Surfing is different from other sports in that it can’t be done just anywhere. It’s so dependent on the weather and the waves that only a handful of beaches stand out as excellent surf spots. This exclusive nature turns hardcore surfers into nomads, traveling the world in search of the next big swell. There are a lot of beaches out there, but for the die-hard surfers, these are the six best surf towns to visit in the United States.
Santa Cruz, Calif. – This stretch of coast is regarded by many as the surfing capital of the country. It’s located around the center of the California coastline, so you may need a wetsuit to keep away the chill during the colder months. The gorgeous homes and nearby University of California, Santa Cruz, make this surf town a great place to explore at the end of your session.
San Clemente, Calif. – If you’re looking for consistent surfing no matter what time of year it is, head to San Clemente. Its location along the California coast makes it uniquely susceptible to favorable winter and summer surfing conditions. And when you’ve finished on the water, head inland for a relaxed, small-town California feel.
Malibu, Calif. – Located just a few miles from Los Angeles, Malibu is one of the most famous beach towns in the world. Although the main stretch of sand will likely be inundated with tourists, the best surf spots are the area’s First, Second and Third Points. Catch some waves during the day, then head into town for dinner and celebrity-spotting.
Haleiwa, Hawaii – Hawaii — specifically Polynesia — is where it all started. It’s easy to see why the first surfers came from this region when you visit Haleiwa. Tucked away from the high-rises and throngs of tourists in Honolulu, this surf town boasts some of the best surfing in the world. Paia, Hawaii – This surf town may not offer the biggest waves on the planet, but its laid-back community is a prime example of the authentic surfer mentality. It’s a small town with a lot of character, and a necessary stop for any surfing pilgrimage to Hawaii.
Kill Devil Hills, N.C. – Don’t neglect the East Coast in your search for the perfect wave. Kill Devil Hills’ consistent surfing conditions and modest cost of living expenses have created a dedicated surfing community, complete with North Carolina’s southern charm and down-home country cooking.
These destinations are pretty spread out, but if you’re looking to hit some of the best surf towns on a road trip, try a drive along the California coast. Strap your board to the roof, and make sure your car maintenance and auto insurance are up-to-date.