Surfing is indelibly linked to summer, but as every surfer knows, there’s no rulebook that says the fun ends with the season.
In fact, “shoulder season” can mean more volatile weather patterns, bringing with it wind and—best of all—bigger waves. It’s the time of year when the normally mellow East Coast can deliver barrels worth getting excited about and a certain segment of the population greets hurricanes with open arms.
We thought we’d do our part to help buck the summer stereotype and serve up a few strips of sand where the passage of Labor Day is a good thing. (Also see: The World's Most Surprising Surf Spots.)
1. North Carolina’s Outer Banks
As exposed to the Atlantic as you can get on the East Coast, the OBX (as the ubiquitous bumper stickers say) is considered by many to have the best surfing in the region. The fall storm season means not only hurricanes, which attract their own rafts of wave lovers, but swell from all directions, delivering surfers perfect barrels off of these thin strips of sand in the middle of the ocean.
2. Central and North Florida
Florida’s Cocoa Beach on the “Space Coast”—i.e. near Cape Canaveral—is home to Kelly Slater and Ron Jon Surf Shop, one of the largest in the world. However, except for a few standout spots, surfing in the area is widely considered spotty when compared to the West Coast and Hawaii. It picks up, though, around October, which happens to be peak hurricane season.
3. California’s Central Coast
The party’s in SoCal in the summer, but come October the big peaks and swells start hitting further north, from Ventura County up to San Francisco. If giant man-eating waves are your thing, this is also when they start breaking at Maverick’s after their summer vacation.
4. Oahu’s North Shore
True, the word “fall” doesn’t quite mean the same thing in the tropics, but that doesn’t mean we can’t give a shout out to surfing’s Mecca. The North Shore’s famous winter swells actually start hitting in late fall, and—if you want to get technical—the main event, the Triple Crown of Surfing, wraps up before the winter solstice.