The 12 Best Places for Surfing in the USA

Dive into the water and start riding the waves – but first, find out which spots in the US are the best for surfing!

Have you always wanted to try surfing? Beginners should look for areas that have small, gentle waves and a sandy beach. If the beach isn’t too crowded, the area has a sand bottom and a big sandbar, then you’ve found a great surfing spot! More advanced surfers can take on locations with steep, hollow waves. 

Where should you go if you want to try out surfing, or if you’ve surfed before but it’s been a long time? You can find amazing surfing spots all over the world, but the United States has so many great options that you don’t even need to leave the country. Here are 12 of the best places to surf in the USA.

Kaanapali, Maui, Hawaii

Maui, Hawaii. November 11, 2016. People enjoying the beach and ocean on a beautiful sunny day on Kaanapali beach with a wave crashing into them.
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For beginning surfers, Kaanapali is a great spot for those who are just starting out. The Kaanapali Surf Club offers surfing lessons to help you learn how to ride the waves in a group lesson, semi-private lesson, or private lesson. 

Whether you decide to take lessons or you’re already skilled enough to surf on your own, you’ll enjoy the white sand and crystal clear water at one of America’s best beaches.

Huntington Beach, California

Over 11 million people visit Huntington Beach, California, AKA Surf City, every single year. It was rated as the number one family surf beach in the U.S. and one of the top five destinations for teenagers and their parents. The climate is usually comfortable and the surfing is incredible.

Nags Head, North Carolina

Breaking wave at Nags Head, North Carolina beach curls over.
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While the east coast might not have the same type of waves as the west, there are still places where you can catch some waves! In Nags Head, North Carolina, you’ll find a variety of public sounds and public beach accesses for surfing.

Visit Jenette’s Pier to take advantage of plenty of amenities after you surf. If you’re worried about the east coast weather, you can find information about surf conditions by checking with the Coastal Studies Institute beforehand to look at their offshore wave data.

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Cocoa Beach, Florida

Another east coast town with great opportunities for surfing, Cocoa Beach offers plenty of oceanfront parks and stub-end streets with access to the Atlantic Ocean. If you’re interested in lessons, the famous Ron Jon Surf Shop is located here, so you can count on an experienced instructor to help you learn how to surf!

Ventura, California

Surfer at sunset at the beach near the pier in Ventura California.
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Naturally, California is one of the top surfing destinations in the world, and Ventura, California makes the list of the state’s best spots for surfing. 

According to Ventura’s website, “We’re a surf town because, well, we have some of the world’s best surf; from easy beginner’s waves soft as cotton to barreling perfection that serves as a playground for some of the best surfers in the world. You never know who you’ll see out in the lineup, and it’s pretty fun watching them surf.”

Folly Beach, South Carolina

If you’re on the east coast and looking for a surf town nearby, check out Folly Beach, South Carolina. You can take lessons from Shaka Surf School and learn from experienced instructors. Be prepared for colder water temperatures!

Surfside Beach, Texas

Surfside Beach, Texas, in February.
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Located about 70 miles south of Houston, Surfside Beach is a barrier island with a colorful history. It was voted the best Texas beach vacation destination. There are surfing lessons available for beginners and warm waters for everyone!

Jacksonville Beach, Florida

Beginners, head to Jacksonville Beach, Florida, in the summer to test out your skills. This beautiful area features three great spots for surfing: Atlantic Beach, Huguenot Park, and Mayport Poles at Hanna Park.

Imperial Beach, California

A chain of retired surfboards along a cozy beach shack Imperial Beach, CA
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Imperial Beach is the most southwesterly city in the United States, close to the Mexican border and to Tijuana. But there’s no reason to focus on geography when the surfing is world-class! Imperial Beach’s big-wave break is famous throughout the world. There’s even a surfboard museum that tells the history of surfing in the area.

Waikiki, Honolulu, Hawaii

Many years ago, surfing began in Waikiki, so it’s no surprise that Waikiki Beach is one of the best spots in the United States for the sport. There are nine distinct areas in Waikiki that offer different types of surfing experiences, so this could be your best choice if you’re interested in learning as much as possible!

Santa Cruz, California

Santa Cruz, California, USA. ‎January ‎17, ‎2021. A guy surfing the waves in the Pacific Ocean on the West Coast of California.
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About an hour and a half away from San Francisco, you’ll find Santa Cruz, California, one of the top surfing destinations in the state. With 11 world-class surf breaks, Santa Cruz offers different levels of waves for surfers of all skill sets. Steamer Lane, Cowell’s Beach, and Pleasure Point are three of the best in the area. 

North Shore, Oahu, Hawaii

In Oahu, Hawaii, you’ll find one of the most iconic surfing spots in the United States and the world. The North Shore is famous for its amazing surf spots, including Haleiwa Beach, Rocky Point, and the Banzai Pipeline. During the winter, the professional surfing community comes together to surf part of the coastline on the North Shore.

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