Top US Surf Spots for Adventure Travel

man surfing in a wave

The sun-soaked beaches of Hawaii, California, and Florida are home to many of the best places to surf in the United States. 

Before you start planning the best surf trip ever, take a look at this list to find your perfect match.

Hawaii Surfing Hot Spots

Hawaii and surfing are a match made in tropical heaven. Between the warm water and abundant coastline, Hawaii has beckoned surfers to its shores to catch a wave for decades. Of course, not all surfing locations are created equally, and different spots offer different experiences but there’s no doubt that the islands are some of the best places to surf in the world, not to mention hike, swim and simply relax. There’s a Hawaiian activity for everyone!

Here are a few of the beaches that you may want to consider when choosing your Hawaii surfing vacation:

Haleiwa (All Levels)

Whether you’re just beginning to learn how to surf or you’ve been surfing for years, this spot-on Oahu’s North Shore offers something for everyone. Stick close to shore to catch some gentle waves that make for great practice for newcomers or head out further to try your skills against a raging riptide.

Hanalei Bay (All Levels)

This spot-on Kauai gives surfers of all experience levels the opportunity to ride the waves. For more advanced surfing, check out Queens and Kings Reefs in the outer reef. Beginners can try to find their balance in the calmer water near the pier.

Waimea Bay (Expert Level)

Oahu’s North Shore is home to the infamous Waimea Bay. With waves regularly cresting at more than 20 feet high during the winter months, thanks to impressive swells from the north and west, this surf destination is not for beginners. Between a strong current and shallow reef, there’s not a lot of room for error so tread carefully and be sure to have lots of experience under your belt before you attempt to ride these waves. For nearby surfing locations, be sure to check out Chun’s Reef, Laniakea, Log Cabins, Ehukai, Pipeline, Sunset Beach and Velzeland.

Jaws (Expert Level)

Located on the island of Maui, Jaws promises massive waves that should only be attempted by experienced surfers. If you have the expertise and guts to tackle this behemoth, you’ll undoubtedly earn bragging rights but, and we repeat, don’t try this unless you know what you are doing. You’ll likely be safer to watch the spectacular waves, which can reach up to a rumored 120 feet, from the shore.

Best Locations for California Surfing

Thanks to the iconic music of the Beach Boys, you likely know that surfing has been an important part of California beach culture for years. There are numerous locations to catch a wave up and down the California coast, from San Diego to San Francisco, and don’t miss all the other outdoor activities that this diverse state has to offer.

Here are just a few of the best places to surf in the Golden State:

Huntington Beach (All Levels)

Known as Surf City, USA, this Orange County beach is home to the US Open of Surfing, making it a natural selection for any surfer. If the waves are good enough for the world’s best surfers to compete in, they’re good enough for you.

Maverick’s (Expert Level)

Conquering the iconic Maverick’s in the San Francisco area’s Half Moon Bay is likely on the bucket list for experienced surfers but it’s not to be messed with for beginners. Between a dangerous rip tide, rocky ocean floor and the potential for sharks to be nearby, these waves are not for everyone.

Trestles Beach (All Levels)

Thanks to consistent wave conditions, this San Clemente beach has played host to many pro surfing events over the years and is a great spot for anyone looking to explore the California surf.

The Wedge (Expert Level)

This artificially created surfing hot spot, which is caused by waves breaking against the man-made jetty, is another spot that is purely for experienced surfers. The waves are intense but can make for a great ride if you know what you’re doing.

Surfrider (All Levels)

Malibu is home to more than just the beach homes of the rich and famous. It’s also where you can find the spectacular Surfrider beach with the perfect mix of waves for all surf skill levels.

The Best Surfing in Florida

While California and Hawaii may be the first states to come to mind when you think about surfing, Florida has perfect weather and miles of coastline to practice your surf skills. Plan your visit to the Sunshine State, tour the Everglades and check out a beach to try out your surfing technique.

Cocoa Beach (All Levels)

The home to one of the top surfers in the world, Kelly Slater, Cocoa Beach is a great spot for learning to surf. It did work out well for Kelly, after all. The waves here are gentle enough that you have room to make errors and improve your surfing technique without fear of serious injury.

New Smyrna Beach (All Levels)

With a consistent surf, this 13-mile inlet is a great spot for surfing in Florida. Just be aware that the beach is called The Shark Bite Capital of the World for a reason, but it doesn’t deter surfers from tackling these waves.

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