5 Best Longboard Waves in America

Mod­ern surf­ing is all about huge waves, huge tubes, and huge airs. But this list is about knee high crum­blers and nose rides. Going huge may be the out­er limts of pro­gres­sion, but most of us are search­ing for the out­er lim­its of fun, and long­boards are pure fun. We’re all going to get old some day, and when we do, foam will be our friend. Here are the five best long­baord spots in America.

San Onofre

San Onofre
San Onofre State Beach is prac­ti­cal­ly the epit­o­me of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia beach cul­ture. The camp­site is home to Low­ers, arguably the best high per­for­mance wave in the coun­try, and Old Man’s, which is one of the mel­low­est waves in the area. Tres­tles and San Onofre are with­in walk­ing dis­tance but they are real­ly two dif­fer­ent surf zones. All the best long­board­ing is down around San Onofre. San O can be divid­ed into sev­er­al dif­fer­ent spots includ­ing Old Man’s, Dog Patch, and The Point. All the waves at San Onofre break slow­ly and offer long rides and easy take­offs. San Onofre is undoubt­ed­ly the best begin­ner wave in the area, but the long rides offer plen­ty of space for expe­ri­enced long­board­ers to log some tip-time.


Many con­sid­er Mal­ibu to be the birth­place of mod­ern surf­ing. Hawaii will always be cred­it­ed with invent­ing the art of wave rid­ing, but Mal­ibu invent­ed the art of style. Mal­ibu is where surf­ing tran­si­tioned from obscure sub­cul­ture to main­stream Amer­i­cana. It’s also a fan­tas­tic wave. Malibu’s First Point is prac­ti­cal­ly flaw­less. It’s a longboarder’s dream wave. Not too fast, not too slow. It’s not crit­i­cal, but it’s not a mush­burg­er either. The waves at First Point pro­vide the per­fect com­bi­na­tion of shape and speed to allow surfers to focus on one thing: style. First Point is a wave for the aes­thete. It is the home of leg­ends and future kings. It reminds us where long­board style came from, and it shows us where long­board style is going. And, the wave is user friend­ly enough that if you don’t mind shar­ing incon­sis­tent sets with three hun­dred oth­ers on a week­day morn­ing, you too can expe­ri­ence per­fect trim at First Point.


Cardiff is yet anoth­er mel­low South­ern Cal­i­for­nia reef­break. Cardiff is a slow, mushy right that breaks for about a quar­ter of a mile. It’s not quite as per­fect as Mal­ibu, but the length and speed of the waves are per­fect­ly suit­ed for long­board riding.


montauk point

Ditch Plains
You may be pick­ing up on a trend here. Yes, many of the best long­board waves are in Cal­i­for­nia. The Gold­en State is blessed with the types of swells and setups that make a wave per­fect­ly suit­ed to the nine-foot plus crowd. Most every east coast spot is good for long­board­ing most of the time, but not many spots can be con­sid­ered exclu­sive­ly or con­sis­tent­ly long­board friend­ly. Ditch Plains, in Mon­tauk, NY is one of the few excep­tions. Many old-timers say that Mon­tauk looks and feels like 1950’s Cal­i­for­nia. Mon­tauk has big cliffs and long crumbly A‑frames. It’s a con­sis­tent break that picks up swell from every angle.  If you’re won­der­ing about crowds, Mon­tauk is con­nect­ed to Man­hat­tan by train so yes, Ditch Plains gets crowd­ed. How­ev­er, if you hap­pen to score a per­fect left on a crisp crowd day you’ll under­stand why Mon­tauk has been long con­sid­ered one of the coast’s favorite anomalies.


Waiki­ki is the cra­dle of surf­ing civ­i­liza­tion. It’s not the best wave in Hawaii. It’s not even the best wave in Town. But, it is the link between the ancient pur­suit of Poly­ne­sian kings and the mod­ern sport of surf­ing. Nine­teenth cen­tu­ry mis­sion­ar­ies almost erad­i­cat­ed surf­ing from the Hawai­ian Islands. For­tu­nate­ly for us, the sport lived on in Waiki­ki, rid­ing out the tide of puri­tan val­ues before flour­ish­ing in the mod­ern era. Surf­ing Waiki­ki isn’t just fun­–it’s a pil­grim­age. It’s also a pret­ty good long­board wave. You’re not going to score any gnar points by surf­ing Waiki­ki, but it’s one of the best places on the plan­et to learn to surf, so you can most def­i­nite­ly spread the stoke around while tak­ing in a bit of history.

Your Own Beach
When it comes to long­board­ing, every beach has its day. Regard­less of where you live, chances are that swell will occa­sion­al­ly (or con­sis­tent­ly) neces­si­tate a long­board. If you live on the U.S. main­land, long­boards are a nec­es­sary part of your surf quiver. Why strug­gle in knee high mush when you can have a blast on an old log? The best surfer is the one hav­ing the most fun, and quite often, a long­board is the only way to have fun at your local spot.