The 7 Best Beginner Surfing Spots in America You Didn’t Know About
Title tag: The Best Beginner Surfing in America That You Didn't Know About
Meta description: Looking for gentle waves for first-timers? From Cape Cod to Cape May and Lake Michigan, this is where to find some of the best beginner surfing in America.
When starting out in surfing, it’s wise to choose the right waves, and for first-timers, the ideal ones are small, gentle, and in low-key environments. Here in the USA, we are blessed with hundreds of beaches and breaks that offer waves for all levels of surfer.
While California, Florida, and Hawaii often take the plaudits among the surfing world, some of the best beginner surfing in America is found elsewhere in the country. So check out these excellent spots when you are ready to make a splash and see if one is close to home.
1. Coast Guard Beach — Cape Cod National Seashore, Massachusetts
Toward the south of Cape Cod National Seashore, Coast Guard Beach has dependable waves that can work all year round (be prepared for chilly water temperatures in winter). Waves tend to be mushy and slow rolling, but that’s just what you need when trying to get your first ride.
Expect to share the water with bodyboarders, longboarders, and paddle boarders, both young and old. Parking is restricted to local residents from mid-June to Labor Day, so you’ll need to catch the shuttle from nearby Little Creek. An alternative activity to surfing is a walk to the historic Nauset Lighthouse.
2. Devils Punchbowl State Natural Area - Otter Rock, Oregon
Affectionately known as the Waikiki of Oregon, Otter Rock is the state’s mecca for beginner surfers of all ages. Thanks to a headland that protects the sandy-bottom beach from strong winds, Devil’s Punchbowl State Natural Area experiences year-round mellow waves. This makes it a beloved spot for groms and families and bodyboarders, skimboarders, and surfers alike.
The water temperature barely makes it above 50, so you’ll need a wetsuit and possibly boots and gloves when winter comes around. Check out the tidal pool and hike scenic coastal trails when you aren’t catching waves.
3. Galveston Beach - Galveston, Texas
Galveston Beach is the main beach on Galveston Island’s 32-mile-long stretch of Gulf Coast shoreline. Groms and newbies congregate around the beach’s four piers, which offer them protection from choppier water and currents. If you need to pick up gear or are in the market for classes, then there’s no shortage of rental shops and schools along the busy Seawall Boulevard.
While visiting, it’s worth taking a look at the Galveston Channel. This is where tanker surfing—riding a longboard in the wake of oil tankers—originated in the 1960s. There’s also the Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier for traditional fairground fun.
4. New Buffalo Beach — New Buffalo, Michigan
It’s not always necessary to go to the coastline to discover the best beginner surfing in America. New Buffalo Beach, on the southeastern shores of Lake Michigan, gets consistent one to two-foot waves from summer to fall. They are of little interest to advanced boarders but fun for longboarders and great for beginners to practice popping up and turning.
When you get more confident, you can try paddling out at the south jetty for more challenging waves. On flat days, the boardwalk trails around nearby Galien River County Park offer pleasant off-beach activity.
5. North Beach — Hampton, New Hampshire
New Hampshire only has 13 miles of coastline, thus is limited on beachfront, but fortunately for surfers, one of them is a superb spot for beginners. North Beach is a wide, sandy-bottom beach that New Englanders adore for its long, mellow, and forgiving waves.
The more technically advanced surfers tend to go out of state; therefore, this beach is generally reserved for newbies. Spend some time spotting sea life at Ocean World when you need a break from the waves.
6. Sea Isle City Beach - Sea Isle City, New Jersey
Sea Isle City is the main spot on New Jersey’s six-mile-long Ludlam Island, and there’s a designated surf spot at almost every block. The waves at Sea Isle City Beach roll in at between one to three feet, which is pretty much perfect if you are just finding your footing.
Hang out between 36th and 42nd Streets to enjoy some of the island’s best surfing conditions. Beach tags are required here from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day and are available on the beach and at the Sea Isle City Welcome Center.
7. Wrightsville Beach — New Hanover County, North Carolina
Surfing has for long been a big deal at Wrightsville Beach—pro surfer Ben Bourgeois honed his talents on this barrier island’s four-mile coastline. Soft, small waves roll in all year round (unless there’s a hurricane blowing in), making it a favorite area for longboarders and complete novices.
Locals often head to the southern end of the coastline for better quality waves or to the northern end to avoid the crowds. Swing by in August for the O’Neill/Sweetwater Pro Am Surf Fest, which is one of the East Coast's largest surfing events.
The Best Secret Beginner Surfing Spots in America
You’ll encounter the best beginner surfing in America from the Atlantic to the Pacific coastlines and at unexpected spots in-between. Add some of these to your list of surfing trip destinations, and you’ll hopefully be enjoying long, smooth rides in no time.
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