Surfing the ocean waves is surely one of the most exciting sports. It inspired a whole sub-culture and also produced sub-genres — windsurfing is the best known and can be easier. Enthusiasts usually have a favorite beach, and they also accumulate a lot of expensive gear which they need there but not at home. To help you surf, we provide a guide to the best destinations across the US, plus the storage options they offer for your equipment.
Whichever surfing destination enthusiasts choose, they want to use their own board, a very personal possession that must be cared for as it is sensitive to heat and damage. You could put one on the wall at home — if your family allows it! — but many serious fans own several. And boards for windsurfing, which may be enjoyed in a wider variety of places and weathers, can be larger. They come with sails too, while kitesurfing, stand-up paddle boarding, bodyboarding and the newbie wingsurfing also need extra gear. A self storage unit is a great place for all your surfing equipment — pick it up from there as you head to the beach.
To boost or to kick-start your life riding the ocean, we look at the surfing equipment you need and the best ways to store it, including the ideal sizes of storage units. We then present our top 10 favorite surfing spots in the US, scattered across the country’s coastlines to help you find one near you. Although some are true big wave paradises, not everyone will be able to ride a 30’ high ‘barrel’! Fortunately, the sport’s other sub-genres can be enjoyed by a wider range of people.
The gear you need and how to get it to the beach
Regular surfboards — or ‘shortboards’ — are often between 6′ and 7½’ long and about 20″ wide, while ‘funboards,’ which are more suitable for beginners, tend to be longer. Racing ‘longboards’ and ‘stand-up paddleboards’ can reach up to 12’, while windsurfing boards may sometimes exceed that. Serious enthusiasts have at least four boards in their ‘quiver,’ their regular one for use 70-80% of the time, a backup regular board, a longer one for big waves, and a stubbier one for ‘messy’ wave conditions. Not only this, but many fans do some windsurfing or one of the other forms while they wait for big breakers, so they own equipment for that as well.
Transporting your boards in a car is fraught with difficulties. Even when they are securely tied to the roof, damage easily occurs, and they must stay in pristine condition so they don’t break under pressure when you are out on the water. Then there are the wetsuits and other equipment. To save you this trouble, it is preferable to keep your boards and other stuff near the beach. Not everybody has a holiday home near the country’s best waves, but that is where self storage can help out, keeping your gear nearby in a safe environment, ready for when surf’s up — some storage providers will even deliver it to your door.
Let self storage look after your boards
Self storage units are generally about 8’ high, so a 5’x5’ locker might be enough if you only have shorter boards, and you can stack them upright like you see in the surf shops. Sometimes even smaller units, perhaps 2’x5’ or 3’x3’, can be found. Windsurfers and longboarders, however, may require something larger, 10’ or 15’ wide, and need to attach their boards to the wall or build a special rack from wood that gives adequate support. To economize, you might be able to use a unit’s diagonals — a 5’x10’x8’ locker can accommodate a 12’ board stored between diametrically opposed corners.
To ensure their boards stay in the best shape possible, many surfers rent storage units with climate control, preventing possible damage caused by mold, mildew and salt in the air. However, small units are often located in the interior of buildings that are themselves climate-controlled, which some consider to be sufficient. Put your surfboards in specialist bags to keep dust away and to prevent scratches when you get other things out of your unit. In our guide to the US’s best surfing spots, we give the lowest rates for small units in each area regardless of whether they have climate control. Storage services where they keep your boards in a warehouse with others, and then deliver them to you on request, may cost more.
Our top 10 US surfing destinations
To really enjoy this hobby, you will need to spend time in places with good and reliable surf, but luckily you don’t have to travel to Hawaii every weekend! California may be more accessible, and Florida has spots with exciting waves to go with some regular sunbathing. Then there are renowned locations up the East Coast, as far as New England, and good waves can be found in places as diverse as South Padre Island, Texas, and even Yakutat, Alaska! There are many lists of the best US surfing destinations out there, and we give our personal favorites, plus the storage options available locally.
The North Shore, Oahu, Hawaii
Hawaii is the birthplace of modern surfing. And its third-largest island, Oahu, has a stretch coast known as the Seven Mile Miracle with massive waves that attract fans from all around the globe — the Banzai Pipeline is regarded by some as the best wave anywhere. It’s a place for pros, so pay your respects and watch with awe! Haleiwa is a local community popular with surfers, while Log Cabins and Makaha Point are other good places to ride the ocean. Storage can be found in nearby Wahaiwa, with a 5’x5’ unit renting for as little as $23 a month.
