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Striking 1,350 miles of pristine coastline along the shores and providing ample activities, Florida attracts a vast number of outdoor lovers from around the world. All thanks to its East Coast and some other places along the gulf, the sunshine state has produced the likes of Kelly Slater, the greatest ever surfer who ever lived.
Although the state has groomed the sports’ finest who earned spots on the elite world tour, it is not as famous for surfing as other places like Hawaii, Southern California, and Australia. However, the diversity of waves on the East Coast and along the gulf can provide an unforgettable surfing experience.
Moreover, the less intimidating waves, endless sunshine, and consistent swells make surfing in Florida an easy and perfect water activity for beach goers and surfers of any skill level. In this article, we will talk about where to surf in Florida, the best spots for surfing in Florida, and all you want to know about Florida surfing.
Tips for Beginners to Surf in Florida
Remember that it’s never too late or too soon to start surfing. Surfing is also one of the best ways to enjoy the great outdoors and stay active and healthy. However, it is not as easy as grabbing a board and ripping the water like Kelly Slater.
So, if you want to learn surfing or are an inexperienced surfer, keep these tips in mind:
Get the Right Surfboard
Choosing the surfboard according to your experience level is critical in safely surfing in Florida. As a beginner, select the correct size that you can easily handle. Not only will it help you progress faster but also you will be able to control it easily.
Be Patient and Practice More
Before you start surfing, make sure to stay calm. Sitting on your board and admiring the ocean’s beauty is fun. However, if you are not having fun, take a break. After all, you do not want to get frustrated and never return to the water again.
Professional surfers believe that surfing is not easy and can take considerable time to develop the surfing skills needed to read the weather, understand wave patterns, and perform certain moves. So, remember that surfing is all about “try again,” and adopting this mentality is the only way to be a good surfer.
Know Your Limits
While surfing in Florida, it is essential to know your limits. You will often have a quick look at the waves and think they are small and calm. However, they can become heavier than you feel when out there. While many believe that large waves are hazardous, even small ones can pack quite a punch, especially if breaking in shallow water. So, it is essential not to underestimate the power of the ocean. Although pushing your limits to some degree is the only way to improve your skills, an inexperienced surfer trying to surf in conditions you cannot handle is hazardous for you and other surfers.
Your Fitness Level
Keep in mind that surfing in Florida requires a high fitness level. To ensure your safety, you should have good swimming skills and be able to get out of the water without your board. Since surfing requires a unique and specific degree of fitness, your upper body strength and paddling skills are the most critical ones that you should be able to undertake comfortably.
Swimming in a lap pool is one of the best ways to train your body. It will also help with your paddling in an event when you need to swim back to the beach without your board.
Improve Your Swimming Skills
As mentioned earlier, there’s always a chance that you will become separated from your board and have to swim back to the beach. Unfortunately, many surfers rely too much on their boards for safety when surfing. While swimming in a pool is great for improving your fitness level, swimming in an ocean is very different. You won’t have the luxury of a shallow section to stand or a side you can grab. That said, it is wise to improve your surfing lessons by trying swimming in the ocean so that you can swim without your board in an emergency.
Moreover, improving your general swimming skills is essential to boost your confidence in the water, enhance your experience, and safely surf in Florida.
Check Weather Forecast, Surf, and Tides
As a surfer, it is essential to check the weather forecast constantly. Weather can change rapidly, and the swell on the surf front can build quickly to catch the surfers off guard. I still remember being on a trip passing by a surf spot. It looked manageable from the vehicle, and I knew there was a predicted jump in the swell. So I decided to surf there.
However, before I knew it, the waves doubled in size, leaving me out of my depth. It wasn’t the most accessible spot to paddle into the beach because sheer rock faces fenced it. The point here is that conditions can change quickly without you realizing it. So, ensure you have a good idea of the conditions before surfing. Also, be familiar with surf forecasting and how it works.
