Surfing In Hatteras: A Guide To The Best Spots & Local Lessons

The Best Surfing on the East Coast?

Photo: Avon Pier –
Hatteras Island

The East Coast doesn’t have a reputation for epic surf, but North Carolina’s Outer Banks has a secret: it receives pretty much any squall or swell that travels across the Atlantic Ocean, making the region a premier surf spot! In fact, some claim that the area surrounding the Cape Hatteras lighthouse provides the best wave on the entire eastern seaboard! Many of our guests enjoy paddling out to take advantage of Outer Banks surfing opportunities along the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. With expansive shorelines and sandbars jutting out into the Atlantic Ocean there are plenty of prime spots to choose from!

Cape Hatteras Beach Break

Hatteras used to have a landmark lighthouse, but that’s long gone. However, the jetties remain. Those jetties combined with the beach’s prime location north of Cape Point means it has great breaks consistently. The quality surf makes it a perfect location for surfing competition, which the beach hosts several times a year.

Parking near the beach is especially convenient for surfers because the expansive National Seashore parking lot gives beachgoers plenty of space to keep their cars for the day.

Hatteras NC Surf Lessons To Check Out

Photo Credit:

While the Outer Banks draw some of the best surfers on the East Coast, not everyone who visits knows how to hang ten. After all, everyone has to start somewhere. Nobody is born with a leash around his or her ankle. Hatteras has several surf schools where you can learn to catch a wave. Here are a few to get you started:

Surf Hatteras: A week-long destination surf camp for kids and teenagers ages 12-18 with comfortable accommodations and even a videography team.

Hatteras Island Board Sports: A surf shop that provides all the gear you need to shred including wetsuit and surfboard rentals. The surf school offers group, semi-private and private lessons. HIB also offers rentals for kayaking and paddleboarding

Real Water Sports: Surf shop in Cape Hatteras offering surf lessons and more. Coaches surfers ranging from absolute beginners to the advanced grommet. State of-the-art facility with instant access to perfect conditions for kiteboarding, surfing, and foiling.

Kitty Hawk Kites: One-stop shop for everything water sports, with locations in Nags Head, Rodanthe, Kill Devil Hills, Hatteras, and throughout the barrier islands. Experience everything from hang gliding and parasailing to kiteboarding, surfing, and kayaking.

Finding the Best Surfing Conditions

To ensure a safe and enjoyable experience on the water, always check for updates on weather, tides, and surf conditions prior to making your way to the water.

Cape Hatteras’ break changes constantly due to erosion, but northeastern swells produce a nice, long left much to the delight of goofy foot and switchfoot surfers. You’ll find the best barrels during incoming low tide.

Locals and tourists flock to Cape Hatteras because it’s constantly breaking. The storms and swell that come across the Atlantic bring great waves but watch out for the rocks and objects such as shipwreck debris that come with them. The ocean water on Cape Hatteras is consistently warmer and more clear than beaches just up the road north of Oregon Inlet. Smaller waves can be found on the coastline running east to west from Cape Point to Ocracoke Island – great for beginners.

Be sure to check out Surfline or Magic Seaweed for surf reports every day so you can maximize your time and catch the best waves. The surf reports include information about weather, swell direction and wave height. They also give a forecast for 5-7 days.

Hatteras Island Surfing Competitions

Photo credit: Pexels

The Outer Banks hosts many competitions every year, and Hatteras Island hosts the one to rule them all: The annual Eastern Surfing Association (ESA) competition.

The ESA competition selects who will represent the East Coast in national competitions. The organization is the biggest amateur surfing association in the United States and it takes pride in showcasing local talent. For example, surfing legend and entrepreneur Kelly Slater is a five-time East Coast champion.

The competition lasts a week and is separated into heats by age. Surfers and spectators come from all over the East Coast to catch the action or to be the next big thing in the surf world.

What to Do When You Aren’t Surfing

Sometimes surfing is just not feasible. Some days the weather is stormy or sometimes the water won’t cooperate and the surf is flat. Hatteras offers plenty of things to do outdoors such as horseback riding, kayaking and hiking. You can also explore art galleries and museums on those rainy days.

Hatteras Area Dining & Places To Eat

Photo Credit: harborhouseseafood via Instagram

In addition to great surfing, the Outer Banks also has plenty of great places to stay. Vacation rentals really let you soak it all in, and they provide an experience and a personal touch, unlike any hotel.

The OBX has its own Southern charm that permeates the atmosphere. It’s no secret that paddling out and surfing all day means you will work up an appetite. While you’re in Hatteras, be sure to check out the bakeries and restaurants. Here are a few to try:

Surfin’ Pig BBQ: It’s fitting that a long surf session would be followed up by a barbecue restaurant with “Surfin’” in its name. This restaurant smokes and cooks all of its regional delights onsite and the menu features a wide variety of sides and specials.

Sonny’s Restaurant: A Hatteras institution, Sonny’s has been around for more than 40 years. The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and offers a variety of dishes suited to anyone’s taste.

Harbor House Seafood: Enjoy the catch of the day with seafood sourced directly from experienced commercial fishermen on local waters. Harbor House operates as both a fish dealer and retail fish market.

A Surfer’s Paradise!

Hatteras may not be as well-known as spots in Hawaii like the Banzai Pipeline, but the reliable breaks make it the perfect spot for competitive and newbie surfers alike. No matter what your level of surf experience, you’re sure to have an unforgettable time exploring everything Hatteras has to offer.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *