This Beach Town in Florida Was Just Rated the Best Surf Spot in the U.S.

Balmy waters and that oh-so-cool surf vibe are on tap at Cocoa Beach in Florida, ranked as the best surf spot in America.

The world’s best surf spots have more than just reliable waves. To get the ultimate surf vibe, you need warm water, plenty of breaks, and a nice long beach. And it doesn’t hurt if there’s a fun surf posse out in the water, too. 

The travel blog ParkSleepFly took this all into account — and more — while evaluating some of the best surf spots in the U.S. The site considered natural factors like the number of surf breaks, water temperature, and the length of coastline in addition to social factors like the number of Google searches and Instagram tags. And Florida’s Cocoa Beach came out on top with a score of 8.32 out of a possible 10.

surfers waiting on the perfect wave at Cocoa Beach, Florida

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The long-time surf town beat out other spots like Waikiki Beach in Hawaii and Huntington Beach, California. And it made the win look easy. In Cocoa Beach, which produced world-renowned surfer Kelly Slater, the average sea temperature is a balmy 80 degrees, and there are 78 surf breaks packed in almost 12 miles of coastline. The beach is also trending online, with more than 3,000 surfing-related Instagram hashtags and 5,800 Google searches.

But as any surfer knows, a good surf spot is about more than good breaks and a cool crew. To keep the stoke alive, you need to eat and sleep — and if you’re a newbie, chances are you’ll need a lesson. Here's how to plan a surf break (see what we did there) in Cocoa Beach, Florida.

Where to Book a Lesson and Rent a Board

One of the best surf shops on Cocoa Beach is a brand surfers know well: Ron Jon. A foam surfboard rental for four to eight hours is $10, while a fiberglass board will cost you $20. They also have body boards, beach cruisers, chairs, wetsuits, umbrellas, and even stand-up paddleboards to rent. 

If you want to learn the ropes — or brush up on your surf skills — book a lesson with the School of Surf, which has killer reviews. A one-hour group lesson starts at $50 per person, while a one-hour private lesson costs $65. They also have full and half-day camps during the week.

What to Do (Other Than Surf)

Cocoa Beach may be the surf capital of Florida, but there are plenty of things to do when the waves are flat (or your arms are sore). Surf addicts can visit the Florida Surf Museum inside the Ron Jon Surf Shop, which has a rotation of cool events and exhibits. 

And it’s hard to ignore that the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and NASA’s Kennedy Space Center sit directly north of the beach — in fact, the entire coastline is known as the Space Coast. Check out one of the many exhibits and shows at the space center, or take a bus tour of the spaceport.

Where to Eat and Drink

The Riki Tiki Tavern might sound a little hokey, but it’s the perfect place for a post-surf drink. The lounge is tucked under a thatched roof on the pier, so guests are treated to stunning sea views and a salty breeze. Come for the views, stay for the Bahama Mama cocktail. 

If you’re craving shrimp, head to the long-loved and family-owned haunt, Florida’s Seafood Bar & Grill. This spot is renowned for its shrimp, which you’ll find in everything from po’ boys to tacos. For light, healthy fare, check out The Green Room Cafe, just a few blocks off the beach. They have plenty of vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free items, and it’s a great place to pick up lunch and hit the beach.

Where to Stay

Buildings at the waterfront and surfers in the water at Cocoa Beach,

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The Hilton Cocoa Beach Oceanfront has everything a surfer needs, and then some. The hotel has direct beach access, bike and boogie board rentals, and even surf lessons. And when you need a break from the beach, you can lounge on the hotel’s sunny pool deck with a drink in hand. 

If you’re more interested in a vacation rental, check out the offerings at Beach Place Guesthouses. Perks include a full kitchen, access to a secluded section of beach, and your own patio — which is the perfect place to store your board. 

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