North Carolina
Outer Banks (OBX) Surf Spots

Abruptly jutting out off the Eastern Seaboard into the Atlantic Ocean, the Outer Banks of North Carolina can be a surfer's dream.

The Outer Banks are practically a sitting duck for the largest swells that the Atlantic can throw at the East Coast. Positioned right where the Cold Labrador Current meets the warm Gulf Stream, the waters off the Outer Banks are positively active with swell-generating storms and low-pressure systems.

Basically, the Outer Banks are a series of peaky beach breaks made up of various sandbars located along the 300 miles of accessible coastline. These sandbars will shift throughout the year, as big storms (hurricanes & Northeasters) swoop in and carry the sand either north or south. But fear not: as one beack break diminishes, another is born.

The Outer Banks surf season starts in late July and extends through May. Hurricane season typically produces consistent, large southeast swell. As fall and winter set in, low-pressure systems begin to move off the Northeastern states, producing consistent northeast swell through winter and spring.

The great thing about Outer Banks surfing is that you get a feel for all four seasons. Summer's weather and water are very warm, and there is plenty of sunshine. As fall sets in, cooler temps prevail and a 3/2 wetsuit is needed. During the dead of winter, surfing need a least a good-fitting 4/3 wetsuit with hood and booties. Then it's back down to the 3/2 wetsuit with booties for spring.

If you're traveling through this area, a four-wheel drive is preferable for driving through the miles of soft sand.

Find a surf school in Outer Banks, North Carolina.

Outer Banks, North Carolina - Surf Video

 

Outer Banks Surf Breaks

Below is a breakdown of the major Outer Banks Surf Spots.

Note: these are the major surfing cities. Large storms frequently move sandbars, destroying breaks and creating new ones. So, Outer Banks surfers are always driving around looking for the best area sandbars. This is why we did not include any formal names or directions to Outer Banks surf spots. Happy Hunting!!


Rodanthe Pier

Surf Location Northern stretch of coast in the Outer Banks
Best Swell Direction Northeast to Southeast
Best Tide Low
Best Wind Direction West
Best Surf Season Late summer/fall for hurricane season, winter/spring for northeast swell
Wave Quality Shifting beach break peaks that get hollow. Most consistent around the pier.
The Surfers Can be crowded, but plenty of room to spread out. You can find a peak all to yourself.
Boards Shortboard, fish, funshape, longboard
Paddle Out Moderate to difficult
Skill Level Beginner to Advanced
Bottom Sand
Watch Out For… Sharks
Water Condition Clean
 

Avon Pier

Surf Location Central stretch of coast in the Outer Banks
Best Swell Direction Northeast to Southeast
Best Tide Low
Best Wind Direction West
Best Surf Season Late summer/fall for hurricane season, winter/spring for northeast swell
Wave Quality Good sandbars produce hollow beachbreak waves; the pier provides some shelter from strong currents and light onshore winds.
The Surfers Can be crowded, but you can generally find a peak all to yourself.
Boards Shortboard, fish, funshape, longboard
Paddle Out Moderate to difficult
Skill Level Beginner to Advanced
Bottom Sand
Watch Out For… Sharks
Water Condition Clean
 

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse

Surf Location In the town of Buxton, on the southern stretch of coast north of Cape Point
Best Swell Direction Northeast to Southeast
Best Tide Low
Best Wind Direction West
Best Surf Season Late summer/fall for hurricane season, winter/spring for northeast swell
Wave Quality The most famous and crowded surf spot in the Outer Banks. Shifting beachbreak peaks that get hollow. Most consistent around the pier. On larger swells, waves break way out back and peel through to the inside section. Home to numerous Outer Banks surfing contests throughout the year.
The Surfers Can be crowded, but plenty of room to spread out. You can find a peak all to yourself.
Boards Shortboard, fish, funshape, longboard
Paddle Out Moderate to difficult
Skill Level Beginner to Advanced
Bottom Sand
Watch Out For… Locals, cold winter mornings, sharks
Water Condition Clean
 

Frisco Pier

Surf Location In the town of Frisco, on the southern stretch of coast southwest of Cape Point
Best Swell Direction South to Southeast
Best Tide Low
Best Wind Direction Northwest
Best Surf Season Late summer/fall for hurricane season
Wave Quality Southeast hurricane swells directly hit these sandbars and create long workable walls and spitting tubes. A great spot for fall.
The Surfers Can be crowded, but plenty of room to spread out. You can find a peak all to yourself.
Boards Shortboard, fish, funshape, longboard
Paddle Out Moderate to difficult
Skill Level Beginner to Advanced
Bottom Sand
Watch Out For… Sharks
Water Condition Clean
 

Ocracoke Island

Surf Location Boat access only. Protected national wildlife area on the southern shores of the Outer Banks southwest of Cape Point.
Best Swell Direction South to Southeast
Best Tide Low
Best Wind Direction Northwest
Best Surf Season Late summer/fall for hurricane season
Wave Quality This place can get epic, and it’s usually totally empty. Southeast hurricane swells directly hit these sandbars and create long workable walls and spitting tubes. A great spot for fall.
The Surfers Few surfers due to difficult access.
Boards Shortboard, fish, funshape, longboard
Paddle Out Moderate to difficult
Skill Level Beginner to Advanced
Bottom Sand
Watch Out For… Sharks
Water Condition Clean
 

Wrightsville Beach

Surf Location In the small, historical town of Wilmington
Best Swell Direction South to Southeast
Best Tide Low
Best Wind Direction Northwest
Best Surf Season Late summer/fall for hurricane season
Wave Quality Know as the hurricane capital of the world, this beach break gets big and epic during southeast hurricane swells. Long walls, speedy faces, spitting tubes – Wrightsville will deliver the goods during hurricane season.
The Surfers Gets crowded, but plenty of room.
Boards Shortboard, fish, funshape, longboard
Paddle Out Moderate to difficult
Skill Level Beginner to Advanced
Bottom Sand
Watch Out For… Sharks
Water Condition Clean
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