New Hampshire has the shortest ocean coastline of any coastal state in the country, with a length of about 13 miles. That's not a lot, but don't let it fool you, within that small stretch are some great spots to surf. It also has a ton of great surfers... I've seen some serious ripping in these frigid waters.
It's about an hour and a quarter's drive to surf in the Live Free or Die state for me. Not going to lie, that state motto kicks ass. But I like to surf New Hampshire in all seasons. It's a nice option to get away from the same old same old down in MA and RI. The swell window is pretty wide picking up angles from the SE to the NE. The locals aren't too bad either, provided you play by the rules.
Starting with the north and working your way down through the beaches of Rye there are some great options if you're local and you have the knowledge. Jenness (pictured above) is a nice left point with a few peaks down the beach to the south. It's mostly a mellow wave with a bunch of longboarders and SUPers. I'm sure the locals have names for these individual spots, there are about three streets for Jenness with street/mud parallel parking. I usually surf the point or the next peak over. It's rarely crowded and localism is low here. It can be super lumpy and fun when it gets big on a SE swell. I've caught it well overhead and perfect on more than one occasion... raced some serious walls on my 9'2. The paddle can be a little bit of a bitch out to the point after a long ride. You might take a few sets on the head. Also, if you get caught inside on one of the south peaks on bigger days, be warned. When the ocean temps are in the 30's during winter you don't want to have to put your head under water if you don't have to.
Moving south there is a really nice set up at Rye on the Rocks. This spot is always super crowded, dawn to dusk, no matter the swell size, shape, or form. It can get really good. It's a reef break right on the beach. Not much paddle. There are some dudes out there yelling at each other probably. A few rippers here bust mostly guys who don't surf that well and get in the way a lot. I don't particularly enjoy surfing this spot unless it's empty... which is pretty much never. There's an outside spot to the south, right point that you can paddle to from here. Or you can drive down the road for a hidden parking lot that gets filled before the sun is up on good days. Again, I never took the time to figure out the spot names. This right point was epic one time on a gigantic SE from a hurricane. It was double overhead perfection. Guys were ripping, getting tubed and it was glossy magazine level shit. I caught two freight trains on my log and got out of there. TOTAL. ZOO. Not really my speed.
As you're leaving Rye heading south you get to the North Hampton State Park, there's a pull off where you can check the waves without getting out of your car. The ocean has been eroding this area pretty good so the parking lot is small. It's not too good here usually, but when it gets big you can find some rides. There's a fun shorebreak/high tide wave that's worth a look here. Fun barrels on the inside, a bit rocky and not for beginners. I recorded a clip on a big day... here's a LINK to that instagram post. This dude showing you how it's done in a 5mil in the month of January.
The Hampton area is the focal point for New Hampshire surfing. You can look at the surfline camera HERE. The Wall has a ton of peaks and can handle a large crowd... and it can get extremely crowded in the summer. There's a ton of metered parking starting at the north end of the wall and extending through the bend, known as the Boar's Head. There are a ton of peaks up and down this beach break area stretching south as you head towards the main area of Hampton. When everywhere is flat, you might find some knee high drivel coming in here. When it gets too big, it closes out on the beach. I recommend checking this spot at first light in the summer time if you want to have some space. Otherwise, you're shoulder to shoulder out there. This area has some interesting folks. It actually reminds me of home in Ft. Liquordale!
SOUTH HAMPTON BEACH
The south end of Hampton Beach can be a real happening place in the summer time. It's a popular tourist destination. It's not a quaint New England beach town, it's more like a Ft. Lauderdale or Jersey Shore. There's no surfing in the south park area during summer.
So what's the best way to surf New Hampshire? Winter, Fall or Spring and get there early! If you want to catch a fun south swell in the summer, I recommend staying for a day and making a vacation of it. If you can line up a good rock show at the Casino Ballroom with some fun waves, then it's a nice summer getaway... but not necessarily relaxing. I surfed some fun days before and after the Less Than Jake concert a few years back. Fun time!
Below is a gallery of shots from different times I surfed New Hampshire. Also some tunes from two artists that are from the area. I'll try and blog about Maine this summer. I've found some fun spots around Kennebunk Beach and down through Ogunquit that are pretty fun. A trip to the Kennebunk area is a COMPLETELY different experience than the Hampton area of New Hampshire!