The Gulf Coast of Florida includes the West Coast and the Pan Handle. Summers bring long flat spells with an occasional tropical spell that will stir things up. Local surfers take what they can get and know that they need to act quickly if the surf is up. Conditions change rapidly. And surf windows open and close quickly. Fall and winter bring hurricane season and chances for nice cold fronts which bring a few days of nice swells.
Florida’s west coast can be broken up into 3 main areas, North Tampa, South Tampa, and Southwestern Gulf which in and around Naples. In North Tampa, there are a lot of offshore shoals and highly developed areas with limited access. Water may be deeper in the southern spots offering better waves. South of Tampa from Bradenton to Boca Grande the barrier islands are lined with beachbreaks with inside and outside sandbar spots that are constantly shifting. In the southwest Naples Pier is the main spot. The surf may not be world class, but there are a lot of surfers and when the pier and jetty spots are working they can get fun.
The Pan Handle is the strip of land on west or northwest part of the state. It is about 200 miles long bordering Alabama and Georgia to the north, and the Gulf of Mexico on the south. When a tropical storm hits straight on, the Pan Handle produces some of the best waves in Florida. The water is emerald green, the white sand beaches are pristine, and the continental shelf is really narrow. When the conditions are right, the surf can be amazing. The issue is consistency and quantity. Even when a big southern swell hits, the waves can be short lived. The surf can turn off as quickly as it can turn on. The shallow delta at the mouth of the Mississippi saps the west swells and blocks the northwest Gulf hurricanes.