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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Yurko

Surfing on Assateague Island in the Winter

Wait, you can surf at Assateague Island in the winter? You can surf after just a three hour drive from Washington DC when most people are getting ready to ski? Absolutely, and the experience is incredible!

Surfing - End of November, 2018

What are the surfing conditions like in the winter?

The experience of winter surfing is unlike anything else, a true thrill, and with the proper equipment the word cold quickly becomes a forgotten thought. By the time November comes, ocean temperatures at Assateague have dropped into the 50s. In December, water temperatures are in the 40s, with January, February, and March dipping into the high 30s before creeping back into the low 40s. What does this mean for surfing? Less crowds, better surf, open beaches, and more breaks to choose from.

So, what equipment do I need?

Wetsuits, booties, and gloves. If you were to buy one wetsuit for the winter, your best bet would be a 5/4 hooded with at least 5mm booties and 5mm gloves. The 5mm is the thickness of the wetsuit around the body, with 4mm on the arms and legs to allow for more movement. However, remember that not all wetsuits are created equal, so ensure that your wetsuit is rated for the right temperature for the water you are entering.

Preparing for winter surfing

The equipment is vital, but mental preparation is key as well. As a comparison, most cold plunge pools range from 50-55 degrees Fahrenheit. However, people jumping into these pools do not have a wetsuit and are usually just in a bathing suit, but, it gives you a comparison of how cold the ocean temperatures can get at Assateague. This also means that you should ONLY get in the water with the proper equipment and preparation!

Surfing in the winter for a beginner?

We have taken many first timers to surf on Assateague Island OSV in the winter, even when it is snowing, and each and every time they feel extremely refreshed after finishing a session. It is an incredible experience that you must be prepared for. There are many known benefits to immersing your body in cold water, and while this isn’t exactly a cold plunge, there can be comparisons made.

First Time Surfing! February 2020

Where is the best place to surf on Assateague Island?

During the winter, it's still a great time to surf on Assateague OSV, arguably a better time, as space is ample, the OSV is rarely closed, and the will be no one to compete for waves with. We drive up and down the beach with 10 miles of breaks to choose from. Once settled on a spot, you park right on the beach with access to all your boards, wetsuits, and supplies.

After the session, you can build a campfire right on the beach (rules prohibit keeping it unattended). There's nothing better than getting out of the water and sitting around a hot campfire. Bring skewers, sausages, hot dogs and buns, and you can cook lunch right there. Stock up on s'mores supplies to cap off your day with a sweet treat.

Many people also surf at Assateague State Park during the winter as there are no entrance fees. Park in the state parking lot, head down the path towards the beach and emerge over the dunes. The dunes do provide some wind protection on very strong west / offshore wind days. The breaks can be a little more consistent depending on the tides, but that means there will be more people. When there is a good surf forecast, you can almost always ensure surfers will be at Assateague state park.

If you are interested in surfing any time of year, check out our custom surf trips!

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