Surfing in Florida: The Complete Guide

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Hawaii and California might have picture-perfect surf waves, but the Sunshine State has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, and many even offer major waves. Grab your wetsuit and board shorts! 

Where to Go

There are so many beaches throughout the state of Florida that are conducive to not only swimming, but surfing as well. Head to Daytona Beach, known as the “world’s most famous beach”—this is the perfect place to get started and is quite underrated as far as Florida beaches go. During the holidays, Main Street Pier packs a punch. Lots of tourists and locals like to surf here, so arrive early.

First Peak is also a great option; just south of Cocoa Beach, this is where you’ll often find Florida’s competitive surfers.

The New Smyrna Inlet has the most consistent surf in the state and is known to locals as the “wave magnet.” If you choose to surf in New Smyrna Inlet, have a couple tricks up your sleeve. It’s a good place for hotdogging, a term used to indicate super daring and wild stunts on a board.

St. Augustine (near Jacksonville, where you can also surf in places like Lighthouse, Officers Club and the Mayport Poles) has some of the best surfing in Florida, as well. The Blowhole in Anastasia Park is one spot where you’re guaranteed to find big waves; same goes for an area known as the Middles. Save a trip to Flagler Beach for chillier temperatures; the pier here allows for cold front surfing when the wind really kicks in.

Head to the northwest Gulf coast before exiting the state, where you’ll find plenty of beaches and surfing options made for beginner to experienced surfers. The waters are a bit calmer around the Bungalows of Perdido Key, where you’ll find white sand dunes and picturesque Gulf views. If you’re anywhere near Panama City Beach, head to Concrete Pier or St. Andrews Beach for some great surf.  

Schools or Instructors

No matter the Floridian city you choose to visit or park yourself in, chances are surf schools will exist there.

  • North Florida: North Florida Kite | Surf in Jacksonville; Jacksonville Surf and Paddle; Thompson Surf School; and Saltwater Cowgirls Surfcamp
  • St. Augustine: The Surf Station Surf Camp
  • Daytona Beach: Daytona Beach Surfing School; Three Brothers Boards SUP Lessons; Vast Oceans Surf and SUP; and Pure Life Surf School
  • Cocoa Beach: Cocoa Beach Surf School; Ron Jon Surf School; and Gold Breeze Kiteboarding
  • Miami and Fort Lauderdale: South Beach Surf School; and East Coast Kiteboarding School
  • Panhandle: Ride on Surf School

The Best Time to Go

All the time is a great time to go surfing in Florida. In a state where the sun shines and the weather is warm year-round, the ocean is always available for surfers and swimmers. If you want larger swells, though, surf season in Florida is from early August through winter and even spills over into spring. Main swell season in the Sunshine State takes place from November to March and can generate waves up to nearly 10 feet high. 

Surfing Tips for Visitors

While the southern tip of Florida (the Florida Keys) barely gets waves, the East Atlantic coast is the sweet spot. Head to Key West for boating, drinking, and fresh seafood, but if you want to catch a wave, hop in the car and travel north. Florida offers nearly 1,197 miles of coastline and warm waters, which are surfable for the majority of the year. Another (maybe surprising) good time to surf is hurricane season. Always have loads of sunblock handy as the Florida sun is strong, and keep a small-wave shortboard around, as well as a longboard (for smaller wave days) if possible.