Island is a natural haven for some of the best, and most surfable,
waves on the East Coast. Indeed, Hatteras’ various surf spots are one
of the major reasons the island welcomes more than two million visitors
each year from all across the country.
year-round locals and visiting tourists alike, there is an assortment
of open beach areas available to those seeking the surf. No one beach
can rightfully claim the best waves, however, because the best spots
for surfing around the island depend largely on a couple different -
and ever-changing - factors. Any surfer dedicated to consistently
catching waves must take into account wind direction and sand bar
movement as well as other topographical and weather conditions.
is perhaps the most important factor in considering the best spot for
surfing. Because Hatteras Island is shaped something like a “V”
pointing away from the Pamlico Sound toward the Atlantic Ocean, nearly
every village on the island can experience different surf conditions on
any given day.
of the villages on Hatteras Island face the east, Rodanthe, Waves,
Salvo, Avon, and Buxton, and produce good waves for surfing when a
southwest wind, a west wind, and a northwest wind is blowing. A
southwest wind is most common for this time of year and ideal for
creating a clean wave break in the northern part of the island,
Wind can foster some choice waves in Frisco and Hatteras if it is blowing north, but that is rare for this time of year.
than just the direction, though, it is important to consider the
location of the wind in proximity to the shore. Wind swell is localized
wind which makes for bad surfing conditions due to waves not getting
enough force behind them. Ground swell, on the other hand, is much more
conducive to surfing, because the wind is far enough away that it puts
more power behind a wave. This is one reason why Hatteras Island can be
such a popular spot for surfing during hurricane season because when
winds blow from so far offshore, they create the perfect ground swell
factor to consider is sandbar location, since waves require a sandbar
to break. Surf conditions are typically better at low tide when the
water level is lower over the sandbar, creating a nice break in the
sandbar movement is often hard to predict, they are usually located
closer to the shore during warmer seasons and near jetties.
the best surf on the island can often be a painstaking process,
especially if you are unsure how to gauge rapidly changing conditions.
Despite helpful sites such as swellinfo.com, surfline.com, and surfchex.com
- which have cameras and forecasts for surf spots across North
Carolina and the United States as well as the world - surf conditions
can be very hard to foresee. Indeed, as Kevin Scalia from Hatteras
Island Board Sports stated about surfing, “the only thing you can
predict [is that] things are going to change.”
abiotic factors affecting the surf, sharks are another source of
anxiety for many surfers. Although they are a threat at any spot on the
island, they are especially common around the point and the fishing
piers. Ocearch.org is a helpful source to track sharks’ movement up and
down the coast during this busy season.
it comes to catching the perfect wave for a clean ride, your choice of
surf spot might also depend on skill level. While long and soft boards
are better for beginners surfing smaller and softer waves, short boards
are for more apt individuals ready to surf bigger and faster waves.
best surf spots on the island are, of course, also some of the busiest.
So since surf conditions change so rapidly and nothing is ever quite
certain, the best surf spot on the island might just be the one you can
get to the fastest. Rather than being dependent on wind and weather
conditions, the best surf spot might just depend on your proximity to