Surfing Montauk with Debra Rose

April Flowers Bring May…Waves

Debra Rose

The sun sets later, and the temperature may be rising, but you are still in your 4/3, likely booties and possibly gloves, the dichotomy of east coast surfing.  Spring is an optimistic, energetic time of year especially around the ocean and on the East End, and it is also a great time for a surf trip to a destination specifically firing this time of year.

Our hemisphere may be growing warmer, but the waves tend to become smaller, thanks to weak climate patterns, infrequent storms, and easy weather.  The temperature over the Northern Hemisphere becomes stable and takes the surf volatility with it.  As many surfers like to be here in summer despite the usual grumbling about crowds and parking, May is the perfect time to explore areas of the world heading into their winter season.

The southern hemisphere brings that magical combination of swell and warmth, a supercharged version of the perfect fall day of surf during hurricane season in the Northeast.  Spring is the time to take advantage of our shoulder season and the cusp of winter elsewhere.

The Indian Ocean and South Pacific: June through August will bring the crowds, as this region of the world has consistent swells forming in the two oceans.  With such a high activity level of surfers and waves, an excellent time to experience surfing is just before, in May.  The Maldives has consistent surf for a variety of levels, favoring the intermediate and expert surfers in most world class spots.  The many atolls of the country offer access to stunning surroundings and screen-saver worthy back drops.  Usually a bucket-list destination, the waves around the Maldives awaken as the reef breaks come to life.

While you are in the area, you may want to explore Arugam Bay on the east coast of Sri Lanka.  The offshore winds, the appeal to all levels, mid-size waves and point breaks makes this destination one rapidly growing in popularity. If you favor beach breaks, point breaks or reef breaks in warm water, it’s the perfect spot all year long with both coasts of the nation working with the opposing seasons.  More mellow than a lot of Asian and Indonesian surf spots and known for friendly locals, Sri Lanka is usually compared to Bali before it became Bali.

Avoiding a long flight and in the mood for a closer destination? Skip Nosara and head over to Santa Teresa, Costa Rica where tourism remains at bay in the spring and waves appeal to every skill level of surfer. The Mal Pais region is a safe bet for a satisfying surf trip in May when the line-up is less crowded and there is a more relaxed local vibe.  Swells are consistent and water temperature in the eighties.

Perhaps you want to dabble in an adventurous version of exploring the southwest coast of France, so grab a few boards and head over to Hossegor.  Spring is when the winter waves calm down but remain consistent, which is ideal if you are an intermediate surfer.  The usually chilly water is a bit warmer, and the expert surfers will enjoy the sandbars that shift and the all-too-common fast barrels.  The only thing better than the surf here is the access to Biarritz, San Sebastian, the other famous breaks that make this region the most coveted in France and a mecca of surf in Europe.  A well-developed surf region that hosts the Quiksilver Pro Competition every fall, surf culture is baked into the scene and welcoming to visitors. While not ideal for the beginning surfer, the friendly and fun area may compensate for the challenging conditions.

Exploring new regions of the world and surfing in unfamiliar terriroty will only enhance your summer surfing back on the east coast, and hopefully provide a greater perspective on what it means to share waves with visitors.  It is always easier to appreciate the beauty and the landscape with new eyes, coming from a new destination.

Happy surfing!