Sure, So Cal, Hawaii, and Australia all land among the world’s top surf destinations. But don’t underestimate Florida if you’re looking to hang ten. In fact, some of the world’s best surfers hail from the Sunshine State. World champion Kelly Slater, brothers C. J. and Damien Hobgood, and Lisa Andersen all got their start on Florida beaches. A combination of consistent waves, comfortable water temperatures, and easy beach access all add to the allure. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned vet, grab your board and check out our picks for the best places to rip in Florida.
Just the mere fact that Kelly Slater got his start here puts Sebastian Inlet on the map. But Slater isn’t the only surfing heavyweight to have surfed this local hot spot. C. J. and Damien Hobgood, Cory and Shea Lopez, as well as some of the biggest names in surfing since the ’60s have made their mark on this beach. No doubt it was the First Peak wedge, an epic rebound wave bouncing off the concrete walls of the jetty, that drew such talent. Sadly, since the reconstruction of the jetty, that famed wave is a rarity these days, but Sebastian Inlet, the birthplace of the ariel, is still one of the hottest surf spots in Florida. Oh, and the clean bathrooms and picnic area, complete with a place to grab a bite, are an added bonus. Unless you’re an experienced surfer, you may want to just hang and watch the locals shred.
Sure, it’s dubbed ‘Shark Bite Capital of the World’, but unlike in Cali — where a shark sighting shuts down a beach for days — in New Smyrna Beach they typically don’t. So be aware, but not alarmed. While the waves aren’t fierce, the inlet produces some of the most consistent surf on the east coast. There are plenty of places to rent boards and get lessons. NSB, as locals call it, is loaded with charm.
The inlet between Daytona and New Smyrna Beach draws locals looking for some pretty good surf. The jetty is longer than at NSB and gives out a right point break. This is the go-to beach in the NSB area for surfing. If driving on the beach is your sort of thing, then Ponce is where you want to head. Check out the surf cam before you make the trek.
If you’re looking to surf within close proximity to the theme park attractions in Orlando, this is your beach. A quick and easy drive on the Beachline will get you there in less than an hour. With tame waves, Cocoa Beach Pier is also a great spot for beginners. Home to the infamous Ron Jon Surf Shop, visitors will find plenty of board rentals and lessons, not to mention convenience to the surf. Every April, the Easter Pro Am Surf Competition draws crowds and awesome talent. There’s no driving on the beach, but the $5 parking fee gives you access to bathrooms, food stands, restaurants, and fishing. If you want to park on one of the many side streets, parking is free.
If size is your thing, head just south of the Palm Beach inlet and check out Reef Road. Probably the best surfing spot in Florida, Reef Road has a reputation for some of the largest waves, long barrels, and crystal waters. Parking can be a bit of a challenge as the break is located in near some of the most expensive real estate in the country, where parking is prohibited.
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Located in Melbourne Beach, Spanish House sits at the first parking spot and beach access after Sebastian Inlet. A popular spot since the early days of surfing, expect pretty decent surf conditions during low tide. While on a typical day Spanish House can accommodate beginners, under the best surf conditions the waves are powerful and hollow, so only head out if you’re skilled.
If you’re up for the challenge and the long — and we mean LONG — paddle out, or have access to a boat, give Monster Hole a shot. The sandbar is located about 1/3 mile offshore, and until you are just about on the break it’s hard to even gauge the peak. Once there, if the conditions are right and you can get it out of your head that some very large aquatic life is swimming nearby, you may gain some glory.
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Named for the hamburger joint (Royal Castle) that once stood nearby, this Satellite Beach spot is a favorite among locals chasing the big waves. Park in the Publix lot and head across the street near the Ramada. Watch for rip currents and the reef. If you’re leery, sit this one out, because it can be challenging.