· Galveston Island, Texas
Everything’s bigger in Texas, except the waves. Though Galveston isn’t your traditional surfing hotspot, this island off the Texas coast produces small waves almost year round. With a sandy bottom, warm water and plenty of room to spread out, it’s an ideal beginner surf spot. Several local shops offer board rentals and surf lessons and being less than an hour from Houston, it’s a great family day trip. Or rent on of the hundreds of vacation homes on the island and make a week of it.
· Folly Beach, South Carolina
This popular beach vacation destination lies just outside of Charleston. Folly Beach is home to a few miles of surf spots including The Washouta favorite break for the more experienced surfers. The novice wave rider can paddle out almost anywhere else along the beach and find suitable beginner waves. Be sure to check the pier—there’s usually good surf on both sides, but the water is off-limits to surfers during peak summer hours so go early or catch a sunset session.
· Tofino, British Columbia
If there is a cold water Waikiki, it may be Tofino. This drop-dead gorgeous stretch of coastline in Canada is a surfer’s dream, even if it is a bit chilly. With a good wetsuit and booties (available for rent at any of the town’s surf shops) you’ll forget all about the cold water and be swept away by the fun waves and incredible scenery of mountains, islets and temperate rain forest. Tofino is a tourist town so you’ll have no shortage of quaint places to stay right on the beach. You’ll be sipping hot coffee by the fire while watching the waves. Try the Wickaninnish Inn for a luxury surf front retreat.
· Mondos, California
Located in the tiny community of Faria Beach, this is one of California’s most beginner friendly waves. The toughest part about your day will probably be climbing down the rocks to the beach—after that it’s smooth sailing. Waves break far out and then slowly roll to shore creating long, predictable and relatively gentle rides. Bring your towel and a lunch because you may want to stay all day. Mondo’s is about two miles north of Ventura or about one and a half hours north of Los Angeles although it feels world’s away. The best way to experience Mondos is to rent one of the beach homes overlooking the waves—then surf to your heart’s content all week.
· Pacific City, Oregon
Kiwanda Cove is a breathtaking setting that is popular for weekend getaways, hang gliding and, of course, surfing. This area is perfect for the beginner surfer who doesn’t mind donning some rubber to stay warm. The waves are soft and rolling and there are no big rocks to worry about. Your best bet is to visit in the summer when waves are smaller, warmer and better for learning. After your surf lesson warm up by hiking the monster sized sand dune at the north end of the beach and enjoy the views from the top.
Even though your schedule or budget may not allow for a tropical surf getaway this year, don’t let that stop you. Check out one of these nearby beginner surf spots and give surfing a try. You’ll be hanging ten before you know it.
Surfing at Mondos
About the author: Matt Thomson is the founder of Wavecation.com, a portal that helps both beginner and experienced surfers find the best surf vacation rentals and beachfront hotels around the world. Basically Wavecation shows exactly how close you'll be to the waves. We surfed with Matt in Costa Rica recently, and now he's graciously sharing his wisdom.
[Photos: Koreski, Matt Thomson]