Exactly where Central Florida begins and ends is a matter of conjecture, but we have set our boundaries as Cape Canaveral in Brevard County in the north down to St Lucie County. Anywhere south of Jupiter Island in Martin County, the shadow of the Bahamas prevents east or southeast groundswells from arriving at the South Florida beaches. It might be argued that Fort Pierce is the cut-off point, but its mid-county position and water temps (it can be radically colder than 40 miles to the south) point towards Hobe Sound and the St Lucie Inlet as being the more user-friendly line of demarcation.
Brevard County epitomizes the Florida surf scene in three of its most important beaches. Cocoa Beach has a reputation for small waves, the biggest surf shops, and being home to the consummate surfing professional, Kelly Slater. Indialantic/Melbourne Beach has become a surf industry hotspot, lorded over by Eastern Surf Magazine, the voice of the right coast surfer. At the southern boundary of Brevard Co. is a beach that has built its reputation on quality waves, small or large, and is the proving ground for all Florida surfers. Sebastian Inlet is the most revered East Coast surf spot thanks to the wedging rights that peak and peel off the long north jetty
Between Cocoa and Sebastian, there are a few more quality waves, some of which break on coquina reefs, a commonplace geological phenomenon in central and southern Florida. These formations (soft limestone sandwiches of shells and dead coral) create stable launching pads that trip larger swells, transforming small, mellow beachbreak waves into large, fast, challenging screamers that peel like freight trains along the shelf. RC's is the most notable of these reef breaks in Brevard County, but it requires some N in the swell, so hurricane swells are not always the best, as a more E swell direction causes many of the breaks to close out.
Indian River County and St Lucie County are flanked by more illustrious surf zones that remain under the radar of media attention, which is just fine for the local crews. Coquina reefs provide some stability and reliability to the surf at places like Stuart Rocks, while the inlet breakwater at Fort Pierce is a real swell magnet. Access in this area is far better than in the exclusive and exclusionary world of the gated beachfront communities and condos that dominate the coast in South Florida, and there are plenty of beachbreaks to escape the concentrations of able surfers at the main spots.
Hurricanes are seasonal depressions that only form in sub-tropical latitudes (10°-30°) when the contrasts between sea and air temperatures are at their greatest. East Coast surfers become amateur meteorologists when it comes to tracking these counter-clockwise spinning storms, but even the professionals on the Weather Channel find it difficult to predict their erratic paths
Central Florida has excellent exposure to these storms that spin through the hurricane alley from the West Africa coast to the Caribbean, where they will either cross into the Gulf or swing N and head up the East Coast of the continent. Surfers must temper their prayers for these swell producers against the possible havoc they can wreak if they make landfall. Provider and destroyer in one package, hurricanes are a two-edged sword responsible for accelerating erosion, damaging hard structures (mainly piers), causing massive stormwater problems, overloading outfall systems, sewage, and agricultural holding tanks, plus generally filling the line-up with debris.