East Coast Surfing: You Have Waves Over There?
June 16, 2023
With International Surfing Day coming up on June 17, the Consumer Lifestyle and Sports team has swell on our minds. I’ve been surfing on the East Coast since I was 5 years old, so I know that comes with extremely different expectations than people would typically think when they picture “the beach.” Through mainstream media and movies, surfing is positioned as an activity that is done in tropical places like Hawaii and Southern California, with crystal clear water and an amazing sunset. While we may be without the iconic sunsets, The East Coast is home to underdog surf spots that can usually match any California wave, pound for pound. The different clients we work with on the West Coast are appreciative to have a team that stays in the know on the industry and understands the California scene and lifestyle while being based in the heart of NYC.
East Coast surfing is somewhat seasonal depending on your skill and commitment level. A popular question that comes up is: Do you even have waves over there? The short answer is: Yes! The reason for this question is the Mid-Atlantic has dramatic seasonal changes compared to the West Coast. Most visitors to the East Coast tend to come during the summer months when the weather is beautiful, and tourism is in full effect. What they don’t realize is that in these summer months is when the swells become almost nonexistent leading into the August hurricane season. As the season wraps up and folks leave their summer homes to get back to work and school, the ocean begins churning and the surf forecast begins lighting up for the Fall season.
The East Coast hurricane season wraps up in November, but the ocean continues producing consistent swell due to the winter weather patterns. Surfers chase winter storms from Florida all the way up to Nova Scotia, tracking them along the way and knowing exactly where to be when the swell is going to be at its best.
The prep work that is done for these winter surf sessions is not as easy as throwing sunscreen on and picking out your favorite bathing suit to wear that day. A typical morning session for an East Coaster can and most likely will include: shoveling your car out of the driveway, trekking in knee-deep snow down to the water’s edge, avoiding frostbite (before you even enter the water) and changing out of your wetsuit, outside in freezing temperatures.
So, to answer: do you even have waves over there?
Yes, some of the best, depending on the season and swell. Unfortunately, the beach is not an ideal spot to hang out when temperatures are frigid, but that’s when you tend to get the best swells. The ocean is typically flat all summer long when tourists are on the beach staring at the ocean. As soon as everyone leaves and temperatures begin to drop along the coast…the real show starts!
Deep in the winter months on the East Coast, every surfer is dreaming about not having to put their wetsuit on and paddling out in 70-degree water. Now, with the influx of new wave pool technology, surfers now have an additional option to get some bareback sessions in without having to head south, or even out of the country.
After Kelly Slater brought surfing’s global elite to compete in Long Beach, NY at the inaugural Quiksilver Pro New York in 2011, the East Coast had an amazing showing where the weather and conditions lined up perfectly to showcase East Coast surfing to the whole world. This event quickly ended any small talk about surfing not existing around these parts, and more outdoor enthusiasts realized surfing can easily be a hobby for someone living in the tri-state area. The buzz from that contest continued for the better part of the decade and now New York City has a top of the line wave pool in its backyard at the American Dream in New Jersey.
A wave pool is a perfect example of a novelty wave, a wave that is not going to be the best wave of your life perhaps, but a super fun wave that you can only get there. Wave pools also offer cold water surfers a chance to get out of their wetsuits and stretch out, whether they are prepping for a surf trip to South America, or just really need to shake off the mid-winter rust off.
New novelty waves are popping up more and more on the East Coast as surfers look for various ways to keep themselves entertained and loose in between big swells. An off the cuff novelty wave that is worth checking out if you are unaware is a “Ferry Wave.” Taken to the mainstream recently by New Jersey’s own Ben Gravy, a ferry wave is exactly what it sounds like. As large ferry boats shuttle commuters back and forth from Manhattan to New Jersey, they supply the nearby beaches around the dock with a surfable wave that you can catch when…well you just have to check the ferry schedule. Here is a recent video of Ben catching eyes from both those on land, and on the boat.
The BIGGEST & Best Ferry Wave in History – Ben Gravy
Enjoying the outdoors is a major passion for the CLS team, with different team members bringing specific expertise to the table based on their passions, our team helps protect our environment so we can continue to do the things we love, and for me, that’s surfing here in the Northeast.