Hold On to Your Board
Even in conditions where you think you cannot make it through a wave, try to hold on to your board. If you have a shorter board, you might try to duck dive under a breaking wave. However, you must roll onto your back for longer boards and bring your surfboard through the wave above you. The movement is also known as “turtle roll.” Moreover, if it is impossible and you cannot make it through the waves, don’t let your board go because it will outspread the length of the leash and can hit surfers behind you. So, during such circumstances, hold your surfboard to your side and try to pull it through the wave. Furthermore, ensure not to keep the board between you and the wave, as it can hit you in the face. Additionally, avoid paddling directly behind someone, or you will collide if you cannot get through a wave.
Wiping Out the “Right Way”
Remember that it is common to fall off your board as an inexperienced surfer; you will drop off your board. So try to do it in the safest way possible. For instance, your first movement should be to protect your head with your arms from collision, the ocean floor, and flying surfboard. Especially when you surf in shallow waters, avoid landing head first. Moreover, try to fall away from your board. It would be best if you tried to fall in the water on your back with your arms out to avoid hitting the bottom.
Be Aware of Sharks, Stingers, and Jellyfish
Sharks are the biggest fear that stops many people from venturing into the ocean. However, a shark’s chance of getting attacked is rare and less than getting hit by a car. However, it happens, and it is global news when it does.
To avoid sharks while surfing, keep these points in mind:
- Surf with others.
- Avoid dusk or dawn surfing.
- Do not surf at river mouths.
Secondly, keep the stingers and jellyfish in mind as well. The species of these stingers you may see vary from place to place, but if you get stung, head to the beach and see a lifeguard.
Best Surfing Spots for Big Breaks
5. Sebastian Inlet
Sebastian Inlet is located in Melbourne Beach on the East Coast of Florida. The surfing spot is home to the top-tier twin Damien and C.J. Hobgood and aerial surfing genius Caroline Marks. Although it boasts a three-mile of incredible surf, the Monster Hotel has the most significant breaks, where you ride up to 10-foot solid waves from a sandbar.
Gnarly waves aside, the Sebastian Inlet is also famous for offering a picnic area, grabbing some grub, and clean bathrooms. While finding a good north/northeast swell at any tide is common, low tides make the rips easier to handle. If you need any surfing gear, the Sebastian Inlet Surf and Sport Shop is a great place for lessons, equipment, and anything else you want. Moreover, if you are craving a new spot, head to Spanish House just past the Sebastian Inlet for an excellent local break.
6. When it comes to surfing in Florida, Reef Road is the place to be!
Florida isn’t famous for having the best surfing spots with big breaks. However, Reef Road on West Palm Beach is perfectly rideable and can be fun. The ritzy and glitzy Reef Road is home to some stunning surfing spots. It’s a scene of crystal clear waters, with breathtaking beaches, exotic locals, and warm temperatures.
While surfing on Florida’s Reef Road, you will find epic conditions when cold fronts come through the state and leave most of the swell. Most surfers describe the location as long, clean lines with rippable walls and big pumping waves. Additionally, a ride there can get you barreled, and surf can last as long as a football field.
Best Uncrowded Waves to Surf in Florida
7. Do you want to surf in Florida? Boynton Beach is a great place to surf.
Boynton Beach Inlet might be the perfect destination if you’re looking for a spot with fewer crowds to surf in Florida. The Boynton Beach Inlet (also known as the South Lake Worth Inlet) is located south of West Palm Beach. It is an artificial cut-through that connects the south end of the Lake Worth Lagoon with the Atlantic Ocean.
The area is great for excellent surf, paddling, and driving about a quarter of a mile; you will find a sandbar that makes for long breaks. During a southeast wind headed north, you will see fewer crowds with some of the great surf. Moreover, there’s not much to do, which makes it an excellent spot if you like solitude. If you need anything, head to Nomad Surf Shop, a family-owned shop that has been surfing surfers since 1968.
8. If you’re looking to surf in Florida, check out Flagler Beach.
If a cold front is closing in, head to Flagler Beach. Located between Daytona and St. Augustine, it is another excellent spot for surfing in Florida. The place also features six miles of crowd-free beaches while offering plenty of surf when the conditions are right. The surf is excellent, especially during a cold spell with a low incoming tide.
