12 Popular Surfing Spots in the USA
The exciting and challenging sport of surfing continues to grow in popularity around the world. Here are 12 popular surfing spots in the USA presented in random order. The article ends with a list of 32 additional surf-friendly destinations in the USA.
Huntington Beach, California
Huntington Beach is also known as Surf City, USA, thanks to its history as one of the nation’s top surfing communities. You’ll find bigger and more consistent waves at other beaches, but its hard to find a community more focused on the allure of surfing. Head south to nearby Newport Beach for larger waves at “The Wedge.”
Being near Los Angeles means big crowds of surfers and beachgoers admiring the action. It’s one of the most popular surfing spots in California for beginners with easy access near Malibu Pier. The local beaches include Topanga Beach, Malibu Lagoon State Beach’s Surfrider Beach, County Line, and Zuma Beach.
Santa Cruz, California
Nicknamed Surf City, Santa Cruz has 11 world-class surf breaks including Steamer Lane (iconic view), The Hook, Pleasure Point, Mavericks (serious waves), Manresa State Beach, Four Mile Beach, Cowell Beach, Capitola Beach, Private’s Beach, and Waddell Beach. The best part is you can find areas that appeal to surfers regardless of their level of experience. Plus, Santa Cruz is a family-friendly beach with an old-school boardwalk.
Laguna Beach, California
Located between Los Angeles and San Diego, the 7-mile stretch includes a string of 20 plus beaches, breaks, and coves including Thalia Street, Rockpile, Brooks Street Bridge, Oak Street Beach, Aliso Beach (great skimboarding spot), and Sleepy Hollow. Beyond the natural beauty of the coastline, Laguna Beach is a quaint village with tasty dining options and unique stores.
Rincon Point, California
Nicknamed “Queen of the Coast,” Rincon Point is located in beautiful Santa Barbara. Rincon consists of three different sections – the Indicator, the Rivermouth, and the Cove. Each offers different wave action depending on the prevailing wind and swell conditions. Like Malibu, the beaches are often busy. That includes Hammonds Reef, Leadbetter Point, Gaviota Coast, The Ranch, and Isla Vista.
San Clemente, California
This popular destination includes Trestles and its four breaks known as Uppers, Lowers, Middles, and Cottons. Other nearby spots include San Clemente State Beach, San Onofre State Beach (beautiful place to learn how to surf), T-Street, The Pier (south and north sides), Calafia, 204, and North Beach.
Waikiki Beach, Hawaii
Hawaii is another destination for popular surfing spots. It’s hard not to lead with Waikiki Beach given its history as the home of the legendary Duke Kahanamoku, the father of modern-day surfing. Popular breaks in Waikiki include Ala Moana Bowls, Kaiser’s, Rockpile, Fours, Threes, Paradise, Populars, Canoes, Queen’s Surf, Publics, Tongg’s, and Diamond Head.
Maui has a variety of great spots for surfing. Maalaea Bay offers the world’s fastest rideable waves known as “Freight Trains.” Punalau Beach attracts professional surfers from around the world.
Cocoa Beach, Florida
Florida has dozens of popular surfing destinations including Cocoa Beach located east of Orlando. Cocoa Beach is one of the state’s most popular beaches for beginners.
Palm Beach, Florida
Palm Beach’s Reef Road offers the best surfing in Florida with larger than normal waves during winter and hurricane season.
New Smyrna Beach, Florida
New Smyrna Beach is south of Daytona and the locals refer to the 13-miles of sandy white beaches as NSB or “the wave magnet.” New Smyrna offers the most consistent waves on Florida’s east coast.
Ocean City, New Jersey
Although California, Hawaii and Florida are the most popular states for surfing, you can find good surfing spots in the northeast and mid-Atlantic region. One of our favorites is Ocean City, New Jersey where the waves break consistency due to the jetties.
Newport, Rhode Island
A popular destination for surfing large waves lies at the end of Ruggles Avenue in posh Newport. Ruggles features three breaks – The Point, Out Front, and Around the Corner. The waves can be challenging so beginners should be cautious.
More Popular Destinations
San Diego – Black’s Beach, La Jolla Shores Beach, and Sunset Cliffs; Northern California – Half Moon Bay, Lost Cove, Three Rocks Beach, Monterey State Beach, and The Great Beach; Hawaii – North Shore, Kaanapali, Hanalei Bai on Kauai, Log Cabins (strong currents), and Makaha Point; Florida – Daytona Beach, Boynton Beach, Jacksonville Beach, South Beach, Ponce Inlet, Pensacola Beach, Sebastian Inlet, Flagler Beach, and Venice Beach; Carolinas – Folly Beach near Charleston, Cape Hatteras and Kitty Hawk on the Outer Banks; Mid-Atlantic – Virginia Beach in Virginia, and Assateague Island also in Virginia (national park with lots of wildlife); Northeast – Montauk Point on Long Island, Hampton Beach in New Hampshire, Long Sands in Maine, Manasquan on the Jersey Shore, and Narragansett in Rhode Island.