With over 800 islands and 2,900 square miles of emerald waters, the Florida Keys are a surfer’s paradise. If you’re looking for your next surfing adventure, strap on your board and get ready to ride some of the best waves in Florida.
If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: The Florida Keys offer excellent surfing conditions year-round thanks to consistent trade winds, fun reef breaks, and warm water temps. Top spots include Bahia Honda State Park, Sombrero Beach, and Smathers Beach.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know to plan an epic surf trip to the Florida Keys, including the best beaches for surfing, what months offer ideal wave conditions, must-visit surf shops, where to stay, and tips from the local pros.
The Best Florida Keys Surf Spots
When it comes to surfing in the Florida Keys, there are several amazing spots that attract both locals and tourists alike. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a beginner looking to catch your first wave, these surf spots offer something for everyone. Here are the top five surf spots in the Florida Keys:
Bahia Honda State Park
Bahia Honda State Park is known for its crystal-clear waters and pristine sandy beaches, making it a popular destination for surfers. With its shallow reefs and consistent waves, this spot is perfect for all skill levels.
Whether you’re looking for long rides or fast breaks, Bahia Honda State Park has it all. Don’t forget to bring your snorkeling gear, as the park is also home to some incredible underwater marine life.
Sombrero Beach is a hidden gem in the Florida Keys, offering great surf conditions and breathtaking views. The beach is located on Marathon Key and is known for its consistent waves and uncrowded lineup.
With its sandy bottom and warm waters, Sombrero Beach provides the ideal conditions for surfers of all levels. After catching some waves, relax on the white sandy beach and enjoy the natural beauty that surrounds you.
Smathers Beach, located in Key West, is a popular surf spot that offers something for everyone. With its shallow sandbars and consistent waves, it’s a favorite among locals and tourists alike. Whether you’re a beginner looking to take your first lesson or an experienced surfer looking for some challenging waves, Smathers Beach has it all.
After a day of surfing, grab a bite to eat at one of the beachside restaurants and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere of Key West.
Indian Key Fill
Indian Key Fill is a lesser-known surf spot in the Florida Keys, but it’s definitely worth checking out. Located near Islamorada, this spot offers a more secluded and peaceful surfing experience. With its sandy bottom and consistent waves, it’s a great spot for beginners and intermediate surfers.
The best time to surf at Indian Key Fill is during the morning hours when the winds are calmer and the waves are at their best.
Woman Key Fill
Woman Key Fill is another hidden gem in the Florida Keys that offers great surf conditions. Located near Big Pine Key, this spot is perfect for those looking for a more secluded and peaceful surfing experience. With its sandy bottom and consistent waves, it’s a great spot for surfers of all levels.
The best time to surf at Woman Key Fill is during the winter months when the waves are at their best.
Remember to always check the surf conditions and tides before heading out to any of these surf spots. Safety should be your top priority, so make sure to surf within your skill level and wear the appropriate gear.
Now that you know the best surf spots in the Florida Keys, grab your board and get ready to catch some waves!
When to Surf in the Florida Keys
Winter (November to February)
Winter is a popular time for surfing in the Florida Keys due to the cooler temperatures and consistent swells. The waves during this time can range from 2 to 6 feet, providing ideal conditions for both beginners and experienced surfers.
The water temperature during winter hovers around 70°F (21°C), so a wetsuit is recommended to stay warm. The Florida Keys offer a variety of surf breaks, including Long Key State Park and Higgs Beach in Key West, where surfers can ride the waves and enjoy the stunning views.
Spring (March to May)
Spring is another great season for surfing in the Florida Keys. The water temperature starts to warm up, reaching around 75°F (24°C) by May, making it more comfortable to surf without a wetsuit. The waves during spring can vary, ranging from small to moderate swells.
Popular surf spots during this time include Anne’s Beach in Islamorada and Sombrero Beach in Marathon. Surfers can expect fewer crowds compared to the peak winter season, allowing for a more relaxed and enjoyable surfing experience.
