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Best Surf Towns: No. 9 New Smyrna, Florida

Best Places in the U.S. to Eat, Sleep, Work, and Shred

| posted on April 05, 2009

Hopper Eichstadt, New Smyrna. Photo: Eichstadt

An hour and a half south, Brevard County has reaped rewards as the center of the East Coast surfing universe for three decades. But as of 2009, New Smyrna Beach has sufficiently overshadowed Brevard as the leading producer of top-shelf waveriders on the Right Coast. Not to mention, the place perpetuates such an authentic, hardcore vibe — the average guy here surfs better than a sponsored surfer in almost any other Eastern beach town. With all those ingredients, if there shall be another Right Coast surfer to ascend to the ASP World Tour, chances are he will come from the shark-infested waters of Smyrna Inlet.

Waves
Granted, it isn’t Snapper Rocks or Pipe, but Smyrna Inlet is easily the most consistent break along Florida’s 1,200+ miles of surfable coastline, and likely the most performance-friendly. A sand-bottomed skate park stacked with peaky ramps, bowly transitions, and barreling reforms make the Inlet an aerialist’s wet dream—a country-fried Duranbah. And at 4-feet and under, there’s no better way to cure a Bike Week hangover than a few dozen blow-tails here. A half-hour drive north over the bridge, Ponce Inlet accommodates larger south swells with a legitimate righthand pointbreak experience, and subsequently, East Coast surf stars descend upon this place like locusts to get their fill.

Culture

After years of relative anonymity, the LandShark Spring Surfari Pro revived New Smyrna Beach this April with its first professional surfing event in nearly 15 years. Naturally, town prince Aaron Cormican slaughtered the competition, citing the adamantine work ethic that local forefathers instilled in his generation as the secret to his professional success. Though New Smyrna boasts an impressive legacy of surfing overachievers, there’s a certain psychosocial underdog complex that really drives the spirit of this town. For a long time it seemed their exploits—the biggest redfish ever landed in the Mosquito Lagoon or the biggest 360 air ever landed at the Inlet—have gone unrecorded and unannounced. And they wouldn’t have it any other way.

Quality of Life
Increasing hotel and condo development aggravating an already disturbing tourist population of Orlando weekenders and Northeastern snowbirds doesn’t detract from the backwoods, blue-collar charm of this somewhat insular beach community. Nearby Daytona Beach’s partytopia, Southern beauties lining the beach like mullet fleeing a bull shark… these are mere bonuses to the real catch. Here be Florida’s most surf-centric town. And everybody knows it.

Average Water Temp: 75
Average Air Temp: 70
Median Income: $42,460
Median Home Price: $242,484
Most Common Industry: Construction
Population: 23,161
Nearest city with pop. 200,000+: Jacksonville, FL (102.4 miles, pop. 735,617)
Premier Surf Spots: All roads lead to New Smyrna Inlet, the only game in town.
Local Talent: Aaron Cormican, Jimmy Johnston, and Eric and Evan Geiselman
Odd Fact: After many years of relative anonymity in the surfing spectrum, the LandShark Spring Surfari Pro revived New Smyrna Beach this April with its first professional surfing event in 15 years.

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  • frankie

    One of my favorite surf spots. I have been there many times, when the waves are shin to knee high at Ponce, yet waist to head high at New Smyrna.

  • Mr. Richards

    I am guy looking to leave upstate NY. Want to get back in shape and try my hand at surfing. This seems like a nice place to be…except for the words “shark infested”.