Best Places to Surf in Winter in the US

The United States offers a variety of fantastic surf destinations in winter, attracting wave enthusiasts seeking challenging conditions and impressive swells.

Have you gone winter surfing in any of these places? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think of them!

Here are some of the best places to surf in the United States during the winter months:

North Shore, Oahu, Hawaii:

Oahu’s North Shore is a world-renowned surfing destination, especially during the winter. Winter is the prime surf season on the North Shore, typically running from November to February.

During this time, the Pacific Ocean generates larger and more consistent swells, creating the perfect conditions for challenging waves.

North Shore is home to iconic breaks like Pipeline, Sunset Beach, and Waimea Bay, offering challenging and powerful waves. The Vans Triple Crown of Surfing, a prestigious professional surfing series, takes place on the North Shore during the winter.

Mavericks, California:

Winter surfing at Mavericks in California offers a thrilling and challenging experience for advanced surfers seeking massive waves and adrenaline-pumping rides.

Mavericks is known for its legendary big waves, and the winter months, particularly from November to March, bring the most optimal conditions for these colossal swells.

Winter swells bring some of the largest waves on the West Coast, creating an intense big-wave surfing experience. Mavericks is recommended for highly skilled and experienced surfers due to its challenging conditions.

Malibu, California:

Winter surfing in Malibu, California offers a different experience compared to the massive waves of locations like Mavericks. Malibu is renowned for its classic point break, consistent waves, and a more laid-back surfing atmosphere.

Malibu’s Surfrider Beach is a classic point break that works well during the winter. While it might not have the biggest waves, Malibu offers consistent and fun surf conditions, suitable for all skill levels.

While Malibu doesn’t typically experience the colossal winter swells of more northern or exposed breaks, the winter months can still bring larger waves compared to the summer.

Southern California generally experiences milder winter temperatures, and the water temperature in Malibu is relatively moderate. Wetsuits are still necessary, but they might not need to be as thick as those used in colder regions.

Trestles, California:

Winter surfing at Trestles, California, provides an exceptional experience for surfers seeking a mix of high-quality waves and a more moderate, Southern California climate. Trestles is a renowned surf spot located in San Diego County, offering several distinct breaks that cater to surfers of various skill levels.

Winter brings more consistent swells, and the area hosts professional competitions. While it may not experience the massive winter swells of northern California or big-wave spots, Trestles still offers excellent conditions for surfers seeking a mix of size and performance.

Southern California experiences milder winter temperatures, and the water at Trestles is relatively moderate.Wetsuits are necessary, but they may not need to be as thick as those used in colder regions.

Santa Cruz, California:

Winter surfing in Santa Cruz, California, offers a dynamic and diverse experience for surfers looking to ride the waves along the picturesque coastline. Santa Cruz is renowned for its consistent surf, variety of surf breaks, and a vibrant surf culture.

Santa Cruz is known for its diverse surf breaks and consistent winter swells. Steamer Lane, Pleasure Point, and The Hook are popular spots offering a range of wave sizes suitable for various skill levels.

Santa Cruz experiences consistent surf throughout the year, and winter brings increased swell activity. The combination of reliable waves and diverse breaks makes it a favorite destination for surfers seeking a variety of conditions.

Northern California has cooler water temperatures compared to Southern California. Wetsuits are necessary year-round, and during winter, surfers typically wear thicker wetsuits to stay comfortable in the colder water.

Encinitas, California:

Winter surfing in Encinitas, California, offers a delightful experience for surfers seeking milder conditions and consistent waves along the Southern California coast. Encinitas is known for its scenic beaches, laid-back atmosphere, and a variety of surf breaks suitable for all skill levels.

Encinitas features a mix of point breaks, beach breaks, and reef breaks, providing surfers with diverse options. Swami’s, Cardiff Reef, and Moonlight Beach are some of the well-known surf spots in the area, each offering a unique surfing experience.

Encinitas experiences relatively consistent surf conditions throughout the year, with winter bringing increased swell activity.

Southern California generally experiences milder winter temperatures compared to more northern regions. Wetsuits are necessary, but they may not need to be as thick as those used in colder areas, providing surfers with a relatively comfortable experience.

Newport Beach, California:

Winter surfing in Newport Beach, California, offers surfers a mix of consistent waves, a pleasant climate, and a lively coastal atmosphere.

Newport Beach, located in Orange County, is known for its scenic coastline, diverse surf breaks, and a surf culture that attracts enthusiasts of all skill levels.

Newport Beach offers a variety of surf breaks, with the Wedge being famous for its large and powerful waves. Winter swells can produce challenging conditions, attracting experienced surfers seeking a thrill.

Newport Beach experiences relatively consistent surf conditions year-round, with winter bringing increased swell activity.

Southern California generally experiences milder winter temperatures, and the water in Newport Beach remains relatively moderate. Wetsuits are necessary, but they may not need to be as thick as those used in colder regions.

Outer Banks, North Carolina:

Winter surfing in the Outer Banks, North Carolina, offers a unique and challenging experience for surfers willing to embrace colder temperatures and dynamic Atlantic Ocean conditions.

The Outer Banks is a unique surf destination on the East Coast with consistent winter swells. Cape Hatteras and Rodanthe are popular spots, and the area offers a mix of beach breaks and point breaks.

Winter swells in the Atlantic Ocean can bring larger and more powerful waves to the Outer Banks. The region is known for its beach breaks that can produce sizeable waves, providing a challenge for surfers of varying skill levels.

Winter temperatures in the Outer Banks can be chilly, and surfers typically wear thicker wetsuits to stay comfortable. The water temperature can range from the mid-40s to low 50s Fahrenheit during the winter, requiring proper cold-water gear like wet suits.

Winter surfing in the Outer Banks requires surfers to be prepared for colder temperatures, but the rewarding waves and the unique coastal setting make it a sought-after destination for those looking to experience Atlantic winter swells.

Montauk, New York:

Winter surfing in Montauk, New York, offers a challenging and exhilarating experience for surfers willing to brave the cold temperatures and Atlantic Ocean swells.

Montauk, located on the eastern tip of Long Island, is known for its diverse surf breaks and scenic coastline. The area features several notable surf breaks, including Ditch Plains, Turtle Cove, and Lighthouse.

Montauk experiences reliable surf conditions throughout the year, with winter swells often delivering some of the best waves. The region is exposed to open ocean swells, creating challenging conditions that attract surfers seeking high-quality waves.

Winter temperatures in Montauk can be cold, and surfers typically wear thick wetsuits, boots, and gloves to stay warm. Water temperatures can range from the mid-30s to low 40s Fahrenheit during the winter.

Winter surfing in Montauk demands proper cold-water gear, including thick wetsuits, hoods, and booties, to withstand the frigid temperatures.

Winter surfing is not for the faint of heart. The waves are powerful, fast, and often accompanied by strong currents and offshore winds that require a high level of skill and experience to navigate successfully.

When planning a winter surf trip, it’s essential to consider factors such as water temperature, swell direction, and your own skill level. Additionally, always check local surf forecasts, weather conditions, and any advisories to ensure a safe and enjoyable surfing experience.

“Winter Surfing.” Office Magazine,
“A Beginner’s Guide to Winter Surfing.” Backcountry,

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