Surfers who get up with the sun to catch early morning waves are in for a treat when visiting east-facing Wrightsville Beach. Not only will you experience a hypnotic sunrise, but you’ll have the beach and parking largely to yourself. Due to its easy access and warm water for 7 to 8 months of the year, Wrightsville Beach is an ideal place to take up the surfing lifestyle. Looking for a gym, church, and therapist all wrapped in to one? Then surfing is worth exploring for its workout, spiritual, and calming attributes. If you’ve got a board and are ready for the challenges inherent in surfing, here are some of my favorite lesser-known surf spots in Wrightsville Beach.

Shell Island

The northern end of Wrightsville Beach was nearly on the brink of being washed away several years ago. Thanks to beach renourishment, the area has returned to its former glory. There is only a small public parking lot here, but the spread-out area provided by the vast beach allows for plenty of room for all. You may have to hike a bit to get to the sandbar that lies just between Figure 8 Island and the northernmost point of Wrightsville, but on a solid easterly swell, your extra steps will pay off.

Beach Access 4 (The L-Shaped Lot)

While a local band took their name from the L-shaped configuration of this parking lot where they surf, Access 4 has a rotating pair of sandbars that improve/degrade depending on weather and tide patterns. But the abundant parking and bath facilities make it a great spot for the blooming surfer. Just remember, the surfers who arrive before 9:00 a.m. don’t have to pay for parking and have very little crowd to deal with. Get up before the sun and reap the rewards!

Holiday Inn Resort

Most people staying at this upscale island property aren't there to surf so the area in front of the hotel has waves for the taking. There’s limited parking on the street, but public accesses will easily get you onto the sand. Just be mindful of clueless waders who may want to stand directly in front of you and watch. Take an extra board in case you make a new surfing friend!

Carolina Yacht Club

Ok, sure, it’s a private club and access to the area in front requires a few extra steps from public parking, but the effort is worth it. There are typically very few surfers in the ocean facing the club, perhaps because most of the members that might be surfing are probably sailing on the sound-side. Just a few minutes’ walk from Crystal Pier at The Oceanic (one of the more crowded surf spots on the island), the waves are pretty much the same as the packed-out area on either side of the pier. Just a little extra work can often get you to the waves that are all your own.

Mason’s Inlet Jetty

While the crowds battle it out for waves at Crystal Pier, the savvy surfer walks or paddles to the southern end of the island. There—depending on the swell direction—waves will peel and bounce off the rock jetty that forms the northern portion of Mason’s Inlet, a deep-water access for boats between Wrightsville Beach and Masonboro Island. With the right tide and a southerly swell, you can catch exceedingly long right-handers. Over the past several years, this spot has become a popular break for standup paddleboarders as their paddles can often get them through flat sections and connect the outside wave to the inside break.

Now that you’ve got some new spots to explore, just keep in mind some of the local surfing rules. During the summer season (Memorial Day to Labor Day), the Town establishes surf zones from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. No surfing is allowed within 250 feet of either side of a lifeguard tower and the guards will plant flags and clear the lineup at 10 a.m. Also, there’s no surfing within 250 yards of either of the island’s piers. In addition, leashes must be worn at all times and surfers can be fined for not wearing one.

Now get out there, be careful, and have fun!