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The Best Places to Surf in Pensacola Beach (Pensacola Beach Surf Guide)

Crystal blue waters and soft white sand are a great match with fun waves and a thriving surf community.

When you think of surfing in Florida, most people would not think of the gulf coast first…obviously, there's Cocoa Beach, Daytona Beach, New Smyrna, Jacksonville Beach, Sebastian Inlet and others ... but they would be hugely mistaken.

Waves here can get world-class and draw everyone from Florida and other places in the country and world when it starts going off.

Pensacola Surf Guide

Pensacola is unique compared to other spots on the gulf coast because of the Desoto Canyon.

The Desoto Canyon is primarily what makes offshore fishing popular in the area due to the ocean getting extremely deep closer to shore before hitting the shelf.

This canyon funnels wave energy directly towards Pensacola which makes the waves better and more powerful than anywhere else on the coast.

The best time of the year to surf Pensacola Beach is from the early fall season to late spring.

With a cold front, you can see some bigger surf come in and once the wind goes offshore, it’s game on.

The swells only last a short time because of the offshore winds that eventually kill the swell, so you’ve got to be on it.

A local friend of mine says, “We like to joke that we are home to some of the best four hour swells you’ll ever surf.”

Surf Culture in Pensacola

Surf culture in Pensacola runs extremely deep; the town has long surf history roots.

Everyone knows each other so if you are a tourist, they will know, but they don’t care.

Pensacola locals are some of the most friendly surf town locals you will meet, so be aware that people might want to chat out in the water. Also, as it goes for any places you visit, respect others and you will be respected.

Check out some of the locally owned surf shops in town including Innerlight, Waterboyz, and Mavericks.

The owners and community within these three shops are deep members of the surf culture here and are huge supporters of the town of Pensacola and its people.

Go check them out if you are in town!

Surf Culture in Pensacola

Although Pensacola is in the gulf, you will need some cold water gear.

The highest temperatures of the year are usually in July and they average around 85 degrees fahrenheit.

The coldest temperatures of the year are usually in February and they average around 64 degrees.

You will be able to wear board shorts and bikinis and maybe pair them with a wetsuit top or spring suit for most of the year, which isn’t too bad, but during the winters you may need a full wetsuit around 3/2mm or even a 4/3mm during colder winters.

Pack some booties if you go to surf in the peak of the winter as well, just in case you need some extra comfort.

Top 3 Surf Spots in Pensacola Beach


Located on the east end of the island, there are numbered roads and beach accesses.

Avenidas is a long beach with ever shifting sand bars.

Avenida 18 and Avenida 16 are the most popular spots, but you are able to drive down the road and check out other spots. Since they are sandbars, one spot may be very different from another.

The ideal conditions for this spot would be a S or SE swell paired with N or NW winds.

Avenidas is a perfect place for surfers of all skill levels.

Beginners are more than welcomed here and it is a great place to learn because of the massive amount of space to spread out down the beach.


This spot gets its name from the giant memorial cross that is set upon a large sand dune that signified the location for the first church service in The New World.

Cross is a great spot for intermediate to advanced surfers because it is a longer wave that picks up ground swells really well.

Longboarders would have a blast here on the mellow drop-in days and there’s also a reform further in the beach as you ride the wave.

Short boarders can catch some barrels and surf more fast-paced waves here once the waves take a bigger form.

Parking is easy, so take a cooler and some snacks and steak it out for the day. The ideal conditions for this spot would be a S or SE swell paired with N or NW winds.

The Pier

A spot for more advanced surfers, here you can find some fun, faster-paced waves.

This is the spot where most of the locals who rip surf, so be respectful if you choose to paddle out here.

The ideal conditions for the pier would be a S or SE swell paired with N or NW winds.

Things To Do in Pensacola When Waves Are Flat

Pensacola attracts a lot of Florida’s beach tourism, so there’s quite a few things to do when the waves are flat and you are looking for something else.

Go boating, fishing, rent jet skis, snorkel, scuba dive, and more if you are looking to stay in the water.

There are historical and natural sites to see including Fort Pickens to the west and Gulf Islands National Seashore to the East.

Off the island, go check out downtown for shops, bars, food, and more.

If you are in town on a Gallery Night, be sure to check that out as well for some vendors, music, and more.

Also be sure to see the new Blake Doyle Community Skatepark if you are into skating!

Pensacola Surf Guide

This beautiful, lively beach town has so much to offer to locals and those who are looking to visit. Pensacola is the perfect surf trip destination for your Florida surf exploration, you won’t want to miss out!

I wanted to say a huge thank you to a family friend of mine and local Pensacola ripper, Leason Dancaecu, for some insider tips and information on Pensacola surfing!


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