The pursuit of a college degree may not seem like the most practical way to chase surf, binding yourself to one location for an extended period of time and saddling yourself with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt just to postpone your eventual entry into the Rat Race in service of paying down your federally subsidized debt. Oh, how Dora would rage!

But there are obviously advantages to furthering your formal education. Regardless of your career path, a college degree is now the lowest barrier to entry to the jobs market. The unemployment rate for college graduates hovers around 2 percent. And those with a degree from a four-year academic institution earn 90 percent more on average than those without a post-high school education. Unless you’re one of the lucky few whose resume will include the single-line entry “professional surfer,” in order to surf for the rest of your life, you’ll need money. And while there may be other ways to get it, a job is the most practical (and legal) recourse.

So college is good idea, but let’s talk trade-offs. You’re going to be tied to one specific location for four (or more) years of your life. You might as well find a school within striking distance of a sliver of coastline offering ample opportunities for aquatic-based matriculation between classes. Also, it’s (almost) as important to make sure the school provides a quality education.

To make life easier on both you and your guidance counselor, we pored over university pamphlets, surf reports, and statistics–taking into consideration surf proximity and quality, academics, cost and lifestyle–to narrow down America's most surf-friendly four-year schools. The list we’ve assembled (which we'll be revealing over the next week) includes ten prestigious institutions, revered by many surfers for their high academic standards, illustrious alumni, and, not coincidentally, their nearness to quality surf.

Here's No. 5 on our list…

University of Hawaii Manoa
Honolulu, HI


Sure, it's Town. But you're in Hawaii. On Oahu. Close to the high-quality lefts of Publics, with premiere Town spots like Ala Moana Bowls just a short drive away, University of Hawaii Manoa students are never wanting for access to good surf. The water’s warm, the swells are prolific, and the North Shore's just an hour drive away. 'Nuff said.


Aside from learning from an illustrious faculty–which has, at one time or another, counted surfers Ricky Grigg, Eric Firing, Roger Lucas, and Ben Finney among its professorial ranks–UH Manoa students can choose to earn bachelor’s degrees in 93 different fields of study. The school ranks highly among its peer group of public universities for its research expenditures and is known widely for its international business curriculum. Meanwhile, those interested in becoming more schooled in topics of surfdom can take classes in Polynesian and surfing history, as well as courses in surf forecasting and Oceanography.

Town and campus
Located in the upscale Honolulu neighborhood of Mānoa, just east of Waikiki, UH Manoa is right smack in the middle of the cradle of surfing civilization. The school is four miles from downtown Honolulu—a major portal for international business and a world financial center.

Rent prices have grown exceedingly expensive in Honolulu, accurately reflecting the city's standing as a surf-town, world-city, and tropical paradise all rolled into one. From the hectic urbanity of the city's downtown and its thriving arts district, UH Manoa students can avail themselves of a true metropolitan experience, or head to the North Shore for more pastoral, though equally hectic, adventures. And, it bears mentioning: you're in Hawaii.

Annual cost: $28,600/ $50,600 out-of-state
Enrolled: 18,865
Average Incoming Freshman GPA:3.46
Male/Female Ratio: 45/55
Perks:Did we mention you’re in Hawaii? Also, you can use your meal card to buy beer on campus.

[Check back tomorrow for our No. 4 reveal]

Best Surf Colleges 2018

No. 10: Monmouth University

No. 9: University of North Carolina Wilmington

No. 8: San Diego State University

No. 7: San Francisco State University

No. 6: California Polytechnic State University