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

Updated: Sep 5, 2023

Long, pearly white sanded beaches are a trademark here in Clearwater Beach, Florida.


The gulf coast of Florida is beautiful, but Clearwater was actually ranked 6th best beach in the world by Trip Advisor in 2019.


The breathtaking blue waters and chill, relaxing atmosphere is what makes this destination very popular for both vacations and retiring.




Surfing in Clearwater Beach


Surfing in Clearwater Beach is unique because there are only two main surf breaks- one in which you can only surf during a certain time due to regulations from beach patrol.


Where to Surf in Clearwater Beach


Since there are only two main breaks, the local surfers have a tight knit community and friendships because of running into and getting to know each other while surfing.


If your surf buddy isn’t at one spot, they are probably at the other.



Although there’s little spot options, it doesn’t take away from the fact that these two spots can get really good with the right swell.


They both break differently depending on swell and wind directions, so it really helps your decision on where to go when trying to figure that out. I will discuss the best and ideal conditions for both spots later on in this article.


The best time of the year to surf Clearwater would be in the fall or winter when tropical storms are generating great waves in the gulf and when there’s more ground swells coming in.


The summer is pretty flat usually although you may get a few fun weeks of surfing here and there.


Surf Culture in Clearwater Beach

Surf culture is tight here.


The locals all know each other and all of the tricks and details about the beaches and surfing here.


Since the spot selection is small, when the waves are good, everyone will be out and you should be respectful to the locals and they will respect you as well.


Surfers here are very nice and friendly to those who are the same to them, so there’s a chance you’ll make a few local connections while out in the water.


The local Surfrider chapter does a lot for the community and its surfers, including helping with the push to allow surfers in the Pinellas County Park.


Gear Needed to Surf Clearwater Beach


Although Clearwater is in Florida, and Florida is known for its sunshine and warmer weather, you will definitely need some cold water gear here at certain times of the year.


The highest water temperatures reach around 80-85 degrees fahrenheit in August.


The lowest water temperatures reach around 55-60 degrees fahrenheit in February.


You will want at least a 3.2 full suit in the peak of winter and you may need to pair it with some booties for extra comfort if you get chilly easily.


You should have a spring suit in the transitions from summer to winter around November and April.


You'll need sunscreen to avoid a sunburn, too!


The Best Surf Breaks in Clearwater Beach


Sand Key

Located on the south side of the inlet, Sand Key is a sand-bottom beach break that can bring in some fun rights with the right swell and wind direction.


Sand Key is in a county park, so surfing here is regulated and limited by beach and park patrol. Usually, if all is right condition-wise, surfing is allowed from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.


This break is great for surfers of all abilities, although when it’s big, only intermediate to expert surfers should paddle out (if the park allows surfing when the waves are that big).


The ideal conditions for Sand Key would be east winds with a W or NW swell on a mid tide incoming so that there is some extra push in the waves.


The crowd is usually pretty mellow, but when the waves are good, every surfer will want to be on it and the crowd can get intense.


880

Located on the north end of Clearwater’s beach, 880 can be a fun spot that can take all different types of forms.


There’s a double sandbar there so, depending on the right swell and wind direction, the wave can be ideal for longboarding, shortboarding, or both.


The wave typically has a fun reform, so you are able to get some fun, long rides.


The ideal conditions for this surf spot are onshore winds with a NW swell.


This spot can get very crowded when it’s good or beach goers start showing up in the morning, but overall, it’s great for any ability of surfers.


What to Do in Clearwater Beach When Waves Are Flat

As one of the most popular beach vacation spots in Florida, there are many things to explore and a lot of fun and relaxing activities.


If you are looking for something to explore outside in nature, Sand Key Park, Honeymoon Island State Park, Moccasin Lake Nature Park, fishing, dolphin boat touring, jet ski rentals, and parasailing are just a few of the many great options.


If you want to explore around town or do something fun inland, there’s the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, miniature golf, shopping at Westfield mall, Busch Gardens, and many great bars and restaurants for a fun dining experience.


Surfing in Clearwater Beach

Clearwater Beach is a beautiful destination in Florida to experience.


The atmosphere is relaxing and exciting at the same time.


Overall, surfing can be pretty fun here, but if you happen to get skunked on waves while visiting, don’t fret because there’s plenty to do out in the waters and town of Clearwater.

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