Surf’s Up: A South Florida Guide to Surfing

Surfing is elemental. A sport that doubles as a spiritual pursuit, surfing is a rhythmic dance on unbridled power. It has a way of stripping one down; when it’s just you and the ocean, the vastness of the blue horizon can be a daunting experience. You’re exposed, a solitary entity sitting at the edge of earth’s largest natural environment waiting for the culmination of innumerable forces that conspired hundreds of miles away to break its undulating energy onto you, alone with your thin slice of foam and glass. There’s a universal feeling within the surf family when cresting the dune, spying those first rollers of a set off in the distance: heart rates quicken—it’s on.

Florida Surf - Pursuit of the Present

   A practice of timing and positioning, competition is internalized. Each ride is a microcosm of action and reaction; force versus force; the release of energy that feels like an eternity, when in reality, 30 seconds is a hell of a ride—especially by South Florida standards. Surfing has the ability to overtake a life in an endless pursuit of finding that next ride. It’s more than a lifestyle, rather a way of life. Cliché, yes, but in practice absolute. It’s a pastime that dates back millennia—the Sport of Kings—and a pop culture phenomenon that’s continued for decades.  

   For those who surf, they get it. For those who don’t, they probably never will. You paddle out alone; ride the wave alone, unless some kook drops in on you; and wipeout alone, pulling at the water while tumbling below the surface. The story has always been a big part of the lifestyle, a nonchalant bragging of one’s exploits at the bar as board shorts dry and seawater seeps from your sinus. The tale of that ride of your life carries on for decades, always a little longer, a bit bigger each year; seasons and holidays are remembered by sessions (remember that epic swell Thanksgiving of 2006?); and broken and busted gear is saved to show your mates over a few cold ones, a tangible remembrance of how you faced down nature.

In The Blue - Florida Surfing

   Florida, and its 1,200 miles of coastline, was destined for surfing. While the waves are sporadic at best, the inconsistency has produced some of the best surfers the sport has ever known (Kelly Slater anyone?), yet the Sunshine State’s perch in the surfing pantheon is still considered by many to be lower echelon—again, lackluster surf. But Florida has had its share of historical moments, monumental sessions (hurricane Joaquin produced some epic surf in October 2015), and influential characters (Sebastian is known as the birthplace of the aerial). Here, we would like to pay a little credit to Florida surf culture.


Surfing HistoryWatery Roots

To live in the present, you need to know your past. Here’s a brief look at surf history through the ages.

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We catch a wave with local surf instructor Eric Dernick.Surf’s Up

We catch a wave with local surf instructor Eric Dernick.

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Surfboards, Handplanes and Balance TrainersSurfing Gear: Boards & More

Here we offer a few equipment picks that will help make surfing in South Florida a little bit easier.

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Surf Fit - Exercise and Diet Tips for the SurferSurf Fit: Exercise & Diet Tips

Keep yourself in top surfing form even if the swell is down with these exercise and diet tips.

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Palm Beach County Surf SchoolsPalm Beach County Surf School

Learn to surf with lessons at one of these surf schools.

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Classic Surf MoviesClassic Must-See Surf Movies

When the surf is dead but you’re still jonesing for a ride, pop in one of these surf classics and dream.

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The History of Surfing - Books of the South Florida Surfer's LibraryThe Surfer’s Library

Add to your library with these must-have books for the South Florida surfer.

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Sebastian Inlet Surf Pilgrimage - First Peak, Florida's Best Beach BreakFlorida’s In-State Surf Pilgrimage

Central Florida’s premier surf spot, Sebastian Inlet, is a surfing kingmaker and must-visit surfers’ pilgrimage.

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Surf Activism - Share the Stoke Foundation - Surfrider Foundation Palm Beach County - Surfers for AutismSurf Activism

Here are two locally based, and one chapter-driven organization that uses surfing as a means to give back.

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Pete Mendia - Professional Free SurferPro Surfer Peter Mendia Surfs the Globe

Free-surfer Peter Mendia travels the globe searching for the perfect wave, but still calls West Palm Beach home.

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For the flat days—and believe me, there are quite a few of those during the summer—keep up that base tan with these no-swell beach activities.

Yoga paddleboardingFit Palm Beach

Surfing takes a fit core. For a low impact workout, yoga offers a combination of strength, flexibility, and balance—keys to proper water dancing.

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KiteboardingRide a Kite

We ride the wind with Gael Pasquet of Kiteboarding Palm Beach.

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Paddleboarding in Palm BeachPower to Paddle

We pick up a paddle and hit the water with Chris Ellison of Epic Sessions.

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Kayaking in Palm BeachKayaking in Paradise

Take to nature with a paddle and explore South Florida by kayak. Here, we offer up a guide and pointers to kayaking in Palm Beach County.

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Snorkel Spots in Palm Beach CountyEasy-Access Snorkeling

With calm, crystalline waters, summer is the perfect time to dive into Palm Beach’s underwater world with a mask. These easy-access snorkel spots make exploring the depths a family fun activity.

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Jupiter Inlet Paddle FunJupiter Inlet District Paddle Fun

Get on the water and paddle the Jupiter Inlet District with these four unique spots to explore.

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Palm Beach Dive SpotsPalm Beach Dive Spots

Palm Beach County has spectacular dive sites. Here is a look at some with the help of PADI dive instructor Bryan Clark.

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