Hit the Beach at These 10 Charming Surf Towns in the Northeast U.S.
Owing to its northern location, you might assume that surfing in the Northeast U.S. requires a full-body wetsuit and high tolerance for ice-cold water, but that’s not always the case. If you time your trip right and select your surfing spot well, you don’t always have to bundle up to ride the wave. That said, we do recommend bringing all of your surfing gear on every trip, so you’re prepared for whatever weather conditions you encounter.
With that in mind, it’s easy to see why picking the right location is an essential and potentially daunting task, especially if you’re new to the sport of surfing or unfamiliar with where to surf in the Northeast. Luckily, we’ve compiled a list of the best surf towns in the Northeast. Take a look at some of the top spots below where you can land epic waves any time of the year.
1. Hampton Beach, New Hampshire
The coastal town of Hampton Beach has one main beach with a gorgeous view and a luxurious sandy bottom. It doesn’t get too crowded, especially during the winter months, and proves to be an excellent spot to land big waves coming in from the North Atlantic Ocean. However, big chunks of snow can be seen floating in the water during the long winter season, so be sure to bring your wetsuit and keep your eyes peeled.
Top Attractions in Hampton Beach
As you can imagine, the coastal areas of Hampton Beach become the tourist hot spots during the summer season, but this idyllic town has a lot more to offer than just surfing. So while it’s true that Hampton Beach is a surfer’s paradise, it’s also home to a variety of great activities that every type of beachgoer can enjoy, as well as oceanfront rentals if you want to splurge.
You’ll find modern beach resorts and lively boardwalks filled with souvenir shops, restaurants, bars, clubs, and arcade games which serve locals and visitors alike.
The Casino Ballroom hosts touring bands and world-famous comedians every week. Or visit the Ocean World Oceanarium, which has amazing tours and a lovely souvenir shop.
If you prefer to take part in fishing or swimming, head to the private campgrounds of Hampton Beach State Park, on the southern tip of the barrier island.
No matter how you slice it, Hampton Beach is a unique and beautiful location that’s earned its name as one of the best surf towns in the Northeast.
2. Montauk, New York
Nestled at the eastern tip of Long Island, Montauk is often referred to as the surfing capital of the Northeast. With its beautiful beaches and consistent waves, it’s no wonder surfers flock to this coastal town. The famous Ditch Plains Beach is a favorite among locals and visitors alike, offering perfect waves for surfers of all skill levels. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced surfer, Montauk has something for everyone.
Best Things to Do in Montauk
Montauk is situated on the east tip of Long Island’s South Fork, with many iconic landmarks, such as Montauk Point Lighthouse, to explore. It’s also got some of the best vacation rentals with pool, so our advice is to keep your options open when looking for a place to rest your head at night.
Visit the Montauk Brewing Company and enjoy a craft beer tasting.
Take a scenic hike at Camp Hero State Park and discover its hidden bunkers and breathtaking views.
Experience the vibrant nightlife at Montauk’s bars and clubs, offering live music and entertainment.
You’ll likely find yourself hungry after a full day of surfing and looking for something to satiate your appetite. Luckily, Montauk has plenty of restaurants and bars that can do just that, like Seaside House Bar and the Montauket. Delicious fresh-caught seafood and imported beer can be purchased at almost any local venue in this coastal town, so you won’t go hungry for long.
3. Narragansett, Rhode Island
Located on the southern coast of Rhode Island, Narragansett (pronounced neh-ruh-gan-suht) is a picturesque seaside town with a thriving surf community. The Narragansett Town Beach is a popular spot for surfers, known for its long sandy shoreline and excellent waves. Narragansett’s water temperature ranges from 35 degrees in the winter to 75 degrees in the summer. The 40-degree difference is a game-changer as it provides you with excellent, rideable waves and enormous swells. For this reason, this area is considered one of the best surf towns in the Northeast.
Top Activities in Narragansett
Many people prefer to take long summer vacations in Narragansett Bay because of the ideal weather conditions and the town’s many attractions, like the Adventureland Family Fun Park and Point Judith Lighthouse, and Narragansett rentals on the beach are a perfect way to spend the time. You’ll also find modern casinos, cinemas, and restaurants along the streets of this friendly little coastal town.
Some of the top activities in Narragansett Bay include fishing, swimming, and even hiking. There are many trails to pick from, such as the Black Point Trail, a beautiful two-mile trail that offers stunning views of the area.
Take a leisurely bike ride along the William C. O’Neill Bike Path, which offers beautiful coastal views.
Attend the annual Rhythm & Roots Festival in nearby Charlestown, a Labor Day Weekend event featuring live music, dancing, and local cuisine.
With so many fun activities and awesome surfing conditions, Narragansett is well-deserving of a spot on the list of the best surf towns in the Northeast.
