18 Best Surf Spots in the United States

If you’re like me, you’re always on the hunt for the next great wave.

And guess what?

You don’t have to jet off to a tropical island to find it. Surfing has been riding a wave of popularity in the United States, especially since it became an Olympic sport.

The best surf spots in the United States include Oahu’s North Shore in Hawaii, Huntington Beach in California, and Cocoa Beach in Florida. Each offers unique waves and experiences, catering to surfers of all levels.

From the iconic shores of Hawaii to the hidden gems along the East Coast, there are some incredible best surf spots in the United States that you’ll want to add to your bucket list.

(The Ultimate Guide to Surfing in the United States)

Introduction to the Best Surf Spots in the United States

If you’ve been following along, you know we’ve been on a virtual surf trip, exploring some of the best surf spots in the United States.

From the tropical vibes of Hawaii to the cold waters of Maine, the U.S. is a melting pot of surfing experiences.

Each spot has its own unique charm, wave conditions, and community, making it a diverse playground for surfers of all levels.

Surfing is not just a sport; it’s a lifestyle, a culture, and for many, a form of spiritual expression.

With its inclusion in the Olympics, surfing is gaining more attention than ever.

One of the most beautiful things about surfing in the United States is the sense of community you’ll find.

Whether it’s the local surf shop where everyone knows your name or the friendly faces you meet in the lineup, the community is what makes each of these best surf spots in the United States truly special.

1. Santa Cruz, California: A Hub of Surf Culture and Versatility

If you’re looking for one of the best surf spots in the United States, Santa Cruz, California, should be on your radar.

This place is the heart of surf culture in central California.

The town is a magnet for passionate surfers of all ages and skill levels.

From the larger breaks to the smaller, beginner-friendly swells, Santa Cruz has something for everyone.

You’ll find a variety of surf spots in Santa Cruz that cater to different levels of expertise.

Cowell’s Island is a fantastic spot for beginners, with several surf schools in the vicinity. For the more experienced surfers, you might want to check out Four Mile and Steamer Lane.

These spots offer challenging waves that will test your skills and get your adrenaline pumping.

2. La Jolla, California: A Surfing Paradise

If you’re looking to experience the epitome of SoCal surf culture, La Jolla, California is the place to be.

From the famous “Windansea” surf break to beginner-friendly spots, La Jolla offers a diverse range of surfing experiences.

Let’s dive into why La Jolla is one of the best surf spots in the United States.

If you’re an experienced surfer, you’ve probably heard of the “Windansea” surf break.

This wave is not for the faint-hearted; it’s a playground for seasoned surfers.

The cliffside walkway overlooking the sand offers a fantastic vantage point to watch the action unfold.

It’s a real treat to see surfers ride these waves, and it adds to the overall vibe of La Jolla as one of the best surf spots in the United States.

For those who are new to surfing or prefer milder waves, La Jolla Shores is just a few miles north and offers a more beginner-friendly environment.

So, whether you’re a seasoned surfer looking to conquer the “Windansea” waves or a beginner eager to learn, La Jolla has something for everyone.

It’s one of the best surf spots in the United States that caters to all levels, making it a must-visit for any surf lover.

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3. Oahu’s North Shore, Hawaii: The Mecca of Surfing

If you’re on a quest to find the best surf spots in the United States, then you can’t miss Oahu’s North Shore in Hawaii.

This place is legendary, and for good reason.

Oahu’s North Shore is not just another surf spot; it’s the stage for world-class surfing competitions.

Every winter, from November to March, the North Shore becomes a spectacle of massively large waves, some reaching over 40 feet high!

Beaches like Banzai Pipeline are the arenas where surfing legends are made.

Even if you’re not an expert surfer, the waves and the competitions are worth admiring from the safety of the beach.

While winter brings the big waves, don’t discount the rest of the year.

The North Shore offers a different kind of beauty and smaller, more manageable waves during the off-season.

However, if you’re planning to visit during the peak season, be prepared for heavy traffic and limited parking.

Some beaches offer basic facilities like picnic areas, showers, and restrooms, so you can make a day of it.

If you’re a visitor looking to catch some waves, it’s essential to know that the North Shore is not for the faint of heart.

The waves can be incredibly powerful, so make sure you’re up for the challenge.

It’s not just about catching the perfect wave; it’s about understanding and respecting the culture and environment that make Oahu’s North Shore one of the best surf spots in the United States.

4. The Rockaways, New York: Surfing in the City’s Backyard

Let’s venture into the heart of New York City—well, almost.

Just a short distance from Manhattan and accessible via the A Train, The Rockaways in Queens is one of the best surf spots in the United States for city dwellers and visitors alike.

Imagine hopping on a subway in the concrete jungle and then catching waves a short while later.

Sounds like a dream, right?

But it’s a reality in The Rockaways!

One of the coolest things about The Rockaways is its strong year-round surfing community.

Whether it’s the heat of summer or the chill of winter, you’ll find dedicated surfers riding the waves.

Just make sure to come prepared with a wetsuit in the colder months.

The area took a devastating hit from Hurricane Sandy in 2012, but you wouldn’t know it from the vibrant community that exists today.

