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The History of Surfing in New Smyrna Beach

Surfing is a big deal in New Smyrna Beach. It’s not just a hobby or pastime – although it can be. It’s a lifestyle, and surfing in New Smyrna Beach commands a legendary history. There is even a museum downtown that showcases New Smyrna Beach’s rich surfing heritage!

It could be argued that surfing began here in the 1700s when the first explorers rode the waves to the New Smyrna Beach shores in their canoes, but let’s talk real deal…New Smyrna Beach has fostered more world-class surfers than any other town on earth, and it all began in the early 1960s. Today there are private surf lessons and even surfing schools. Back then, everyone was self-taught, learning by trial and error.

Surfing pioneers and New Smyrna Beach residents, Kem McNair and Charley Baldwin were first to set the New Smyrna Beach standard of surfing excellence when they won their East Coast titles back in the early 70s. Charley continued wining pro events long into the 80s, propelling him to become the first New Smyrna Beach surfer inducted into the East Coast Hall of Fame. But New Smyrna Beach had more champion surfers to offer. New Smyrna Beach native Isabel McLaughlin was the U.S, Women’s Surfing Champion in 1974, and Ross Pell won two East Coast professional titles in the 1980s.

New Smyrna Beach is so important to the world of surfing that the last Association of Surfing Professionals World Tour East Coast event was held in 1989 right here in New Smyrna Beach. Most recently, Travel and Leisure magazine named New Smyrna Beach one of the world’s 15 “Coolest Surf Towns.”

So break out your board and get ready catch some of those world famous New Smyrna Beach waves. Hang Ten!