The tombolo at Frank Island in Tofino, British Columbia. The sandbar at Cowell's Beach in Santa Cruz. Miles and miles of easy, rolling waves in Central Florida and Virginia Beach. The warm, sandy surf of the Wall in Hampton, Rhode Island.
What makes a great beginner surf spot is the natural alchemy of a soft, sandy ocean bottom that creates gentle, almost perpetually rolling waves and allows for mistakes and recoveries. Access is important: lots of parking, surf shops nearby for rentals and instruction, and an easy route out to the peak for those learning to paddle. Safety and security are important to, for in this crowded world, the best beginner spots provide protection from the tyranny of the elements and better surfers.
Scattered around North America, every couple hundred miles or so, are beaches and reefs perfect for beginning surfers. We polled surfers, surf instructors, and surf shop owners around the country and chose these spots based on setup, reputation, access, safety, and security. If you want to catch a wave, these are the places to get your feet wet.