Written by:Emily Bates
College life is unforgettable, and as a surfer, the experience is even better if you can catch a wave to escape the finals stress, dwell over your paper thesis while waiting for sets, even a casual setting to meet new friends in your new home as a student. With unbelievable opportunities at your fingertips and challenges to face, deciding the best university for yourself is just down right hard. What sets one perfect university apart from the rest? Well, if you’re a surfer, choosing the right part of the United States coastline will be as necessary as paying your tuition. The good news is that there are a bunch of schools in prime locations for daily surf sessions to break up all that studying.
The Surf Channel presents the Top 10 Universities for Surfers.
#10 – California State University, Long Beach
Although there is no surf in Long Beach (take down the breakwater and there will be!), there is an essence of surf culture and overall beach attitude at the university which is located only a few miles from the coast. Let it be known, the surfing championships were held in Long Beach in the 1930′s! However, a quick 20-minute drive south will take you to Huntington Beach, Southern California’s Surf City (there is an ongoing argument that Santa Cruz is the real “Surf City,” but that is for you to decide). There are a lot of breaks along the way in Seal Beach, Surfside (an ode to Surfside colony is made in Sublime’s song titled, “Paddle Out”) then there is Bolsa Chica and a huge stretch of beach known as HB cliffs. If you choose to wander north of Long Beach, there is Coastal San Pedro, the coveted Palos Verdes Peninsula and Torrance. If you are willing to search around, you can find waves in PV that are empty and perfect. Be weary of agro locals! True, the surf is not always epic in and around Long Beach, but when it’s good, it is really good… barrels for days and perfectly groomed a-frames! Believe me, I have seen it. If you don’t mind surfing fun, punchy beach break all the time, CSULB is the school for you! Not to mention, it is nestled in one of the Top 5 Most Diverse Cities in the country!
#9 – Cal State San Marcos
Tired of surfing the same break each day? If you’re looking for a sampler plate of surf and a location between SoCal’s best breaks, time to consider Cal State San Marcos. Not only is CSUSM a relatively close drive to Trestles, Cardiff Reef, San Clemente, Black’s Beach and Sunset Cliffs, but campus is just a few miles from Swami’s, one of the few San Diego right point breaks. Swami’s is known for reliability and seems to get better as the swell rolls in, so be ready to fight a pretty heavy crowd of seasoned locals. Don’t forget about Oceanside Pier and everything in-between if the crowds are getting to your head. Make sure you have accessibility to a car during your college adventure if you plan on taste-testing the various breaks up and down the coast. It will be well worth it.
#8 – Monmouth University, New Jersey
There is more to the Jersey Shore than fist pumping guidos and Snooki, believe it or not. If you can see past the fake tanned guidettes, you’ll find quick beach breaks at Monmouth and one of New Jersey’s most famous spots, Manasquan Inlet. New Jersey is host to one of the largest East Coast surf communities and has 127 miles of coastline with a plethora of jetties and difficult surf breaks. Monmouth University is the prime location to discover countless New Jersey surf spots including Loch Arbor, Bradley Beach, Sandy Hook, Bay Head, Belmar, Asbury Park, Ocean Grove and so many more. The university is located an hour from New York City where surfers that are frothing for some NYC surf can hit up Rockaway beach.
#7 - Pepperdine University, Malibu
YES, it’s private, so YES it’s a little pricey, but who can put a price on perfect quarter mile rights? Welcome to the ‘Bu. Pepperdine University overlooks the iconic Malibu Beach, famous for surfing, surf culture and endless rights. Malibu is located in Northwestern Los Angeles County, which means you might be shreddin with the celebs. If you are trying to get the Hollywood experience, you might be surprised to see stars paddling out next to you in the line up like Adam Sandler and Matthew Mcconaughey.
#6 – Florida Institute of Technology
Feel like warm blue water, subtropical earth and hot, humid weather? Then the Florida Institute of Technology is going to be your closest lick of paradise while studying in the States (other than Hawai’i.. duuh). Campus is just miles from Spanish House, Bonsteel Park and, most famous to Florida, Sebastian Inlet. Though Florida surf isn’t well known for consistency, it’s gotta be somewhat decent if it trained eleven time world champion Kelly Slater. When it goes off, it’s good and there are definitely waves to be had as well as a crowd to battle. Florida Institute of Technology also has a rockin’ surf team competing for the National Scholastic Surfing Association East Coast Section. Recently they placed first in the New Symrna Beach Inlet NSSA Comp over University of North Florida, University of Florida, University of Central Florida, Daytona State College and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. If you are ready to throw some airs and earn some points, then definitely check out FIT for your ideal higher education location.
