National Geographic names Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina on "World's 20 Best Surf Towns" list!!

Best For: The whole family can enjoy Wrightsville’s trademark mix of sleepy southern beach town and growing metropolis. Think catfish with caviar or barbecue with Beaujolais.

Wrightsville Beach is a small town tucked away between the salt marshes, sandy barrier islands, and old wooden piers of the American southeast. “It’s a great surf town for two main reasons—attitude and access,” says Mike Barden, a native and owner of the seminal East Coast surf shop Surf City Surf Shop, which has been in business since 1978. “We have a pretty laid-back, understanding attitude. You don’t ever really get vibed here. You can just show up and surf, which is something that you can’t always do in big surf towns, such as Huntington Beach, or even some towns on the East Coast.”


August to October. Late summer is hurricane season and offers warm weather with consistently above-average surf.


WB Surf Camp offers lessons and camps for kids, teens, adults, families, and women-only groups.


You can’t go to the southeast without trying flounder and oysters. Barden recommends King Neptune Restaurant’s grilled flounder sandwich.


Vacation rentals overlooking the beach are the way to go.


The southeast is a hotbed of stand-up paddleboarding (SUP), and Wrightsville has one of the most popular loops in the region—the four-mile, flat-water Harbor Island Outer Loop. SUP rentals are available at Surf City. For a more sedentary time, charter a fishing boat from Philip Thompson at AUI Charters, or take the kids out with Stuart Caulder at Gold Leader Fishing.

Local Tip

The best swells, nor’easters, often come with strong winds and currents. Wait for them to pass then snag an early morning cleanup session the day after, when conditions are usually the best.

To find out the other 19 surf towns



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By Paul Coffman