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       logo1.gif (5335 bytes)         Kugenuma Beach surf check

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Kugenuma may be the focal point of surfing on the Shonan coast and the best swell catcher, but there are plenty of other spots around that will be better and less crowded in certain conditions. With such a variety of wave types in such a small area, you simply have to follow your preference. Typhoon days are the best - choose from huge deep water reef breaks or river mouth bommie, sheltered sand bottom point, reeling harbour wall reefs to mellow inside-harbour beach breaks. All spots work best on a low-mid pushing tide.

A very rough guide to which spots work best at which swell size (the swell height is at Kugenuma, which is usually bigger than the other spots):


2 feet 4 feet 6 feet 8 feet 10 feet
Kugenuma, Banu All West shonan beaches All West/East open spots Shichirigahama Big wave/sheltered spots


East Shonan - Zushi to Enoshima

This area has the greatest variety of surf spots and also a train line (Enoden) and road (R134) that run along the coast. All spots are easily accessible and in general the water is cleaner than the other areas of Shonan, as there are less rivers and people. The beaches also enjoy excellent shelter from North winds due to the high ground running along the coast, including Kamakura mountain. The swell is usually smaller than the other side of Enoshima as this area is more protected by the Miura peninsula, but on a straight South or Southwest swell it should get almost the same size waves.

The table below gives an indication of the size you should expect at all the spots, with Kugenuma listed as the indicator beach. Kugenuma gets the most swell, and as the table shows some spots don't break under a certain height, due to the bottom contours. All sizes are measured as the height of the wave face as it breaks.


Spot Type Level Size (feet)
Kugenuma beach low 2 4 6 8 10 12
Zushi reefs reef high         4 6
Yuigahama beach low     2 3 4 5
Inamuragasaki deep reef high     4 6 8 10
Shichirigahama sand/reef med     4 6 8 10
Koshigoe right sand/reef low     4 6 8 10
Koshigoe reef deep reef high         8 10
Koshigoe harbour beach low     2 3 4 5

Zushi reefs

I've never had the chance to surf these reefs. Mainly because they are a long way from my house and I usually cycle to the beach, but also because there are plenty of spots to choose from when it gets big in Shonan. The 2 times I've surfed really big surf here I went to Shichirigahama once for sketchy, close-out 8 foot plus waves, and the other time to Dairoku on Enoshima island for perfect 4-6 foot peeling point break. With Inamuragaskai close too Zushi is a last resort. However if you have a motor and want to surf clean long reef/point waves with enough juice for short boards this is the ideal spot. Only works in a huge swell (before and after typhoons) and in light winds or NE and Easterly stronger winds. Not sure of the exact set-up but there are 3 separate spots all breaking around the outside harbour walls at Zushi. Should be walking distance from Kamakura or Zushi station (see the map above, near Wakaejima island) but best not to leave kit there, as it is pretty local and hotly contested when it works.



An ideal beginners beach, especially in the summer when there is more swell. Just a short walk from Kamakura station. Again, I've never surfed here but have seen longboarders out on small days. I'm sure you can rent longboards from one of the local shops. It's probably closed to surfers in July and August, but they might leave a section open at one end. Very mellow right and left sand bottom waves all along the beach - most experienced surfers will be out at Shichirigahama if there are any waves here. Still the beach is probably the most fun in summer with lots of tourists from Tokyo and beach bars set up all around. This is the closest Shonan comes to being a real resort in summer.



This is the closest Shonan comes to a world class wave. The main break is a deep water reef left hander breaking in front of the cliffs of a small hill that juts out on the East end of Shichirigahama beach. It's not really a barrel but has tubular sections and a fast racing wall with a pretty perfect shape. Round the East side of this hill there's a slightly mellower (ie. still dangerous) right hand reef/point break that also only breaks in a big swell. There's rarely a crowd on this spot. It takes a good sized swell to get these points firing, but once Kugenuma beach is 8 foot and maxing out good local surfers will converge on the main spot as well as pros and Tokyo area surfers. There is a strong local crew who catch most waves and you'll be far down the pecking order, but even one ride will be a decent experience. Over 6 foot it's not really a longboard wave, and be prepared for a good hold down if you wipe out. Simple paddle out to the right of the break but strong currents on big days. There is a stop at Inamuragasaki so really easy to get to, and some cool restaurants and bars along that section of the coast.