4. Newport, Rhode Island
Newport, Rhode Island, is renowned for its historic mansions and sailing heritage, but it also boasts some impressive surf spots. Second Beach and Sachuest Beach are popular among surfers, with consistent waves and stunning views. Plus, the strong winds that favor Newport’s south-facing shores have made it a surfing hot spot in recent years.
Best Things to Do in Newport
This lively location is home to America’s largest yachting community, so sailing trips and lessons can be booked along the coast for a truly fun-filled vacation experience. But Newport also boasts a 400-year-old legacy, with many iconic and historic locations to visit around town.
Schedule a trolley tour that winds through the historic streets of Newport and marvel at the stunning architecture of the Gilded Age mansions.
Take a leisurely stroll along the picturesque Cliff Walk, offering panoramic views of the rugged shoreline and opulent mansions.
If you’re planning your visit for August, attend the Newport Jazz Festival, one of the oldest and most renowned jazz festivals in the world, for a soul-stirring musical experience.
In addition to vacation rentals with pools, shopping malls, restaurants, and movie theaters, this coastal town has so much more to offer, like fascinating art exhibits and historical sites. You can learn all about Newport and its history by visiting one of the many local museum establishments, like the historic mansion known as the Breakers.
Regardless of how you choose to spend your time during your visit to Newport, you’re sure to enjoy your stay in one of the top surf towns in the Northeast.
5. Nantucket, Massachusetts
As a well-known surfer’s playground, Nantucket is home to some of the most beautiful and pristine beaches in the Northeast. Cisco Beach, in particular, is a favorite among locals and visitors, known for its consistent waves and breathtaking sunsets.
Don’t know how to surf? That’s no problem, because Nantucket is home to some of the best surf schools in Massachusetts. And if you do choose to learn how to surf while you’re there, Nantucket Island Surf School comes highly recommended by many professionals.
Top Attractions in Nantucket
This legendary vacation destination is home to over 80 miles of beautiful beaches and a multitude of seaside activities for you to engage in during your trip. In addition, you can enjoy waterfront dining at reasonable prices with delicious food and a gorgeous sea-front view of paradise. Not to mention, the cobblestone streets and gorgeous cottages give the island a charming, relaxed vibe.
Explore the cobblestone streets of downtown Nantucket and browse the charming boutiques and art galleries that line the historic district.
Indulge in a delectable lobster roll or freshly shucked oysters at one of Nantucket’s iconic seafood shacks or upscale waterfront restaurants.
Unwind on Nantucket’s pristine beaches, such as Surfside Beach and Madaket Beach, where you can bask in the sun and swim in the crystal-clear waters.
With a variety of activities to partake in and venues to visit, this island is an ideal vacation destination for surfers, holiday-makers, and families alike.
6. Cape Cod, Massachusetts
While you can definitely catch some decent waves off the coast of Cape Cod, the breaks tend to differ from year to year — sometimes even month to month. It all depends on the wind directions, storms, and swells, so surfing in Cape Cod can be pretty unpredictable. However, it still provides some of the best surfing experiences in Massachusetts if you time your trip right.
You can find the best waves on the Atlantic Ocean side, or the outer Cape. It’s a fantastic surfing experience, especially in the three hours after the low tide, when low water levels amplify the swells. But be ready to wait your turn in a lineup because you’re sure to find a lot of local surfers out there taking advantage of the big waves as well. Browse our long list of Cape Cod rentals to cut down on your drive time so you can get to the action faster.
Popular Cape Cod Attractions
This pleasant area is full of history, art, culture, and gorgeous landscapes to keep you entertained for days. You may have decided to visit one of the Cape’s many towns in search of surf, but you’ll find that there’s so much more that’s worth experiencing, like Martha’s Vineyard or the breathtaking Elizabeth Islands located just a ferry ride away.
Immerse yourself in the charming seaside villages of Cape Cod, such as Chatham, Provincetown, and Hyannis, each with its own unique character and attractions.
Spend a day at Cape Cod National Seashore, exploring its pristine beaches, hiking trails, and dunes that stretch as far as the eye can see.
Take a leisurely bike ride along the Cape Cod Rail Trail, a scenic path that winds through picturesque landscapes, charming towns, and salt marshes.
For all of these reasons and more, we consider Cape Cod to be one of the top surf areas in the Northeast, and we highly recommend that you plan a trip here for a vacation that you will never forget.
7. Avalon, New Jersey
With its pristine beaches, consistent waves, and vibrant surf culture, Avalon has become a haven for surfers of all levels. The 30th Street Beach and 9th Street Beach are renowned for their consistent waves, attracting both locals and visitors seeking an exhilarating surf session. For those looking for a more challenging experience, the Inlet and 8th Street Jetties provide larger and more powerful waves.
Top Avalon Attractions
Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a beginner looking to catch your first wave, Avalon offers the perfect blend of stunning beaches, exciting surf conditions, and a welcoming surf culture that will make your experience truly unforgettable. You might also be interested in some of the other awesome activities you can do during your trip, which include kayaking, biking, and even bird watching.
