New Smyrna Summer
This past weekend I ventured out once again to my favorite surfing home break, New Smyrna Beach. This sleepy little town 45 minutes north of Downtown Orlando has been my go to for over 30 years. I’ve surfed so many waves there that my mind sometimes draws a blank to how many times I’ve dropped in or who I was with over the years.
I first started at age 16, as I was passing my prime in the sport of BMX. I bought a used board, spray painted with camouflage colors, single fin and that memorable smell of Mr. Zoggs Sex Wax buried into the fiberglass. The leash barely had any Velcro left on it to hold, but I was hooked nonetheless. I was going to be the next Tom Curren, a world travelling surf champ with girls, magazine features and sponsors, my life goal was set. I would skip out of class at Edgewater High School, start up my VW bug and hit the interstate with my friends and their gas money. This was the only thing I wanted to do forever, or so I thought. Fast Times at Ridgemont High livin……
Years later I would travel to surf in Barbados, the Bahamas, Santa Cruz California and beyond. I never did get the full sponsorship or the Hawaii barrels I craved, but this sport taught me so much. I became a filmmaker, waterman, underwater photographer and TV video producer with my own show on the Sunshine Network. Surfing will always be in my blood in many forms.
These days I have 2 boys, both avid watermen and fearless swimmers. Blaze and Zane began at age 3 and have surfed New Smyrna and the East coast ever since. They crave the waves much like I do, but only for the fun of it, heck, sometimes they simply swim for hours. They to have the New Smyrna bug.
New Smyrna is the most consistent shore break on the East coast, with its sand bottom, pointy peaks and nicely set up transitions. The fact that you can drive your vehicle on the beach is a bonus as you can pack more gear in to your parking spot. I can bring chairs, cameras, tripods, boogie boards, coolers, surf boards and more….plus my music. Contests are regularly run here including the ESA and NSSA, with some odd Pro-Am contests thrown in to boot. The only drawback would be the men in grey suits that frequent the area…(SHARKS)!!!! New Smyrna is also called the “Sharkbite Capital of the WORLD” due to the large amount of sharks that bite people in the area. The inlet draws plenty of fish, fishermen and sharks in addition to many surfers every day. I’ve had a few run ins with these creatures, but I wear my SharkBank everytime I step into the water, it settles the nerves a bit when I swim out into the lineup with fins and an underwater camera.
But I must admit, I’ve experienced more danger getting to and leaving the beach….I was a passenger in a car that flipped by the New Smyrna Speedway at age 19 on my way home from surfing, travelling over 70 mph and crashing will ruin your day, trust me.
Though the exact route has changed with time and the population has increased dramatically over the past few decades, New Smyrna is still a top destination of those who crave the waves. Prices of homes average over 300K and the traffic can be a nightmare, but there aren’t too many surf towns like this left in Florida. The beach pass daily rate has also gone up from the time I use to skip class. I could buy a beach pass then for $5 and then pass it along to a friend so they could drive on, today the same pass is $20 and a season pass is $100 and is stuck to your windshield. My boys will look back one day and realize how great they have it to be able to surf here, in clean water and bright sand dunes. The ocean is changing and I fear for the day when they can no longer hop in. The Surfrider Foundation is doing their part to save the oceans, but they need more help and regulations. Yeah…..If only!
Summer is upon us and I would ask you to explore New Smyrna and its little main street, its boardwalk, its fishing on the rocks and of course it’s beach. We have a resource here that few get to experience, and I am glad to have the opportunity to share this with my boys.
Photos: Alex Menendez
Follow on Instagram @FotoAlexM