For watersports lovers, the Outer Banks is a pure utopia! The great barrier islands have you covered, whether kayaking, parasailing, kiteboarding, stand-up paddleboarding, or scuba diving.
For all of you surfers out there, you probably already know that the area abounds with unique surf opportunities, but just in case you didn’t, below are four of the very best surfing spots on the Outer Banks.
One of the most revered surf breaks on the East Coast; the S-Turns can be found on the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, just north of Rodanthe, where N.C. 12 juts in an s-curve just before a large group of houses.
This is where you’ll find many surfers taking advantage of the unique conditions. This surfing honey hole is exceptionally crowded during the summer but well worth the battle.
You are permitted to park your car along the side of the road and carefully cross over the dunes to access these coveted waves. S-turns are often very busy with surfers, board boarders, and photographers who come here to enjoy and witness superb wave conditions.
Location: Just before entering the town of Rodanthe, if you’re heading south on NC 12
Also known as the “Old Station,” located at milepost 2 in Kitty Hawk, the Laundromats (as the locals call it) is an area known for its consistent waves.
This area is especially thunderous after a good storm. The rough waves of this favorite local break close to the shore, possibly lending to its name, after sending surfers to the wash.
Breaks here offer surfers the option to go both left and right with waves that are surfable during both low, high, and the period in-between.
Location: 3840 North Virginia Dare Trail, Kitty Hawk, NC
This famous pier in Nags Head is one of the Outer Banks’ oldest surfing favorites, as Nags Head vacationers and locals alike have been paddling out here since the 1940s.
As with any pier, the friction the water creates against the pilings produces better wave conditions. Jennette’s is the only concrete pier on the Outer Banks. As a result, the surf is typically very consistent and great for beginners.
Many local surf instructors choose this location to hold their lessons. There’s an expansive overflow parking lot and a rather lovely bathhouse. If you get hungry, Dune Burger is well-within walking distance of the structure.
Location:7223 S Virginia Dare Trail, Nags Head, NC
Old Lighthouse Jetties
This surfing hot spot is where the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse used to stand before moving further inland in 1999.
The jetties, built to protect the lighthouse where it used to stand, are still in place and provide ideal water conditions for riding waves.
Beware of the rocky jetties! Be cautious as this would be a dangerous spot for beginning surfers to attempt to conquer.
Location: 46379 Lighthouse Road, Buxton, NC
Your Surfing Related Questions Answered
Do I need to have a wet suit to go surfing?
Yes and no. If you paddle out between the period of late June to early October, you’ll be comfortable wearing nothing more than a bathing suit. However, if you venture out during the winter/spring months, cold weather swim apparel is encouraged and pretty much required.
When is the best time to go surfing on the Outer Banks?
In our opinion, fall is the best time of year to catch a wave off the coast of North Carolina. Swells during the autumn are typically more significant than those found during the summer months. Plus, the water is reasonably warm for most of the season.
Can I still go surfing if the red flags are up on the Outer Banks?
It is illegal to be in the water when the red flags fly!
May I surf close to a fishing pier?
You can paddle out near a pier, but it isn’t recommended. You don’t have to be a genius to acknowledge that you're likely to get hurt if you run into a wooden or concrete pole protruding from the ground. Compounding that, you’ve got a recipe for disaster.
Waves come and go; that is what they do. So check the local surfing reports before you head out or drive up and down the beach road until you see something that catches your eye.
No matter how you find your perfect wave or where you decide to go, your Outer Banks vacation will not disappoint. Because even if you don’t catch your dream wave, the time in the water on the beautiful Outer Banks is no time wasted, that is for sure.