Summer (June to August)
Summer brings warm water temperatures and smaller waves to the Florida Keys. The water temperature can reach up to 85°F (29°C), providing the perfect conditions for surfing without a wetsuit. While the waves may not be as consistent or big as during other seasons, there are still opportunities for fun and enjoyable surf sessions.
Popular surf spots during summer include Bahia Honda State Park and Smathers Beach in Key West. Surfers can take advantage of the calmer conditions to work on their skills or try out new maneuvers.
Fall (September to November)
Fall is considered the shoulder season for surfing in the Florida Keys. The water temperature starts to cool down, ranging from 75°F (24°C) in September to around 70°F (21°C) in November. The waves during fall can vary, with occasional swells producing ideal surfing conditions.
Popular surf spots during this time include Curry Hammock State Park and Coco Plum Beach in Marathon. Surfers can enjoy fewer crowds and a more laid-back atmosphere, making it a great time to explore the waves of the Florida Keys.
For up-to-date information on surf conditions, tides, and forecasts, surfers can visit websites like Magicseaweed or Surfline. These websites provide valuable resources for planning a surf trip to the Florida Keys and ensuring the best possible experience in the water.
Where to Rent Surfboards and Take Lessons
If you’re planning a surfing adventure in the Florida Keys, you’ll need to know where to rent surfboards and where to take lessons. Luckily, there are several options available that cater to both beginners and experienced surfers.
Local Surf Shops
One option for renting surfboards in the Florida Keys is to visit one of the many local surf shops. These shops offer a variety of surfboard rentals, ranging from shortboards to longboards, and cater to all skill levels. Some popular surf shops in the area include:
- Key West Surf Co: Located in Key West, this surf shop offers a wide selection of surfboards for rent, as well as surf accessories and apparel. They also offer surf lessons for those looking to improve their skills.
- Islamorada Surf Company: Situated in Islamorada, this surf shop provides surfboard rentals and sales, along with a range of other water sports equipment. Their knowledgeable staff can help you find the perfect board for your skill level.
- Cocoa Beach Surf Company: Located in Cocoa Beach, this surf shop is a great option for those looking to rent surfboards while exploring the Florida Keys. They offer a variety of boards for rent and have friendly staff who can provide recommendations.
Surf Schools and Camps
If you’re new to surfing or looking to improve your skills, taking lessons at a surf school or camp can be a great option. These programs offer professional instruction and often provide all the necessary equipment. Some well-known surf schools and camps in the Florida Keys include:
- Keys Surf School: Located in Marathon, Keys Surf School offers group and private lessons for all ages and skill levels. They provide surfboards and wetsuits, making it convenient for beginners who may not have their own equipment.
- Campbell’s Surf School: Situated in Key Largo, Campbell’s Surf School offers surf lessons for individuals and groups. They have experienced instructors who can teach you the basics or help you take your skills to the next level.
- Florida Keys Surfing Association: Based in Islamorada, the Florida Keys Surfing Association offers surf camps for kids and adults. These camps provide a fun and educational experience, with professional instructors who focus on safety and skill development.
When choosing a surf shop or surf school, it’s important to consider factors such as location, rental prices, and the expertise of the staff. Reading online reviews and asking for recommendations from fellow surfers can also help you make an informed decision.
So grab your surfboard and get ready to ride the waves in the beautiful Florida Keys!
Where to Stay
When planning a surfing trip to the Florida Keys, finding the right place to stay is crucial. Luckily, there are plenty of options available to suit every surfer’s needs and preferences. Whether you prefer a luxurious hotel near the top surf spots or a surf camp for a more immersive experience, the Florida Keys has something for everyone.
Hotels Near Top Surf Spots
If you’re looking for convenience and comfort, staying at a hotel near the top surf spots in the Florida Keys is a great option. One popular choice is the Oceanfront Resort, located just steps away from some of the best waves in the area.
