New York Surf Spots

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Find a New York surfing school.

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.

Rockaway Beach – Long Island, New York

Surf Location 92nd Street Jetty is the main peak
Best Swell Direction South to Southeast
Best Tide Medium to High
Best Wind Direction North
Best Surf Season Late summer/early fall for hurricane swells, but winter fires with consistent large swells
Wave Quality Gets good. Nice left off the end of the jetties. Great sandbars throughout this area.
The Surfers Gets crowded. This is the closest beach to New York City, plus it’s a great surf spot. But everyone accepts the madness.
Boards Shortboard, fish, funboard, longboard
Paddle Out Moderate to difficult
Skill Level Beginner to Advanced
Bottom Sand
Watch Out For… The jetties
Water Condition Kinda clean, can get dirty, gets cold in winter
 

Lido Beach – Long Island, New York

Surf Location Meadowbrook Parkway south to end, then Loop Parkway to Lido Boulevard
Best Swell Direction South to Southeast
Best Tide Medium to High
Best Wind Direction North
Best Surf Season Late summer/early fall for hurricane swells, but winter fires with consistent large swells
Wave Quality Powerful beach break with plenty of barrels during fall and winter. A deep water trench just offshore produces larger surf than the surrounding area beaches.
The Surfers Gets crowded. Big local surfing population, plus it's close to Manhattan, so tons of weekend traffic when it's on.
Boards Shortboard, fish, funboard, longboard
Paddle Out Moderate to difficult
Skill Level Beginner to Advanced
Bottom Sand
Watch Out For… Ledging wipeouts
Water Condition Kinda clean, can get dirty, gets cold in winter
 

Gilgo Beach – Long Island, New York

Surf Location Central Long Island, 1 hour from NYC
Best Swell Direction Southeast
Best Tide Low to Incoming
Best Wind Direction Northwest
Best Surf Season Late summer/early fall for hurricane swells, but winter fires with consistent large swells
Wave Quality Fun beach break that can wall up nicely and barrel with the right conditions.
The Surfers Gets crowded. Big local surfing population. Some of the most famous East Coast surfing families live in the area.
Boards Shortboard, fish, funboard, longboard
Paddle Out Moderate to difficult
Skill Level Beginner to Advanced
Bottom Sand
Watch Out For… Brain freezes and ice headaches
Water Condition Pretty clean and cold
 

Fire Island – Long Island, New York

Surf Location Only accessible by boat or ferry. No motorized transportation on the island. Bikes are allowed.
Best Swell Direction Southeast
Best Tide Medium to Incoming High
Best Wind Direction Northwest
Best Surf Season Late summer/early fall for hurricane swells, but winter fires with consistent large swells
Wave Quality Over 10 miles of consistent beach break barrels with designated surfing areas throughout the park. So, spread out and enjoy.
The Surfers Generally not that crowded
Boards Shortboard, fish, funboard, longboard
Paddle Out Moderate to difficult
Skill Level Beginner to Advanced
Bottom Sand
Watch Out For… Missing the last boat out off the island
Water Condition Pretty clean and cold
 

Turtles – Montauk, New York

Surf Location Under the Montauk Point Lighthouse
Best Swell Direction Southeast
Best Tide Low
Best Wind Direction Northwest
Best Surf Season Late summer/early fall for hurricane swells, but winter fires with consistent large swells
Wave Quality Big, slow, right-hand point break. One of the best waves on the East Coast. Can handle a very large swell. Nice walls for carving.
The Surfers Gets crowded. Big local surfing population, with lots of talent that sits on the outside peak. Plenty of visitors during hurricane swells.
Boards Shortboard, fish, funboard, longboard
Paddle Out Moderate
Skill Level intermediate to Advanced
Bottom Rocks and reef
Watch Out For… Sharks: Montauk is the Great White fishing capital of the East Coast…Jaws was filmed here.
Water Condition Clean and cold
 

Turtle Cove, Montauk, New York - Surf Video

 

Terrace – Montauk, New York

Surf Location In the center of Ditch Plains
Best Swell Direction Southeast
Best Tide Low
Best Wind Direction Northwest
Best Surf Season Late summer/early fall for hurricane swells, but winter fires with consistent large swells
Wave Quality Reef break will produce tubing rights and lefts as they peel down the reef. One of the best waves in the area when it’s on.
The Surfers Gets crowded. Big local surfing population, with lots of talent that sits on the outside peak. Plenty of visitors during hurricane swells.
Boards Shortboard, fish, funboard, longboard
Paddle Out Moderate
Skill Level intermediate to Advanced
Bottom Rocks and reef
Watch Out For… Sharks: Montauk is the Great White fishing capital of the East Coast…Jaws was filmed here.
Water Condition Clean and cold
 

Poles – Montauk, New York

Surf Location West of Ditch Plains
Best Swell Direction Southeast
Best Tide Low
Best Wind Direction Northwest
Best Surf Season Late summer/early fall for hurricane swells, but winter fires with consistent large swells
Wave Quality Long, mushy lines break outside during medium to large swells and roll all the way in. Fun for beginners and longboarders.
The Surfers Gets crowded. Big local surfing population, with lots of talent. Plenty of visitors during hurricane swells.
Boards Funboard, longboard
Paddle Out Easy but long
Skill Level Beginner to Intermediate
Bottom Rocks and reef
Watch Out For… Sharks
Water Condition Clean and cold
 

Ditch Plains – Montauk, New York

Surf Location The western tip of Long Island
Best Swell Direction North to South
Best Tide Low to Incoming High
Best Wind Direction Northwest
Best Surf Season Late summer/early fall for hurricane swells, but winter fires with consistent large swells
Wave Quality Very consistent reef/point break that is a great longboard spot. Not overly powerful, just a fun long ride.
The Surfers Gets crowded with longboarders. Mellow vibe. Everyone drops in on everyone.
Boards Funboard, longboard
Paddle Out Easy but long
Skill Level Beginner to Intermediate. Perfect for beginners.
Bottom Rocks and reef
Watch Out For… Sharks
Water Condition Clean and cold
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