What town, city, state, or country should you move to if you’re a keen surfer looking to start a new life? Where will you find world-class waves, famous surf spots, and fantastic year-round weather?
Here is a short list of locations we feel are great options to live if you love surfing:
- Honolulu, Hawaii
- La Jolla, California
- Encinitas, California
- Ocean City, New Jersey
- Cocoa Beach, Florida
- Huntington Beach, California
- San Clemente, California
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Which Country is Best for Surfing?
When you think of great surfing spots, you might picture the Gold Coast of Australia or the beaches around Indonesia, Costa Rica, and Portugal. But while these countries are definitely fantastic options for surfers, you simply can’t beat the United States.
The US offers some of the most varied surf towns in the world. You can explore cold and challenging spots on the east coast, find pristine white beaches in Florida, or join the pros on the beaches of California and Hawaii. There are hundreds of towns and surf spots, as well as a rich surf history, and that’s why the United States should be number 1 for surfers.
What Are the Best Surf Towns in the United States?
Let’s imagine a dream scenario where you can move anywhere in the United States without worrying about your career or family obligations.
Maybe you have retired or work as a freelancer and already have that freedom. Maybe you’re just thinking ahead, daydreaming, or planning to start a new life somewhere with great surf spots.
Whatever the reason, these are the best surf towns in the United States.
Hawaii is arguably the best place for surfing in the United States. You’ll find gnarly waves, fantastic weather, and a welcoming atmosphere. There are beginner surf spots and you’re always just a short car ride from the best surf breaks on the North Shore.
Honolulu attracts tourists and surfers from all over the world. It is easily one of the best surf cities in the United States, but that’s also reflected in the rent prices and cost of living, which are some of the highest on this list.
La Jolla, California
La Jolla is a perfect blend of surfing and natural wonders, making it the ideal destination for surfers, hikers, and general nature lovers.
La Jolla Shores is great for beginner surfers and there are also spots for advanced surfers, including Black’s Beach.
This San Diego neighborhood is ideally located, giving you access to everything that you could need and allowing you to surround yourself with CA surf culture. It’s also great for snorkeling.
If you want a dedicated surf town that doesn’t fill with tourists every season, Encinitas could be ideal.
This beach town sits between San Diego and Los Angeles and is considerably quieter than the two. There are still lots of tourists here, but it’s a veritable ghost town compared to some of the other beach towns on the California coast.
Ocean City, New Jersey
Ocean City is the place to be in the Jersey Shore. It has some of the cleanest beaches in the region and the waves can be surfed all year long. It’s not as warm as the surf spots in Hawaii or California, and you’ll need a very good wetsuit, but the surf culture is amazing in Ocean City and there are plenty of entertainment venues as well.
Cocoa Beach, Florida
From white sands to buzzing nightlife and lots of surfing clubs, Cocoa Beach is a surfing mecca in the Sunshine State. It has been called the East Coast surfing capital and is a surf town that should definitely be on your list.
In addition to great surf spots and surf shops, Cocoa Beach hosts the Beach ‘n Boards Fest, Florida Surf Film Festival, Easter Surf Fest, and NKF Surf Festival, as well as the Florida Surf Museum.
It’s a complete destination for surf holidays. Even if you have no intention of moving here, you should check it out on your next surf holiday.
Huntington Beach, California
Huntington Beach is all about the surf. It is woven into the local culture and plays a key role in the history of this community.
Surfing conditions are ideal and you’ll find all the amenities you need, albeit with a high cost of living.
San Clemente, California
San Clemente is a little cheaper than some of the other CA towns on this list. It’s a small town with relatively consistent surf, clean beaches, and a laidback local community.
San Clemente is also convenient for residents who want to stay in touch with the big cities, as it’s nestled between San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Which States Have the Best Surfing?
Whether you’re an experienced surfer or a complete novice, you can find what you need in California.
Head to a coastal city and enjoy the year-round sunshine and fantastic waves, as well as a variety of surf shops, surf camps, and professional competitions.
You’ll also find some of the country’s best waves in Hawaii, a state that has more surf history and culture than any other.
Florida is a good option, as is New Jersey, but if you want incredible beaches and the best surfing conditions, stick with California and Hawaii.
Where Do Most Surfers Live?
Yet another question that we can answer with “Hawaii” and “California”!
The vast majority of professional surfers were either born/raised in these two states or moved there to advance their careers. After all, if you’re making a living from surfing, you want access to the best surf spots. Florida has also produced many great surfers.
Outside of the United States, Australia has produced a host of top surfers, and Brazil is becoming a mecca for surfing in South America.
At the time of writing, these are the countries and states that the top 20 male and female surfers were born:
- Australia: 4 Male Surfers; 7 Female Surfers
- Hawaii: 4 Male Surfers; 7 Female Surfers
- California: 5 Male Surfers; 2 Female Surfers
- Florida: 1 Male Surfer; 1 Female Surfer
- Brazil: 4 Male Surfers; 2 Female Surfers
- Japan: 1 Male Surfer
- South Africa: 1 Male Surfer
- France: 1 Female Surfer
- Costa Rica: 1 Female Surfer
What is the Surf Capital of the World?
It’s hard to define the surfing capital of the world or where really is surf city. Not only is it a label that many local tourist boards and surfers have claimed, but it’s one that doesn’t have a strict definition.
If we base it purely on the locations that have the best waves and are most surfer friendly, the honor goes to Hawaii. It ticks all of these boxes and more, and that’s why it attracts the world’s best surfers every single year.