Cocoa Beach first received its fame in the 1960s as the prime spot for east coast surfing, as made popular by greats like Gary Topper, Mimi Munro, and recently Kelly Hall. Nowadays, the once amazing surfing conditions have since diminished due to ecological and manmade developments. Though local surfers try to stake a claim here, it is the catamaran sailors, wind surfers, and kite surfers that have taken over the territory, as the lower waves make for some nice sailing options.
Cape Canaveral makes up the majority of Florida’s central coastline. These places provide some pretty intense waves, but unfortunately, most of it is restricted. Owned by America’s NASA program, this heavily guarded area takes some supreme undercover tactics just to stand on the miles of beach, and even then it won’t take long for you to get noticed. But then there’s Playalinda. Located beyond a wildlife refuge, this beach serves up some pretty intense waves, though not nearly as consistent as found in New Smyrna.
As soon as you leave New Smyrna Beach, the competition for waves quickly dissipates while travelling further south to more secluded and less crowded beach breaks. This is probably because spots, like Bethune Beach, are hit-or-miss and seasonal locations. Most surfers looking for something new usually gun it down to central Florida near Playalinda, where the fun pipelines start brewing. But, Bethune Beach is not a bad place for beginners who don’t want to get shown up by the pros.
Florida Monthly Magazine rated New Smyrna as “the best beach in Florida.” And while cities like Daytona cater to the pleasures of the land, New Smyrna is a beach civilization that focuses the majority of its energy in the water. And, it’s not hard to see why. New Smyrna has some of the best surf in all of east coast Florida. Surfers and wind surfers alike take advantage of the good wave and wind conditions, making this place supremely crowded all year long.
Probably out of all of the beaches in northern Florida, Ponce Inlet is probably the most guarded by its locals. Most interestingly enough, most of the surfing population is composed of women inspired by four-time world surf champion Lisa Andersen, who claims this is one of her favorite spots. And, it’s understandable, because this is simply one of the better breaks. This is also a hot spot for wind surfers, kite surfers, as well as catamaran sailors, who take off from inside the inlet.
South of Daytona, Sunglow Pier is a return to the similar mentality as seen in the more northern beaches of Florida’s east coast. Locals, who are either disgusted by the debauchery of Daytona or feel ousted by the moody beaches of the Ponce Inlet travel to Sunglow Pier and are ready to defend their territory.
While locals might have been your biggest threat while checking out the beaches up north, the crazy microcosm of Daytona’s partying visitors create a whole different world of hazards at Main Beach. During events such as Spring Week or Bike Week, you will have to maneuver your way around drunken college kids and major traffic jams – and that’s before you even reach the beach. Water sports are enjoyed here all year round.
This beach is where four-time world surfing champion Lisa Andersen got her start, though now you can probably see her somewhere in the Ponce Inlet or at New Smyrna. But, this is certainly a great place to start, as the waves are reliable yet small enough for learning surfers to get some good year-round experience before trying more aggressive waves.
Flagler is one of the few remaining places in between St Augustine and Daytona Beach that has not been left to the tourist crowds, though developments are surely in the way to change all that. Nonetheless, Flagler is better known as a major fishing spot, as the town installed an 806 ft long pier. Swells whip through the pier, creating decent waves for surfers. Wind and kite surfers, however, appreciate Flagler’s wide open beaches.
St. Augustine is a town that thrives off of its many resorts, which overlook the beauty and majesty of the Atlantic Ocean. This doesn’t mean, however, that its beaches are lacking in water sport entertainment. In fact, St. Augustine’s Beach is a prime area for surfers, wind surfers, and kite surfers; and the locals come down here in flocks when the conditions are just right. Here is an easygoing beach that breaks on just about any swell, wind direction and tide.
Before heading down to St. Augustine, why not give Vilano Beach a try? Bounded by the Ponte Vedra and the Augustine Inlet, Vilano Beach has become a major site for vacation homes. But, locals flock to Vilano because it produces powerful waves when the other beaches seem dead. Its exposed beach line also makes it a fun spot for wind and kite surfers during the summer months.
Sebastian Inlet is the major celebrity of Florida’s surfing beaches. First made famous back in the 1960s, the rubble jetty was constructed over the natural inlet helping to create the behemoth waves that have turned alright surfers into stunt devils. A little bit of history for you – this is where the aerial was born. These days, Sebastian Inlet scene is merely one of competition, as surfers vie for space along these truly gorgeous waves.
If you are a little wary of the tough locals at the Jacksonville Pier Beach, perhaps travel south to Ponte Vedra, where civilization comes to a halt for the next ten miles, leaving nothing but vacant beaches with good shore breaks. The only problem is that though you can see the beach from A1A, there aren’t too many public areas to access it. Eventually, you’ll come across Crossroads at the end of Minckler Road.
