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, which are ranked from great to legendary.
30. Lincoln City, Oregon
Home of the Nelscott Reef Big Wave Classic, you can bet the waves in this Oregon coastal town are huge.
Lincon City's Claim to Fame
Big wave riders flock to Nelscott Reef in the winter when waves can get as high as 50 feet.
Where to stay: Starfish Manor Oceanfront Hotel
29. Malibu, California
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?
Malibu's Claim to Fame
Legendary surfer Laird Hamilton (pictured, left) lives in Malibu with his pro volleyball player wife, Gabby Reece (pictured, right).
Where to stay: Malibu Beach Inn
28. 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.
Narragansett's Claim to Fame
There are parts of Narragansett that can be surfed year-round.
Where to stay: Atlantic House
27. 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.
New Smyrna Beach's Claim to Fame
New Smyrna has produced some world-class competitive surfers, including Eric Geiselman and his brother Evan.
Where to stay: Black Dolphin Inn
26. 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.
Jensen Beach's Claim to Fame
The best time of year for surfing Jensen Beach with consistent clean waves is during winter and the month of September.
Where to stay: Jensen Beach Inn
25. 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.
North Shore's Claim to Fame
Andy Irons grew (pictured) 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.
Where to stay: Club Wyndham Ka Eo Kai
24. Venice, Florida
Breaks can be found from St. Petersburg to Venice, where surfers are spotted bobbing off the shores, including the South Jetty Water Park.
Venice's Claim to Fame
The surf on the west coast of Florida is not as consistent as that on the state's east coast, but well-placed sand helps the wave break.
Where to stay: Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Venice
23. 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.
Wrightsville Beach's Claim to Fame
Wrightsville Beach is the birthplace of surfing in North Carolina. Burke Haywood Bridgers and others organized early surfing activities there in 1909.
Where to stay: Graystone Inn
22. 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.
Hermosa Beach's 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.
Where to stay: Hermosa Beach
21. 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.
Playa Middles Isabela's Claim to Fame
Picturesque Pozo Teodoro is just a short walk from Middles and has tide pools that resemble kinetic art.
Where to stay: Parador Villas Del Mar Hau
20. 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.
La Jolla's 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.
Where to stay: Grande Colonial La Jolla
19. Half Moon Bay, California
Nicknamed "Mavericks" after the dog of 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.
Half Moon Bay's Claim to Fame
The three surfers were Dick Knottmeyer, Alex Matienzo and Jim Thompson.
Where to stay: Beach House Half Moon Bay
18. 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.
17. 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.
16. Virginia Beach, Virginia
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.
15. 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.
Aguadilla's 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.
Where to stay: Courtyard by Marriott Aguadilla
14. 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.
Ocean City's Claim to Fame
Up-and-coming surfer Cruz Dinofa (pictured) calls Ocean City home.
Where to stay: Scarborough Inn
13. 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.
12. 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.
11. 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.
Folly Beach's 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.
Where to stay: Water's Edge Inn
10. 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.
San Clemente's Claim to Fame
Anastasia Ashley, Colin McPhillips, Shane Beschen and Kolohe Andino all hail from San Clemente.
Where to stay: San Clemente Inn
9. Ventura, California
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.
Ventura's Claim to Fame
Surfer’s Point, off Figueroa Street, has one of the premier surfing and windsurfing spots in California.
Where to stay: Crowne Plaza Ventura Beach
8. 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.
7. Waikiki, Honolulu, Hawaii
Bringing surfing to the forefront as a sport, surfers make a pilgrimage to Waikiki Beach, which hosts the annual Duke's OceanFest every August.
Waikiki's Claim to Fame
Waikiki is especially famous in the surfing world, as it was a surfing hotspot for Duke Kahanamoku (pictured, center), the surfer who introduced surfing to the masses.
Where to stay: Halepuna Waikiki by Halekulani
6. 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.
Santa Cruz' Claim to 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.
Where to stay: Hotel Paradox, Autograph Collection
5. 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.
Montauk's 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.
Where to stay: Beachcomber Resort At Montauk
4. 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.
3. 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.
2. 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.
Huntington Beach's Claim to Fame
Brett Simpson (pictured) became the city's hometown hero when he won two back-to-back U.S. Open of Surfing titles in 2009 and 2010.
Where to stay: Kimpton Shorebreak Huntington Beach Resort
1. North Shore, Oahu, Hawaii
Not to be confused with Kauai's North Shore, this pipeline hosts numerous competitions.
When surfers wax nostalgic about the North Shore, they are speaking of the shoreline on the island of Oahu.
North Shore's Claim to Fame
The North Shore's first lifeguard, Eddie Aikau, went on to become one of Hawaii's most famous surfers.
Where to stay: Owen's Retreat