Relax on Avalon’s pristine beaches, known for their soft sand and crystal-clear waters, perfect for sunbathing, swimming, and beachcombing.
Take a stroll or bike along the Avalon Dune Path, a scenic trail that winds through the natural dunes and offers panoramic views of the coastline.
Attend one of the lively summer events in Avalon, such as beach concerts, craft fairs, or outdoor movie nights, providing entertainment for the whole family.
Stop by the town’s favorite ice cream place, Springer’s Homemade Ice Cream, where you can get a huge variety of flavors for you and your family. Avalon is truly a coastal paradise with a bundle of great surf spots and fun activities you can enjoy in all seasons.
8. Lavallette, New Jersey
Nestled along the Jersey Shore, Lavallette offers a unique coastal experience with its pristine beaches, beachfront rentals, and a plethora of waves for surfers of all levels. One of the standout features of Lavallette is its consistent surf breaks. The town boasts several top-notch surf spots, with the best beaches for surfing being Trenton Avenue Beach and Philadelphia Avenue Beach. These beaches are known for their consistent swells and sandy bottom, creating ideal conditions for catching waves.
Local Activities in Lavallette
Lavallette boasts a mile-long boardwalk filled with locally-owned shops, eateries, and bars where you can indulge yourself day or night. You’ll also find the famous Seaside Casino Pier along the beach, where you can spend an entire evening playing games, trying your luck, and taking in the breathtaking ocean views.
Take a leisurely stroll along the Lavallette Boardwalk, offering stunning ocean views and a variety of entertainment options.
Join a surf lesson or rent a board from one of the local surf shops, where experienced instructors can guide you through the basics or help you refine your skills.
Immerse yourself in the beach town’s vibrant atmosphere, where you can find charming shops, cozy cafes, and delicious seafood restaurants.
Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a beginner, Lavallette offers the perfect blend of surf, sun, and community, making it an ideal destination for anyone seeking an unforgettable surf adventure along the Jersey Shore.
9. Spring Lake, New Jersey
Spring Lake is famous for its wide-open beaches, and the sea provides ideal surf conditions on a year-round basis. The town boasts several excellent beaches for surfing, including Spring Lake Beach and North End Beach, which provide consistent swells and great breaks. These beaches are known for their uncrowded lineups, making them ideal for both experienced surfers and beginners looking to catch their first wave.
While the small beach town may get inundated with travelers during summer, the swells are definitely worth the trip.
Best Things to Do in Spring Lake
This wonderful surf town is located on the New Jersey coastline, and it manages to attract a lot of tourists year-round. The buildings are mostly from previous centuries and seem to transport you back in time to the Victorian era. It’s like a blast from the past as you stroll through the gorgeous old-style streets of Spring Lake.
Enjoy a relaxing day at Divine Park, a serene oasis with beautiful gardens, walking paths, and a tranquil lake, ideal for picnics and unwinding after a surf session.
Experience the vibrant nightlife in Spring Lake by visiting the local bars and live music venues, where you can enjoy the sounds of talented local bands and artists.
Take a bike ride along the scenic Ocean Avenue, which runs parallel to the beach, offering stunning ocean views and refreshing sea breezes.
Spring Lake is a gorgeous town that’s full of culture and history with a modern feel and experience. This town is welcoming and exciting, so both surfers and non-surfers love to visit Spring Lake all year long.
10. Long Branch, New Jersey
You’re sure to enjoy the beaches located in the coastal town of Long Branch, as it’s the perfect place for both longboard and shortboard surfers. One of the best beaches for surfing in Long Branch is Seven Presidents Oceanfront Park. Known for its consistent and clean breaks, this beach attracts both beginners and experienced surfers. Another popular spot is North Bath Avenue Beach, where locals often gather to catch some epic waves.
Top Activities in Long Branch
This location has become a top-rated holiday destination for many reasons that stretch beyond surfing. The town of Long Branch has coined the nickname “Hollywood of the East” and hosts impressive performers in a variety of categories, including music and theater.
Catch an outdoor performance at the Seven Presidents Oceanfront Park, which hosts public and exclusive art and music shows.
Monmouth Park is a racetrack just three miles from Long Branch, offering live horse racing that you can bet on.
Indulge in delicious seafood at the popular Pier Village, a lively waterfront destination with a range of dining options overlooking the ocean.
Long Branch delivers a lovely mix of surf paradise and modern luxury in a beautiful contemporary setting, so we strongly suggest taking your next surf trip here.
Find Your New Favorite Surf Breaks
As you can tell, the Northeast is home to a diverse collection of charming surf towns that offer a perfect blend of coastal beauty, thrilling waves, and a laid-back beach culture. So, pack your board, sunscreen, and sense of adventure, and embark on a journey to discover your favorite from the list!
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