Top 10 Surf Colleges

Even with assignments that are piled up, and a part-time job to have money for fun on the weekends, there is always time for surfing when you’re in college. If you’re a high school junior or senior or even a college student looking to transfer, these are the top ten colleges to attend if you’re a surfer.

University of California, Santa Barbara:

Surf life: Santa Barbara is a surf spot for good quality surfing. Campus Point, Devereux and Sands are so close to the campus that you can grab your board to go surfing right after class.

Education: UCSB is one of the top public universities in the nation. This is a competitive school so make sure you take your studies serious so you can get into one of the best schools that’s next to some of the best surfing.

Town and campus: Santa Barbara is about an hour and a half away from Los Angeles and it has a lot of shopping, bars and restaurants for fun on the weekends.

Lifestyle: There are many living options to choose from when considering your move to Santa Barbara. You can choose anything from rural mountain locations to urban downtown living.


“One of the best waves in the area is called Campus Point. That’s pretty much all you need to know.” —Steve Hawk, former SURFER Editor

Point Loma Nazarene University

Thinking of surfing between classes? This university is for you. The dorms are the closest to the ocean compared to any university in Southern California. This university is religiously affiliated, so it enforces rules such as a requirement for Freshman to attend chapel and live on campus for the first year. With the ocean so close by and impeccable waves for surfing, who wouldn’t want to attend this college?


“It doesn’t get much better than checking the waves on the way to class and having dorms overlooking great waves. As long as you respect the local crew, PLNC can be one of the best places to get an education and surf some classic waves. The hard part is just making yourself go to class everyday and not cut school to surf.” —Rick Irons, Dragon Global Brand Manager

University of California, San Diego

UCSD is home of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. If you’re not just a lover of surfing but also an ocean enthusiast, this is one of the top universities for ocean and earth science research, education and public service. UCSD is located on the cliffs overlooking Blacks beach.


“UCSD is the best school to be a surfer because it’s the perfect cover-up. People take you seriously because you’re going to a ‘smart’ school. In the meantime, you get to learn Blacks’ most intimate curves for at least four years.” —Evan Slater, Hurley VP of Marketing

University of California, Santa Cruz

UCSC is only five minute drive to some of the best waves for surfing in the west coast. This university is surrounded by some of the best surf spots in the world, so you can expect to be able to surf almost all year-round. UC Santa Cruz is in a cold location, but students who surf can expect consistent waves to surf on during their time there.


“UCSC is a good school to attend for a surfer. The consistency of swell, diversity of breaks, and proximity to the surf are all perks of attending the Surf City University. However, it takes a dedicated, adventurous spirit to endure the cold water, crowded, localized point breaks, and abundant sea life that the Monterey Bay Canyon provides.” —Kim Mayer, professional surfer

New York University

Looking for an urban lifestyle and some good surfing when the waves are right? NYU is a good university for surfers to attend because when the swell is right, Rockaway and Casino Pier are a surfer’s dream. Even though you can’t surf everyday in New York, students are ok with that because they’re in Manhattan. This city offers many other fun and exciting options to keep a college student busy, like concerts, bars and museums. When you’re not surfing, take that time to explore the exciting city that you live in.


“Being based in NYC is great for an hour shot out to Long Island or NJ, or three hours up to New England. You have a nice range of coastlines for varying swell/wind directions. Not to mention two international airports — just in case you need to escape!” —Mike Machemer, Co-Founder New York Surf Film Festival

Pepperdine University

Calling all longboarders! Pepperdine University is the home of every longboarders dream. This university will have you itching to get out of class because students have a view of First Point. Malibu is not only a beautiful city to attend school, but there are waves just 10 minutes away for those who prefer to surf on a board that’s a little shorter.


“The campus sits just above Malibu and you can see the waves from the library. Plus the whole Malibu area has fun surf year round. Small campus, great education, cool people and country living…what more do you need?” —Richard Woolcott, CEO Volcom

California Polytechnic State University

California is a great place for two things: surfing and wine. With waves near by, students can head to the beach for surfing. If you happen to be interested in owning a winery one day, the university offers a B.A. in Wine and Viticulture. CSPU is known for agriculture, so if you’re interested in both surfing and how the soil in California produces delicious wine grapes, then this university is for you.


“There are so many empty lineups close to the school that you can pretty much surf by yourself every session. Cal Poly is a very wave rich area if you know where to go. Plus there is always a party going on with tons of girls.” —Shawn Dollar, big-wave surfer

University of Hawaii Manoa

Who wouldn’t love attending college in Hawaii? Located in Oahu, the water is warm, the waves are plentiful, and you can take courses about surf history and forecasting. Say mahalo to the university for accepting you because attending college in Hawaii is a surfer’s dream come true!


“You’ve got Ala Moana Bowls about 15 minutes away, Sandy Beach about a half hour away, and the North Shore is only an hour away. Plus, the National Weather Service forecast office is on the UH Manoa Campus, so you have all of this really detailed swell information right there on campus. And then, of course, Hawaii is such a beach-minded place, so there’s a whole surf community right there at school.” —Guy Hagi, Hawaii News Now weather anchor

San Diego State University

If you don’t want to break the bank, then attending SDSU is a less expensive option. This is the largest institution in the city, and it’s close to all of the best waves in San Diego.


“Why is SDSU a great school for a surfer? Really, there is just too many to list, but I would say the accessibility of northern Baja—it takes as long to go surf in Mex as it does Cardiff. I would also say in the social side of things is a plus: if you rip, the chicks dig you.” —Nick Greeninger, Rip Curl Team Manager

University of North Carolina Wilmington

You may not have thought of going to North Carolina for surfing, but this university has a surf team. The swell is constant here but it’s awesome when it appears. UNCW is close to many beaches with surf breaks for students who surf.

“UNCW is a great school: It’s close to the Outer Banks, there are affordable rentals in Wrightsville during the school year, plus dollar beers and girls — you wont find hotter girls with southern accents at a ‘surf school.’ Plus, it’s a school you can be proud to have graduated from.” —Jerry Ricciotti, surf filmmaker