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Where are some good local surfing spots?

Dan Spears

The Southeastern North Carolina coast continues to enhance its reputation as an East Coast haven for surfers. Vacationers are now packing the surfboard when they head to Pender and New Hanover County beaches for the summer (and beyond).

Even UNC-Wilmington is reaping the benefits, recently being named one of the Top 10 surfing colleges in the country and the men’s team had its highest finish ever at the national collegiate championships, placing second.

So where should you go to try an East Coast wave? Plenty of local surf shops provide lessons, and there are several popular spots for established surfers. But the hidden gems will remain hidden – “We gotta have some place to go,” joked longtime local surfer George Howard, who owns On Shore Surf Shop in Surf City – unless you stumble on them yourself.

Here’s a couple of good spots, as well as the local rules:

— Masonboro Island, between Wrightsville Beach and Carolina Beach, probably has the best local reputation, but it’s the most difficult to get to. If you can get there by boat along the Intracoastal Waterway, you’re ahead of the game. Otherwise, you’re paddling through the ICW and dodging boat traffic. Also, watch the tide schedule; trying to get back to the mainland could be difficult if the tide is going out.

— The north end of Wrightsville Beach near Shell Island, and “C Street” (just off the intersection of Lumina Avenue and the Causeway in downtown Wrightsville) are the most popular there. WBLiveSurf gives daily updates on the conditions on the island.

— On Wrightsville Beach, the rules change depending on the weather. During the busiest summer months there are more restricted areas. However, those rules don’t always apply during red-flag times, when the surfers get even better waves with turbulent weather.

— On Topsail Island, the area around the Surf City Pier remains the place to go (check the waves live at  http://www.geocities.com/glasser90/, although an area called the Broadway Access near the Pender-Onslow county line is gaining fans.

— On Pleasure Island, surfers must remain at least 500 feet from any pier

Good luck, and hang 10.

Related Links:

StarNews How-To Series: Surfing

Exercises that help surfing muscles

Buying the right wetsuit

Carolina Beach surfing history gets published

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