As Woody Guthrie sang, “From the redwood forests to the Gulf Stream waters, this land was made for you and me.” No other country in the world has such amazing access to so many different surf spots. Take a cruise up Highway One or ramble around the Gulf, there are waves everywhere. Not only are there hundreds, if not thousands, of places to surf, but there is an incredible amount of variety too. Warm, rippable little waves like Sebastian Inlet and frigid, mysto Northwest spots are just a tip of the iceberg. From cobblestone points to sand bar peaks, America’s got it all. For a slice of the pie check out Surfer Magazine’s Travel Report surf maps and information from the Golden Gate to the New York islands.
SANTA CRUZ, CALIFORNIA SURF OVERVIEW
The Santa Cruz area has a vast variety of surf and can be divided into three basic areas: The North Coast, Town (East Side and West Side), and the South Beaches.
The North Coast features an extremely large variety of surf, lots of reefs/points, coves and beach breaks. It is more exposed to all conditions and the surf is generally bigger and colder. S winds are typically bad news for this stretch of coast. N-NE winds are best. The scenic beauty of this coastline is always worth the drive.
Town, from east to west is right point reef after right reef. Mid-town has beach breaks, rivermouths and harbor jetties. The bulk of the surfing population surfs in Town and conditions get extremely crowded. Most points and reefs are protected by large kelp beds keeping conditions generally cleaner than the more exposed breaks. Localism occurs at some breaks, like Steamer Lane and Stockton Ave, but those who take their turn and observe the pecking order are usually rewarded with good waves. Santa Cruz is protected from the N winds by the Santa Cruz Mountains, making it warmer than surrounding areas. It faces south.
South Beaches. The Monterey Bay is basically all beach breaks once you leave Town. Shifting sand bottomsare common. The Moss Landing area is usually the most consistent and powerful. Moss sits directly in the middle of the Bay and faces west, but from the Moss area south it does not pick up S swells. S-SE winds are offshore here, early morning or during storms.
LONG ISLAND, NEW YORK SURF OVERVIEW
There are one hundred miles of Atlantic shoreline along Long Island, much of it on small barrier islands similar to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Shifting sandbars and jetty breaks typify the western end of the island, but rock reefs and point breaks similar to California characterize the eastern end. Unlike the afternoon wind swells that provide surf for many East Coast locations, Long Island surfers often ride clean, well lined-up ground swells like their West Coast cousins due to the long extension of the island out into the Atlantic. Montauk Point is especially consistent. Best season is early spring through late fall, especially June-July (change of seasons) and hurricane season in Sept-Oct. Winter storms can provide fine, uncrowded surf in Jan-Feb, but conditions are frigid. Prevailing winds are SW, but conditions are best on N or NW winds in central and eastern Long Island, NE inthe Rockaway area. Swell direction and tides can affect the surf dramatically. Pick up a tide table at local fishing shops.