North Florida's Top Surf Spots

Where history and good waves collide
By
Guy Hill
Lines at the St Augustine Pier
Photo Credits
@staugsurf on Instagram

The crashing of a wave creates space for the arrival of its successor. We celebrate its gifts, rather than lament its passing. The same goes true for the places at which waves best break. North Florida’s surfing history differs greatly from its present. Dredging and storms have shifted the sands that give birth to these ephemeral delights. The locations are different, yet the waves and the joy they bring persist. Here’s where you can shred your gnar while visiting the beautiful coasts of North Florida. 

Flagler Barrel Portrait
Natural Framing
Photo Credit: @staugsurf on Instagram

 

St Augustine

Vilano Beach

This quiet beach is located just north of Historic St Augustine. It boasts a steeper drop off than most Florida beaches presenting a welcome reception for deeper, stronger swell. It does best in an east swell and a southwest wind. This is the north side of an inlet but the jetty doesn’t serve as a point break in any regard. A-frames provide both lefts and rights with the longer lines and steeper bowls being dependent upon daily conditions. 

Powerful swell at Vilano Beach
Powerful Swell at Vilano Beach
Photo Credit: @staugsurf on Instagram 

 

A Street

16 streets south of the St Augustine Pier is a stretch of beach that many North Florida rippers call their home. A Street has a famed history within St Augustine surf lore and retains its luster due to its variability. The sandbars shift, sometimes 4th street fires, at others its 10th. However, there’s always something to be found within a short stroll on the beach. 

A Street Lines
A Street Lines
Photo Credit: @staugsurf on Instagram

 

Matanza’s Inlet

Located south of St Augustine east of the state forest and national monument of the same name is a secluded wave with much to offer. The north side of this inlet produces legendary rights when it’s bringing its A-game. Time your session around an incoming tide on a long period swell and you might catch yourself telling your mates about a 25 second ride at the local pub later that night in downtown St Auggie. Even better if you do so while dressed as a pirate because weird stuff rules in the nation’s oldest city. Matanzas offers great fishing, and therefore the bitey kind. 

Flagler Beach

This true small surf-town gem has cranked up the consistency in the recent years and its young talent is thriving, because…well…there’s nothing else to do. Flagler is located 40 minutes south of St Augustine and its pier is where the waves and the groms come to strut their stuff. The key to its consistency is that it breaks when other North Florida spots don’t, supporting larger swells as well as amplifying smaller ones, and can handle a variety of swell directions. 

Aerial at Flagler Beach
High Flying at Flagler Beach
Photo Credit: @staugsurf on Instagram

 

Jacksonville

The Pier

Jacksonville’s high tide break is the pier. If you can manage, time your session with the rising of the tide to give it a bit more push. It can accommodate any of the east swells, especially when combined with a west wind to keep them clean and hold the peaks. There’s plenty of talent roaming these waters so things can get chippy in the water. Once that happens, locals tend to stick together, if you catch my drift. 

Shacked at Jax Pier
Cold Water Shacked at Jax Pier
Photo Credit: @surfcountry on Instagram

 

Mayport Poles

North of the pier and aptly named for the row of poles which stretch into the water through the heart of the break, this spot provides punchy waves via a sandbar. It’s a low tide surf spot that is well known and therefore subject to heavy crowds, but hey, it’s always good to make new friends. Most east swells are welcomed, E, NE, with the space and capability to handle the larger ones. 
 

A wonderful perspective
A Wonderful Perspective at Mayport Poles
Photo Credit: @mdayton360 on Instagram