The Jacksonville Beach Pier has been a major site of society and recreation all year round for its residents; equipped with a 1000 ft pier designed with walking and fishing in mind and sandy beaches that turn into a major rumpus ground for the young masses during the summer. In the meantime, the beach’s water serves as a somewhat mediocre area for surfers – basically only used by Jacksonville residents – that provide similar wave conditions all year round.
To put it mildly, beaches like Main Beach located around northern Florida are highly underrated. And perhaps that’s a good thing, for the sprawling sandy beach line can provide for some quality surfing, wind surfing, and kite surfering that many simply don’t take advantage of. So if you’re not a fan of heavy crowds, maybe you’ll want to take advantage of the northern Florida waters.
It is generally thought that Ponto is a misspelling of the Mexican word, punto, meaning ‘point.’ And, believe it or not, it was man’s ingenuity that turned this beach from a lifeless strip of waves into a paradise of tubes – thus recently transforming Ponto into a popular spot for surfers in the San Diego County.
At first, you might not believe that Oceanside, the beginning territory of San Diego, is a major water sport community. Indeed, the numerous tattoo parlors, barber shops, motorcycle dealerships, head shops, and Dairy Queens might suggest a different culture of people. But looks can be deceiving. For the fact of the matter is that Oceanside’s North Jetty and Pier serve up some pretty impressive wind and wave conditions for surfers, wind surfers, kite surfers and catamaran sailors, making this point a place worth visiting.
Attention all sailors: Cabrillo Beach is the place to be in Southern Los Angeles. Also known as Hurricane Gulch, Cabrillo Beach provides consistent wind and wave conditions that accommodates beginner and advanced wind and kite surfers. Off into the distance, you will see many catamaran sailors dotting the water.
The name Malibu actually translates to “the surf sounds loudly.” Although it does not roared as loudly as it once used to, Malibu is still a major surfing destination in all of the USA, and the throngs of boarders that show up all year round prove it. It is for this reason that the Malibu beach is like stage, where the best of boarders show off their moves to the large audiences that come to watch.
If you’ve ever seen a beach movie from the 1960’s, good chances are that it was filmed here at Leo Carillo State Park. The park itself is named after Leopold Carillo, an actor during the Golden Age of film. Other than its ties to Hollywood, the beach is a destination for surfers and kite surfers. But, it is vastly more populated by throngs of wind surfers, who take advantage of ideal winds and challenging obstacles in the surf.
This man-made lake was made in part by the Friant Dam built in 1944, and now offers more than 40 miles of shore line to accommodate the large amount of water sport enthusiasts – especially windsurfers – who visit the area every year. Located only 20 miles northeast of the city of Fresno, it is surrounded by hills, wineries and beautiful nature scenes that make it hard to pass up.
While surfers try to catch their luck on the inconsistent waves of the San Luis Obispo County’s beaches, windsurfers, kite surfers, and even catamaran sailors travel to Lake Lopez for some great sailing conditions. Only 10 miles east of Arroyo Grande, Lake Lopez is a scenic body of warm water that benefits off of east, west and southern winds. Wind surfing organizations and magazines from all over the world hail this area as one of the top places to go, and has even been host to several events – such as the Lake Lopez Women’s Clinic.
When the conditions are right, this small Monterey Big Sur beach is packed with surfers, with the occasional wind and kite surfer. Instead of a vacation spot, it’s more of a place where water sport enthusiasts travel to in order to catch some badly needed wind and waves.
As you begin to travel south along the Californian coast, the waters of the Pacific Ocean sheds its thick, opaque green consistency to the lighter clear blue waters that people with cabin fever only dream about. It is here at Carmel, part of Central California’s Monterey Bay where the water is at its height of beauty and clarity. .
This is one of the most well known surfing spots in Lisboa; the closest town is a charming former village now cosmopolitan destination known as Cascais. Guincho is a crescent shaped bay where the wind is always blowing strongly, even on a calm day. It benefits from a mild Mediterranean climate, with short, wet winters and long hot and dry summers, with temperatures maxing out at 28°C ( 82°F) on average. The peak season is from June to August for windsurfing and kitesurfing, although March & April are the windiest months. Surfers are found here in the winter months. A the Atlantic Ocean water is cold, with temperatures varying between 11°-17°C (52°-63° F), a wetsuit is required.
Even if you don’t live in one of the million dollar houses in the area, you can still enjoy the clear blue waters of Asilomar’s State Park. This is one of California’s most popular family vacation destinations and in the summer you can expect its sandy beaches to be riddled with towels and plastic shovels. All of that aside, Asilomar’s wind and wave conditions make for some great surfing, wind surfing, and kite surfing. Water sports can be enjoyed here all year round.
Moss Landing is one of California’s best surfing and wind surfing beaches, but it’s because of this fact that it’s one of the most heavily guarded by locals. Some epic fights have erupted in this area between locals and outsiders. Some locals have even lashed out against visiting photographers. The fact of the matter is that they have a pretty good reason.