Santa Cruz, California
At Santa Cruz in 1885, three Hawaiian princes demonstrated surfing on the US mainland for the first time, and the town has since been nicknamed “Surf City” — though Huntington Beach also claims that title! The beaches here are reckoned to be some of the very best for surfing, with waves for all ability levels. In addition, stand-up paddle boarding is popular and nearby Davenport Beach is famous for windsurfing. The town’s population is more than 60,000, so finding Santa Cruz self storage is not a problem, with small-sized units renting for around $50 a month.
San Clemente, California
San Clemente, of a similar size to Santa Cruz, also has renowned beaches and its own surfing equipment manufacturers. Trestles is probably the area’s most famous surfing spot, with consistent waves, and it even gets a mention in the 1963 Beach Boys’ song Surfin’ U.S.A. The beaches near the pier are popular all year round with beginners, though challenging waves also occur. If this wasn’t enough, the town is attractive, with historic Spanish-style architecture. There are several facilities offering self storage in Santa Cruz — a 5’x5’ locker can be rented for a little over $100.
Cocoa Beach, Florida
Cocoa Beach is Florida’s most famous surfing destination, home to the East Coast Surfing Hall of Fame and the nation’s largest charity surfing festival. It may be the cradle of the professional sport in the region, but beginners also have plenty to enjoy here. The beaches near the pier are renowned for longboarding, though riders with shorter boards also have fun. The permanent local population may not be much more than 10,000, but visitors greatly swell that number. There is plenty of self storage in Cocoa Beach, with small lockers renting for $50 or less.
Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina
Our first East Coast location has a history, having seen the world’s first successful airplane flight, achieved by the Wright brothers in 1903. It is also highly appreciated by surfers who prefer quieter locations and some of the very best ‘tubes’ — the classic arching waves you can ride inside — on this side of the country. Fewer visitors come during the colder seasons, but many serious surfers prefer it that way. There are no storage facilities in this town of around 6,000 permanent residents, but 5’x5’ lockers can be rented towards Virginia Beach for less than $50.
Montauk, New York
By visiting Montauk, on the tip of Long Island, New York surfers need not feel shamed by their West Coast rivals. In addition to the expanses of beach seen on most of the East Coast, the underwater geography here, including reefs, makes for some of the best surfing around. Many water-sports styles are possible, with waves potentially appearing from several directions. The fishing is also great here, and you could always do some celebrity spotting as well! Self storage lockers of 5’x5’ and 5’x10’ sizes can be found in nearby East Hampton for around $100.
Ocean City, New Jersey
Jersey’s most famous surf town has produced some top pros in its time. Jetties help ensure consistent waves, while bigger ones — including some great tubes — can be found a bit further north. While the town counts only about 11,000 permanent residents, these are joined by more than 100,000 second-home owners and tourists in summer. Winters can be cold, and a bit low-key, but the waves are potentially better — just remember to get yourself a top-quality wet-suit! Small storage units can be found in Ocean City and also further north for around $50.
New Smyrna Beach, Florida
Waves are not huge at New Smyrna Beach, but they are highly appreciated by both experts and newbies, who can hit the surf pretty much any day of the year. Sure, the town has a dubious reputation as the “shark-bite capital of the world,” but this keeps surfers on their toes and fatalities are rare! Ponce Inlet, just up the road, is known to have some of the most reliable waves in the Sunshine State. There are around a dozen New Smyrna Beach self storage facilities, serving this vibrant town’s 27,000 residents and visitors, with small lockers available for less than $50.
Narragansett, Rhode Island
With underwater geological features like those in Montauk, Narragansett is said to offer New England’s best waves — good quality and from 3’ to over 12’ high. These are great for beginners but they please advanced and intermediate surfers too. It gets crowded, with locals enjoying the action at least as much as visitors, and the population of around 15,000 doubles in summer. But it can be even better in the colder seasons, with nearby Point Judith being a favored spot. Storage units, just big enough for your boards at 5’x2.5’, are available nearby.
Returning to the origins of surfing, the Hawaiian island of Maui has legendary spots all around its coastline. The north sees most action during winter while the south and west excel in summer. Maalaea Bay, in the west, hosts a break known as Freight Trains, reckoned to be the world’s fastest rideable wave. On the other side of the island, Peʻahi has the legendary wave known as Jaws — sometimes more than 60’ high — and is known as The Windsurfing Capital of the World. Storage units are available at Kahului, the largest settlement on the island.
Surfing can be hugely enjoyable, and the most celebrated spots in the US for water-sports make great holiday destinations. And if you feel you could never ride the biggest waves, windsurfing is an excellent alternative — in fact, it now has more media presence than regular surfing — and there are other variants too. It’s been a tough 12 months for surfers, with many opportunities shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but there are hopes that things will get easier in 2021 — always respect any local restrictions that are in place. When you are able to get to a surfing resort, and you realize you want to make this sport and that particular destination a big part of your life, check out the self storage possibilities there to ensure you get the maximum enjoyment from your new lifestyle.