach here which means that the swells come closer to the beach before being slowed down. This brings more wave energy to the beach allowing for bigger, more powerful surf compared to other East Coast spots.
The Outer Banks, being a barrier island and all, can get flooded out during big storm surges that come with hurricanes and nor’easters.
Plan carefully and have fun.
Cape Hatteras, NC
Traveling south from Kitty Hawk is Cape Hatteras.
Identified by its black and white lighthouse, Hatteras is the most well-known surfing destination on our list and on the East Coast.
If you want to drop in deep and get spit out of a barrel, this is the place to test your mettle.
Sebastian Inlet, FL
Multi-time world champ, the GOAT, Kelly Slater was born in Cocoa beach but Sebastian Inlet is where he began his surfing in Florida.
The northern part of the inlet is where the beauty lies.
The shallow sandbars break that can create beautiful hollow waves in water that is mild all year around.
This beach is a competitive surfing beach all year around and you will find talent that matches that spirit. Bring you’re A game.
Cocoa Beach, FL
Cocoa Beach is home to Kelly Slater and is known for its clear water and semi-consistent waves that are friendly to beginners and expert surfers.
Like other good breaks, Cocoa Beach gets crowed when it gets good.
That’s our short list of the best surfing spots on the East Coast.
Are you not sure if surfing on the East Coast is the thing for you? Check on the differences between East Coast and West Coast surfing.