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man surfing at an american state parkIf you like to surf, you will find no shortage of places to ride the waves in state parks.

With thousands of miles of coastline in the country and a strong surfing culture in many towns, there are plenty of destinations for beginners and seasoned surfers alike.

From the famous shores of Hawaii to Florida’s countless top spots, heading to any one of these surfing destinations are sure to deliver some memorable rides.

We found the eleven best state parks for surfing, not just in typical places but in a few hidden gems too.

Map of State Parks With Surfing

Here is a map of the American State Parks covered in this post:

1. Morro Bay State Park in California

surf at morro bay state park in californiaLocation: 60 State Park Rd, Morro Bay, CA 93442

Morrow Bay State Park offers lagoons, bays, and a variety of outdoor activities. Of course, Californians seek out this park for waves with their surfboards in tow.

Access the best surfing spot via Main Street to Beach Street, turning at the rock running alongside the harbor with tons of parking right in front of the sand. Fall and winter are prime times to catch some waves in Morro Bay, with the waves the most reliable in January.

The primary break goes around the rocks to the right of Morro Rock, crashes into the sandbar, and then breaks left. When the sandbars are right, you can get a steeper ride to the north of this break. Additionally, the rock can support anything up to 6 feet in height. If you want a little privacy, you can walk around.

Morro Bay has potentially dangerous rip currents with a canal right up against the Rock that will rip you out to sea. Surfers can use this to get to the edge of the break quickly, but they should be confident in their swimming abilities just in case. Also, watch out for rocks and sharks as both take up space on this California coastline.

2. Makena State Park in Hawaii

High Angle view of Makena State Park, Big Beach, Maui, HawaiiLocation: 4670 Makena Alanui, Kihei, HI 96753

Everyone knows Hawaii is the place to go for surfing, and Makena State Park allows you the best option with lifeguards on staff. The beach allows for bodyboarding, bodysurfing, snorkeling, surfing, and swimming, so you can enjoy the water any way you wish on these sparkling blue waters. Makena houses two beaches, starting with Big Beach, which measures 3,300 feet long and 100 feet broad. Big Beach frames the waters with a stretch of white sand and lava-formed mountains in the background.

While smaller, Little Beach offers white sands, too, and a sandbar protrudes into the ocean, where the waves break gently. Dangerous shore break waves and violent rip currents are caused by high surf at Big Beach, especially in the spring and summer months and during southerly (Kona) storms.

While you can find many places to surf or windsurf on Maui, few other beaches provide good waves for bodyboarding. The coastal park’s untamed atmosphere serves as a focal point perfect for people hoping to relax. Many visitors to Maui seek out Big Beach because it is the island’s longest stretch of pristine white sand without any hotels or resorts.

3. Little Talbot Island State Park in Florida

tide coming in on the beach at Little Talbot Island State ParkLocation: 12157 Heckscher Dr, Jacksonville, FL 32226

Surf at Little Talbot Island State Park in Northeast Florida for an experience to remember. The white sands support driftwood and rock, ready to push you into the five miles of water off the beach. Never surf alone here, as they do not have lifeguards on duty. However, Jacksonville offers a year-round outdoor recreation mecca thanks to its glorious weather, including 300 days of sunshine!

Little Talbot Island, a component of the Florida State Parks system, is a tranquil oasis away from the hustle and bustle of the mainland. A popular pastime on the island includes surfing, and the best place to do it is on the northern coast. Sandy and expansive, high tide is the best time to enjoy this beach. The wave’s energizing force is enjoyable to ride any time of year.

The beach break at Little Talbot Island stays exposed, making this an option only for advanced surfers. However, those hoping to get away from civilization can surf here to forget anything else exists beyond the waves and the board. Surfers need to watch out for sharks, jellyfish and rip currents.

4. Avalon State Park in Florida

sunset over the surf at avalon state park in floridaLocation: N Hwy A1A, Fort Pierce, FL 34949

If Jacksonville sits too far north, check out Avalon State Park on North Hutchinson Island, south of Orlando on the coast. Locals know the park as a surfer’s haven lined with a coquina-shell walkway that winds through an unspoiled dune ecosystem. The Atlantic Ocean’s warm, welcoming seas and golden sands tempt you to jump in and try surfing as you draw near.

The coastline’s submerged structure generates waves that, with some practice, can be great for surfing. You will find more of the larger, “clean” waves that surfers crave if you visit the park while the tide is coming in and the wind is blowing from the west. Many surfers of varying ages and from all over the state flock to Avalon State Park on days when the weather and waves are favorable.

One should use caution as remnants from WWII create concrete obstacles both in and out of the water. Some of these hazards have been removed, but for the unwary swimmer, snorkeler, or surfer, they can be quite dangerous. Float at your own peril, as the park does not keep lifeguards on duty.

5. Mustang Island State Park in Texas

Location: 9394 TX-361, Corpus Christi, TX 78418

Some of the best surfing in Texas can be found in Port Aransas at Mustang Island State Park. Enjoy water in shades of turquoise, a regular surge, and numerous piers, jetties, and sandbars to enjoy it from. One of Port Aransas’s fastest-growing industries is the surfing industry, with options for surfers of all skill levels. However, Port Aransas’s waves and surf conditions change with the seasons and swells.

The cold fronts bring in the northeastern waves. Warmer water and less reliable waves characterize spring surfing in the area, although you can surf year-round. The island has great surf conditions for longboarding in the summer due to the warm water. However, smaller, more manageable waves are the norm, but hurricanes and tropical storms can make for massive waves and choppy seas.

