On the eastern tip of Long Island is the quaint fishing town of Montauk. Montauk is a popular tourist destination and weekend getaway for many New York city residents.
On its many sandy beaches and its stretch of rocky cobblestone coastline is some pretty fun surf.
During the winter Montauk tourists go away and the town turns into a quiet cold water surfer's dream.
However, in Montauk good waves come at a cost because winters tend to be unbearably cold. We’ll run through all these things and break down the best spots in all of Montauk.
What’s So Special About Surfing in Montauk?
Waves in Montauk
Montauk is known as a secluded getaway for New York residents during the summer months.
This makes it a pretty lousy place to surf during this time because tourists will be aplenty and waves will be small. This makes fall probably the best time to catch some fun surf because water temperatures aren't super low yet but the waves are starting to pick up and tourist season is over.
Winter won’t be for the faint of heart. Water temps are going to be bone chillingly cold and waves will be big from northeasterly Atlantic storms.
The Surf Culture in Montauk
Montauk, also known as “The End” because of its location on the easternmost point of Long Island, has developed a reputation for being one of the best surf towns in the US. Its local crew takes pride in their town and its good surf.
That means they aren’t incredibly welcoming to outsiders or tourists. Montauk isn’t really thought of as a surf trip destination so they usually don’t get too many outsiders trying to surf their spots.
Except for NYC residents, who are even less welcomed. So approach Montauk surf with an immense amount of respect.
Equipment Needed to Surf in Montauk
Summers really don’t require much cold water gear but then again not much surfing happens during the summer if you’re looking for good waves.
Winter is going to be freezing so a 5/4mm thickness wetsuit with a hood is necessary.
Then booties and gloves if you want to protect your hands and feet.
The Best Surf Spots in Montauk
One of the best breaks in all of Montauk is Ditch Plains, an easy going wave that is a longboarder's dream.
The setup is pretty straightforward—there are a couple of peaks all along this beach and it breaks over a rocky sand covered reef.
The result is a small a-frame with plenty of shape and length to push Montauk surfers all the way to shore. It works best with an east or southeast swell but tends to break year round.
This wave is incredibly popular and for that reason it will get crowded, especially during the summer. It will also be decently packed with beginners so beware of that as well.
Hither Hills State Park
A longer stretch of beach break on the west side of Montauk is Hither Hills State Park. Hither Hills really isn’t anything special but it's the typical beach break that you see in every beach town.
For that reason it's pretty inconsistent on giving you good waves to surf but it typically has something to surf.
There are a couple of different sandbars that produce some pretty big and heavy shore break waves.
That means to bring a board you don’t care about because Hithe Hills is capable of snapping that brand new CI in two.
Crowds aren’t really a problem and you’ll typically find a peak to yourself.
Another really good wave that’s geared better toward shortboarding is Turtle Cove, also known simply as Turtles.
Turtle’s is primarily a right but also offers a few opportunities to go left as it breaks over a shallow reef. By a shortboarders standard this is easily the best wave in all of Montauk because of its overall shape and size.
It picks up south swells really well and when it’s offshore it gets really hollow offering a really nice tube section.
Crowds might be a little unbearable when the waves are good but it will be mostly experienced Montauk locals.
Poles is a pretty lackluster reef break that usually fails to hold any sort of size or shape in its waves. There are a couple of peaks at Poles but they aren’t very consistent and the main peak tends to shift quite a bit.
It offers both lefts and rights and needs a southeast swell to really produce anything surfable.
The waves really just lack any sort of punch and will be mushier than any other waves in Montauk. The only plus is that crowds will be minimal and less intimidating than Turtle’s or Terrace.
Overall though if you feel like you're experienced enough to go to another break do so.
Another really good wave in Montauk is Terrace. It’s pretty solid and is capable of holding some decent size. It takes south swells really well and has a couple of different peaks to choose from.
Each peak has a lot of potential to get good though and when the right swell pushes through Montuak, Terrace is probably the best place to find yourself in the green room.
Due to its proximity to Montauk town it will get crowded but because there are a few different peaks to choose from the crowds usually spread out.
Locals aren’t too bad so feel free to explore this spot.
What To Do In Montauk When the Waves Are Flat
Montauk is a quiet beach town that’s primarily known for its warm beaches which during the summer can be nice places to getaway and relax if the waves are flat.
One of those beaches is Kirk Park Beach which offers quite a bit of sand to sit and relax on.
If the beach isn’t for you there’s quite a bit of history in the town of Montauk and the Montauk Point Lighthouse has a very interesting museum that details some of that history.
Then of course you could explore Montauk town which has a lot of shops and restaurants to indulge yourself at.
Montauk certainly is a great beach town with plenty of surf to be had. So if you find yourself on Long Island, consider heading out to Montauk for a quick session.