The East coast might not be as great for the surfing lifestyle as some parts of the West coast, but there are still plenty of places from Miami to Massachusetts that you can get your shred on!
If you’re planning a trip specifically to have the best time surfing you possibly can, it’s important to pick a place that has great beaches and great waves.
That’s why, for this list, we’ve found the top 10 destinations for a surfing trip along the East coast to make sure you won’t be left paddling in any waveless water.
1. Cocoa Beach, Florida
As you might have guessed, Florida is the perfect East coast state for surfing in the sunshine. The waves at this beach don’t pose the greatest challenge for experienced surfers but it is a great place for beginners to learn.
Cocoa Beach has a variety of different surf schools and teachers in the area who can cater for pretty much everyone’s surfing ability.
The beach has an easy to use and very large parking lot right next to it, so you can roll up in your car or van, get all your gear out and head straight into the water without having to worry about walking a long way back.
Not to mention, this beach is the birthplace of 11 time World Surf League champion, Kelly Slater. This beach will have been the place this pro first learned to surf and developed her skills to be the surfer she is today.
Like we said, you won’t exactly have the most challenging waves at Cocoa Beach, but it’s definitely a great place for beginners to learn and for everyone to have fun.
Of course, with this being such a popular surfing destination, you might find the beach a little crowded at times.
This might make things difficult for beginner surfers but if you’re able to get there particularly early or on a weekday, you should have plenty of the beach to yourself for some uninterrupted surfing action.
2. South Beach, Florida
Our second East coast surf spot on this list is the iconic South Beach in Miami. As well as being the beach you’ve seen a hundred times in Hollywood movies, this is also a great spot for catching killer waves and having an action packed vacation.
Between July and November, there will be plenty of opportunities to see the right conditions for surfing. Of course, the later in the year you leave it, the less likely it is you’ll find warm weather for your trip.
However, the beauty of Florida is that it’s almost always sunny, so you won’t need to worry too much about freezing in the water!
The Surfline website has a really great section on South Beach, which is updated regularly so you don’t even have to be at the beach to know if the conditions will be good or not. Another pretty cool feature of South Beach is the Island Water Sports store, which is the oldest surf shop in the area.
This place really is great for a variety of surfing abilities and you don’t even need to bring your own gear with you!
3. Little Talbot Island State Park, Florida
Another great Florida-based surfing spot is Little Talbot Island State Park which is a great destination, not only for its beaches, but for its incredible scenery too.
With gorgeous cedar tree trunks scattered along the beach and towering foliage behind you, this is a beautiful place for shredding waves. The park is open every day of the year from 8AM until sunset so you’ll always be able to explore the beautiful surroundings and enjoy its great waves any time you want to.
There are also plenty of campsites at the park which have great access to the beach. They provide fresh water, electricity, fire pits and picnic tables to make your stay even more comfortable. This is the sort of place you could spend a whole month on a surfing trip without getting bored!
The best thing about the park’s surfing conditions is that you can get a variety of different waves sizes and swell directions. This means you’ll often find a completely different type of ocean to surf on every day you’re there.
4. Cisco Beach, Massachusetts
Taking a trip a lot further North for this spot, Cisco Beach in Nantucket, Massachusetts is one of the state’s best kept secrets. You won’t often think of Massachusetts when planning a surfing vacation but this beach has everything you could ever want.
Wind conditions at the beach are pretty gnarly at times which leads to very sizable waves. This beach is definitely better suited to more experienced surfers and there are even signs at some parts of the beach that warn surfers of potentially treacherous conditions.
There is a surf school right on Cisco Beach to accommodate some less experienced surfers and they’ll even take you to some of the surrounding beaches that have slightly calmer waves.
The only thing to bear in mind about this beach is that, because it’s the best surfing spot for miles, it’s very popular and you might find the beach a bit crowded at times.
5. Hither Hills State Park, New York
Again, New York isn’t an area that most people consider for their surfing trips, but Hither Hills State Park provides some of the best conditions on the whole East coast for experienced surfers.
You can expect super high waves pretty consistently throughout a day with good surfing weather.
The typically South-East swell direction and North-West blowing wind keeps surfing possible at all tides, meaning you’ll rarely miss out on a good opportunity to shred waves.
The park also has you covered in terms of making your stay comfortable away from the beach. It has plenty of sites for camping with a tent, trailer or RV right by the beach and it’s only a couple hours drive from New York City if you fancy a sightseeing trip to the big apple.