6. Ecola State Park in Oregon

surf at ecola state park in oregonLocation: Cannon Beach, OR 97110

Indian Beach, in Oregon’s Ecola State Park, equips surfers with a great spot for first-timers in the water. The beach is protected from the wind, and the waves break primarily to the right. Surfers are rewarded with views of massive rock outcroppings making for an incredible experience. Due to the high volume of visitors, you should keep an eye out for kayakers and surfers when venturing into these waters.

The optimum time to go surfing is in the summer, and the finest direction of the wind is out of the east. You may find left and right beach breaks, as well as groundswells and wind, swells, here. Surfers will also find clean waves off Indian beach and can enjoy the waves year-round, although January offers some of the most surfable waves.

The best surfing conditions are in the summer, as the winds are most favorable from the east, and this location provides some protection from the gusts coming from the northwest. Both beginners and experienced surfers will find a wave they love. Also, the beach rarely gets crowded, but you still need to watch for sharks, rocks and rip currents in the area.

7. Rye Harbor State Park in New Hampshire

surf at rye harbor state park in new hampshireLocation: 1730 Ocean Blvd, Rye, NH 03870

When most New Englanders are indoors trying to survive the cold, surfing is not exactly top of mind. However, with 18 miles of coastline and multiple warm months, you can find the right condition for roving on the water. Route 1A connects many of New Hampshire’s seaside beaches, including at Ray State Park, one of the best options to bring your board.

The summers can get congested, so expect to see the locals in wetsuits off-season, including a thriving year-round surfing community. Surprisingly, winter storms produce more powerful and fruitful waves than summer ones in the northeast, adding to the adventures available at Rye and nearby Jenness State Beach. Surfers of all skill levels with westward offshore breezes.

You will find a balance of wind swells and groundswells, and the optimal swell direction is out of the east. To get the most out of it, go around midday when the tide is rising but be careful of rip currents and loose rocks. Beginners and kids will have an easy time pickup the sport along New Hampshire’s gorgeous shorelines.

8. Reid State Park in Maine

waves crash against the rocky shoreline at Reid State ParkLocation: 375 Seguinland Rd, Georgetown, ME 04548

Most surfers would not think of Maine when they picture themselves rushing over the sand on their surfboards with the sun warming their backs in pursuit of the best waves. Reid State Park, though, gives surfers the perfect location without a plane ride to Florida or California is perfect for this purpose. Reid State Park may even offer the best place to go surfing in New England, with 765 acres of coastline and a thriving local community.

Sandy beaches in Maine are often broken up by the notoriously rough landscape, except at Reid State Park. Many of Reid State Park’s dedicated surfers find the park’s rocky coastlines and other topographic elements, which set it apart from California’s beaches. The best waves are in the winter, although the state sees more summer surfers.

Griffith Head, a rocky headland above Reid State Park, makes for a popular destination for visitors looking for a bird’s-eye view of the park and the surrounding coastline, complete with surfers riding the waves and the occasional wipeout. Visitors can gaze upon several smaller islands near Damaris cove, adding to the impressive New England views.

9. Jones Beach State Park in New York

waves at jones beach state park at sunsetLocation: 1 Ocean Pkwy, Wantagh, NY 11793

The exposed beach break at Jones Beach State Park on Long Island, New York, produces very reliable surf, perfect for year-round sport. Ideally, the location offers offshore winds from the northwest as protection from the west. However, surfers will find both wind swells and groundswells, with the most desirable swell direction coming from the southeast.

In the summer, you can expect the beach to fill up with surfers of every skill level, ready to take a break from the daily humdrum of life. Although September is typically the greatest month to go surfing at Jones Beach State Park for rideable swell and mild offshore breezes. As a surfer, you should know that rip currents can be extremely dangerous in this area.

10. Island Beach State Park in New Jersey

surf by the dunes at island beach state park in new jerseyLocation: Lanoka Harbor, NJ 08734

While New Jersey may not seem like the best option for surfing, and yet the state borders the Atlantic by almost half! Island Beach State Park separates Barnegat Bay and the ocean with tons of access to the water with a surfboard. One area over on the southernmost end of the park’s bathing area keeps sailboarding and surfers separated from swimmers.

Because of the location off the coast, it’s best to surf during the warmer months. You can try surfing and windsurfing, but only in the approved location. Next, Island Beach is one of the few sites in New Jersey where you may drive on the beach, making it one of the greatest places to escape the summertime madness.

11. Presque Isle State Park in Pennsylvania

presque isle state parkLocation: 301 Peninsula Dr, Erie, PA 16505

Yes, you read that right, you can surf in Pennsylvania off of lake Erie at Presque Isle State Park, adding to the adventures available away from the ocean coast. Keep in mind, though, only specific areas allow for surfing, while most are set aside for swimming or boating. It’s close to home for many, though, as it’s only four miles from the heart of Erie, creating a whole surfing colony up north.

Presque Isle is a sand spit with a rounded tip that protrudes into Lake Erie with 3,200 sandy acres on the peninsula. If you need a break from the waves, spend your time viewing three ancient lighthouses or even scuba diving. The area offers tons to do, although it’s easy to spend all year enjoying the swells by board.

As you can see, there’s no shortage of options for surfing in state parks, and we did not even cover the state beaches! Find the park closest to you or start planning your next vacation at a surf town near you. Either way, you are in for an adventure on waves and sand with your surfboard in tow.