Best Surfing Spots in the U.S.
If you're a dude or dudette looking for gnarly waves to shoot the curl, these beaches in America are where it's at.
They're home to killer breaks, epic competitions and oftentimes legendary rippers. In other words, you're guaranteed to love these surfing spots.
North Shore, Oahu, Hawaii
Of course, when surfers wax nostalgic about the North Shore, they are speaking of the shoreline on the island of Oahu.
Numerous competitions are held on this pipeline.
Claim to fame: The North Shore's first lifeguard, Eddie Aikau, went on to become one of Hawaii's most famous surfers.
Huntington Beach, California
Surf City USA is an obvious addition to the list of places where you must Hang 10.
The city has hosted its annual surf contest for 50 years along with national and international competitions.
Claim to fame: Brett Simpson became the city's hometown hero when he won two back-to-back U.S. Open of Surfing titles in 2009 and 2010.
Kaanapali, Maui, Hawaii
Not only is Kaanapali great for experienced surfers, but newbies can take lessons with the Kaanapali Surf Club, which has taught both locals and tourists how to ride the waves.
Claim to fame: Kaanapali has consistent waves, few rocks, and is known for beautiful sunsets.
Cocoa Beach, Florida
Westgate Cocoa Beach Pier is where it's at in the beach town that welcomes the annual NKF Rich Salick Pro/Am Surf Fest every Columbus Day Weekend.
Claim to fame: Cocoa Beach is the hometown of 11-time world surfing champion Kelly Slater, considered the world's greatest surfer.
Montauk, New York
You may need a wet suit for the waters off of Long Island, but the waves are worth it.
The eastern end of the line for the island hosts an annual Surf Classic.
Claim to fame: An "odd" sea creature known as the Montauk Monster is rumored to live here. Local legend says it was born from a failed military or government experiment.
Santa Cruz, California
You'll find many surfers on longboards in Santa Cruz, a city that fought hard for the title of Surf City.
It may not have the title, but it's one of the most popular spots on the West Coast.
Claim of fame: Known for surfing Mavericks in Half Moon Bay, Jay Moriarity was a Santa Cruz surfer who died in a freediving accident in the Indian Ocean.
Bringing surfing to the forefront as a sport, surfers make a pilgrimage to Waikiki Beach, which hosts the annual Duke's OceanFest every August.
Claim to fame: The fest is named for the surfer who introduced surfing to the masses, Duke Kahanamoku.
Nags Head, North Carolina
Surfing on the East Coast may not produce the waves of the West Coast ... that is until nor'easters in the winter bring the heat.
Waves can reach 8 to 10 feet during the nor'easters.
Claim to fame: Nags Head has excellent waves for all skill levels.
Ventura is home to a number of breaks that make it a top surfer destination.
From Rincon Point State Beach to Mondo's Beach, you can get airborne here.
Claim to fame: Surfer’s Point, off Figueroa Street, has one of the premier surfing and windsurfing spots in California.
San Clemente, California
San Clemente is considered a breeding ground for surfers, with a number of professional surfers who began their careers as young children here.
Claim to fame: Anastasia Ashley, Colin McPhillips, Shane Beschen and Kolohe Andino all hail from San Clemente.
Folly Beach, South Carolina
Folly Beach's Washout provides "barrels" of fun and helps bring light to South Carolina's coastline as a surf spot.
Claim to fame: The Washout is on the eastern side of Folly Beach and got its name from the damage done by Hurricane Hugo in 1989.
Dana Point, California
Dana Point and neighboring Laguna Beach may not host annual competitions, but that doesn't mean you can't shred off the coast.
Claim to fame: One of the best surfers in the world, Phil Edwards got his start here and still calls it home.
Imperial Beach, California
Surfers who love their pups may teach their dogs how to surf. If they do, they'll head to Imperial Beach, which introduced the original Surf Dog competition.
Claim to fame: Imperial Beach is the southernmost city in California.
Ocean City, New Jersey
The Jersey Shore is more than an MTV TV show. It's also a hotspot for breaks due to its jetties.
Claim to fame: Eleven-year-old champ and rising star Cruz Dinofa calls Ocean City home.
Aguadilla, Puerto Rico
You don't need a passport to surf in the U.S. territory, which is why we include the awesome west coast surf spots found in the warm Caribbean waters.
Aguadilla is considered the island's surf capital.
Claim to fame: Aguadilla has 19 beaches, the most on the island of Puerto Rico, and some of them are considered world-class such as Surfer's Beach, Gas Chambers and Wilderness.
Virginia Beach, Virgina
The water doesn't need to be clear blue to enjoy the ride in Virginia Beach.
