Top 5 Best Surf Spots in Florida

man with surf board on beach
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Let’s face it. Florida is among the world’s worst surf destinations, yet beyond all logic, the blazing hot peninsula has cultivated a frothing surf community and some the world’s best wave riders. Situated in the north central Atlantic Ocean, Florida is open to lots of swell generation. The problem is that many of the wave sources occur too close for any fetch to make for big, long-lasting, super clean swell events. Also, its location just below Cape Hatteras and behind the Bahamas makes for ample blockage from far away storms and lows. Add to that a rather long and shallow continental shelf, and you’ve got yourself a perfect storm of obstacles to perfect storms.

All that said, Florida has its moments. And local surfers will forever remember them. Hurricane Sandy, Hurricane Bill, the Great Halloween Swell all lit up select spots for infamous snapshots. The rest of the year is fairly weak. But for a Florida surfer, there are a few spots that are ridable more than not and can sometimes get really fun.

Sebastian Inlet

This South Florida icon is shreddable for sure. The bouncing wedge that ricochets off the pier is known as First Peak. After hopping around other gutless sandbars in the area, the speedy, wedgy little pits at First Peak will stoke you out. The wave is especially good for roundhouse, wrap-around cutbacks and airs. Be aware, the locals have First Peak pretty much wrapped up. All the way north from the pier for a few miles, you can scout out various sandbar nuggets. Spanish House can get fun, but for the most part, it’s a continuation of the shifting sands that run along the Sebastian Inlet State Park. The area is beautiful and clean, and parking lots with showers and food make for a great way to spend an entire day surfing.

Sebastian Inlet has been the definitive Florida spot for half a century, and it is considered Kelly Slater’s launching pad to the world stage.

New Smyrna Inlet

Shark attack capital of the world? Well, the attacks are numerous but usually not too tragic. The waves, on the other hand, are very consistent. You can find a little ridable nugget pretty much any day at the New Smyrna Inlet. Plus, the lineup is pretty wide open (not like the tight pigeon hole at First Peak). The wave is somewhat nebulous as it breaks on an outside sandbar and then reforms on the shore break. Florida surfers know how to make the most out of gutless waves, and to watch grommets take apart a long roller at the Inlet is inspiring.

New Smyrna Beach is located near Ponce Inlet and Daytona Beach, so getting a hotel there is central to varying surf and fun nightlife.

Ponce Inlet

Ponce is often shreddable (and mostly at least ridable). The wave can sometimes break long and winding like a little point and its proximity to New Smyrna make it part of any visiting surfers checklist. However, remember that good waves in Florida are a premium, so if you are visiting, be courteous to the locals. Florida surfers can get territorial, and things can get out of hand.

The wave is fun, actually one of the best when there is little swell activity. However, when the buoys are up, head south.

Reef Road

Reef Road is located in the ritziest area of West Palm Beach. The rich and famous go there to relax and party; surfers go there to get barreled. Crystal clear water and toasty temperatures (from its proximity to the Gulf Stream) make for fairly epic conditions when big cold fronts push through the state and leave most of the swell heading out to sea off northern Florida. Reef Road can get big and pumping (as with a few other key spots in the area). Parking is a major issue for visiting surfers as is the crowd when it’s good.

The wave itself is a spiraling left freight train that is great for speed line tubes. You’ll freak when you see how wired the locals have it, but if your patient, you’ll find a nugget.

Anastasia Island, St. Augustine

This one may surprise some folks mainly because most spots in St. Augustine look like dribbly little beach breaks. What St. Auggie has to offer is a cool scene and loads of varying sandbars that offer room to breathe. If you dawn patrol it, plan to surf alone even when it’s good. There are so many little nooks and crannies in St. Augustine that most waves have only a few surfers out even in the middle of the day. Sometimes the pier or Vilano across the inlet can get crowded, but the locals are mellow if you are. Plus, when you are done surfing, you can meander around the nation’s oldest city. Super cool!