America's Best College Towns For Beach Bums

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Just because the school year is here or near doesn’t mean you have to leave the beach!

Check out our list of the best colleges for beach bums.

Texas A&M University, Galveston, TX

Located on Pelican Island, along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, this extension of Texas A&M mainly focuses on marine and maritime studies. It also offers several intramural sports teams including sailing and crew. Home to The A&M Texas Maritime Academy, students are given the opportunity to learn how to operate and maintain an ocean-going vessel. To gain experience in seamanship, navigation and operations, students sail aboard the TMA training ship for three summer cruises, including locations like Northern Europe, the Caribbean, the Mediterranean and the United States.

Eckerd College, St. Petersburg, FL

Eckerd College is a private liberal arts college sitting right on the coast of Tampa Bay in St. Petersburg, Florida. It is complete with its own private on-campus beach, South Beach, where Beach Volleyball is a very popular recreational activity. The most popular degrees here include marine science and environmental studies. Students can also partake in the Eckerd College Search and Rescue Team, working close with the U.S. Coast Guard to respond to distressed calls in the area.

University of California, San Diego, CA

Having regular top-ten rankings for best public universities, UCSD is considered one of the “Public Ivies”. Located in luxurious La Jolla, it is just a few miles south of Torrey Pines State Beach, a favorite among students. With the famous Scripps Institute of Oceanography, UCSD is known for their oceanography and biological sciences. And its proximity to Black’s Beach makes it a perfect location for the studying surfer who just needs to catch the right break. UCSD also has a 1-hour course on “The Physics of Surfing”. Sign us up!

University of California, Santa Barbara, CA

How about a 1,000-acre campus that is bordered by the Pacific Ocean on 3 sides? UC Santa Barbara is one of the only schools in the nation to offer a surfer’s dream curriculum including Geography of Surfing, History of Surfing, and Field Studies in Surfing. Oh and an award winning surfing team. It is also known as one of the best public universities in the nation with an alumni roster including five Nobel Prize winners and Steve Hawk, Former SURFER magazine editor, who said “One of the best waves in the area is called Campus Point. That’s pretty much all you need to know.”

Pepperdine University, Malibu, CA

Pepperdine is a private university overlooking the Pacific ocean in Malibu, California. Located just a 5-minute walk away from this beautiful campus is Malibu Lagoon State Beach, considered one of the premier surfing beaches in the state. Unlike the other schools listed, Pepperdine University’s most popular degree is Business Administration and programs related to communications and media. It also home to the Pepperdine Waves, competing in NCAA Division I athletics, and students can take a surfing class for their PE credit.

Palm Beach Atlantic University, West Palm Beach, FL

Located across the Intracoastal Waterway from some of Palm Beach’s best public beaches, Palm Beach Atlantic University is in a perfect location for a beach bum. It is just a couple miles north of Macarthur Beach State Park, a barrier island park where students can snorkel and scuba. It may be a smaller school- the latest enrollment numbers coming in at just 2,887 - but don’t let that fool you; in 2014 it was named a Best College in the Southeast by The Princeton Review.

University of Hawai’i, Manoa, HI

For the beach bum that wants to bum it year round, the University of Hawaii in Manoa is located just outside of Honolulu on the Island of Oahu. It is minutes away from some of Hawaii’s famous beaches such as Waikiki and Ala Moana Beach Park, offering year-round surfing, swimming, snorkeling and more. The School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology has their own marine research island and marine research vessel. And a bonus for the serious surfer, the National Weather Service office is located right on campus, offering extremely detailed swell information. Of course, there are surf clubs and classes in surf history and forecasting.

California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, CA

Just about a 15-minute drive from Pismo Beach and Avila Beach, CPSU in San Luis Obispo is in a great location for surfers who want the beaches all to themselves. While the water may be cold, and rumored to be “sharky”, you cannot beat the beauty of Northern California waters. The school also offers surfboard shaping courses and degrees in Wine and Viticulture.

University of California, Santa Cruz, CA

For the beach bum that doesn’t care about the cold, UCSC offers some of the best and most consistent breaks around. Take it from Kim Mayer, Pro Surfer and UCSC almuna, who told Surfer Magazine, "UCSC is a good school to attend for a surfer. The consistency of swell, diversity of breaks, and proximity to the surf are all perks of attending the Surf City University," She added, "However, it takes a dedicated, adventurous spirit to endure the cold water, crowded, localized point breaks, and abundant sea life that the Monterey Bay Canyon provides." It is located just minutes away from the coast and even the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum.

University of North Carolina Wilmington, Wilmington, NC

One of the top surfing schools on the East Coast, UNCW has a history of placing high at the National Scholastic Surfing Association Championships. While there isn’t always a constant swell, when it is on, it is dramatic. Located close to a lot of local breaks, UNCW is also just four hours away from legendary Cape Hatteras. And with its proximity to Wrightsville Beach, students just need a bicycle to hop around this island town with multiple island bars right next to each other. UNCW also has one of the best Marine Science programs in the nation.


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Stephan Aarstol is an American internet entrepreneur and author of the book The Five Hour Workday, which is based on Tower Paddle Boards' invention of the 5-hour workday in 2015 that would eventually spread the idea to over 10 million people worldwide. Since founding Tower in 2010, it has gone on to become one of America's fastest growing companies and Mark Cuban's best investment in the history of Shark Tank. Tower has diversified into a direct to consumer electric bike company called Tower Electric Bikes, a beachfront event venue called Tower Beach Club, and NoMiddleman.com, where consumers can shop all the world's finest direct to consumer brands from one easy place.