#5 – Point Loma Nazarene University
Point Loma Nazarene University in Southern California is located between some of Sand Diego’s prime surf breaks. Students attending the religious institution are bound to additional university requirements such as chapel attendance, but this shouldn’t challenge too much surf time since several reef breaks are just across from the campus dorms parking lot. Why did we put another SD school up on blast for our Top 10? Probably cuz it’s 92 acres of ocean front property makes this the closest campus to the beach in the state of California. There isn’t too much to argue with here; epic location, perfect beach town vibe, unreal surf and accessibility to endless breaks in SD.
#4 – University of Hawai’i at Manoa
We’d be loco en la cabeza not to put the University of Hawaii at Manoa on our top three. Oahu is home to some of the most famous surf breaks on the planet. Year round perfect weather and epic winter swell brings professionals charging each year to shred these salty beasts. Publics, Haleiwa, Waimea Bay, Log Cabins, Rockpiles, Off the Wall, Backdoor, Ehukai, Rocky Point, Sunset Beach, Velzyland, Turtle Bay, Makaha, Queens, Canoe’s, Three’s, Kaisers, the world renown Banzai Pipeline.. we could go on and on. And ya, all of these famous breaks are less than an hour from UH. That being said, if you are trying to shred through winter session classes, be prepared for 20ft hollow barrels kissing the top of jagged coral reef. Not down? Maybe try a different school..the Norhshore shows no mercy.
#3 – University of California, Santa Barbara
Rights all day, errday. Nuff said about Campus Point just across the street from the UCSB dorms. Students have the blissful luxury of surf just a few steps away from their napping headquarters. Yes, we obviously know that this trumps a thigh burning vertical hike but so does everyone else and their mom. Crowding at Campus Point can def be a serious issue. But take it down a thousand, number one party town Isla Vista is just a few miles down the road, so you’re sure to count on some hungover dawn patrol no shows for lots of the crowd. But lest us not forget the endless rights birthed by the Queen of the Cali Coast, RINCON, just a few miles down the road. Not only is she arguably one of the best point breaks in Cali, but she never disappoints when it comes to quality. Trying to get an up close look at some of the best maneuvers known to man? Rincon is hospitable to some of the world’s greatest surfers, Kelly Slater, Dane Reynolds and Bobby Martinez, so you are sure to have front row seats. Chilly winter days at UCSB don’t sound so bad after all.
#2 – University of California, San Diego
Long, consistent lines with shreddable 10-12’ foot potential? Sounds aiigghht. Who are we kidding, how does anyone get an education at UCSD with Blacks Beach just a hike away?! The trick seems to be sesh time between classes since these liquid gold gifts are just a short hike from campus. Nevermind the gnarly, thigh agonizing cliff hike back UP to campus, your buns will be thanking you later when you’re pop, lock and droppin’ it at the clubs just a few miles from campus. Plus, if you’re trying to build a rep, UCSD has a rounded surf team that dedicates every week to early morning training, guess it shows with six national titles.
#1 – University of California, Santa Cruz
Don’t forget to squeeze on the booties and sexy neoprene hoody cuz were cruisin to the crystal clear, arctic point breaks of Cali, UC Santa Cruz. Ya we know you’re gonna freeze your chacheeze off, but it’s well worth the epic surf at Davenport, Steamer Lane, Mitchell’s Cove, Pleasure Point, The Harbor, Cowells and Waddell Creek. Expect clean, quality, high performance waves with 15’ potential on ideal winter days. UC Santa Cruz is located within a twenty minute driving distance from all the major breaks in Santa Cruz, making in-between sessions more than manageable. If surfing between classes isn’t enough for you soon-to-be Banana Slugs, UC Santa Cruz has one of the top marine mammal research centers in the world, so feel free to get your salty fix during shred time and class time.
However, with heavenly surf comes underlying enemies, so be prepared to battle crowds and..uuhh..great whites. We decided that instead of sharing the hair raising statistics of shark attacks in NorCal over the decades, we would just leave it at this: Don’t paddle out looking like a seal. AAnnyways, nuff said there. Crowding can also be a forever irritating dilemma of shreddin Santa Cruz, however secret desolate spots are always to be had for the most devoted surfers. Santa Cruz is by far the number one University for surfers to attend in search for the perfect wave and a chill beach lifestyle.
Happy surfing, and stay in school!