The surfer’s pursuit for the perfect wave is a life long journey that can take devotees from their backyards to the furthest corners of the globe. Surfing hot spots such as Australia, Indonesia, Panama and Costa Rica all attract countless surfers from the USA seeking their next great ride, but while traveling to exotic locales is fine and dandy it is not necessary to ride the perfect wave. The USA claims some of the finest surf breaks in the world, diverse breaks as pristine and challenging as any. So for the uninitiated, let’s better acquaint ourselves and dissect the Top 10 Surf Breaks In The USA.
Mavericks, Half Moon Bay, CA
First named in 1961 by a trio of surfers who brought along a roommate’s white-haired German Shepherd to the beach with them, it wasn’t until 1990 that this now legendary spot really hit the national spotlight. In 1975, seventeen year old Jeff Clark paddled out until a particularly menacing swell at Mavericks and managed to catch a few waves in the 20ft range, and thus began the saga of Jeff Clark and Mavericks. Years later in 1990 photographer Steve Tadin, a friend of Clark published a photo of Mavericks in Surfer Magazine and overnight the secret was out and the frenzy began. Pro surfers from all over the world flocked to this Nor-Cal hidden secret to ride the giant. This wave was also the focus of the big-wave surfing documentary Riding Giants in which they highlight the chain of events that led up to Mavericks becoming the most menacing wave in the continental United States.
Cocoa Beach, FL
Often overlooked as having smaller waves and surf available seasonally, Florida doesn’t often get the credit it deserves as being a surfing hot spot. Cocoa Beach is arguably most famous as being home to the world’s largest surf shop, Ron Jon Surf Shop, however it’s also home to the greatest competition surfer the world has ever seen, Kelly Slater. The 10-time ASP World Champion grew up riding the waves of Cocoa Beach and fine-tuning his skill, all in his pursuit to become the greatest surfer the world has ever seen. And as Slater’s public presence grew over the years so did Cocoa Beach. A destination for all Florida surfers, Cocoa Beach is particularly best during Hurricane season when the swell picks up.
Trestles, San Diego, CA
Inaccessible by car, Trestles is a haven for So-Cal surfers looking for a truly great ride. However, part of what makes Trestles so great is also the reason some surfers stay away. Trestles is arguably the most consistent ‘great ride’ in all of Southern California which naturally leads to large crowds and competition for waves. Locals and sponsored Pros alike flock to Trestles for its consistency. Trestles is actually a collection of several breaks at San Onofre State Beach in San Diego County, running north to south. And it is in the south at ‘Lower Trestles’ that an annual ASP surfing competition takes place bringing in all the greatest surfers in the world to try their hands at claiming glory.
Pleasure Point, Santa Cruz, CA
Located at 30th ave and East Cliff Drive in the heart of Pleasure Point, Santa Cruz, this break is for experienced riders only. This popular spot for advanced Santa Cruz surfers is a wave for aggressive riders really looking to push themselves. Primarily suited for short boards its said that there are only a handful of long-board riders in the world who would dare try their hand at this break.
Satellite Beach, FL
Located just north of Sebastian Inlet, Satellite Beach is famous for being home to professional surfing twins Damien and C.J. Hobgood. Damien, famous for once being the surfer who held the highest final two-wave score in competition with 19.9 out of 20 possible points, and his brother C.J. grew up on the waves of ‘Second Light,’ ‘First Light,’ and ‘Picnic Tables’ which collectively make up a hot bed of what is known as ‘Surf City’ in Florida.
Long Beach, NY
Located mere minutes outside of the biggest metropolis in the United States, New York City, Long Beach has recently thrust itself into the surfing spotlight by playing host to an annual ASP World Tour competition in which the greatest surfers from all over the world test themselves in the waters of Long Island. For years locals have known that their waves were the finest on all of the East Coast but now they are getting the credit they deserve for surfing waves challenging enough for any rider, amateur to pro.
Surfrider Beach, Malibu, CA
The epicenter of the surfing craze in the 50s and 60s, Malibu was where it all began. A wave that every surfer must travel to at least once in his or her lifetime, Malibu is again a victim of its own success. One of the smoothest rides found anywhere, it is often crowded with handfuls of surfers competing for every wave. All that aside, it is one of the most idyllic locations in all of the world where the backdrops to the perfect waves are the mansions of the rich and powerful of Hollywood.
Honolua Bay, Kapalua, HI
Located on Maui’s northwest shore, Honolua Bay is a winter-time destination for Big Wave surfers all across the world. A powerful, hollow wave famous for especially long rides, this break also offers pristine surrounding cliffs for spectators to take in the views. Experience is a prerequisite here as no novice is likely to exit the water unscathed if they try and ride this famed giant.
Castles Beach, Waikiki, HI
Located in idyllic Waikiki, Hawaii, Castles is a second reef break, and is famed as being the South Shore’s most famous surf break even though it only becomes rideable when wave heights reach 10ft or higher. Hawaii is the Mecca for all surfers wishing to test their fortitude against giant waves and Castles is on a short list of ‘must surf’ waves for those rider truly wishing to find what they’re chops are made of.
Pipeline, Haleiwa, HI
The Banzai Pipeline is arguably the most famous surf break on Oahu’s North Shore. A reef break located off of Ehukai Beach Park in Pupukea, this powerful wave is menacing for even the most advanced of riders. Collectively made up of 3 reefs in increasingly deeper water no matter the swell size the reef churns out deadly powerful and heavy waves over a jagged coral reef. It is also home to the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing made up of the Reef Hawaiian Pro, Vans World Cup of Surfing and Billabong Pipe Masters. Each competition is revered by surfers all across the globe because in order to win you have to prove yourself on perhaps the most menacing wave in Hawaii.