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Massachusetts Surf Guide

The state of Massachusetts has some of the best surfing on the East Coast.

With countless scenic beaches that have sand bottoms, and lengthy shorelines, if you’re a local or just visiting and the waves are right, it’d practically be a crime not to suit up and paddle out.

Mass is notorious for the magic it radiates during the summertime, so if you’re looking for a new bucket list destination – or a few – keep reading and take notes!

Massachusetts Surf Guide

Waves in Massachusetts 

Like most surf beaches on the East Coast, swells in Massachusetts will pretty much always come from hurricanes.

These waves will vary in size, but it’s rare that surfable ones reach anywhere above 6ft tall.

Winds that blow in during hurricane season make the waves super heavy, so once you’re up they’re great for carving and top-to-bottom surfing.

On occasion, after the water has calmed a bit post-storm, you may find some softer breaks to have fun on a longboard, but typically anything over 8ft will be too big. 

Surf Culture in Massachusetts

Unfortunately, surf culture in Massachusetts has taken a massive hit in the last decade, as their great white shark population has been rapidly increasing with each passing summer.

This past August it was reported that a record-breaking 800 great whites made their way up the Atlantic from the Gulf of Mexico to prey on Massachusetts’s grey seals.

There are still plenty of brave souls though that go out during hunting season (May-October), but your safest timeline will be either before or after they migrate. 

Gear Needed to Surf in Massachusetts

The water in Massachusetts never really gets warm, just less cold as the air temperature goes up. Ocean temps will peak around 67°F in August and drop to 37°F in March, so no matter what time of year you surf, you’ll want a Long John / Jane at the very least.

Unless you’re visiting at the end of the summer season though, a full-suit is necessary with the potential need for gloves, booties, and a hood.


The Best Surf Spots in Massachusetts

Devereux Beach – Marblehead, MA

Devereux Beach is a neat spot because it actually connects the town of Marblehead and the tiny peninsula their infamous lighthouse sits on at Chandler Hovey Park.

This beach is 40 minutes northeast of Boston and is equipped with a playground, snack shack, bathrooms, and lifeguards.

The best time to surf here is in the month of November before the water becomes nearly freezing and hurricane season is just about to end.

Devereux is a reef break that will offer both lefts and rights in full swing, and you’re practically guaranteed some tube time.

One thing to watch out for is submerged rocks – if you take a fall make sure to pancake it.

You’ll need cash to park here, but in comparison to other beaches along the East Coast, Devereux is pretty cheap; $15 during the week and $20 on weekends. 

Coast Guard Beach – Eastham, MA 

Coast Guard Beach is in Eastham, Massachusetts, a little ways up the hook of Cape Cod.

It sits just below the Nauset Lighthouse and is known for its beautiful sunrises over the summer.

Coast Guard is an exposed beach break that works best in August when it gets a mix of southeast groundswells and western offshore winds.

Waves here are typically pretty choppy, but towards the end of summer they have the potential to provide some clean, long rides, and barrels aren’t uncommon.

The bottom is all sand, perfect for boogie boarding if the waves don’t quite qualify as surfable.

Coast Guard has an amazing boardwalk bordered by green grass dunes, and parking is $25 for the day. 

Madaket Beach – Nantucket, MA

Madaket Beach is on the western coast of Nantucket Island and is a widely popular spot come summertime.

Similar to Coast Guard, Madaket is an exposed beach break, but it thrives when swells come straight up from the south.

The best time to surf here is in September, when fun little longboarding waves are plentiful, and the water hasn’t started to cool down.

This location itself is known for its sunsets, and if you want the full beach-goer experience, you can get a permit to drive along and park on the sand.  

Nahant Beach – Nahant, MA

Nahant Beach is a few minutes south of Devereux and has almost an identical setup, connecting the town of Lynn to the Nahant peninsula.

While the spot is normally flat in the summer, once autumn rolls around this break can be idyllic for gentle longboarding waves up to 4ft. However, on very rare occasions right after powerful storms, Nahant can have waves double that size great for carving on a shortboard.

In-season parking (May through October) is $10 for Massachusetts residents and $40 for out-of-state visitors. 

What To Do in Massachusetts When the Waves Are Flat

From going to a Red Sox game to visiting the Boston Tea Party Museum, Massachusetts has something for everyone to enjoy aside from surfing.

The state is deeply rooted in U.S. history and has some of the most passionate, loyal sports fans you’ll ever meet, so just the city alone offers countless activities for days on end.

If you’re passing through with kiddos, they're sure to love the New England Aquarium, a Boston Duck Tour, and the Boston Children’s Museum to name a few.

Personally, I think the best time to visit is in the middle of fall when colorful foliage blankets the state and the weather is just right for walking around. 

The Bottom Line: Surfing in Massachusetts

Whether you’re just starting out or have reached expert level, after storms have passed through Massachusetts there are bound to be breaks for any surfer to choose from.

From fun ankle biters to exciting 8-footers, you can find waves an array of waves all along the coastline and out on the islands. 


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