With stunning ocean views, spacious rooms, and a variety of amenities, this hotel offers a perfect blend of relaxation and adventure.
Another fantastic option is the Beachfront Hotel, which offers direct access to the beach and a range of water activities. After a long day of riding the waves, you can unwind by the pool or enjoy a delicious meal at their on-site restaurant.
For those seeking a more budget-friendly option, the Surfer’s Inn is a popular choice. This cozy hotel is known for its laid-back atmosphere and proximity to some of the lesser-known surf spots. It’s a great place to meet fellow surfers and share stories of your adventures.
Surf Camps and Retreats
If you’re looking to take your surfing skills to the next level or immerse yourself in the surf culture, a surf camp or retreat in the Florida Keys might be the perfect choice for you. These camps offer a unique experience where you can learn from experienced instructors, meet like-minded surfers, and enjoy the beautiful surroundings.
One highly recommended surf camp is Surf Paradise, located in the heart of the Florida Keys. They offer a range of programs for all skill levels, from beginners to advanced surfers. With experienced instructors, top-notch equipment, and a supportive community, Surf Paradise is a great place to improve your skills and have an unforgettable surfing experience.
For those looking for a more holistic experience, Surf Yoga Retreat might be the ideal choice. This retreat combines surfing lessons with yoga sessions, allowing you to connect with your body and nature. It’s a perfect opportunity to relax, rejuvenate, and find your inner balance.
Remember, when booking a surf camp or retreat, it’s important to check their reputation, reviews, and safety measures. Always choose a reputable and established organization to ensure a positive and rewarding experience.
Insider Tips from Florida Keys Surfers
Watch the Wind and Tides
One of the most crucial factors for a successful surfing session in the Florida Keys is to closely monitor the wind and tides. The wind direction and speed can greatly affect the quality of the waves. Surfers should look for offshore winds, which blow from land towards the ocean, as they help create clean and rideable waves.
On the other hand, onshore winds, which blow from the ocean towards the land, can make the waves choppy and difficult to surf. Additionally, being aware of the tide schedule is important as it can determine the size and shape of the waves.
Some popular surf spots in the Florida Keys are better at certain tide levels, so understanding how the tides affect each spot is key for a successful surf session.
Don’t Underestimate the Power of Reef Breaks
The Florida Keys are renowned for their beautiful coral reefs, and these reefs also play a significant role in the area’s surf breaks. Reef breaks can provide some of the best waves in the region, but they require careful navigation due to the potential hazards they present.
Surfers should take the time to study the breaks and be mindful of the shallow reefs beneath the surface. It is recommended to wear reef booties or surf shoes to protect the feet from sharp coral and rocks.
By respecting the power of reef breaks and taking necessary precautions, surfers can fully enjoy the unique surfing experience offered in the Florida Keys.
Respect Locals and Share the Waves
When surfing in the Florida Keys, it’s important to remember that many spots are frequented by local surfers who have been enjoying these waves for years. It is crucial to respect the local surf culture and adhere to proper surf etiquette.
This includes waiting your turn, not dropping in on someone else’s wave, and being courteous to other surfers in the lineup. By showing respect and sharing the waves, you can foster a positive surfing community and make the most of your time in the Florida Keys.
Practice Sun Protection
With the Florida Keys’ tropical climate and abundance of sunshine, it’s essential to prioritize sun protection while surfing. Wearing a high SPF sunscreen and a rash guard can help protect your skin from harmful UV rays.
Additionally, wearing a hat and sunglasses can provide additional protection for your face and eyes. It’s also important to stay hydrated and take breaks in the shade to prevent overheating. By practicing sun protection, you can enjoy extended surf sessions without compromising your health.
With consistently rideable waves, warm water, and a laidback vibe, the Florida Keys are a surf paradise just waiting to be explored. By following this guide, you’ll be ready to catch the best waves, stay safe, and have an epic surf trip in the Keys. See you in the lineup!