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The 10 Best Places to Surf in the U.S.

By Cliff Montgomery,
Sun, sand, waves: a combination familiar to anyone who rides the surf. But which U.S. beaches serve up the best surfing experience? When you're not snowboarding or wakeboarding, why not try your skills on a surfboard?

We give you 10 of the best beaches in the U.S. to surf below:

Sunset Beach-North Shore, Oahu, Hawaii

This place is for experts only. A classic 'tubing' wave is formed as powerful deep-water swells break over reefs into shallows. Ride inside the wave, via the famous 'Banzai Pipeline' hidden behind its curling lip. Long-running pro contest The Pipe Masters is held here. The best swells arrive between November and March. For more information:

Huntington Beach-CA

Known as 'Surf City, U.S.A.', Huntington has, by many accounts, the "perfect break." Contrary to popular belief, the best time to catch "the big one" is not during the summer months; the popular south side area often gets battered by high winds, and the break is not as good as it is during winter. Now is the ideal time, according to the locals.

No surfing list would be complete without a top entry from Hawaii. True surfers will appreciate Hawaii's--and especially Waikiki's--deep history of the sport. It was popularized in the early 1900s on beaches that are still bustling today.

There is another reason, other than lore, why Waikiki has become a surfing mecca: The clear waters, constant sunshine and enormous, 20-foot waves are positively awesome. Though conditions are great year round, the very best riding happens from May to September.

Black's Beach-San Diego

Tailor-made for more experienced surfers, this high quality, hollow, powerful, beach break handles a swell of almost any size, and from any direction. There are numerous takeoff spots for lefts and rights that usually don't suffer from wind action until later in the day. For more information:

Cape Hatteras-NC

There are many quality spots in this very popular area. The breaks can handle swells from any direction, both large and small. On top of that, you can usually find a less-crowded rideable break regardless of wind direction, in case you need more elbow room. For more information:

Trestles, San Clemente-CA

The Trestles offer a series of point-like breaks that offer high quality shaped long rights and fast lefts, regardless of season and in almost every swell direction. The waves are consistent regardless of tide, and the wind holds off from trashing the surf most mornings. Crowds are in the water all day long, every day. For more information:

Malibu Beach, Malibu-CA

A summer right point break with long high quality waves, Malibu Beach often has tremendous crowds, but offers many takeoff spots. It can be surfed on both short and longboard with ease. For more information:


Oceanside is one the prettiest beaches in Southern California, and in the summer it offers one of the most consistent surf breaks in the world. The pier, with the amphitheater, creates a coliseum-like atmosphere making it the perfect environment to promote family fun with a variety of beach activities.

Cocoa Beach-FL

The home to six-time World Champion Kelley Slater and Ron Jons, the world's most famous surf shop, has its own allure. The crowds are smaller and the waves a little mellower, which makes it a top choice for longboarders. Turn down and off "The Streets," 13th, 14th, 16th etc., and you'll find rideable waves. The Cocoa Beach or Canaveral Pier is the site of many local contests, including the Easter Surf Festival. Jetty Park to the north is good spot during the winter months.

Sebastian Inlet-FL

When surfers talk about Florida's place among the worlds' best breaks, two words come to mind: "The Inlet." Located south of Cocoa Beach, the East Coast's own "Surf City," Sebastian Inlet has the state's most consistent surf, and as a result, the largest crowds.

There is a definitive pecking order on the north side of the jetty at a place called "First Peak"; that's where you will find the best and most competitive surfers. There's a descending hierarchy on the two breaks just to the north, "Second Peak" and "Third Peak."

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