Best Surfing Beaches On the East Coast

best surfing beaches on the east coast

While the East Coast doesn’t provide the same caliber of surf spots to its western counterparts, there are still numerous locations with quality swells and great breaks.

Just as the saying goes, it’s not always about the size. Very rideable waves and tides exist on the East Coast from Maine all the way down to Florida, despite shallower shelf conditions.

Throughout this list, we’ll go through some of the best surfing beaches to travel to so you can get your shred on! Best surfing beaches on the east coast are in no particular order.

Sebastian Inlet, Florida

Located in one of the most competitive surfing areas on the East Coast, Sebastian Inlet is the beach where the all-time WTC surfer Kelly Slater first got into the water.

The north side of the inlet is where the waves are at their best as they are amplified by several shallow sandbars. The result is a larger, wider wave with multiple peaks and remains as one of the most consistent, as well as, hollow swells on the coast. Depending on the wave size and conditions, novices and intermediates can enjoy time in Sebastian Inlet.

Cape Hatteras

Nestled in the Outer Banks, Cape Hatteras yields very high-quality swells, although the actual waves conditions can vary greatly based on the direction of the waves coming in. What gives this beach amazing potential is that it’s the steepest shelf in the Mid-Atlantic.

Cape Hatteras Beach

It’s nowhere near the gradient of the West Coast, but Cape Hatteras still stands on its own. It currently hosts the qualifying tournament for nationals annually.

Montauk, New York

Perhaps known more for the infamous ‘Montauk Monster’, this particular beach provides a variety of swells influenced by coves, reefs, and other natural structures. This offers some of the most consistent waves due to the handful of sources that they can originate from.

Montauk is one of those seasonal beaches, too. During the summer months, surfers flock to this East Coast gem; however, when it gets cold, it’s literally a ghost town. That’s not to say that there won’t be some crazy riders out there taking advantage of winter storms.

Manasquan, New Jersey

Welcome to the Jersey Shore! As one of the best surfing beaches on the East Coast and a local favorite, Manasquan beach can get crowded quickly, especially when there are great conditions.

Manasquan Beach New Jersey

It produces a fast, hollow, and fun right that barrels beautifully. There’s a jetty that’s directly in front of a more mellow left, so visitors should practice caution.

The only downside to this beach is in regard to the rules and regulations on surfing. During the summer months, surfers are confined to having to surf before 9 am and after 5 pm. Not a lot of time there, so take advantage of it while you can!

Virginia Beach, Virginia

Given the honor of hosting the 2010 East Coast Surfing Championship, Virginia beach has much to offer, but sometimes surfers have to be patient and wait.

Additionally, the swell power, size, and shape of the peaks change based on the season. Rudee Inlet and the 1st Street Jetty are the two places that generate the most consistent waves, but both are affected by things like the direction of the swell and regular dredging maintenance.

New Smyrna Beach, Florida

Another Florida beach that produces amazing swells, New Smyrna, is the home of quality waves and longer rides on account of sandbars that are found between jetties.

New Smyrna Beach in Florida

Barrels are frequent here and make it perfect for those surfers who are attempting performance tricks and aerials. When the swells get large, surfers have the option of going left or right.

The waves here truly are some of the most consistent on the East Coast and are always a perennial top 5 contender.

Nantucket, Massachusetts

Not usually brought in the surfing conversation, Nantucket can actually produce some large swells that are a little rough due to wind conditions at Cisco Beach.

For this reason, Cisco beach is more suitable for experienced surfers. That’s no joke. They literally have signs that warn surfers. There are some easier, smaller-wave beaches, though, like Madaket and Surfside Beach that still offer quality swells.

They do tend to be a little more packed due to a higher presence of tourists, so keep that in mind.

Folly Beach, South Carolina

Located twenty minutes outside of Charleston, Folly Beach is often forgotten about because of how close it’s located to North Carolina. While the waves in South Carolina aren’t as big or powerful as North Carolina beaches, Folly has been known to produce double overhead waves, especially during storms or when hurricanes are approaching.

Folly Beach in South Carolina

The Washout is where you’ll find the best swells, but there are other options such as Clouds. Wave conditions at Folly are usually dictated by the wind direction and strength, so make sure to check the surf report.

Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina

The Outer Banks is not the only spot in North Carolina where there is great surf! Wrightsville is one of the best storm surfing beaches on the East Coast.

That distinction has been passed on by a number of publications. Specifically, it’s great for beginners with moderate and easy riding swells when storms aren’t lurking. It’s also the perfect beach for longboarders, but not so much for shortboards or those looking to do performance tricks.

Newport, Rhode Island

Sporting colder water temperatures than many of the other beaches on this list, Ruggles Beach offers some very impressive waves that are large and consistently barrel.

This is another spot that’s only for experienced and advanced surfers to attempt because waves can get massive and offer little to no room for failure.

There is no soft sand below these waters. The area has large, jagged rocks that have produced their fair share of injuries and broken boards. Riders take caution!

East Coast Beach Spots

A trip to any of these spots is sure to not disappoint. Just make sure that you check the weather conditions before traveling so you get a good understanding of what to expect.

Most waves on the East Coast are subject to a variety of factors that can affect things like appropriate board size, the need for a wetsuit, and experience level. So, what are you waiting for? Pack up your boads and get on the road!


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