Sunshine State is one of the most attractive tourist destinations in the US, not just for Americans but worldwide as well. From shiny glass skyscrapers of Miami to beautiful white sandy beaches Florida attracts lots of people and surfers are no exception. Although a bit less attractive for surfers than perhaps California or Hawaii, which offer more superior waves, still surfboards are all lined up on the white beaches.
Typically surfing season in Florida is best from August to early spring, the peak being from November to March. That’s largely thanks to very mild to almost no winter, making Florida enjoyable for sea activities all year round. During the peak season, waves can reach up to 10 feet, which makes them ideal for surfers.
Florida has a lot of beaches that are suitable not just for swimming, snorkeling, or diving, but also for surfing. You don’t have to be a professional surfer to try your luck with the waves, in almost any beach town in Florida you will find a surfing school with an instructor who can teach you. Southernmost parts of the state like the Florida Keys are not really renowned surfing places, in fact, you will barely get any good waves there so most surfers are concentrated eastern coast of the Atlantic. East coast can be divided into North and South and generally speaking South Florida gets larger, better quality waves (especially during winter) while North Florida gets more waves in general, but smaller. Strong winds are also very attractive to wind and kitesurfers which can be seen in abundance all along the coast. Although summers are really hot in Florida, during winter times ocean can get a bit chilly so a swimsuit is a must.
Some of the best surf beaches in Florida are:
- Sebastian Inlet: located between Melbourne and Vero Beach this beautiful inlet offers amazing surfing and fishing opportunities. Surf clubs organize annual surfing tournaments here both amateur and professional, and Sebastian inlet is considered to be the epicenter of surfing on the East coast.
- New Smyrna Beach: just south of the famous Daytona Beach, New Smyrna Beach is a famous surf hub, attracting many beach lovers, surfers, kite surfers, windsurfers, and scuba divers. There are many resorts, hotels, and vacation rentals right on the beach, as well as outdoor activities and competitions.
- Cocoa beach: when you have a beautiful beach right next to the space center, you know you can expect far more than just water sports. Cocoa Beach is ideally located right next to the Cape Canaveral Air force Station and Kennedy Space Center. This small town has a strong surf culture, which is evident in many surf shops and surf schools. The best time for surfing is in December when the waves reach up to 4 feet.
- Ponce Inlet: just next to New Smyrna Beach is the ponce Inlet and in extension Daytona Beach. Very famous surf locations and much like New Smyrna, it attracts many adventure sport lovers. Daytona is ideal for both experienced surfers and those who are just getting started. More experienced surfers like to stick to the Ponce Inlet more for the best wave opportunities.
If you driving through Florida make sure to include Miami to Key West drive. It’s one of the most popular itineraries of Florida with many stunning scenic views that reveal the beautiful tropical side of the US.
- Jacksonville beach: prime surfing location in Florida almost all year round. Wintertime brings more challenging waves and is more for professional surfers while summertime is great for newbies to practice. Sandy bottom of Jacksonville beach makes it quite safe for surfing since there is no risk of hitting a rock or reef. Experienced surfers also head to surf during the nighttime as waves can get particularly attractive on certain days.
- St. Augustine Beach: perfect vacation beach that will fill everyone’s needs. the beach is wide and extends for miles in each direction while the waves from the Atlantic shape its east side. Good winds attract many surfers here as well as many winds and kite surfers. Beach has a lot of content to offer its visitors such as a beachfront park with volleyball courts, playgrounds for children. There are sea turtle nesting grounds that are protected as well as picnic areas.
- Panama City Beach: no not Central America Panama, Florida also has one Panama beach. Unlike the others, this is actually in the Gulf of Mexico. Yes, surfing conditions are not as good on the Atlantic coast of Florida but still, this beach has some reliable surfing conditions. Best surfing opportunities are actually during the hurricane season if you dare. Russel Fields City Pier and Front Beach Road are considered the best locations for surfing. Waves reach up 1.64 ft on average.
- Palm Beach’s Reef Road: one of the most famous towns in Florida, Palm Beach is known for its luxury estates, world-class hotels, boutiques, galleries, and restaurants. Surfing conditions are quite good here with north wind swells, not particularly hollow, however, they are fast and last long enough creating waves up to 3.25 ft.
Beaches here are not as crowded with surfers as for example in Hawaii or in California so it makes a good spot for newbies and those who are just learning the sport. Jupiter inlet on the east coast in particular is a good spot for beginners since it is sheltered from strong winds but still has decent waves for the beginners.
Beaches on the Gulf of Mexico coast are not really surf optimal, perhaps for beginners, but for more adrenaline you’d have to wait for colder weather, tropical storm, or hurricane season.
Good thing about Florida is its weather that is warm all year round so you will see a lot of water sport activities on its beaches like windsurfers and kite surfers.
Learning how to surf takes time, patience, and lots of practice. Many beaches along the 1200 miles long coast of Florida are dotted with surf shops and surfing schools, and they will certainly provide the best advice on where to catch the best waves.