Surfing is one of the most beloved water sports. To novices, this exciting sport can be quite intimidating. Highly populated surfing areas that can be challenging for even advanced surfers are not ideal for beginner surfers. Instead, the best places to learn to surf are often beaches with smaller waves and fewer surfers. Fortunately, there are plenty of fantastic spots for beginning-surfers all over the United States. Here are just a few terrific beach areas fitting for a first-time surfer.

Where to Learn How to Surf

1. Cocoa Beach, Florida

Located on Florida’s east coast, Cocoa Beach is one of the best spots for surfers just beginning. Florida’s year-round warm water, and Cocoa Beach’s slow-rolling waves make Cocoa Beach perfect for those learning how to surf. For a fun fact: surfing legend Kelly Slater learned to surf here. In addition to surfing, visitors to Cocoa Beach can enjoy fun shops and restaurants. For more water sports, try kayaking, canoeing, and boat tours.

2. San Onofre, San Clemente, California

San Onofre State Beach in San Clemente, California is one of the friendliest surfing areas in the country. While it’s a very popular spot for beginning-surfers, you’ll see surfers of all levels and ages at this popular destination. There are gentle waves here that make it great for learning to surf and just taking it easy to start out. San Clemente is a full-blown beach town with great food and shopping to complement its great beaches and the San Clemente pier. It’s a great place for a trip and to learn to surf.

3. Grand Haven, Michigan

If you’re too intimidated to begin surfing in an ocean, there’s no better place to learn than Lake Michigan, which offers some pretty decent waves. Although the waves at this West Michigan hot spot aren’t fantastic, they’re great for beginners who want to ease into surfing. Grand Haven happens to be one of the most charming towns in West Michigan so start planning your summer getaway!

4. Hanalei Beach, Kauai, Hawaii

Hawaii is chock-full of famous and fantastic surfing spots for surfers of all experience levels. If we have to recommend one to beginners, we’d have to suggest Hanalei Beach in Kauai. The North Shore of Kauai boasts great small breaks for beginning surfers from early winter through late spring. Visitors here can easily sign up to take surf classes too.

5. Virginia Beach, Virginia

Virginia Beach is not only a great surfing spot but also a popular vacation destination. Its famous boardwalk lined with shops and bars neighbors the shore, making this a hotspot for surfers, swimmers, sunbathers, and shoppers. Since the waves here aren’t too big, Virginia Beach is a great destination for beginners.

Take advantage of the many surfing instruction classes offered!

6. Cowell’s Beach, Santa Cruz California

Cowell’s Beach in Santa Cruz, one of California’s most popular beach cities, is a perfect spot for beginning-surfers. The water can be a little cold, but don’t let that deter you from having fun. Santa Cruz also has a great boardwalk, cute shops, and delicious restaurants.

Do you enjoy water sports? Check out these helpful guides:

The 10 Best Places for Kiteboarding in the World

Hawaii's Best Beaches for Skimboarding

Where to Skimboard in Southern California

This article was written by Cameron Lafontaine.