From the mountains to the beach, the geography of our state is a source of pride for North Carolinians. Just as the mountains define the culture of those in the western part of the state, the water has always defined the culture of the people who live on the coast. Beach towns found along the Outer banks are full of people with a passion for the water. Some of these towns are situated in surfing sweet spots where residents are constantly watching the waves, poised to sneak in a surf session before work or over lunch.
Though North Carolina’s coast is a great place to find surf, you will not see fifty-foot waves often seen in film or television. The waves along our coast can be inconsistent. Even when incoming tropical storm systems during hurricane season or Nor’easters during the winter and spring send better conditions, surfers need to stay vigilant and be in the know of where to find the good wave. When you know what you are looking for surfing the east coast is rewarding for beginners and seasoned professionals alike.
Let's get to know just a few of North Carolina’s surf towns!
The small Outer Banks town of Buxton is located on Hatteras Island. This is also the home of Natural Art Surf Shop, a board and t-shirt shop that popped up in 1977 out of a renovated burger stand. A coastal resident and our friend from NC Maritime Museum at Beaufort, Ben Wunderly says that though that waves are inconsistent, Hatteras Island is a known place by surfers along the east coast as one of the best spots to catch good waves in the region.
A short drive from Wilmington, Wrightsville Beach is a popular surf spot for college surfers from nearby University of North Carolina at Wilmington and lifelong residents of the coast alike. Many high school students across the state flock to UNCW excited by the idea of taking up surfing in between classes. Wrightsville Beach even hosts a number of annual surfing and SUP competitions like Carolina SUP Surf Am and the Carolina Cup!
Kill Devil Hills
Listed among the 10 Best Surf Towns in Amerca by Surfer Magazine in 2017, Kill Devil Hills is a picture-perfect Outer Banks town. Head to Avalon Pier or the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse for good surf, says surfer.com’s profile on the town.
Nag’s Head is one of the more populated towns along the coast. Surf shops began popping up here in the 1960s and has led to the growth of a devoted surfing community. Nags Head Pier is a popular destination for surfers to flock to in search of more consistent waves along the twelve-mile stretch of beach. A true surf town, Nag’s Head is full of surfers so if you ask your local restaurant owner or make a friend on the street where the good surfing conditions are they are likely to be able to point you in the right direction.
Just look at this photo from the Outer Banks History Center!
Next time you head to the coast drop-in to the local surf shops of these towns to learn more!