Cynthia Rowley Shares Her Favorite Montauk Spots and Surf Tips

Cynthia Rowley wants more people to get out and surf.

For 20 years the fashion designer has been surfing all over the world — St. Barths, Hawaii, Malibu, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, Barbados, Mexico, Morocco, Japan, Hong Kong, to name a few — and has even created a wetsuit collection that she sells in her own stores and online.

“I’ll go anywhere in the world, but the place that I really love the most is Montauk,” says Rowley, who has a home she calls “Surf Shack” in the beach town at the tip of Long Island. “It’s such a magical place. It has the cliffs that you’d see in Hawaii. You feel like you’re in another world. You don’t feel like you’re in the Hamptons,” she says.

But while she’s very enthusiastic to get people to try surfing, she’s hesitant to reveal her favorite Montauk beaches for surfing.

“The thing about Montauk and the thing about being a surfer is you never want to blow up your spot,” says Rowley. “I can’t really give you actual names, but I can tell you from East Hampton all the way down, including Amagansett, all the way down to the lighthouse in Montauk, there are good surf spots, and the key is to find your secret spot.”

She cautions that one of the biggest problems for visitors looking to surf is parking. “I’m lucky enough to just walk to the beach,” she says. But she literally sees people getting off the Long Island Railroad in East Hampton, Amagansett or Montauk, with their surfboards in tow, and they can walk to many of the beaches.

The funny thing is, “people say, ‘I want to surf Saturday at 11 a.m., and I’ll meet you there.’ It’s not really up to you. It’s up to Mother Nature. You may go out there and there’s no waves, and there’s nothing you can do,” she says.

Still, she’s not giving away any secrets. “There are a lot of beaches. It’s kind of endless,” she says. She said the one Montauk beach everyone goes to surf is Ditch Plains. The other ones where she surfs don’t really have names, they just have names that the surfers give them.

“I like to tell people there are a lot of sharks in the water, and they probably shouldn’t surf there,” quips Rowley. “Which is not a lie,” she adds.

While she isn’t revealing her secret surfing spots, Rowley does have several tips for new surfers.

First, hire a surf instructor.

“If you’ve never surfed, look up surf instructors, and they’ll tell you where to meet. They have the boards,” she says. There are many hotels on the beach in Montauk that offer surf lessons, such as Marram Montauk (21 Oceanview Terrace), which has surf instructors on staff. “It’s right on the beach. Book it for the weekend and take a lesson,” she says.

Lisa Boos, a champion surfer

Lisa Boos, a champion surfer in Cynthia Rowley‘s Clover wetsuit.

Courtesy of Cynthia Rowley

Among the surf instructors she suggests are Matthew and Gregory Barton, Hamptons Surf Co. on Main Beach in East Hampton; Andrew Karr of Legend Surf Co. in Southampton, and Kurt Rist of Hamptons Surf Co. in Southampton.

The second tip is to dress appropriately. She recommends wearing a wetsuit “just for the functionality of it.”

“It keeps you warm, it has SPF 50 and is fully functional. It will keep you from getting scratched up on the board,” she says. If you’re a first-time surfer, the board will have a soft top.

“You can go to my [seasonal] store in Montauk and get a wetsuit,” she says. Rowley is also opening a year-round store at 150 Main Street in Sag Harbor at the end of May, which will carry wetsuits, swimwear, accessories and ready-to-wear.

Rowley got her start designing printed wetsuits for Quiksilver/Roxy, when she met the creative director while surfing. She went to design wetsuits for her own fashion company, where the suits retail for around $300.

Abby Oh2 3

Cynthia Rowley’s wetsuits shot in Hawaii.

Abby Oh, courtesy of Cynthia Rowley

For the past four or five years, Rowley has run a day-long CR Surf Camp once or twice a summer in Montauk, where she personally invites 25 influencers and editors who have never surfed.

“We guarantee with 100 percent certainty that you’re going to get a ride, and it’s going to change your life,” she says. She hires professional surf instructors, and the students are all on soft top boards, which are very buoyant and easy to ride. The instructors give a beach lesson and take each person out individually. “You might get pushed to get the exhilarating feeling of it,” she says.

“I’ve seen girls who have never done it before in their lives and go out after about an hour and ride a giant wave,” she says. “It makes me so happy to be able to share the joy. A lot of them end up booking [a hotel] and staying a couple of extra days to practice if the conditions are good.”

“I always say it takes less than an hour to learn how to surf, but it takes a lifetime to get good at it and feel comfortable,” says Rowley.

Cynthia Rowley

Cynthia Rowley tandem surfing with World Champion Bobby Freeman.

Anne Meneke, courtesy of Cynthia Rowley

In November, Rowley plans to offer the surf camp in Punta Mita, Mexico, where she’ll take about 20 influencers and editors.

Rowley got started surfing after she bought a “tiny little house in Montauk” (she has since moved) and her friend [“Diamond Richie”] said she couldn’t have the house and not surf. All of her surfer friends have nicknames – she’s known as “Slim.” He offered to take her out surfing and the very first day, she got a ride.

“I had a feeling that I never felt before. You’re in the water, it’s meditative. You’re at the mercy of Mother Nature. There’s no technology. You’re almost hypnotically watching these waves. I stayed out there for hours,” she says.

Rowley surfs every summer weekend (she starts in April) if there are waves. “I can see the waves from my house. It’s starts around 7 a.m., people start texting. ‘Where are we going, what’s it looking like?’ Then we make a plan. I take videos and send it around. A lot of people have cameras set up for the waves,” she says.

Rowley will move to different beaches throughout the day, depending on the waves. “Somebody who has a pick-up truck might throw the boards in the back.”

In general, she’ll wake up early and surf in the morning with friends. Then she walks into town and visits her store (696 Main Street, Montauk), which has a café, and she’ll get a cup of coffee. She’ll often have breakfast or lunch at Joni’s Kitchen (28 South Etna Avenue, Montauk), which is very casual and has a picnic table outside. In the afternoon, she’ll return to the beach for more surfing and cook or have a barbecue in the evening with friends. They might wind up at the Surf Lodge if there’s good music.

“It’s crazy crowded, but if it’s somebody good, you’ve got to go,” she says.

Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top