Fall Swells: The Best Autumn Surf Spots Around the Globe

Don’t rack your board just yet: Autumn is the best time to seek out some surf. Here’s why and where you should take your boardshorts or  wetsuit next.

Think the best surfing peaks in summer? Think again. We love fall surfing for a number of reasons. For starters, with the kids back in school, our favorite surf spots are way less crowded (which also means lodging costs less). For another, weather conditions bring some of the best swells. Sure, the temps may get a little chilly in some areas, but we promise the stoke will warm you right up.  

These destinations prove that seeking sweet swells is a year-round sport. 

NEW JERSEY AND NEW YORK

While it may wreak havoc further south, hurricane season makes for ideal swell in the New York and New Jersey areas. Look beyond Sandy Hook’s famous point break to Asbury Park’s grunge/punk surf scene, or to the 10 miles of preserved shoreline at Island Beach State Park. For the most reliable waves, head to the Montauk area. 

NAZARÉ, PORTUGAL

In Nazaré, Big Waves season is between October and March. The area is famous for having the biggest waves on the planet, and wave heights really climb in fall. A massive underwater canyon, strong winds, and a southwestern current, combine to produce waves that regularly exceed 50 feet in height, while the largest on record here have actually topped the 100 foot mark. As you may have guessed, this legendary surf spot is not for the faint of heart. Every year some of the best surfers in the world flock to Praia do Norte, about 60 miles north of Lisbon, for a chance at the ride of a lifetime. For those of us who are less daredevil and more spectator, you can get the best view of these monsters by posting up cliffside near the Nazaré Lighthouse. 

FLORIDA

Let’s talk stats for a second (stay with us): October and November see swell consistency as high as 47% at Cocoa Beach, up from a paltry 9% in July. That’s beyond decent, plus, this spot is prime for beginners and more experienced surfers alike. For those hunting the XL, hurricane season produces epically big waves at Reef Road in Palm Beach. 

HOSSEGOR, FRANCE

Like Nazaré, this spot also attracts some of the globe’s best surfers. Hossegor, on the southwest tip of France, routinely hosts the Quiksilver Pro France in October, as well as other major WSL circuits. The area is a swell magnet, and big-wall La Gravière is one of the most famed. Also worth checking out nearby: Moliets-et-Maa, Messanges and Seignosse. 

HAWAII

It’s not the birthplace of surfing for nothin’. Empty beaches, consistent ocean temperatures, and perfect weather all add up to fantastic fall surfing and bigger-than-big waves in many locations. The swells grow ever higher in fall, especially on the North Shore, known for insane rollers and dangerous waves. Power surfers will want to head for the massive Banzai Pipeline at Ehukai Beach Park on Oahu, while beginners will enjoy the more mellow waves on Maui at The Cove at Kalama Beach Park. 

OREGON

It gets good here in fall, when the weather, wind and swell all seem to collaborate to create exciting surf conditions along Oregon’s 362 miles of Pacific coastline. Head to established surf havens of Florence, Newport and Seaside, prized for south-facing breaks and consistent surf. Water temperatures hover between 45 and 55 degrees here most of the year, and are at their warmest in fall. 

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

It’s not news that SoCal is prized for its year-round swell, but this fall’s surf quality is poised to be better than ever with fun combo swells, clean conditions and peaky beach breaks across the area. Some of the most promising fall waves can be found at Swami’s, Zuma Beach, Malibu, and Topanga State Beach.

MENTAWAI ISLANDS, INDONESIA

This is an advanced surfer’s playground, and there’s no better spot than the Mentawai Islands: home to fast, nonstop waves. October brings the end of the dry season and powerful swells from the Indian Ocean. Go for a protected, right-hand ride with 4 Bobs or shred goofy-foot style with the Kandui Left. 

Don’t head to one of these destinations without a travel-sized Panama Jack Sport Sunscreen Lotion. Our Reef Friendly, water-resistant formula is available in SPF 30, 50 and 100.