Maine Surf Guide

While there are several wave fields still undiscovered, Maine can still offer some of the best conditions for visiting tourists to catch that perfect wave. In this article, we’ll take a look at why you might want to visit Maine, the best times to surf, and the best places to check out on your next visit. 

Maine offers some of the best waves you can find in the country, assuming you’re there at the right time and under the right conditions. The best times to visit are during the Fall and Winter seasons, while spots like Higgens Beach, Wells Beach, and Ogunquit Beach are often preferred by surfers. 

Before diving into the best places to surf, let’s first take a look at why you’d want to visit Maine in the first place. 

Why Surf in Maine? 

Maine has plenty to offer for both beginner and experienced surfers. From its various beaches along the entire coast to its relatively untrodden territory, all while surfing behind a gorgeous mountainous backdrop, there’s bound to be something for any surfer.

What’re the Waves Like?

The sheer area of unexplored coastlines and the presence of large swells are the main reasons why Maine is sometimes considered the “last frontier of surfing.” 

In the north of the state, there are plenty of unexplored beaches and rock reefs that make it a great place to surf in privacy. Down south, you’ll find a more developed surf scene with several beaches to catch swells on, as well as more beginner-friendly locations. 

With near-continuous northerly winds and the Caribbean hurricane belt being everpresent in the fall and winter seasons, you’ll find plenty of south-southeast swells that produce a ton of optimal waves. 

How’s the Surf Culture? 

The overall surf culture is quite varied since it depends significantly on timing and location.

While locals generally prefer the calmness of the place due to many amateur surfers avoiding the area, they may be just as excited to see a new face or two. On the other hand, you may come across some folks who just endured a harsh winter and flat summer, so they can naturally be a bit less enthusiastic seeing groups of visiting surfers in their area. 

Surfing Season in Maine 

With Maine being the most northern state of New England, you can expect the winter temperatures there to be frigid, to say the least. However, if you’re looking to catch the optimal wave, you’d best go during the fall and winter seasons.

Best Times to Surf 

Your best bet to catch some decent waves would be during fall when the nor’easters form off of the Great Lakes or the Carolinas. The winds usually intensify off of the mid-Atlantic and can form gusts as strong as 30-50 mph. Late-season hurricanes can form by the end of October as well.  

The winters, while having strong swells and regular off- and cross-shore winds, are extremely cold, with water temps below 32 degrees Fahrenheit and air temps sometimes feeling like 20-30 below zero. 

If you can’t make it during fall or winter, go during the early months of spring, as you might be able to catch some mild swells before it all goes away, along with the cold as you enter summer. 

Best Surf Spots in Maine 

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced surfer, there’s bound to be a site in Maine that’s just fit for you. Here are 5 of the best surf spots in Maine: 

1. Ogunquit Beach 

Ogunquit arguably has some of the best waves you can find along all of New England, mainly due to it having an exposed river mouth, thus being a point break and having long rights and inside lefts. Its location is orientated just perfectly for the S-SE swells that originate from the Caribbean. 

The beach can get quite busy, though, as it's quite popular with surfers, but the wave itself can be quite scattered. 

2. Higgens Beach 

Best for experienced surfers, Higgens Beach is an exposed beach break that produces the best waves during southeast swells. Your best chance to visit is during November, when the northwest and offshore winds match. 

Another popular area in north Maine, Higgens Beach, can get rather crowded, but having right and left peaks allows the crowds to disperse a bit. 

3. Wells Beach 

One of the best beginner-friendly surf spots in Maine, Wells Beach is another exposed beach break that, while consisting of relatively consistent waves throughout the year, has the most potential during east swells and northwestern offshore winds. During a rising mid-tide, you should have no trouble finding waves from both left and right. 

Wells Beach is not as crowded as the previously mentioned spots, making it accessible for beginners to practice. 

4. Popham Beach 

Another spot to check out in northern Maine, Popham Beach, has river mouth breaks and sandbars that are orientated for hurricane swells. Combining offshore winds from the Great Lakes with winds from the Atlantic and accurately positioned banks, you can find some decent waves in this relatively deserted area in December or January. 

5. Moody Point

Under the right conditions (when southeast swells mix with offshore northwest winds), you can find some long peeling waves at this reef break. It’s best to visit Moody Point in December. 

Although it has potential, Moody Point is usually seen with milder waves that are just right for beginners. 

Best Area to Learn to Surf 

The best spot for beginners is, no doubt, Wells Beach. With its consistent surf and its offering of left and right waves, surfers shouldn’t have any trouble finding a decent wave here throughout the year. 

All this, without the presence of crowds, makes Wells Beach arguably the most popular spot among beginners just looking to get out into the water. 

FAQs

What are some hazards you should look out for? 

With Maine’s extremely cold climate in the winter seasons, hypothermia is no doubt the biggest hazard to look out for. If your wetsuit is not suitable, you may find yourself developing frostbite if the wind chills are especially low. 

Rocky bottom breaks are also something to look out for, as they can easily break your equipment and result in injury. 

What type of equipment should you bring? 

As previously mentioned, you should be well prepared for the climate in Maine before you head out, especially in the winter months. This includes bringing equipment such as a hooded 6/5/4 full suit, 7mm wetsuit boots, and 5mm or 7mm gloves. 

Conclusion

Maine has a plethora of surfing spots suitable for surfers of all levels. As long as you’re well prepared for the climate, you should have no trouble finding a decent wave in the Pine Tree State. 

Edward Zhang

Written by Edward Zhang

Edward is an accomplished author with a deep passion for the ocean. He holds a masters in marine science degree at the University of New South Wales and a bachelors in biology from Stony Brook University.

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