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Surfing: California vs Florida

Travel Forums North America Surfing: California vs Florida

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1. Posted by Flumple (Budding Member 2 posts) 8y

Flumple has indicated that this thread is about USA


I'm from the UK and this September my girlfriend and I are planning a 'grand trip to the US'.
We'd like to spend a week in New York and then a week in a beach location. I'm particularly looking to get some surfing in, but it seems very hard to find comprehensive information on this. We've narrowed it down to California or Florida (maybe New Smyrna beach?!?!) I'd call myself an average surfer, not a beginner but by no means an expert.

Does anyone have any tips/advice? We're a bit lost at the moment so any help would be greatly appreciated



2. Posted by foggyidea (Budding Member 19 posts) 8y

I, personally, would choose Calif over Fla anytime, but I am not much of a florida person. To hot etc...

You might also consider North or South Carolina for good consistant east coast waves. I live in New England and Rhode island has a few good spots, too.

Traveling across the country, 2500 miles, might impact your stay more than you want.

There are plenty of surf report sites you can check for the action.

Good luck, have a ball..


3. Posted by luckysnap (Budding Member 37 posts) 8y

Although I live in Florida and New Smyrna beach, Jupiter and Sebastian are OK surf sites, I would go to California for surf. Much bigger waves; however the water is always cold.

4. Posted by Ham Radio (Respected Member 284 posts) 8y

Florida has a better variety of sharks than we do in California.

5. Posted by NantesFC (Respected Member 531 posts) 8y

Quoting Ham Radio

Florida has a better variety of sharks than we do in California.

LOL that's hilarious

I'd choose California over Florida anytime if you're talking about surfing. As a visitor to the US, the California surf scene might be something you should experience.

6. Posted by Flumple (Budding Member 2 posts) 8y

Ok could anyone recommend surf spots in either location? Although California has bigger surf, I do have concerns that it may be too big in some areas and Californians are also apparently quite territorial in their surfing. Thanks

7. Posted by makka (Respected Member 248 posts) 8y

Quoting Flumple

Ok could anyone recommend surf spots in either location? Although California has bigger surf, I do have concerns that it may be too big in some areas and Californians are also apparently quite territorial in their surfing. Thanks

nah i wouldnt sweat the 'Big' surf to much in Cali ... unless your rolling to a spot like Half Moon Bay near San Fransico boarder which gets the infamous wave 'Mavericks' - gnarly!

purhapse check some beaches in the O.C - Huntington Beach infamous for 'The Wedge' ... or Trestles which can get some awesome swells ... plenty more in and around the area, the only negative thing that comes to mind is living costs - depending on your budget, the O.C isnt to cheap to live around!

Venice Beach you can live right on for next to nothing - i stayed there only a few weeks ago, the waves werent exactly pumping but enough to have a good time on.

have fun bro!

8. Posted by Cool Paul (Travel Guru 611 posts) 8y

don't know either state too much so I can't really tell you where the waves are but I can tell you they are absolutely not in miami. as much as I love that city there seems to be no surfing there.

9. Posted by Calcruzer (Moderator 1992 posts) 8y

Just a few corrections--"The Wedge" is actually in Newport Beach, not Huntington Beach. Newport is just a short ways south of Huntington--and the wedge is actually one of the two best places to surf in southern California--the other being Zuma Beach north of Malibu. Huntington Beach is also good--but runs hot and cold. You'll find two footers and you'll find 10 footers. September is usually a good time to go there. There have a surfing contest there in August, I believe.

As far as Mavericks, its only for experts since you surf out past the rocks, and then have to know to bail out before crashing, or getting caught by the undertow on the inland side. Usually the waves aren't too bad--10 to 15 footers, but it's in late November and early December that you get the massive waves--anything from 20 feet to 50 footers. I don't suggest you surf there if the waves are even remotely large.

A year ago they had their all time largest waves as it was all 50 footers and over. Check the pictures out on some of the surfing websites.

Santa Cruz has a place called "Steamers Lane"--but they do tend to be very territorial there--don't ask me why, because I think being territorial is stupid--but I've been told that's the case. In September they have a surf contest there and I think they are a bit "cooler" with outsiders as a result--so you might get lucky. The waves are great there in September, so you might consider giving it a try and hoping for the best.

P.S. I live just a few miles from Santa Cruz, and the weather is great in September--and if you don't feel like surfing, you can always spend time on the old boardwalk with the amusement rides, watching the free concerts on Friday night, riding the boats doing whale watching, or going downtown to "Catalyst" to catch a visiting rock group, or visiting one of the famous golf courses in the Monterey Bay area (Pebble Beach being the best known). (Lots of top rock acts have appeared at the Catalyst).

Anyway, enjoy yourself wherever you go. I guess you can tell that I suggest California over Florida--where the surf tends to be next to nothing--although the water is warmer there.


10. Posted by kathidi (Budding Member 51 posts) 8y

Hey Flumple,
Just to reassure you about big waves and territorial English accent goes a long way over here! Be friendly and talk to people on the beach as you sit and size up the waves for a while.

Let's see if any surfers out there agree with my advice or can suggest some better conversation starters. You might wander up to a friendly looking surfer, perhaps an older one, identify yourself as a visitor from UK and say you've never surfed here before. Ask something like, where's the best spot to paddle out, or is this a pretty normal break for this time of year, or something like that. Who knows, you may be having a friendly conversation with the local Kahuna! Conversation might also be good for your girlfriend, who I assume will be sitting there while you're in the water.

Also, the better the waves, the more territorial locals become! You will be lucky if the surf is bad because no one will care who's out there! There are places where the beaches are long and the waves are pretty mediocre. I agree with makka's suggestion of Venice Beach. There is a very popular hostel there and it's a great place to spend a week. You can easily get to Hollywood from there, or Santa Monica for good shopping, lots of great places to eat, etc.

You could rent a car and drive up to Malibu for better waves. Calcruzer made a good suggestion about Zuma. I'd add County Line. Go have a beer afterward at Neptune's Net. If you want to see beautiful beaches where lots of movies and commercials are filmed, send me an email.

I like Florida, too, but not for surfing!