The Rockaways have not only recovered but have evolved into a major East Coast surfing hub.

5. Cocoa Beach, Florida: Surfing Under the Sunshine State’s Sky

Let’s ride the wave down to Cocoa Beach, Florida, a place that’s not just known for its proximity to the Kennedy Space Center but also as one of the best surf spots in the United States.

Trust me, this place is a surfer’s paradise!

First off, let’s talk about the legends who hail from this iconic American surf town.

Ever heard of Caroline Marks and Kelly Slater?

Yep, they’re from Cocoa Beach!

So, when you’re surfing here, you’re sharing the same waters where these pros once honed their skills.

How’s that for inspiration?

6. Atlantic City, New Jersey: Where Surfing History Meets Modern Waves

Next up on our list of the best surf spots in the United States is Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Now, I know what you’re thinking—casinos, boardwalks, and Miss America, right?

But let me tell you, Atlantic City has a rich surfing history that’s as captivating as its skyline.

Did you know that Duke Kahanamoku, often called “the father of surfing,” rode his longboard off the coast of Atlantic City in the early 1900s?

Yep, near the iconic Steel Pier, no less!

So, when you’re catching waves here, you’re literally surfing in the wake of legends.

How cool is that?

What’s amazing about Atlantic City is that locals catch waves year-round, especially during winter swells.

So, whether you’re a summer surfer or a winter wave-rider, Atlantic City has something for everyone.

7. Delaware: The East Coast’s Hidden Gem

Let’s continue our journey with one of the best surf spots in the United States that you might not have heard much about—Delaware.

Yeah, you heard me right! Delaware is an unassuming surf destination, but it’s got some hidden gems that are worth checking out.

When you think of Delaware, you probably don’t immediately think of surfing, but coastal towns like Rehoboth Beach, Dewey, Fenwick Island, and Bethany Beach are changing that perception.

Each town has its own unique vibe and offers golden, sandy beaches that are perfect for catching some waves.

Dewey Beach, in particular, is a global skimboarding hotspot and is considered the East Coast capital for the sport.

So, if you’re into skimboarding, you know where to go!

8. Surfing in Jacksonville, Florida: A Blend of Waves and Vibes

If you’re on the hunt for some of the best surf spots in the United States, you’ve got to check out Jacksonville, Florida.

This place is a gem on the East Coast, and I’m here to give you the lowdown on why it’s a must-visit for surfers of all levels.

Jacksonville is a versatile surf destination that caters to both newbies and seasoned surfers.

The beaches at 6th Street North and 13th Street South are perfect for those just getting their feet wet—literally!

The waves are mellow, and the sandbars make it easier to catch your first wave.

For the more experienced surfers, the area near the pier is where you’ll find the action.

It’s usually crowded with skilled boarders, so you know you’re in for a good time.

The best surf spots in the United States offer something for everyone, and Jacksonville is no exception.

One of the cool things about Jacksonville is that you can surf year-round, but the vibe changes with the seasons.

If you’re looking for larger waves, winter is your best bet.

The colder months bring in some serious swells that will challenge even the most experienced surfers.

9. Maui, Hawaii: The Island of Surfing Dreams

If you thought Oahu’s North Shore was the end-all-be-all of Hawaiian surfing, then you’re in for a treat.

Let’s talk about surfing beaches in Maui, another gem in the Hawaiian Islands that’s also one of the best surf spots in the United States.

Ready to ride the waves in paradise?

Let’s go!

Maui is a surfer’s playground, offering a variety of breaks for all skill levels.

For beginners, Lahaina is the place to be.

But if you’re more experienced and looking for a challenge, then you’ve got to check out spots like Honolua Bay and Hookipa Beach.

Each location has its own unique wave patterns, making Maui a versatile surf destination.

Now, let’s talk about the big kahuna—Jaws, or as the locals call it, Pe’ahi.

This surf break is not for the faint-hearted. It’s where you’ll find some of the biggest, most ferocious waves in the world.

Many surfing contests are held here, and it’s a spectacle you won’t want to miss, even if you’re just watching from the cliffs above.

Just remember, tackling Jaws requires skill, experience, and a whole lot of courage.

So, whether you’re a beginner looking to catch your first wave or an expert aiming to conquer Jaws, Maui has something for every surfer.

And that’s what makes it one of the best surf spots in the United States.

10. Kauai, Hawaii: The Garden Isle’s Surfing Oasis

Hey surfers, guess what?

We’re not done with Hawaii yet!

Kauai, also known as the “Garden Isle,” is another Hawaiian paradise that’s among the best surf spots in the United States.

With its stunning coastline and aquamarine waters, Kauai is a dream come true for surfers of all levels.

Kauai offers a range of surfing beaches that cater to both beginners and experts.

If you’re new to the sport, Poipu Beach is your go-to spot.

Located on the island’s sunny side, Poipu offers gentle waves that are perfect for learning.

On the flip side, if you’re an experienced surfer, you can’t miss Hanalei Bay, often called the “Crown Jewel of the north shore.”

During the winter, this bay offers larger swells and heavier waves that are best suited for experts.

