Most people are amazed to hear that New York surf spots produce some of the best surf on the east coast. Because much of the state seems to fall into Manhattan’s busy and vibrant shadow, New York’s beaches are often overlooked as a surf destination.
Long Island, New York stretches over 118 miles into the cold northern Atlantic Ocean, and produces some of the most powerful surf on the East Coast. South-facing beaches, coupled with a northeastern location, are in a prime location to pick up the majority of the Atlantic’s swell energy. This consistently results in some of the biggest, best surf on the East Coast. It doesn’t hurt that the middle and eastern end of Long Island are littered with reef and point breaks.
New York offers a variety of surf spots for all ability levels. But beware: this wave-rich region comes at a price, in more ways than one. If you’re traveling to Long Island for waves, come prepared, as New York surf spots can pack a mean punch.
- The Locals. Most of the New York surf spots near Manhattan have a rather large and consistent surfing population. Crowds are numerous, but vibes are mellow. The further east you go (toward Montauk) the more localism you will find. Montauk’s many points and reefs are each localized by a crew that has been surfing this area for quite some time, and the pecking order is very established.
- Brutal Poundings. These come from more than just the New york surf. The weather will absolutely make you go insane. Wetsuits are worn all year. Summer can be surfed in a short sleeve spring suit; but by the time fall rolls around, more rubber is needed. Late fall, winter and early spring, surfers will need 5mm wetsuits, hoods, booties and gloves. Basically, only your eyes should be exposed to the elements.
- Crowded Lineups. Summers are the busiest months for vacationers and beach-goers. Fall brings large south to southeast swells from hurricanes moving north from the Caribbean basin. Water temps begin to fall, but outside weather is very nice and crisp. Winter can be New York’s best surfing months. Large swells consistently hit New York surf spots with explosive, board-breaking power. If traveling in winter months, bring more than one board and plenty of rubber. Crowds are lighter at beach breaks, but the well-known points and reefs are always crowded.
The surf scene changes as you move from west to east along Long Island. The west side of Long Island is made up of barreling beach breaks, one of the best being Lido Beach. An offshore trench funnels swell energy into Lido Beach, creating large, powerful beachbreak barrels. As you move east, the crowd lessens, but the localism increases…immensely. Awesome sandbars can be found along the beach at Fire Island and Gilgo Beach, as you head east into Montauk. Northeast to southeast swells fire into Montauk’s many coves, reefs and point breaks, making it the surfing capital of New York.
New York Surf Breaks
Below is a list of New York surf spots, starting from the western end of Long Island and moving east into Montauk.