There isn’t much at Hither Hills in the way of surfing schools or stores for equipment, so you’ll have to come here with experience and equipment to get the most out of its awesome surfing conditions.
6. Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina
Featuring a friendly, ‘sleepy surf town’ atmosphere, Wrightsville Beach is probably the most well rounded destination on this list for an enjoyable surfing vacation.
Firstly, the water features some great storm-produced waves during hurricane season. It might be a little chilly, but if you’re an experienced surfer, looking for the best possible waves for shredding, this is the perfect time to visit Wrightsville Beach.
Away from the hurricane driven waves, you can still get a pretty good surf with a variety of wave sizes throughout the year. That’s what makes this beach so versatile: all levels of ability and experience can visit here at various points of the year and be guaranteed a great surfing experience.
The beach has plenty of surf schools and courses available for all levels of surfers. There’s plenty to do in the surrounding area to keep you entertained away from the water.
There’s even a great range of RV/trailer parks and campsites across the coastline so this place really is the best all-rounder when it comes to providing a fun surfing vacation.
7. Libby’s Oceanside Camp, Maine
Perhaps one of the best surf spots on this list, Libby’s Oceanside Camp is a suitable trailer park and campsite that is pretty much on top of the ocean! Open from mid-May to mid-October only, this is one of the hottest locations on the whole of the East coast for surfing trips.
That does also make it one of the most expensive but for your money you’ll get a great place to camp with water, electricity and even free WiFi.
Of course, the site also boasts some of the most killer waves in the state. The waves here can get way over head height in the right conditions, but also features a few hours most days with some calmer, more beginner friendly water.
In terms of having a great place to stay and consistently good surf, Libby’s Oceanside Camp is about as good as you can get.
8. Folly Beach, South Carolina
What you’ll find with the Carolinas is that the Northern beaches will often provide larger and more intensive waves throughout the year. However, South Carolina beaches are still a great place to have fun surfing if you know what you’re doing or even if you just want to learn.
Folly Beach has a lot of great surf locations, including ‘The Washout’, which produces some hefty waves to keep even the most experienced surfers challenged. There are also parts of the beachline that stay pretty quiet all year round but still have great opportunities to surf.
During a trip here, it’s worth exploring the beach and taking in the gorgeous views as you look for a nice, secluded surf spot.
Because the beach is set on such a long stretch of coastline, it’ll be pretty tough to run out of things to do and see around here, making it a great place to visit for surfing and all kinds of other activities.
9. Assateague Island National Seashore, Maryland
With two quaint little camping areas that are suitable for tents and RVs and around 37 miles of untouched beaches, this surfing spot is sure to give you a vacation to remember.
You can even set up your tent right on the sand and camp there. Just make sure you watch out for the wild ponies that roam freely in the area!
When the weather is fairly calm and the surf dies down a little, there are still plenty of decently sized waves for beginners to enjoy and improve their abilities. However, the weather can also pick up and produce some waves that will excite the more experienced surfers out there.
Aside from surfing, one of the biggest attractions for this beach is definitely the scenery. It’s a very secluded location so you can enjoy the picturesque surroundings with a campfire on the beach or take a walk along the coastline to really soak it in. Perfect for a trip with family and friends!
10. Ruggles, Rhode Island
This last spot on our list represents one of the more challenging surfing options and we recommend that you only organize your trip here if you already have some experience surfing.
You don’t get to enjoy wave barrels at many surf spots on the East coast but Ruggles is an exception, with some of the best geographical conditions possible for generating some killer waves.
Being in Rhode Island, it’s definitely going to be a little colder than some of the more beginner friendly spots we’ve looked at in Florida, for example. However, if you can brave the weather and only care about finding the best waves around, you can’t really go wrong here.
It’s also located in the town of Newport, which is pretty much surrounded by coastline so you’ll never be too far away from a campsite or hotel to make things comfortable for the evening. This also means there’s plenty of things to do in the nearby town after a long day of shredding waves.
So there you have it; our picks for the top 10 East coast surfing spots. You’ll have noticed that some of our picks are better suited for beginners or more experienced surfers, while a few are suitable for everyone.
This is a very important factor to consider when planning a surfing trip, based on the abilities of everyone in your group.
Of course, there are probably plenty of other spots on the East coast that have a great surfing environment, so don’t rule out any others you hear about from locals. A surfing trip should always be about excitement and exploration so finding new spots is one of the most fun parts.
Whatever destination you choose from this list, we can pretty much guarantee it’ll be a vacation you won’t soon forget!