The eastern seaboard of the United States isn’t exactly known for stellar waves. While the West Coast and the Hawaiian Islands receive a hefty dose of surf tourism each year, the East Coast goes largely untouched by traveling surfers unless they’re from the region. The continental shelf on the East Coast stretches out hundreds of miles from shore and breaks up larger ground swells before they reach the shore. So, for most of the year, the Atlantic has significantly smaller and weaker surf than the West Coast. During the winter, however, powerful Nor’easter winter storms travel down the coast from Nova Scotia and turn the Atlantic into a frigid wave machine. In a previous blog post, we highlighted the best beginner waves on the East Coast. Now, we’re bringing you the Ultimate East Coast Road Trip. In this post, we’ll point you in the right direction if you’re looking to score epic winter surf. Continue reading below for The Ultimate East Coast Surf Road Trip.
The Outer Banks, North Carolina – The Start of Your Epic East Coast Surf Road Trip
The Outer Banks is surf central in the Carolinas and the Atlantic Coast more broadly. The North Carolina barrier islands stretch out to the edge of the continental shelf, so the region picks up more swell than anywhere else on the East Coast. Known for epic winter and hurricane swells, the Outer Banks is home to reliable sandbars and deep beach break barrels that make it a must-stop spot on any Atlantic surf road trip.
New Jersey/ Long Island, New York
There are a lot of reasons to visit New York, and the surf may just be at the top of our list. During the winter, breaks on Long Island from Rockaways (just an hour from Manhattan) to Montauk transform into A-frame factories, churning out ice-cold barrels. Beyond Long Island, neighboring New Jersey has roughly 130 miles of coastline with reliable sandbars, jetties, and piers helping groom waves every step of the way. Jersey gets so good even the world’s best stop over now and then during the winter.
New England (Massachusetts to Maine)
If you don’t mind the cold, then New England in the winter may just be a surfer’s paradise to you. While the New England coast is known more for Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and preppy summer soirees, during the winter, the Cape and the surrounding coast shape surf into long rippable waves. The further north you travel in New England, the rockier the coastline and the more variety of wave types, from point breaks to reef passes.
Nova Scotia, Canada
For the last leg of our epic East Coast surf road trip, you’ll need to pack a passport along with your thickest wetsuit and winter jacket. Vancouver Island on Canada’s rugged West Coast lays claim to the title, Canadian Surfing Capital, but Nova Scotia gives it a run for its money. In Nova Scotia, a traveling surfer will find snow-covered beaches that often give way to a diverse wave selection with point breaks, reef breaks, river mouth waves, and beach breaks. Much of the coastline in Nova Scotia is rural and isolated, so crowds are minimal, especially in the winter.
Trade your wetsuit for board shorts or a bikini with a bucket list surf trip to Hawaii and learn from the best at our North Shore Surf School, located along Oahu’s Seven Mile Miracle. Experienced surfers can travel the North Shore and surf the best waves on the planet with our professional surf guides. Book your stay at Turtle Bay Resort to stay close to the action on the North Shore.