Moreover, the place is also home to one of the best female surfers, Frieda Zamba. In addition to excellent surf conditions, the beach has a lot to offer. For instance, the beach is also considered one of the best beaches for natural, unspoiled beauty. Striking about 19 miles of crowd-free beaches, Flagler Beach is a laid-back place to spend quality time.
9. Visitors can surf in Florida, but Jupiter is off-limits.
Jupiter Beach is another laid-back destination to surf in Florida with full-throttle adventure. Since it is located at the convergence of the Loxahatchee River, Intracoastal Highway, and the Atlantic Ocean, Jupiter Beach offers an ample amount of water sports.
As a surfer, Jupiter Beach has a lot to offer. For instance, you will see Ocean Reef Park, Juno Beach Pier, and Pump House to the south. Similarly, it has Xanadu/ Ocean Walk to the north, which breaks towards Carlin Park and Civic Center. Moreover, it also features about 3 ½ miles of beaches with the Gulf Stream flowing adjacent to the United States. This crystal clear, warm waters are surrounded by mangroves and dunes. In addition, Jupiter Beach is also an excellent spot for surfing in Florida, especially if you are there with your family.
10. Destin Beach is the perfect spot to catch rays and ride waves.
Crystal Beach in Destin is among the top surfing spots, especially for inexperienced surfers. Sometimes, all you need is a bodyboard that the waves can manage. The site is perfect for learning the energy of waves and surfing on the big breaks.
Because of its location on Florida’s Emerald Coast, Destin Beach is one of the best picture-perfect surfing locations that looks like it could be in the Caribbean. In addition, Crystal Beach is also an excellent location to spend time with your family or friends. For those looking to try their hands at something else, Destin is popularly known as the “world’s luckiest fishing village.” So, surfing in Florida at Destin Beach can be teamed with great fishing.
Cocoa Beach is yet another top location to surf in Florida, especially if you are starting. In addition to being an excellent surfing spot for beginners, Cocoa Beach is also home to Kelly Slater, the greatest ever surfer, and the world-famous Ron Jon Surf Shop. The destination is also Florida’s most prominent and one of the most loved surfing spots.
However, while it is an excellent spot for longer boards and inexperienced surfers, Cocoa Beach could be better for professional surfers. The busiest area you can find is the Cocoa Beach Pier.
In addition to excellent surf conditions for beginners, the beach also has a lot for non-surfers. For instance, it is also known as the quintessential beach. So, a short drive from Orlando will introduce you to the great outdoors if you want a break from theme parks.
Where to Surf in Florida?
There you have it—eleven best spots to surf in Florida. I believe you are convinced that surfing has much to do with the best beaches on the East Coast of Florida. Whether a beginner or an experienced surfer, you can find the perfect spots of the best beaches for swimming in Florida in 2023 and waves to ride.
Experience the charm of St. George Island and St. Marks, Florida, and book your beachside getaway now to create lasting memories in these idyllic coastal destinations. Explore our comprehensive kayak paddles size chart to find the perfect paddle for your adventure. Discover the ideal size that ensures optimal performance and comfort on the water.
What's the best time to surf in Florida?
The best time to surf in Florida is during the hurricane season, which runs from June to November. This is when the state receives the most consistent swell, producing waves that can range from two to twelve feet high. However, it’s important to keep in mind that hurricane swells can be unpredictable and dangerous, so make sure to stay informed about the weather and surf conditions.
Can beginners surf in Florida?
Absolutely! Florida has plenty of beaches with small waves that are perfect for beginners. Some great spots to start include Cocoa Beach, New Smyrna Beach, and St. Augustine Beach. Make sure to take a lesson or two from a local surf school to learn the basics and get comfortable in the water.
What should I bring for a day of surfing in Florida?
First and foremost, make sure you have a surfboard that’s appropriate for your skill level and the wave conditions. You’ll also want to bring a wetsuit, especially during the winter months when the water can be chilly. Other essentials include sunscreen, a towel, a leash, and plenty of water to stay hydrated. And don’t forget to bring your sense of adventure and love for the ocean!
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