This summer destination is home to the second-oldest continually running surfing championship, the Coastal Edge ECSC.
Claim to fame: Robert Barrett Holland and his son Bob Lee kept Virginia Beach a surf scene since the 1930s.
Haleiwa, Island of Hawaii
The Banzai Pipeline of the Big Island's North Shore is one of Hawaii's best-known locations for riding waves.
It's home to an annual competition that has been held for more than 40 years.
Claim to fame: Surf film pioneer Bruce Brown coined the name "Pipeline" in 1961, and the name was first used in his movie "Surfing Hollow Days."
Jacksonville Beach, Florida
Pro surfers seem a dime a dozen from Jacksonville, so these Florida waves are worth paying attention to.
In fact, one of the city's nicknames is the First Coast.
Claim to fame: Ryan Briggs, Asher Nolan and brothers Cody and Evan Thompson are young pros from the city.
Half Moon Bay, California
Nicknamed "Mavericks" for the three surfers who discovered Half Moon Bay's swells in the late 1960s, the Northern California Bay hosts an annual competition of the same name.
Claim to fame: The three "Mavericks" are Dick Knottmeyer, Alex Matienzo and Jim Thompson.
La Jolla, California
Windansea Beach in La Jolla is known for being small but mighty with short, epic waves.
La Jolla itself is home to the annual AmpSurf surfing competition for amputees.
Claim to fame: Jolla sounds Spanish but isn't a real word. The word for jewel in Spanish is "joya" and is similar in translation to Jolla.
Playa Middles Isabela, Puerto Rico
Another north coast beach in Puerto Rico renowned for surfing is Middles Beach.
It is home to the annual Corona Pro Surfing competition.
Claim to fame: Picturesque Pozo Teodoro is just a short walk from Middles and has tide pools that resemble kinetic art.
Hermosa Beach, California
Hermosa and nearby Manhattan and Redondo Beaches are home to the International Surf Festival.
Huntington Beach might claim the Surf City title, but these Orange County beaches are all the epitome of California surfing.
Claim to fame: The Beach Boys, who let America in on the surf culture of Southern California with their music, spent their beach time on Hermosa and Manhattan Beaches.
Fun fact: Dennis Wilson was the only member of The Beach Boys who surfed.
Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina
It's not just nor'easters that bring swells to the Outer Banks. Late summer/early fall hurricanes from the Caribbean often target the Carolinas.
When a storm starts heading their way, surfers grab their boards for increased wave action that proceeds them.
Claim to fame: Wrightsville Beach is the birthplace of surfing in North Carolina. Burke Haywood Bridgers and others organized early surfing activity there in 1909.
Breaks can be found from St. Petersburg to Venice, where surfers are spotted bobbing off the shores, including the South Jetty Water Park.
Claim to fame: The surf on the west coast of Florida is not as consistent as the east coast of the state, but well-placed sand helps the wave break.
North Shore, Kauai, Hawaii
Like the other Hawaiian Islands, Kauai's North Shore is a host to a number of surfing competitions. Less visited by tourists than the other islands, Kauai's waves have fewer riders.
Claim to fame: Andy Irons grew up on Kauai and was a three-time surfing world champion before he died of a heart attack and drugs at the age of 32 in 2010.
Jensen Beach, Florida
Found in between Cocoa Beach and West Palm Beach, Jensen Beach is a quiet Florida break where the waves especially roll when storms brew.
Claim to fame: The best time of year for surfing Jensen Beach with consistent clean waves is during winter and the month of September.
New Smyrna Beach, Florida
South of Daytona, New Smyrna Beach is one of the greatest surf beaches on the East Coast.
Its inlet welcomes numerous contests connected to the more than 40-year-old Smyrna Surfari Club.
Claim to fame: New Smyrna has produced some world-class competitive surfers, including Eric Geiselman and his brother Evan.
Narragansett, Rhode Island
Surprised to see Rhode Island on a surfing list? The Ocean State has more than 400 miles of coastline.
And when winter nor'easters hit them, it's Narragansett Bay's jagged beaches that create swells.
Claim to fame: There are parts of Narragansett that can be surfed year-round.
Malibu's beaches are so close to Los Angeles and have such a pristine setting it is often filmed in movies and television shows.
But who needs glitz and glamour on the south swell?
Claim to fame: Legendary surfer Laird Hamilton lives in Malibu with his pro volleyball player wife, Gabby Reece.
Lincoln City, Oregon
Home of the Nelscott Reef Big Wave Classic, you can bet the waves in this Oregon coastal town are huge.
Claim to fame: Big wave riders flock to Nelscott Reef in the winter, when waves can get as high as 50 feet.