“We were the young Surf Lodge crowd of the day,” says Tony Caramanico thinking back to the early 1970s when he and a horde of other surfers made Montauk their wave-riding home base.
In 1971, Caramanico—who grew up in Amityville—bought the building which is now home to Bird on the Roof and turned it into a surf shop and breakfast place. “People were like, ‘Who are these young surfer kids moving into town?” he says. These days, Caramanico works as a surf instructor to “a high-end clientele,” sells his own line of surfboards and has also become a successful artist. His art work features graphic words and photos from the surf journals he’s been keeping through the years.
Caramanico still frequently travels to surfing destinations around the globe, but when he’s home, he likes to stick to a steady low-key routine. “My wife and I get up very early—usually at dawn with the birds,” he says. “We hit Montauk Bakery at 6 o’clock, grab a cup of coffee, and then go check the waves. If I don’t have any surf lessons, then I’ll just go surfing myself.”