What You Should Know About Surfing Florida

Can You Surf in Florida?

surfing florida
Generally, here's what to expect surfing Florida. Jay DiMartino

Surfing in Florida is both a blessing and curse for local surfers. The Sunshine State offers some 1,197 miles of coastline and toasty water temperatures for most of the year.

The Gulf Coast

The west or Gulf Coast can get very good but is very inconsistent. Swell events depend on a very small area of fetch within the Gulf of Mexico. In order for Gulf coasters to get surfable waves, storm systems have to be pretty strong and fit into a relatively tight swell window.

The East Coast

Although areas along the southern tip like the Florida Keys generally get little to no surfable waves, Florida's east Atlantic coast can get quite good. The east coast is most consistent for surfing. The East Coast is generally divided into South Florida and North Florida. South Florida gets higher quality waves (especially in the winter) while North Florida tends to get more waves but lower quality (shorter period) swells.

The State of Florida Surfing

As a surf destination, Florida is seen globally as poor mostly due to the wide continental shelf that subtracts power from approaching swells, but local surfers enjoy occasional quality (dare I say world-class) surf. Surf spots like Reef Road, Pump House, Sebastian Inlet (probably the most consistent wave in Florida) and a host of secret nooks and crannies on the right tide and the right swell can get filthy.

Most Florida surf spots are sand bottom beach breaks. Winter is the most consistent surf season but also the windiest and coldest time for surfing (average winter temps range from 50 to 70 degrees). Large low pressures off Maine can produce some long period juice and if the wind cooperates, so look out!

Hurricane season (June through September) can also bring great waves, but the swells are often fickle due to the unpredictable nature of tropical systems.

Best time to get surf in Florida: September to November

Gear needed to surf Florida: Most of the year, you just need some trunks and lots of sunscreen, but wintertime may make necessary some more rubber-spring suits in the south and thin full suits in the north. You rarely (if ever) need more than a small-wave shortboard when the waves are good, and be sure to have a longboard handy for those many, many tiny days.