Florida is known as a haven for all water sports but the best surfing beaches are found on the northeast coast between Jacksonville and Cocoa Beach where the breakers roll in from the Atlantic. Here, the business of surfing is taken seriously, with regular, planned activities and surf schools where you can learn the art of surfing and join the fun with the regulars.
Here are some spots in the Jacksonville area and south to St. Augustine, that are popular with the locals and known as the Jax beach area.
Micklers Landing Crossroads – One of the deepest beaches in the area, which was used by German U-boats on the hunt for allied shipping during the Second World War.
Large surf breaks make it ideal for surfing but it should be cautioned that it is only for experienced surfers of intermediate to advanced level.
Perkners Hole – Around Ponte Vedra, there are seven miles of beautiful surf beaches. This elite spot is used mostly by the upper crust locals, but the incoming mid tides are good for all levels of surfers. Be careful of the current and don’t surf alone.
Mayport, the Poles – Just south of Mayport Naval Base, Seminole Beach, accessed through Jacksonville’s Hanna Park is one of the busiest and most popular surfing areas. Busy from September to April, the crowds are sometimes unmanageable, but the surf is good for both long and short boarders from intermediate to advanced. To avoid crowds, move further south along the beach.
Huguenot Beach – Another spot frequented mostly by locals who don’t much like visitors, but if you keep to yourself, there are ideal surfing conditions for all levels.
Anastasia Island – Reached across the Bridge of Lions from St. Augustine, the island is both a residential area on the leeward side and a wonderful tourist and surfing area on the ocean side. Head for Anastasia State Park, a pristine area of beautiful beaches and protected marine and wildlife. Park admission is $3.25 and there are also camping facilities. It is safe for all levels of surfers and mid tide is usually the best time.
Come here if you are not too experienced as there are lifeguards and park rangers and plenty of people to help if you get in trouble.
Surfing Schools Florida
St. Augustine Surfing Academy offers private and group sessions for all levels and all instructors are CPR certified. Private lessons cost $55 per person for a two-hour lesson. Groups up to five people cost $35 per person for a two-hour lesson and one to three day surf camps are also offered. For more information, call (800) 822-8391.
Cocoa Beach Surfing School is unique in that it is the only surfing school in the U.S. that teaches, not just in the ocean, but with the largest wave machine in the United States. Students can choose to learn to surf in a controlled environment at Walt Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park. The surfing lessons take place in the morning before the park opens to the public. You put what you learn to the test because the next stop, of course, is the ocean at Cocoa Beach where the Atlantic waves surge onto the beach. At the Cocoa Beach Pier, you can see a few surfers catching a wave almost any time of daylight. You may prefer to take your training in the ocean.
Craig Carrol, the owner-instructor, enjoys teaching beginners. He is a former member of the U.S. National Surfing Team. The school offers both private and group lessons and a children’s summer surfing camp. The staff includes members of the World Champion 1996 National Surfing Team and East Coast Champion surfers.