Surfing is a year-round sport, especially with the advances in wetsuit technology and surfer apparel that makes it easier than ever before to stay comfortable in any temperature water. If you’re heading out of town to catch some major winter waves, knowing which beaches are best to visit during the winter season can make your vacation even better. From the warm waters of Hawaii to the cold water surfing in Maine, here are some of the best beaches for winter surfing. So grab your surfer clothes, pack a bag, and head to one of your favorites on this list.
Hanalei Bay Beach, Hawaii
Hawaii may seem like an obvious choice, but picking the right beach and the right island is essential to a good winter surf vacation. This two-mile-long beach boasts white sands, an incredible backdrop of mountains and vegetation, and a busy pier area where your non-surfing friends and family can spend time while they wait for you. The best time to head to this beach is between September and May, as the current is sturdy and the waves break right on the beach. Just make sure you’re an experienced surfer--the strong current and huge waves in the winter season can make this space a dangerous one for beginners. But don’t worry--plenty of other choices on this list are better for beginners.
Black’s Beach, California
With the ocean still warm enough from the summer, cool sea breezes & some of the biggest swells of the year, San Diego is one of the best winter surfing towns. Black's Beach is a two-mile strip of sand that is known for it's amazing winter waves. Due to its location (at the base of a pretty good sized cliff), you’ll need to set aside a good amount of time to make the trip from your car to the beach and back again. As one of the most popular beaches in San Diego, the beach does get crowded, especially on the weekends. For this reason, we recommend planning a mid-week visit to Black’s Beach. And don’t forget your wetsuit and winter-proof surfer apparel. Although the beach is located in sunny Southern California, the water can get very chilly, especially in the middle of winter.
Make sure your passport is up-to-date because Fuerteventura, the second largest of Spain’s Canary Islands, is the ultimate destination for winter surfing. Home to a variety of white-sand beaches, including Caleta de Fusta and Esquinzo, Fuerteventura is a year-round destination for Europeans and Americans alike. The north shore of the island has been called Europe’s answer to Hawaii, and the sun shines all day during the winter. Beginner surfers should head to Playa Morro, while those seeking a bigger wave should head to Playa Cotillo instead. When in doubt, talk to one of the local surfers who will help point you in the direction of the best waves on the island.
Higgins Beach, Maine
The water isn’t particularly warm in Maine, but that doesn’t stop surfers from flocking to the state in the winter months. You won’t get the same swells as you would on the West Coast, but you will find something truly unique--unspoiled landscapes, empty beaches, and a community of local surfers who will help you find the best waves. As for us, we suggest Higgins Beach, where you’ll find some of the largest waves in the state. Fifteen-foot swells are not unheard of, and there’s plenty of rocks to watch out for, so this is another site on the list that’s reserved for more experienced surfers. Need another reason to head to Higgins Beach this winter? It’s closed during the daytime hours all summer, so the winter is the only chance you’ll get to soak in its beauty.
Planning Your Trip
As you probably already know, surfing requires a good amount of gear. Not only do you need a wetsuit and board for when you’re in the water, but you’ll need some great surfer apparel for the time you spend on shore. At johnnie-O, we have everything you need for a successful trip, including rash guards, swim trunks, t-shirts, and tons of other surfer clothes. And, if you’re heading to one of the colder spots on this list, check out our tips for cold water surfing.