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The 7 Best Places to Surf in the U.S.

surfboard standing up in the sand at the ocean.
Photo by Lacie Slezak on Unsplash

Avid surfers know that there is no shortage of stunning destinations that offer amazing waves. While some require a passport such as Taiwan, Sri Lanka, or Barbados, there are plenty of domestic getaways that offer the best places to surf in the United States. No matter if you are an experienced wave-catcher or a through-and-through newbie, the shorelines of these destinations offer some serious breaks. Catch up with a local school to take a lesson or two before heading out on your own to practice or go straight to the pipeline. No matter how you approach a surf escape to these U.S. destinations, it is bound to be a memorable time on the water.

Kaanapali, Hawaii

surfer in wet suit riding a wave.

The great thing about Kaanapali beach is that it’s a perfect place for both advanced and beginner surfers. This is where locals tend to learn how to surf on the island of Maui and plenty of tourists have as well. Apart from its picturesque beaches, Kaanapali has an advantage when it comes to newbie surfers. The beach has very few rocks which makes it a safe and stress-free place to learn. There are also waves constantly breaking, so there’s no need to worry about a calm day stealing your fun.

Cocoa Beach, Florida

surfer at sunset riding a crashing wave.

Cocoa Beach is home to some incredible world-class surfers, which automatically means it must be an awesome destination to surf and practice. It’s also home to an annual competition, so visitors can certainly count on great waves, too. Though many of the best places to surf in the U.S. are out on the West Coast or an island unto themselves, this is one of the few great spots both on the East Coast and in the south.

Huntington Beach, California

surfer in turbulent waters with jagged rocks in the background.

Huntington Beach is one of the country’s most classic surfing destinations. There’s certainly truth behind its nickname — Surf City, USA. That’s why it’s made the bucket list for tons of people who love the sport. For decades, Huntington Beach has been the home of many surf competitions and championships. With 8.5 miles of beach, there’s plenty of room for everyone to head out. But better yet, there’s non-stop consistent surf thanks to its long beach break. As home to so many top surfers, you won’t want to leave without visiting a local shop or two.

Waikiki Beach, Hawaii

surfer laying on surfboard and paddling in the water.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Waikiki Beach is another famous surf spot thanks to its part in making surfing a popular sport. Located in Honolulu, Waikiki Beach offers something for all types of surfers. Those who prefer longboards, in particular, will find the perfect opportunity to ride the waves here. Another unique characteristic of Waikiki is that its beaches offer both left and right waves that rise between waist height to well overhead.

Montauk, New York

surfer in a wetsuit riding a wave .

Another East Coast surf destination, Montauk is one of few that offers good waves. However, anyone who ventures out here will quickly learn that a wetsuit is definitely in order to brave the Long Island waters. The waves here are more than worth suiting up for the cold. Montauk hosts an annual Surf Classic, which is worth visiting when you’re not catching waves yourself.

North Shore, Hawaii

surfers laying on surfboards watching huge pipeline in Hawaii.

Located on the island of Oahu, North Shore is a mecca for serious surfers. The legendary pipeline has played host to countless competitions and championships over the years. However, your skill level and the kind of waves you hope to catch here might determine when you should plan a trip. Warmer summer months are filled with smaller, more manageable waves, while the huge breaks happen during the winter. That’s why you’ll find most of the competitions happening between November and December here when the waves can reach up to 30 feet.

La Jolla, California

surfer riding short wave as the sun is setting.

La Jolla offers something a little different for surfers. Many of its waves are short, but each one packs a punch. These swift and powerful waves come crashing down far too soon, but they make for an exhilarating ride to most surfers. La Jolla is a great place for beginners to practice since the waves are so short. The reward won’t last long enough, but you’ll get plenty of opportunities to practice popping up onto the board.

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Molly Harris
Molly Harris is a freelance journalist, cyclist and outdoor enthusiast. Her work has appeared in Travel + Leisure, Lonely…
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