Surf breaks are defined by any area where an obstruction in the seafloor causes a long enough wave to break where surfers are able to catch and ride. Surf breaks are extremely varied with regards to size, size of waves, types of waves, speed of waves, depth, and many other factors. Surfers often have a favorite break that matches the style of surfing that they enjoy most.
Beach breaks are the most common surf breaks in Florida. Beach breaks roll over sandbars that have been generated from currents, storms, dredges, or jetties. One unfortunate aspect to beach breaks is that they are always changing as large swells and storms move and deposit sand into different areas all of the time. While this can be frustrating, it incorporates the search element as surfers are always chasing down that perfect break.
Reef breaks are surf breaks where the waves break over a coral reef or rock-like seafloor. Generally reef breaks are surfed by more advanced surfers as they are more dangerous than beach breaks. A wipeout at a shallow reef break can cause the rider to collide with the sharp reef resulting in injury.
Point breaks are what most surfers consider the greatest surf breaks. Point breaks can break over reef or sand and the waves generally wrap around a headland or point until they empty out into a bay. Lots of surfers prefer point breaks as the waves are much longer and they are far more predictable as they break in roughly the same place and direction every time. While St. Augustine is not known for having point breaks, with the right swell direction and a little bit of searching, a small secret point break can allow for the longest left waves in the oldest city.
St. Augustine Pier:
Debatably the most popular surf spot in St. Augustine, St. Augustine Pier boasts waves for all experience levels depending upon the swell. With built up sandbars from the currents depositing sand that is blocked by the pier, there are good breaks on both sides of the pier which can help to spread out the crowds.
The pier actually consists of two different breaks that only break when the tide is high or low. Surfers tend to surf the outside break on a lower tide when the water is low enough to break on the outer sandbar. At a higher tide when the water is too high to break on the outer bar, surfers prefer surfing the inside sandbar for shorter and faster waves.
A Street surf spot breaks very similar to the pier with regards to the tides and the outer and inner sandbars. While this break is ever changing, surfers tend to surf the outside bar on the lower tides for longer rides, and surf the inside bar on higher tides for faster, often more challenging waves. The A Street surf break can often get very crowded on the weekends as it is located right in front of the entrance for beach drivers.
Blowhole surf break was the epitome of early surfing in the oldest city and can be partially credited for the unique surf culture in St. Augustine. Older surfers in the area all have their own special memories of driving up to Blowhole in the olden days to find perfect waves breaking along a long sandbar that were more than double the size of the waves anywhere else in the area.
Located near Anastasia State Park, Blowhole was home to perfect hollow waves that ran both left and right down the sandbar. Unfortunately, like many beach breaks, the sandbar setup at Blowhole is no longer there due to dredging and beach renourishment projects so this legendary surf break only lives on in the memory of those who were lucky enough to get out there.
Vilano surf break, at least when referring to the break just north of the inlet, is often referred to as the most high performance surf break in the area. While mostly surfed by shortboarders, this break is home to very steep, fast, often barreling waves that usually can only be surfed by more advanced surfers. This surf spot breaks right along the shoreline and is frequently home to numerous rip currents that can suck swimmers out to sea.