At the Beach, Travel and Leisure — December 28, 2016 at 11:00 am

6 Great Winter Surf Spots

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winter surfing

©istockphoto/kropic

So you’re looking for a place to paddle out during the colder months. Whether you’re seeking a wild ride or a relatively mellow session, these winter surf spots prove that the ocean never goes out of season.

Black’s Beach, San Diego, California
When you’re craving big, powerful surf and a bit of splendid semi-isolation, Black’s Beach is for you. The surf here is fairly punishing, so beginners ought to steer clear. But for experienced shredders, this is one of the most celebrated spots on the Pacific Coast—perfect for short boarders.

Do be aware that this secluded stretch beneath the cliffs of Torey Pines is also a nude beach. You may run into fewer au naturel types during the winter, but San Diego is famous for its warm, sunny Januaries, so don’t be caught off guard if you get an eyeful.

Harbor Beach, Oceanside, California
San Diego’s North County is a bit more accessible and spread out than points south, and the winter really delivers: look for over head swells and a perfect mix of waves suitable for all board types and ability levels.

Bonus points: after a great session, you can head over to the California Surf Museum to get a window on the history of your favorite sport.

Cowell’s, Santa Cruz, California
Long boarders rejoice; this is your winter hotspot. Located on California’s picturesque Central Coast, Cowell’s has nice surf year long and the advantage of reduced crowding once the barometer drops—but never too far, because this is still California.

Beginners will find perfect conditions at Cowell’s, with its long-breaking waves and mellow attitude.

North Shore, Oahu, Hawaii
Hawaii’s biggest swells tend to come from November to February, and the storied North Shore is the place to experience them. More than seven miles of shore define this surf mecca, which plays host to numerous competitions during winter.

If you’ll be visiting, be respectful of locals. The whole world wants a piece of this action—imagine how it would be to have out-of-towners crowding up your own back yard.

If you want to experience North Shore’s fabled surf but feel a little out of your depth with the huge winter waves, consider holding off till summer when things mellow out.

Lido, New York
If proving your mettle in the icy waves of the winter Atlantic suits your fancy, then suit up and get out there. This stunning spot might get freezing in winter, but it’s a great place to test your toughness and experience the thrill of going head to head with the elements.

You’ll need intense focus and preparedness to make it here, but if you can, you’ll have some serious bragging rights and an experience few ever will.

New Smyrna, Florida
Don’t feel like getting in the water when there’s snow on the ground? Moving south to Florida, you’ll discover nice smooth, consistent surf and an ocean temperature that rarely drops below the 60s. As in, yes, grab your wetsuit, but with the appropriate weather protection, you’ll be fine. Winter delivers nice wave conditions to this region. You won’t be sorry you dropped in.

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