When you get that itch to paddle out into some pounding breakers and stand up on your board with the power of the ocean at your back, where do you go if you don't have the time or resources to puddle jump over to Hawaii? Luckily, there's plenty of options right here on the mainland where you can find good waves year round.
Hampton Beach, NH
Only an hour from Boston, Hampton Beach in New Hampshire is great for surfers of all ages and skill levels. The waves here stay knee high up to three feet for most of the summer, giving newbies the chance to learn and longboarders a chance to hone their skills. Part of the experience is hopping over "the wall", (a massive concrete wall lining the beach complete with cool graffitti art) in order to get the the beach and eventually the waves. If the waves aren't popping during your trip, you can still have a great time in town playing mini-golf, grabbing ice cream and seeing a show at the infamous Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom which is consistently ranked in the Top 25 of all club venues for seeing music.
A little farther down the coast of New England's beautiful shore line rests Narragansett, the surf town of the North East. You can count on bigger breaks here than Hampton Beach, especially during the fall. Surfers tend to aggregate towards the wall by the Coast Guard House (a great spot to grab a beer) or swim out past the rocks on the other side. There is usually a pretty safe divide between where people surf and where regular beach goers swim. The local surfers are pretty friendly and won't fight you for waves as long as you appear equally as polite. This is a great place to "gear up" with plenty of great surf shops such as Warm Winds that are worth checking out.
Cocoa Beach, FL
Ron Jon Surf Shop, Cocoa Beach, FL — Photo courtesy of RyanCrierie
The birth place of super star surfer Kelly Slater, the former space town Cocoa Beach offers visitors a great surfing scene. Waves are usually solid with 3'-5' days a regular occurrence and larger breaks the norm during hurricane season. You can grab a lesson with one of the pros from Ron Jon Surf Shop as well as browse their mammoth flagship store for gear which is somehow open 365/24/7. If you are visiting with the kids, or are still one at heart, Disney World is only an hour away.
Huntington Beach, CA
Huntington Beach represents the epitome of American surfing; consistent medium breaks year round, beach bodies/prototype surfer bros roaming the scene and a picturesque pier running right into the heart of the Pacific Ocean. The great thing about Huntington Beach is you rarely have to check a surfing report as there will always be something to ride. The beach is lined with volleyball courts and a bike path for any companions who aren't as keen on "shredding the gnar" (surfing gnarly waves). Visiting Ruby's Diner at the end of the pier is a great way to cap off a killer day of surfing and to replenish the nutrients lost so you can be ready for an epic day two.