The 10 best surfing spots in Florida
© Robert Snow/Red Bull Content Pool
Find out about some of our favorite surf spots in the Sunshine State of Florida.
Florida may not be known as a surf destination like Hawaii, Southern California, or Australia, but there are still some seriously impressive breaks to catch. But with so many famous surfers hailing from Florida (ever heard of Kelly Slater?), it should come as no surprise there are awesome surf locations there.
Best for Beginners
1. Cocoa Beach
Just east of Orlando is Cocoa Beach, the birthplace of the famous Ron Jon Surf Shop and 11-time World Surf League #1 pro, Kelly Slater. Though not a great spot for experienced surfers who are looking for a challenge, Cocoa Beach Pier is a good place for beginners to set up. Southeast wind chops during high tide are going to give you the longest rides along this stretch.
2. South Beach
Miami's South Beach might be best known for its glorious beaches and wealthy inhabitants, but you can also find pretty good surf between July and November. There's a jetty at First Street that you want to hit when it's low or mid-tide on north to northeast swells. If you're in need of any gear when you're in the area, check out Island Water Sports, the oldest surf shop in South Beach.
Best Consistent Surf Conditions
1. New Smyrna Beach Inlet
You can find some of the most consistent waves in the state at New Smyrna Beach, otherwise affectionately referred to as NSB or "the wave magnet" by locals. With 13 miles of beach, you've got plenty of room to stretch out and find the perfect swell. This spot is ideal for trick riding and is home to surfing pioneers like Ross Pell, Isabel McLaughlin, Charley Baldwin, and Kem McNair. If you're itching for more info about New Smyrna's surfing history, be sure to check out the New Smyrna Museum of History, where there's an exhibit dedicated to the area's favorite pastime.
Head over to the beach around high tide if you're looking to catch a wave. The surf is best when the swell is heading southeast, just beware of jellyfish, sharks, and rips.
2. Ponce Inlet
Smack dab between New Smyrna and Daytona lives Ponce Inlet, home to professional surfer Cobie Gittner. There's a jetty coming north from New Smyrna Beach, which creates sandbars at the south end. One of the outer sandbars, dubiously named Shark Shallows, gives you good waves in almost any swell condition. If you're brave enough to paddle out that is. Typically, higher tides are going to give you bigger waves at these outside bars.
Jacksonville is a hot spot for surfers, and for good reason. You can head to Hanna Park for some good breaks, clean showers, and even spots for camping. A few of the area's notable breaks are Officer's Club and Lighthouse, but Mayport Poles is the spot for surf on a northeast swell. Similarly, the south side of the Jacksonville Beach Pier gives you some long lefts and short rights on a north/northeast swell. But if you head to the north side, you'll find consistent waves during high tide.
Since 1976, Sunrise Surf Shop has been serving North Florida surfers and skaters alike. Make sure you hit them up for anything you need while you're in town.
4. Pensacola Beach
With clear water, white sand, and excellent surf, you can't find a spot much better than Pensacola Beach. Hit up the Pier or the Wall in winter for the best breaks. It's ideal when waves are coming in from the southeast, but you'll find great surf at any tide. Yancy Spencer III hailed from Pensacola, known by many as "the father of Gulf Coast surfing." In 1969, he opened Innerlight Surf Shop in a 400-sq. ft. building. Since opening over 50 years ago, Innerlight has expanded to five different locations across Florida.
Best for Big Breaks
1. Sebastian Inlet
Located in Melbourne Beach on Florida's East Coast, Sebastian Inlet is the birthplace of aerial surfing (arguably), Caroline Marks, and top-tier surfing twins Damien and C. J. Hobgood. Though the inlet boasts three miles of stunning surf, you can find the biggest breaks at Monster Hole, where you ride solid 10-foot waves thanks to a man-made sandbar. Aside from the gnarly waves, the inlet offers a spot to grab some grub, a picnic area, and clean bathrooms.
Though you can find a decent north/northeast swell at any tide, the rips are easier to handle at low tide. When you're in the area, you can hit up Sebastian Inlet Surf & Sport for gear, lessons, or anything else you might need. If you wear out your welcome and you're hankering for a new spot, go just past Sebastian Inlet to Spanish House for a great local break.
2. Reef Road
Florida isn't known for having the biggest breaks, but Palm Beach's Reef Road rivals even the best. With waves that reach up to 15 feet, Reef Road is widely known as the state's "big-wave spot." In order to get truly great breaks, you need a north to northeast swell at low tide incoming. Waves reach especially epic proportions during winter or hurricane season.
Best for Uncrowded Waves
1. Boynton Beach Inlet
Affectionately referred to as "America's Gateway to the Gulfstream," Boynton Beach is a great strip for finding some surf. If you paddle about a quarter mile offshore, there's a sandbar that gives some long, hollow breaks when a low incoming tide combines with a northeast swell. You can also head to the north side of the inlet during a southeast wind chop to find some uncrowded breaks. Be sure to drop by Nomad Surf Shop when you're in the area. The shop is a family-owned and operated local staple that has been serving Boynton surfers since 1968.
2. Flagler Beach
Flagler Beach is located between Daytona and St. Augustine, giving you a much-needed break from the tourist traps. When there's a cold front rolling through, you've got to check out this spot's six miles of crowd-free sand and surf. You'll find the best waves during a low incoming tide.
Flagler is the birthplace to surfing greats like Frieda Zamba, thought of by many as the greatest female surfer that has ever lived. She was the youngest surfing world champion ever and the youngest woman to win a pro tour contest. Just one block away from the pier is another surfing legend: Z Wave Surf Shop, the area's go-to for boards and lessons for over 30 years.
Whether you're just getting started or you're a seasoned surfer, there are a ton of places you can find waves to ride in Florida. You just have to know where to look.