The classic 1966 surf film The Endless Summer was based upon the idea that, if one had enough time and money, it was possible to chase summer around the world, catching an endless season of exceptional waves. In honor of International Surfing Day on June 20, we take inspiration from the film and break down seven surf spots in the western hemisphere by the season in which they offer the best waves.
Trestles, San Clemente, California
Halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego, nestled in San Onofre State Park, Trestles (named after the trestle bridge that fronts the beach) is one of the most famous (and crowded) surfing playgrounds on the planet, and consists of five individual surf breaks that stagger south, parallel to the I-5 freeway. The most famous of these is Lower Trestles (a.k.a. “Lowers”), which features a well-formed cobblestone reef ideal for summer south swells. To get to the water, it’s a lengthy trek through a sizable valley alongside the San Mateo Creek, which can feel worlds away from the bustle of Southern California.
Waikiki, South Shore of Oahu, Hawai’i
As the birthplace of modern surfing (and the godfather of the sport, Duke Kahanamoku) Waikiki and its neighboring towns are littered with surf spots for all experience levels. Unlike the thunderous, big-wave winter season on the North Shore of Oahu, summertime on the South Shore is more consistent, but also features softer, peeling waves that are perfect for beginners. While in the water, expect to contend with throngs of experienced surfers and landlubbers alike. And if you’re new to surfing, always defer to the local Hawaiians on matters of etiquette.
Cape Kiwanda, Pacific City, Oregon
With a backdrop of cliffs and jutting rock formations and a variety of exposed reef and beach breaks, the Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area — located less than 100 miles west of Portland — has been the unofficial home of the Pacific Northwest’s faithful surf tribe for decades. In early fall, storm systems send swell shoreward, but the air and water temperatures don't dip into teeth-chattering territory just yet. In September, Pacific City hosts the annual Cape Kiwanda Longboard Classic, the longest continually running surf contest in the Pacific Northwest, which now includes a post-surf Brewfest on the sand.
New Smyrna Beach, Florida
In the world of surfing, the notion of solid waves in Florida can be met with a yawn. But the truth is that the Sunshine State holds a collection of consistently fun and occasionally solid surf breaks, evidenced by the legions of professional surfers who cut their teeth chasing storms from Jacksonville to Miami and into the Gulf of Mexico. New Smyrna Beach, one hour northeast of Orlando, holds the most consistent waves in Florida. Fall is a period of heightened activity for both tropical storm systems and cold fronts, which send long-period groundswell to the sandbanks of Florida’s Atlantic Coast.
Freights Bay, Barbados
Located on the south coast of Barbados, the bay shelters surfers from winter trade winds but welcomes waves around the South Point Lighthouse. The result is the longest left-hand wave on the island, offering extended rides best suited for longboards. But when the swell is over six feet, which happens regularly during the winter months, the wave becomes hollow, making it an ideal spot for high-performance surfing.
Surfer’s Beach, Eleuthera, Bahamas
Down the road from Gregory Town’s pineapple farm, and a short drive and ferry ride from quaint Harbour Island is Surfer’s Beach. Similar to Freights Bay, Surfer’s Beach offers respite from Old Man Winter in the form of long, playful lefts, which have attracted American expats since the 1970s. The northeast-facing beach is a magnet for swell coming from just about any direction. The inside section breaks fast over a mixed sand and reef bottom, which is visible through gin-clear water.
Cape Hatteras, North Carolina
With over 150 miles of tapering coastline and sandbars that jut out into the Atlantic Ocean, North Carolina’s string of barrier islands known as the Outer Banks is peppered with world-class surf breaks. While autumn and winter might bring the heaviest nor’easter swells to the Outer Banks, spring is considered the most consistent due to the seasonal interaction of the Labrador Current and the Gulf Stream, which collide just off Cape Hatteras. Additionally, the elbow-like angle of the Cape allows it to pick up open ocean swell from multiple directions.