One of my favourite spots, as it offers clean and well shaped waves ideal for carving and noseriding, with walling sections offering the odd cover up on good days. It's rideable on a longboard up to 8 feet, but can barrel in the right conditions so something gunnier would be better on bigger days. Basically it is a 1km long beach with a reef and sand bottom which is fairly flat and safe. There are some jagged parts so be careful on wipeouts at low tide and booties might be advisable, but most of the reef has a good covering of kelp. Because of the reef the spots are clearly defined and basically there are decent lefts and rights every 100m or so, with the spots in front of First Kitchen and the parking area most crowded. If you walk a little you'll get waves with less people. This break is really best at 4 foot plus (when Kugenuma is 6 foot) as it won't break properly on a small swell.


Koshigoe right

If you look at the map there is a small hill or headland with Koyurugi shrine on it. This hill marks the end of Shichirigahama beach and there is a small port used by seaweed farmers. Along the outside of the port wall sand has built up and produces a clean and mellow right hander which breaks in the same conditions as the main beach. This is a good spot for classic styling on a longboard and the local crew usually rider flatter boards on small days. The locals are pretty friendly here and it's rarely too crowded as there is no parking. You paddle out in the rip the runs along the harbour wall. On big days this is a deceptively easy paddle out - make sure you are ready for the conditions as you will have to catch a wave to get back in!


Koshigoe reef

This is an extremely dangerous wave. It breaks outside the seaweed port in deep water over a reef bottom, but the whitewater rolls right up and smashes into the outside of the harbour wall. Basically if you fluff your take off badly or go straight you'll be pounded. There's also a lot of current running around this area in a big swell. It takes a good solid 8 to 10 foot swell to make this break and a low tide, but if you've got the balls you will probably be alone riding a clean A frame peak with a short wall that backs off into deep water. The paddle out is a cinch, just the consequences are a worry. I've only seen one guy surf this spot. He caught a great 1st wave here only to fall on his second and come within meters of the wall. He got out after that.....


Koshigoe harbour

The most sheltered spot on the coast. Variously called Koshigoe beach, Higasashihama (East Beach) and Daytona (!@!). Very mellow but short lefts and rights over a sand bottom. Better at low tide as the beach is quite steep and the waves tend to dump. When Kugenuma is maxed out this spot is full of longboarders. It's very convenient being only 5 mins walk from Katase Enoshima station (Odakyu Line) and you can rent boards from the surf shops along the road. Like Yuigahama this is a last option as other spots should be firing better. In a strong Northerly wind it can be well protected though, and at the Enoshima end of the beach at low tide there is a clean right hand set up that will break in a huge swell. Very dirty looking water and you have to fight with windsurfers and kite surfers for space. Closed in July and August.


West Shonan - Enoshima to Yuigahama

This coastline is generally busier than the East as the R134 runs along most of the coast and there are large towns every few miles along the Tokaido line. From Fujisawa down to Atami there is basically a continuous black volcanic sand beach broken by the odd river or port. Kugenuma is the main swell catcher, but all beaches keep most of the size from typhoons or storms that pass through the area. It is more wind affected than the East as the land is flatter, and parts of the beaches are closed in July and August for swimmers. Roughly speaking as you head West the waves get a bit steeper and gruntier, so shortboarders will have more fun around the Sagami river and Kozu area. Unfortunately this is because the beaches get steeper, so the West beaches need more swell to start working properly and are better at low tide. A rough comparison of wave heights is below, again with Kugenuma as the guide:


Spot Type Level Size (feet)
Dairoku point med       2 4 6
Kugenuma beach low 2 4 6 8 10 12
Tsujido beach med   3 5 7 9 11
Chigasaki beach  med     4 6 8 10
Banu beach med 2 4 6 8 10 12
Rivermouth deep high         8 10
Hiratsuka / Oiso beach med   3 5 7 9 11
Yugawara beach low   3 5 7 9 11


An epic spot when the swell is huge and the winds not too strong. It's a left hand point break over a sand bottom, breaking along the West edge of Enoshima into the mouth of the Sakai river. The river has built up sand in a perfect smooth formation and the banks don't seem to move due to the shelter from the island. It needs to be close out conditions on Kugenuma beach and low tide to work, but a few times a year will produce up to shoulder high perfect 100m rides ideal for longboards. Crowded with more than 10 people but the paddle back it is a long way so that thins the crowds on the peak. Paddle out from the island's mini harbour or from the East end of Kugenuma beach just next to the river.



