If you are a surfer, and in the words of Ray Charles, have Georgia on your mind, then read on. Although the 1960s band The Beach Boys popularized California as the place to surf, the east coast has many surf spots that offer excellent and mostly uncrowded waves. Georgia is no exception, offering a host of popular sites to surf and good weather all year, hot in summer and mild to sub-tropical in winter.
The best places to surf in Georgia are all at or to the south of the coastal town of Savannah – places such as Tybee Island, Jekyll Island, and St. Simons Island. Several smaller barrier islands offer good surf at times, but you will need a sea-going boat to access these.
The more popular surf spots are easy to reach, offer cheap accommodation, and most importantly, have a laid-back beach and surfing culture that has made the sport so famous worldwide. And Georgia has the infrastructure to make the experience easily accessible to everyone – from world-class websites that provide up-to-the-minute weather and wave information to well-stocked surf shops that will make sure you surf in style.
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The Best Places To Surf In Georgia
The best places to surf in Georgia are on the eastern sides of the islands facing the open sea. The Georgia coast is protected by a series of barrier islands that prevent the deep-ocean swells from reaching the shore. The most popular of these is Tybee Island, off the city of Savannah. It has several places to surf, from the north to the island’s south. Other popular surfing destinations are St Simons Island and Jekyll Island.
Tybee Island Is A Georgia Surfing Mecca
Tybee Island is at the center of surfing culture in Georgia. This laidback island gives surfers several different places to find waves that suit them. As a popular year-round beach holiday destination, it offers a variety of cool things to do when the surf’s not up.
Apart from the excellent restaurants and lively nightlife, you can cycle, canoe, hike and check out the abundant wildlife – especially marsh birds. The main places to surf run from the north to the south of the island. They are:
Surfing Tybee Island North Jetty
You will find an open sea break here next to a small rock breakwater. Best surfing conditions are through winter to spring, with March reported as the best time. Waves are generally small depending on wind and swell, suitable for beginners and groms (young surfers).
Surfing Tybee Island The Sugar Shack /2nd Street
Surfing Tybee Island 5th And 7th Street
Much the same as The Sugar Shack/2nd Street pumps in winter when cyclonic weather off the coast sends in swells. For the rest of the year, the waves are not that big.
Surfing Tybee Pier/17th Street Boardwalk
Tybee Pier/17th Street Boardwalk is the best place to surf on Tybee Island with the most consistent waves. It is a beach break and is especially good when incoming ground swells meet an offshore westerly wind. This is a great wave for both regular and goofy (left foot forward) surfers as the waves break both ways. You can practice your front and backside surfing here.
St. Simons Island – Surfing Sub-Tropical Georgia
St. Simons Island is a sub-tropical island off the coast of Brunswick, just over 80 miles south of Savannah. It features a beach break with small to medium waves. Massingale Park Beach and Coast Guard Station Beach are the two main public beaches. The best surf is in winter, specifically December. Although the weather is sub-tropical, the sea is quite cold in winter.
Surfing Jekyll Island In Georgia
Just south of St Simons Island, Jekyll Island also sports a beach break, is best in winter and is surfable when swells are pushed in from the deep Atlantic Ocean due to cyclonic activity. Especially good with the offshore westerly wind to peak the waves.
Surfing Conditions Are Best In Georgia In Winter
You can surf year-round in Georgia, but the best surfing conditions are in winter. Winter swells are essential because of the type of surf break you have in the state.
There are two main breaks for surfing worldwide, a point break and a shore break. Georgia has mainly shore breaks. Shore breaks are found on long sandy beaches such as those favored by swimmers and body surfers.
Because Georgia has a gently sloping continental shelf, the sea is shallow for many miles into the Atlantic; this means that friction slows the incoming swells down and is one of the reasons why the waves are smallish for most of the year. Another is the prevailing winds are offshore, and these flatten the swells.
In winter, storms, and cyclonic activity adjacent to the coast result in large swells that increase the size of waves. Beaches are also less crowded in winter, and many coastal resorts offer winter specials on accommodation. And best of all, Georgia’s mild winters make it the perfect place for a winter getaway!
Gear You Will Need To Surf In Georgia
Having the correct gear when surfing is very important. Not having the right equipment and gear can result in frustration and act as a damper to your enjoyment of the sport.
In summer, water temperatures can get warm, and you will only need a swimming costume and a rash vest. Winter is a different story. Although the table below from SeaTemperature.org shows winter temps of 13°C/56°F, wind conditions and river flow into the sea can make temperatures go as low as 9°C/48°F. So, wetsuits with a hood and booties are essential if you want to stay in the water for any length of time.
The best place to surf in Georgia is undoubtedly Tybee Island, with its many beach breaks strung out along its beautiful sandy beach stretching along its east coast from north to south. Of these, Tybee Pier/17th Street Boardwalk offer the most consistent waves. Other good places to surf are St. Simons Island and Jekyll Island.
The Georgia Coast offers year-round good weather with hot summers and mild winters. The best time to surf most of the breaks in Georgia is in winter when offshore Atlantic storms generate bigger swells than the rest of the year. Ensure that you have a suitable winter wetsuit as the temperatures can drop as low as 9°C/48°F.