Rhode Island surf spots deliver what many consider to be the best waves in New England. In particular, many consider the dangerous and rocky Point Judith area to be the single best location on the US East Coast.
Surfable beaches include:
- Narragansett Town Beach - southern section dedicated to surfing; typical beach break; most popular/crowded
- Scarborough Beach - northern section dedicated to surfing; typical beach break
- Goose Wing Beach - area east of the populated beach; semi-consistent break due to rocks; popular
- Matunuck Beach - west of East Matunuck State Beach; enter near the Ocean Mist; popular
Non-beach breaks offer the best waves and most consistent breaks in Rhode Island. The most popular are all situated on Point Judith in Narragansett:
- The Aves - northern most break in Point Judith; a mushy right
- East of the Lighthouse - just south of the Aves; a fair right that can connect to the Aves in epic conditions
- The Lighthouse - southernmost break; a true point break with a steep left and right; lefts can connect to South of the Lighthouse in epic conditions; rights can connect to East of the Lighthouse in excellent conditions
- South of the Lighthouse - lefts that can be fairly long
- The Ks (Quays?) - East of the breakwater that protects Sand Hill Cove; mushy left formed by the wave that passes through the gap in the breakwaters
Surfing in Rhode Island
Unlike the surf scenes in more popular places like California or Florida, Rhode Island challenges the surfer's fortitude and commitment with a pronounced seasonality that includes a small window for optimal enjoyment.
Summer is the worst time to surf. The traditionally dominant Bermuda High climate pattern steers wave-generating storm inland, and should there be a decent wave, the crowd of tourists (and, yes, even surf tourists at the rocky breaks) can make for a frustrating session.
In general, September and October offer the best surfing because this period:
- covers the end of the swell-generating hurricane season
- comes after most tourists have left
- includes the year's warmest water temperatures
But the truly committed Rhode Island surfer loves the winter and spring months. Significant storms can produce swells even greater than in the autumn, and the intrepid can find him- or herself entirely alone (but for the seals) at the prized Point Judith lighthouse break.
BE FOREWARNED: This is a great way to die. Water temperature in late winter and early spring reach close to the freezing point, and the best breaks are isolated and rocky. Seals can't really dial 911, what with their flippers and all... At a minimum, surfers should have a 6-5-4 wetsuit or, better, a dry suit. The safest approach is to convince somebody else to surf with you. (Good luck with that!)
A Note on Winter Surfing
Picture that classic image--a firm wave breaking into an offshore wind with the spray blowing back out to the ocean. Some readers might remember, laying on their boards out in the line up after they let that wave go past them, the refreshing feeling of that spray hitting their face.
It's a little different when the air temperature is in the low 20s (f) or below. In the few seconds between when that spray breaks off the lip and when it hits your face, it freezes.