Ocean Surf Spots:
When choosing a surf spot for a quick weekend trip, a week long surf camp or a 2 week surfari, this page will lead you to the places I have scored the most waves, had the most fun and can’t wait to go back to.
I’ll recommend a few options for different surf breaks in the area’s, Surf Shops I like, and a few options for accommodations.
ALWAYS surf within your limits and check the conditions and hazards. Somewhere that is fun, and easy 95% of the time can turn into an experts only or impossible place to surf during large swells or swirling currents.
WHEN IN DOUBT ASK A LOCAL.
Ocean Spots within 5-7 hours driving from Montreal:
We are talking East coast! New Hampshire and Maine. Half a day’s drive will get you to some great surf spots. I’ll break them down by state and location below but in general the east coast is a great way to spend a long weekend.
I love the average New England surf with nice 3 foot waves, sandy beaches, good food and friendly people. Throw in good prices in the off season (May, 1st half of June, September and October) and you have yourself a great few days away.
The waters cold (April and May can be deceptively cold make sure your ready), the surf is unpredictable (nothing Magic seaweed or Surfline can’t fix), but the beaches are nice, and let’s face it: Most of us can’t go to California for a 3 day weekend.
Before May- There can be consistent waves but the water is COLD. Freezing cold. Ensure that you bring or rent an adequate wetsuit.
May and June- It is a good time to go visit Maine and New Hampshire as it is just before the high season, and those months can have fairly consistent waves, and the water is starting to warm up. The water will still be cold though, so make sure to check ahead and bring your wetsuit or rent accordingly. The air might be 20 degrees, but the water temperature can vary depending on the direction of the swell and currents.
July and August- Highest of high season. Think traffic, hour wait times for restaurants, and no vacancy. Not my favorite time to visit, and the surf in often flat.
September, October and November- September is my favorite time to go to the east coast. Check the forecast as sometimes the storms which bring great surf come a bit closer to shore then you would like. They do get hurricanes at this time of year so keep that in mind. Hurricane surf is dangerous and unpredictable even for experienced surfers. Hurricanes aside, if one happens to pass by well offshore, it will send amazing waves to the east coast.
The closest spot is a 5 hour drive south east! Hampton Beach is the closest option and with relatively quiet off seasons in April, May, September and October you can find a decently priced room. Forget July, and August, it’s REALLY busy and there is not much reliability in terms of waves.
In Hampton check out Cinnamon Rainbows for a huge selection of new and used surfboards at great prices. Need rentals or lessons? They have you covered there as well. Want to try SUP? The have free demo nights throughout the spring, summer and fall.
Lobster, Lobster rolls, Lobster stew, white sandy beaches, friendly people, rolling waves in Ogunquit… Doesn’t get much better then Ogunquit and Wells. Sure there are spots in between Hampton and Wells such as Rye, Long sands, Short Sands and a bunch of others but no beach is quite like Ogunquit.
It’s 5 1/2 hours from Montreal by car, has more motels, hotels and B&B’s then you could imagine and in the off season (anytime aside from Mid June through Labor day) it has great prices on accommodations by the beach starting at around $60-$70 to Motels off the Main Street starting at $39. Even the budget options are clean, and usually have comfortable beds.
There’s a few shops and locations in Maine but the shop of choice for 95% of my personal gear is Wheels n Waves in Wells Maine. They have the best service (Vic and Bob) and by far the best prices on new surfboards on the east coast. Great selection of boards picked for quality not markup, great wetsuits, and a really great shop overall. Go there.
Once you decide you want to fly away for a few days or weeks of surfing you start to open up your options and they really are endless. Surfing has exploded world wide to the point that everywhere with half decent waves will have a rental shop, and probably someone offering to teach you.
You can score great waves all around the globe and the biggest deciding factor is often budget and time. I will make a few recommendations of places I love to go to but I would urge you to take some time to plan your trip
To rent or to bring your board? This is a question I get often. Personally, as a rule if I am flying, I rent. Driving, I bring my own. Flying with a surf board is dangerous for the board, difficult to bring on or in the taxi, and airlines may refuse the board at the airport (bad if your going, but a disaster if your coming home) and most airlines will charge between 75$ and 150$ each way.
You can often rent a board for a week for between 100$ and 150$, AND if you ask, most rental places will allow you to swap boards depending on the conditions which is AWESOME.
What to do with your stuff while you surf? It’s no secret that thieves will see you walking with your bag, and surfboard, and KNOW you will be in the water for a good amount of time. Leave anything of value in the hotel, ensure your rental car looks empty (put everything in the trunk, and don’t stand in the parking lot with a stuffed trunk open, try to be discreet). What about the car key? Room Key, and the 20$ for apres surf beers?
I always bring a couple of zip lock bags and layer them up. One will not be enough! Use two and then wrap them in another grocery bag or something. This is why it makes sense to spend the extra 10$ for the board shorts with the zipper pocket.
Where do I Like to travel for Surfing:
California!!! I love California. Between San Diego and LA there are about 20 world famous surf spots. Just do yourself a favor, fly to California, rent a car and explore this area. There are breaks for all skill levels and shops will steer you in the right direction. I like staying in Oceanside, which sits roughly halfway between San Diego and LA, and is surrounded by world class surf spots. Rent your gear from Real Surf and say Hi to Shawn.
Barbados!!! Friendly people, hot water, nice combination of reef and beach breaks, and not too hard on the budget. Go visit. It’s great.
Places I always visit:
Sand Dollar Cafe at Dover beach. Say hi to Ann for me! Order the fish of the day plate and a few rum punches or ice cold banks beers. Hand out with locals, and don’t ask why they drink Guiness before leaving ;).
Mount Gay Distillery. That bar is awesome. Closes at 5, so go for your mid afternoon drinks.
Roundhouse Cafe in Bathsheba, overlooking Soupbowls. Great food. Not cheap but excellent view of the surf and you will eat well.
The people are friendly, so go ahead and talk to them in the line up or while they are waxing their boards. They will let you know of any hazards and any quirks of the different spots.
Numerous breaks are found on the south west coast like Freights, Brandons, St Laurence Gap, which are awesome for beginner, intermediate and advanced surfers.
On the east coast you have Soup Bowls at Bathsheba which is a world class pro break. Not really suitable for the average surfer and I’d recommend going with a local due to the shallow reefs and heavy waves.
Here are a few of my favourite spots. As always, use caution, Talk to the locals. Remember, the ocean can change within a few hours, an easy break like freights can become very hazardous depending on the swell and currents.