Top 10 Novelty Waves on the East Coast (and Beyond)

Photo: Chank Little

Novelty… almost a perfect word to describe myself. I’m slightly new to this world, original (because everyone is) and definitely unusual. Until I sat down to write this piece, I had never even considered the actual dictionary meaning of the word “novelty”, but now that I have, the small-wave dream run I’ve been on actually makes more sense then ever.

Since I was a child, different types of waves have intrigued me more than any other type of surfing. I’ve always liked spots that broke off of seawalls, on rocks or really anything that didn’t make any sense at all. The sketchier, the better. With all that in mind, I’m psyched to walk you through my top 10 most memorable + fun novelty wave experiences.

10. El Slammo

El Slammo is what I guess you could consider my “home novelty break”. It’s the first novelty wave I ever discovered—at about 10 years old—and I’ve been surfing it ever since. Sometimes it’s extremely ridable, other times it’s extremely deadly, but it’s always amazingly fun.

Depending on swell direction it can be a fun, punchy right barrel or a deadly left zipping by the rock jetty. It’s also right down the street from my house. A huge bonus is that when it’s blowing NE and storming, and everywhere else is massive and un-surfable, El Slammo is waist high and offshore!

9. Coffee’s

Coffee’s is literally inches from El Slammo. If we were on the North Shore, El Slammo would be backdoor and Coffee’s would be Pipe, but there is a key difference here… Coffee’s doesn’t break, like ever. I’ve surfed this evasive left hand runner only twice in my 28 years on Earth. I’ve known about the wave since I was a young kid. I discovered it around the same time that I discovered El Slammo, but never got to witness the miracle actually breaking, until this year.

I discovered Coffee’s potential while on a coffee date with my girlfriend. We went down to watch the sunset before dark and to my surprise there was a knee high left hand runner grinding off the rocks. I had to choice but to jump in! Two weeks later I absolutely scored this wave with Rob Kelly. It hasn’t broke since.

8. The Mud Hole

The Mud Hole is another dreamy, little novelty wave stashed right in my backyard. It’s probably the most popularized and most surfed, by others, novelty wave in my collection. It’s also the first novelty wave I ever surfed.

Photo: Matt Crowne

Photo: Matt Crowne

My dad brought my older brother Hob and I here for my first off the beaten path experience, when I was just 8 years old. The wave breaks in the bay so the bottom is very mucky and muddy, thus giving it the name The Mud Hole. There’s some rebar in the ground from some old structures that used to stand where the wave breaks, so you have to watch yourself when bailing on a closeout barrel.

This wave needs a hurricane swell to break and usually only lasts a short while, but every now and then you can catch it pretty fun! The day pictured was a random winter day when they were doing construction at the spot. Matt Crowne and myself ventured out to find a sick little peak off the machine barge.

7. The Micro Wedge

I don’t really have a name for this spot, and I’m not even really sure that it’s a spot, but once you’re on a solid novelty run it kind of seems like they pop up all around you. This wave is located about a mile north of El Slammo and Coffee’s, making it extremely hard for any swell to reach the break. 99.9 percent of this wave’s life, it is dead flat and only lapping because fishing boats are passing by the small beach.

One day I lucked out and discovered a small, bouncing east swell that made it’s way in there, rebounding off the small seawall at about one foot. It wasn’t much, but the stoke was on and I knew there was probably not going to be another opportunity for this, maybe ever. The micro wedge went off!

6. The Bay Wave

The Bay Wave is the original legitimate bay wave that I’ve discovered. It’s a left that break underneath someone’s dock and zips along a bulkhead seawall extremely quickly to end only at another person’s dock. Keyword here: sketchy. This was actually break pretty frequently, but I’ve only scored it really good, once again, during a hurricane or a tropical storm when the ocean is maxing and blown out.

I found this wave about five years ago when I followed some small breaking waves around a dock paddling from the El Slammo area and back toward my house. I paddled under three docks to where the waves and boat wakes would hit the bulkhead and bounce back out to sea or “bay” to create a super fun running left. I’ve scored this wave very fun a number of times.

5. The Colorado River Wave

Little known fact, there is a ton of river surfing here in the United States. It takes a lot of Internet hunting, friend-adding and luck, but you can score. This past summer during a road trip across country from New Jersey to California, my younger brother, Tucker, and I did so.