Technically this is Nishi Kugenuma Kaigan or West Kugenuma Beach, but since the East part on the other side of Enoshima rarely breaks this is basically the indicator spot for the whole Shonan coast. There is almost always a wave next to the Hikiji rivermouth in front of the clubhouse, even if all other spots are as flat as a lake. At the East end of the beach the sand is very flat and the beach is a little sheltered by the island so the waves are always mellow and small (good when typhoons bring huge closeouts to the rest of the beach). Usually the middle of the beach has good right and left peaks and the best wave is a right breaking off the rivermouth. This is very crowded and has the best local longboarders all over it so if you're on a shortboard look elsewhere. The waves at Kugenuma are amazingly mellow and long due to the shallow bay and bottom contours, and so will break well even at full high tide. It will break clean from 1 foot, but is almost always best with a longboard.



From the Hikiji river the beach line is called Tsujido, and the train station (Tokaido) is about a 25 minute walk from the beach. After Fujisawa the train line is a little closer to the shore so you could get off at any stop and walk to surf spots. Tsujido beach is generally less crowded than Kugenuma due to less parking and less people living locally. On the right of the Hikiji river there is often a classic left hand point style rivermouth break especially at low tide. This is always uncrowded (no one seems to like going backhand) and has long rides. Otherwise there are a variety of peaks along the beach but these shift as the tide changes and you need to keep checking the best spot. On a decent (4 foot plus) swell this beach can be better than Kugenuma and offer faster more challenging rides and a decent inside section ideal for shortboards.



This beach is very similar to Tsujido but for some reason seems to get a little less swell. Again the town is walking distance from the beach but on most days Tsujido or Kozu would be a better bet for shortboarding, and Kugenuma for longboarding. One spot that is worth mentioning is the T bar - a kind of man made wave barrier. Most people use it for a fishing platform but on big swells if offers some protection and the build up of sand has produced clean waves. This is often the best spot in a 6 foot plus swell unless you have the transport to surf the reefs in the East of Enoshima. Chigasaki sports a mixture of long and shortboarders and there are lots of local surf shops with a thriving surf scene.



Also call "Bay", this is a great swell catching spot just on the East side of the Sagami river. Parking is really tricky here and you have to walk a little distance along the edge of a golf pratice range to get to the beach. Perhaps because the river has deepened the bay the waves here are always bigger than most other beaches and like Kugenuma there is almost always something surfable. Better on low or mid tide, and can get crowded on small days as anyone with transport will think about this spot. Long and shortboarding possible and the main peak is very clearly defined due to a solid sandbank. Watch for currents around here and take care on big days due to the river.



Never surfed this spot and don't intend to. First of all it's dangerous and secondly there are always other spots with good waves when it is breaking. However some local surfers will head out here in the biggest swells of the year and catch long clean walls on longboards or guns. I've never seen it breaking but one of my students has surfed it big and it only breaks when the swell reaches a good 8 to 10 foot. The danger is from the current  in the Sagami river which has caused a lot of drownings over the years. Surf at your peril!


Hiratsuka / Oiso

On the West side of the Sagami river there are a variety of decent low tide beach breaks that can be quite punchy on a good swell. They are popular with the Hiratsuka crew and can get well contested due to the size of the city. A better bet is to travel further to Oiso (where the beach is much closer to the station) and surf around the mouth of the Hanamizu river. Here the banks are reputed to be good and again suitable for shortboarding at low tide with a decent 4 foot plus swell.



The last spot before Shizuoka prefecture and the Izu peninisula. Similar to Kugenuma Kaigan this spot seems to capture a lot of the swell, especially Northern winter swells, as it is more open to the North and less blocked by the Miura peninsula. Empty during the week as it is far from the major cities but crowded at weekends and in the summer. July and August most of the beach is closed for swimming.