So, whether you’re a beginner or an expert, Kauai has something for everyone. And that’s why it’s one of the best surf spots in the United States.

11. Waikiki Beach, Hawaii: The Beginner’s Paradise

If you’re looking for one of the best surf spots in the United States that’s also beginner-friendly, then Waikiki Beach in Hawaii is your go-to destination.

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With its long, rolling waves and warm water, Waikiki is a haven for those just starting out on their surfing journey.

Waikiki Beach is a world-class surfing destination that offers ideal conditions for beginners.

The waves here are long and smooth, allowing for extremely long rides that are perfect for those just getting the hang of surfing.

Plus, the water is warm, so you won’t have to worry about getting chilly while you’re out there catching waves.

It’s a great place to build your confidence and skills.

12. Huntington Beach, California: Surf City, USA

If you’re looking to catch some waves in the Golden State, Huntington Beach, California, is a must-visit.

Known as “Surf City, USA,” this Southern California destination is a mecca for surfers and has something for everyone.

Let’s dive into why it’s one of the best surf spots in the United States!

Huntington Beach isn’t just another surf spot; it’s a cultural hub for the sport.

The city is home to the Huntington Beach International Surfing Museum, a treasure trove of surfing history.

The museum features a small yet impactful collection of surfing exhibits and rare, ocean-related displays.

It’s a great place to soak up some surf culture and learn about the sport’s rich history.

The pier in Huntington Beach is the heart of the action.

Expert surfers often paddle out by the pier to catch some of the best waves.

But don’t worry if you’re new to the sport; there are several surf schools in the area where you can sign up for lessons.

Places like Toes on the Nose offer rentals and lessons for surfers of all levels.

13. Outer Banks, North Carolina

Ah, the Outer Banks of North Carolina, a 200-mile chain of small, scenic barrier islands.

This is one of the best surf spots in the United States that appeals to both beginners and pros.

The area is dotted with several great beach towns, each with its own unique personality and vibe.

Nags Head, Kitty Hawk, Avon, and Duck are some of the well-known beaches with relatively consistent surfing spots.

The conditions here can change frequently depending on the season, but that’s part of the adventure, right?

14. Coastal Maine: Surfing in the Chill

If you’re up for a unique surfing experience, Coastal Maine should be on your radar.

The cold waters might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but trust me, the experience is worth it.

Let’s explore why Coastal Maine is one of the best surf spots in the United States for those who dare to brave the chill.

Surfing in Coastal Maine is not your typical tropical adventure.

The cold waters of the northeastern United States might seem like an unlikely locale for surfing, but the dramatic coastline draws passionate surfers of all ages.

Towns like York and Portland are especially popular for winter swells.

The secluded beaches and rustic coastal scenery add a unique charm to the surfing experience here.

15. Surfing in Otter Rock, Oregon: A Family-Friendly Haven

If you’re on the hunt for some of the best surf spots in the United States that are perfect for the whole family, let me tell you about Otter Rock, Oregon.

This place is often referred to as the “Waikiki of Oregon,” and for good reason!

Otter Rock is a well-known beginner spot that offers a welcoming vibe for surfers of all ages.

The beach is part of the Devil’s Punchbowl Natural Area, and it’s usually bustling during the warmer months.

What makes it one of the best surf spots in the United States for beginners is its protection from harsh winds.

You’re surrounded by jaw-dropping scenery, and the beach has a secluded feel, even though it can get busy.

16. South Padre Island, Texas: Surfing in the Lone Star State

Ah, South Padre Island, a gem in Texas that’s often overlooked when talking about the best surf spots in the United States.

Located on the Gulf Coast, about three hours south of Corpus Christi, this waterfront destination is a year-round haven for surfers.

What sets South Padre apart?

Well, it’s got consistent waves all year, thanks to a shorter and deeper ocean shelf.

Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned surfer, you’ll find something that suits your skill level here.

The atmosphere in South Padre Island is super welcoming.

You’ll find gentle swells for beginners and heavier breaks for the more experienced surfers.

But it’s not just about the surf; there are plenty of other activities to enjoy in this beach town once you’ve had your fill of the waves.

17. Folly Beach, South Carolina: A Laid-Back Surfing Community

If you’re looking for one of the best surf spots in the United States with a relaxed vibe, Folly Beach in South Carolina should be on your radar.

Nestled just south of Charleston, this beach is a local favorite and offers a variety of waves to ride year-round.

The temperatures here are pretty mild, so you can enjoy the surf without worrying too much about freezing or overheating.

18. Rye Beach, New Hampshire: A Year-Round Surfing Community

If you’re looking for some of the best surf spots in the United States, you might want to consider Rye Beach in New Hampshire.

Now, I know what you’re thinking—New Hampshire for surfing?

But hear me out.

Rye Beach has an avid surfing community that braves the waves year-round.

Yes, even during those brutal, cold winters!

The area’s most noteworthy break is “Rye on the Rocks,” which is best suited for surfers with experience.

But don’t worry if you’re just starting out; there are local beach breaks with mellower waves that are perfect for beginners.

You’ll need a wetsuit for most of the year because, let’s face it, New Hampshire isn’t exactly tropical.