Legendary East Coast pro surfer, Gorkin, pointed out to me that June was a great time to catch waves in the Colorado River, and since it was along the way—literally, directly off the highway—we figured we’d might as well stop and give it a try. I contacted the Colorado Surf Supply through Instagram and dialed in a time + place to meet. After an 1,800 mile drive, we were ready to shred.

4. Coffee’s Wide Bowl

One of the most interesting things I’ve seen with a novelty wave so far. We had a slight sand shift at a wave that never breaks and the line up actually started to form into something very rare and extremely epic.

I had surfed Coffee’s left runner off the rock and figured I scored it and would probably never surf it again. I was content with that. However, one random morning this past September, we had a small but very long period swell. I think it was something like two feet at 14 secs. The wind was blowing NE and everywhere was blown out or just not even breaking. I randomly woke up early and headed down to check my bay waves.

When I arrived at the bay, I realized that somehow the long period was showing up at Coffee’s but pushing through super wide and creating a whole new bowled-out section on the inside. I called Rob Kelly and we were out there. The session turned out to be considerably one of the most high performance novelty sessions I’ve ever had.

3. Inner Sebastian Inlet

Sebastian Inlet is a wave I’ve been surfing my entire competitive surfing life. It’s one of the most consistent spots breaking in Central Florida and almost always has a small bump to ride. Most people surf it on a S swell, but when I was visiting this past October I was going down everyday to surf it on any direction because the water was warmer then Jersey.

On one particularly northeast wind, and on the night of a full moon, the tide had some up well beyond its normal height. While walking down the boardwalk from grabbing a coffee, I noticed some water splashing above the jetty on the southside where no one surfs. I ran down and to my amazement I found a gritty little left grinding down the rocks inside the inlet. Without a moment passing, I was running to my car to suit up, because these novelty things were starting to follow me and you have to take opportunity as it presents itself.

2. Atlantic City Inlet

By far the most dangerous novelty wave I’ve ever surfed, the Atlantic City Inlet was a one-and-done event. One random winter day, my buddy Matt Crowne and I drove down to the inlet in Atlantic City to shoot a few portrait pictures for a sponsor. While there, we noticed a surfable left off the rock pile. The area is extremely sketchy—submerged boardwalk debris everywhere in the water, including cement pilings and rebar everywhere. The wave, however, was far too good of a novelty to pass up.

Photo: Matt Crowne

Photo: Matt Crowne

I grabbed my board, suited up in my Hyperflex 5/4 and hit the water. I got a couple solid lefts and rights, including a small barrel, before things went bad. The next set that came through was a big left wall that pitched a little too hard over the inside rock ledge and threw me right into an old boardwalk piling. I hit metal and rock, ruined my wetsuit and cut up my side. After I crawled in from the water in extreme pain, I saw the photos and knew that it was all worth it.

1. Caribbean Wedge

By far my most favorite score to date, and it happened just last week. I was in the Caribbean for a photo/video trip for my wetsuit sponsor, Hyperflex. We had surfed all morning at one of the more popular waves on the island, it was noon and we were just about ready to wrap up the day. The wind had picked up and everywhere seemed blown out. Sitting in the parking lot with seemingly no surfing potential for the rest of the day, I said to the boys, “Dude, let’s go try to find that wedge.” The crew seemed stoked and we hit the Internet.

About 30 web pages, YouTube videos, maps and surf forecasts later, we had a vague idea of where we were headed. Like all novelty scores, we had to just pull the trigger and live on a prayer. Over an hour navigating random and unfamiliar Caribbean highways later, we arrived at our destination to see 2-3 foot glassy wedges. Without giving it a single thought, we were out there.

Truthfully, novelty waves aren’t for everyone. They’re definitely not something you can depend or even hope to find around every corner but for someone like me, a novelty myself, it usually pans out to be the perfect adventure for an otherwise day of doldrums.

To be a novelty surfer, you have to have a few beater boards, a solid understanding of swell directions and heights and most importantly, a lot of faith in nothing. However sometimes—and only sometimes—it can all pan out exactly how it’s supposed to. After all, life is a weird and a seemingly random energy field of novelties as it is—why not embrace what you’re already apart of?

See more from Ben’s ongoing, small-wave dream run via his YouTube channel and Instagram.