The Big Apple was officially introduced to the surf world in 2011 at the Quiksilver Pro New York, but the Empire State had been surfed for decades before that circus ever came to town. Although only a small portion of New York state has surfable coastline, Long Island has literally dozens of quality waves breaking in the shadow of the Empire State Building—a unique surfing backdrop if there ever was one.
The Surf: Predominantly beach breaks, with the odd point thrown in for good measure. In general, New York should be considered a beginner to intermediate surf zone.
Five Waves Worth Surfing:
- Montauk Point: There are a number of waves available in this area, and variety is always good when you are in one of the most crowded cities on Earth.
- Poles: Long when it’s big, this wave is always pretty soft, but at least the ride lasts for more than five seconds.
- Long Beach: Site of the 2011 Quiksilver Pro, this set of beach break peaks showed the world how good New York can get on an early autumn hurricane swell.
- West End: An inconsistent right wedge breaking off of a jetty, West End is one of the better spots in the area when it’s on, but can be a bit localized.
- Robert Moses: A series of beach breaks in central Long Island with Democrat Point in the distance, giving you a fair number of options—which can be a lifesaver, depending on what the swell and crowd is doing.
The Water: Taking into consideration the fact that this is a densely populated and overdeveloped area, the water isn’t as bad as you’d think. However, your barrels are still more likely to be brown than they are blue. Water temps vary greatly from summer to winter, with averages ranging from 39–73 F (4–22 C)—ouch!
The Season: Hurricane season is what you are after, and it technically stretches from June through November. Autumn is situated in smack in the middle of hurricane time, and has pleasant weather and water conditions, while winter sees long interval swells and near-freezing surface temps. Spring and early summer are pretty lame unless there is an out-of-season hurricane bearing down on the coast.
The Vibe: As one of the more densely populated stretches of coastline in the US, New York has way more surfers than it should—particularly considering the consistency and quality of the waves. That being said, crowds do have their advantages, since a hundred guys in the water makes localism pretty much irrelevant.
Things To Do: What can’t you do in the Big Apple? With museums, Broadway shows, Times Square, historical architecture, and monumental skyscrapers, New York is the city all others aspire to. Get out and explore.
Where To Stay: The other downside to New York (besides the crowds, inconsistency, and cold) is that it isn’t exactly cheap. You may not be staying at the Waldorf, but you’ll still pay a hefty sum for comfortable accommodations—although a few hostels do exist if you know where to look (try hostelworld.com or hostels.com).
What To Bring: A shortboard, a log, a fish—heck, bring whatever you want. Just bear in mind that when there isn’t hurricane swell slamming the coast, things tend to go pretty quiet and the waves can be a bit soft. Bring boardshorts if you are coming in summer and the thickest rubber you can find for winter (6/5/4 wettie plus hood, gloves, and booties might not be enough on the coldest days). Other than that, just bring a pocketful of cash—you can buy pretty much anything you want in this city.
Getting There: John F. Kennedy International Airport is one of the largest in the country, and lands you right in the middle of all the madness. US visa rules apply. Airport code: JFK.