Florida surfs. Plain and simple. Central Florida may be the land of theme parks, but the best rides are found along its coasts. Plenty of great waves for all skill sets are to be found from Ponce Inlet to Sebastian Inlet. Throw in a few hurricane fueled rollers and you’ll think you were…well, somewhere with fantastic waves and primarily sand bottoms so that you pay less for the inevitable wipeout. So grab your board and your stoke and head to these prime spots for a shred filled day in the water.
This quaint town of just over 26,000 residents is a true surf haven. It is bookended by two state parks to the north and south, Smyrna Dunes and the Canaveral National Seashore, respectively. It combines a laid back vibe with a variety of waves, which merited it the number five spot amongst the Best Surf Towns in America as ranked by Surfer Magazine.
This is the northernmost reach of New Smyrna proper and widely considered the most consistent break in the state. It’s a beach break that can handle a variety of directional swells as well as provides multiple breaks, which allows surfers to spread themselves along a long stretch of beach. The clincher is that it is a virtual guarantee that the waves are better amplified here than elsewhere. They’re punchy waves that offer plenty of zip and launching points for aerials. The closer you come to the jetty, the bigger the waves, typically.
The inlet does possess a few weaknesses. Due to it being a beach break with multiple peaks, you’re often in for a quick, intense ride, rather than a long line. After a foot or so overhead, the inlet is maxed and you’re looking at nothing but closeouts if you’re even capable of fighting through the wash. Any mention of the inlet requires a mention of the sharp-toothed, finned kinds that patrol its waters. They’re present, always. Accept it.
At the southern extreme of New Smyrna is Bethune Beach, otherwise known as Turtle Mound. It’s a more tranquil setting where condos have given way to houses and driving is no longer allowed on the beach. This locale specializes in a south swell and can support larger waves than its northern kin. It’s another beach break but deepens much more quickly than the inlet. A more secluded wave, you’re much less likely to deal with two biggest in-water burdens provided by other humans, overly aggressive locals and rash guard sporting tourists who will either injure themselves or you.
This spot is subject to the typical doldrums of surf life that only the inlet seems to magically avoid (largely). Parking is limited, however this could also be viewed as a strength as it certainly restricts the crowd size. A park with bathrooms and grills rounds out the necessities for a great day of surfing.
On the north side of the intracoastal mouth from New Smyrna and south of Daytona lies Ponce Inlet. It’s another small beach town with a wave that packs a punch. Ponce boasts a legit right that peels off of the jetty. It provides longer lines than the New Smyrna side and can handle a bigger swell. South swells are when Ponce Inlet truly shines.
Being a point break, the best waves concentrate themselves in a specific spot with crowds and machismo resulting. The line up can get a bit tense, however other good waves are to be found a bit north of the jetty when you’re looking for a surf without the unnecessary bravado.
The mention of this Florida surf mecca brings foremost to mind two things; legendary shredders, think Slater, Hobgoods, Lopez, and more, and dredging.
‘It’s just not the same’ is the oft quoted opinion of various surfers regarding this wedge that peels directly off the pier. Dredging certainly has changed the wave. But caution is always recommended within the nostalgic and protectionist world of surfers. Yesterday was always better and surfers are notoriously bad at sharing. The wave still cranks. Also, it provides a few smaller breaks just north of the pier.
This beach break is just north of the inlet. It requires a larger groundswell but its shallow inside bar will jack up some nice, hollow barrels. When it’s good, the crowds arrive. However, a number of good peaks allows everyone to find their own slice of surf heaven.