Serene and Secluded Surfing

Yakutat, AK

Alaska’s Surf Capital: If you want to avoid crowds at any cost, you’ll find nothing but deserted beaches around Yakutat. The town is small (less than 1,000 people) and is only accessible by boat or plane. What’s more, the water temperature is usually in the 50s, so surfing in anything other than a thick wetsuit is an absurd proposition. Waves aren’t necessarily big, but they’re long and glassy. It may seem like a tough sell, but the solitude and adventure is worth the trek.

GPS Coordinates: 59.6615926,-140.6942552 | Current Surf Report

Westport, WA

Surfing for Seattleites: Westport is one of the few reliably consistent spots along Washington’s coastline and is thus one of the few places you’ll encounter a crowd (most likely city-escapees from Olympia and Seattle). The long jetty at the north end of Westport, near the entrance to Grays Harbor is where you’ll find the best waves, especially on the south side of the jetty.

GPS Coordinates: 46.89252,-124.1138635 | Current Surf Report

La Push, WA

Surfing in Washington’s Wilderness: La Push is a tiny, unincorporated town at the very northernmost point of Washington’s coastline. This cove is home to some moderately sized beach break waves that peak consistently. Ignore the fact that part of Twilight takes place here, and focus on the good surf.

GPS Coordinates: 47.909675,-124.6365074 | Current Surf Report

Smuggler Cove, OR

A Surfing Treasure: A secluded cove in Oswald West State Park, Smugglers Cove is home to modest waves that range from quick hollow tubes to mushy slow rollers. In either case, it’s a forgiving place for newbies. Access takes a little effort: to get to it you have to hike along a scenic trail, a staple of the Northwest Surfing Experience.

GPS Coordinates: 45.7593836,-123.9725365 | Current Surf Report

Cape Lookout, OR

An Essential Oregon Surf Spot: Cape Lookout is a notorious Oregon surf spot that — much like Smuggler’s Cove — is located in a state park. The beach breaks peak fast and can get pretty big. Because the surf spot hosts some of the best waves in the state, there are alleged problems with localism, so be forewarned you may encounter some hostility.

GPS Coordinates: 45.3855385,-123.9798364 | Current Surf Report


Iconic Beaches and Breaks

Trestles, San Clemente

Perfect Waves for All Riders: Trestles isn’t so much one spot as it is several. Located in San Onofre Beach State Park outside of San Clemente, Trestles is broken up into three regions along the beach: the Uppers, Lowers and Middles. Lowers is perhaps the best known, where picturesque hollow lefts and long steep rights abound. In Uppers the waves are more sloping and a better choice for longboarders. The waves in Middles are similar but less intense, so if you’re a grom that’s the place to go. Getting to these spots requires a short hike, but it’s always worth it.

GPS Coordinates: 33.385307,-117.5939359 | Current Surf Report

Lost Coast

Secret Spots Galore: So named due to settlers leaving the region in the 30s and a lack of development due to the challenges of the landscape, the Lost Coast is about as secluded as it gets on the California coast. Like most surf spots in NorCal, the locals keep the best spots hush-hush, so use this as an opportunity to find your own favorite secret break. One well-known, yet illusive spot is “Ghost Point”, supposedly a several-mile hike north of Shelter Cove (another great spot itself) in the King Range National Conservation Area.

GPS Coordinates: 40.0304207,-124.0730866 | Current Surf Report

Huntington Beach

Serious SoCal Surf Culture: Okay, so the beaches here attract serious crowds but for two good reasons: the breaks are consistent and it’s the heart of SoCal surfing. The waves are generally mild by the pier and other spots along the beach, but they can get good with the right swell. If you’re looking for more thrills, head south to “The Wedge” in adjacent Newport.

GPS Coordinates: 33.6922125,-118.0115553 | Current Surf Report

Sunset Cliffs, San Diego

Cliffside Swells: Sunset Cliffs is an area of San Diego in the Point Loma peninsula, and the swells come from the west and northwest, can reach overhead and are best in the fall, winter and spring. While the cliffs are beautiful they can become a hazard — surfers can be battered against the cliffs if they don’t get out of the water in time, and the trek to the beach itself requires walking along the cliff trails — and (fair warning) the risk of taking the short way down can be very real.

GPS Coordinates: 32.727287,-117.2509864 | Current Surf Report

Rincon Point, Santa Barbara

Queen of the Coast: Much like Huntington Beach, Rincon Point is an iconic SoCal surf spot. Waves are consistent and good at all tides, but if you’re looking for hollow waves low tide is the time to go, especially in the winter. Rincon is a point break that, on the right day, offers up long, steep right-handers.

GPS Coordinates: 34.3733283,-119.4784539 | Current Surf Report


World-Famous Waves

Maalaea Bay, Maui

The World’s Fastest Wave: Maalaea Bay, a south-facing spot on Maui’s west coast, is home to a right-hand break known as “Freight Trains”, widely considered to be the fastest ridable wave in the world. However, Freight Trains is only ridable on large southerly swells and is located near the harbor. If you go and Freight Trains is too frightening, head down the coast where you’ll find more waves that are suitable for more “reasonable” surfers.

GPS Coordinates: 20.7646693,-156.4960826 | Current Surf Report

Punalau Beach, Maui

Professional-Grade Waves: Located at the very northernmost point of Maui, Punalau Beach, or “Windmills”, is home to a reef break that, when conditions are right, produces huge barreling lefts. The surf is biggest in the winter and draws professional surfers from around the world. It’s a difficult spot to surf, so don’t attempt it unless you have some serious experience under your belt. But, if you are pro grade, you get some perks: due to the advanced nature of the waves and the rocky beaches, this spot doesn’t get particularly crowded.

GPS Coordinates: 21.0220912,-156.6255677 | Current Surf Report

Hanalei Bay, Kauai

Consistent Hawaiian Surf: On the north shore, Hanalei Bay is the darling of Kauai surfing. It’s consistent and fun and — unfortunately — is often crowded as a result. The waves are great year round, but if you’re more experienced and looking to ride larger waves, the winter is the time to go, while the smaller, less intense summer waves are better for newbies.

GPS Coordinates: 22.2072622,-159.507088 | Current Surf Report

Log Cabins, Oahu

Underrated North Shore Surf: Oahu’s north shore is notorious for having some of the world’s biggest and best waves, with Pipeline being the most legendary spot in the region. But the north shore has a number of less-widely-known spots as well, one of the more underrated of them being Log Cabins, a right reef break with consistent waves during the winter often exceeding 30 feet. But just because it’s not as notorious as the Pipeline doesn’t make it any less dangerous. The currents are strong and the reef can be brutal, so only attempt if you’re of an advanced skill set.

GPS Coordinates: 21.6598413,-158.0570894 | Current Surf Report

Makaha Point, Oahu

Variety in Hawaii: While experts ride out the big waves on the North Shore, Makaha Point on the west side of Oahu is home to a variety of waves that appeal to riders of varying levels of expertise. Waves can get big (and tricky), but there’s options for smaller waves. Since there are several distinct breaks there is a large variety of waves, from short and fast for the shredders to larger, slower rollers for longboarders.

GPS Coordinates: 22.1427775,-159.7336111 | Current Surf Report

Andrew Connor

More by Andrew Connor | Follow on Contact via Email
Sign Up for the
Daily Dispatch
The day's best product roundups, reviews and gear news packed into one handy, daily email.

By submitting your email, you agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy and to receive email correspondence from us.

Next Page