Hang 10 at these Five National Parks That Allow Surfing

Surf's Up! Grab Your Board and Head to the Park

Surfing may not be the first activity you consider when heading to a national park, but that may be because you've forgotten about the hundreds of thousands of acres of seashore that make up the country's 10 National Seashores.

Even though there's an ocean and a coastline at each of these seashores, not all of them are perfect for surfing. For instance, Cumberland Island in Georgia is remote, can only be accessed by passenger ferry or private boat, and doesn't allow boards or kayaks on the ferry. You'd need to arrange your own transportation to the island, and even then, the surfing is sub-par.

Other National Seashores are more surf-friendly. These five rank highest for catching a wave.

Cape Hatteras National Seashore

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The first national seashore established in 1937, Cape Hatteras, located in North Carolina, offers some of the best surfing on the East Coast. And it's not just the great waves that draw surfers in, but the lack of restrictions. Other than basic safety regulations, such as staying away from piers and remaining leashed to your board, Cape Hatteras doesn't regulate surf times or zones, which means it's possible to find secluded areas to surf your own break.

If you're new to surfing, try taking a lesson through one of the area's surf shops in June or July, when the waves are mild. More advanced surfers can enjoy tougher conditions in the spring and summer, taking up another sport, such as kiteboarding or windsurfing when the waves are calm.

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Canaveral National Seashore

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The 23 miles of protected land along one of Florida's barrier islands are pristine - cars and motorized vehicles are off-limits, and aside from the basic park buildings and grounds, there are no surf shops or other structures allowed. This makes the beaches a little hard to access when lugging a surf board, but if you're willing to hoof it from the parking lot to the sand - at least a few hundred yards... although it could be much farther - it'll be worth the effort.

In addition to postcard-like sand dunes and blue waters, the surf around Playalinda Beach is rougher than most areas in Florida, making it perfect for intermediate to advanced surfers looking for a challenge.

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Assateague Island National Seashore

National Park Service

While Assateague Island National Seashore, located in both Virginia and Maryland, won't be winning any major awards for it's surf or surf-friendly culture, surfing is allowed. Because the beaches are easy to access and the waves are light, it's a good spot for beginners to give it a try. Just keep in mind that there are lifeguarded beaches during the summer months, and surfers must steer clear of these areas.

Because the breaks at Assateague Island are weak, you may want to try your hand at windsurfing or kiteboarding instead.

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Point Reyes National Seashore

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Beginners beware, you probably don't want to head to Point Reyes National Seashore in California to catch your first wave. Pacific Coast beaches are known for their sneaker waves, cold waters, rip tides, great white sharks and unforgiving, rocky coastlines... and Point Reyes beaches are no different.

If you're a long-time surfer with hours of riding under your belt, then you might want to dive in. Tough spots featuring fast waters, big waves and a strong current are located at Drakes Beach, South Beach, North Beach and Great Beach.

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Padre Island National Seashore

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Padre Island National Seashore, located along the southern gulf coast of Texas, boasts the title of being "the longest stretch of undeveloped barrier island in the world." And while gulf coast waters aren't known for having great surf conditions, a consistent wind makes for predictable waves that are gentle near the shore and larger as you move farther into the ocean. This means almost anyone, from beginner to advanced, can find surf worth riding, and surf schools and camps are offered from spring to fall.

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