On the pier.
The experience differs from season to season, but I find it incredibly enjoyable throughout the year, by day or at night. There are provisos though, ideally the swell should be clean with the wind off shore. Also the waves don't want to be too big, this is a fairly important consideration as I don't want to be swept in, that wouldn't be so much fun. But when the conditions are good, I can't think of a better way to enjoy the beauty of the Atlantic, without actually being in it.
The best vantage point is right above the place where the waves break, the impact zone. They pass just beneath your feet before unloading with all of their power as they reach the shallow water, quickly travelling those last few metres of their long journey. The waves first appear as swell approaching the end of the pier. These then become steeper and steeper before gravity does its thing and they reach their tipping point. It is at this moment that the full beauty of the wave can be seen, directly from above, providing a fantastic view of the movement of the water, sometimes just centimetres below your feet. The colours and textures of the water can be seen in all of their beauty, exposing the most incredible patterns and aqua tones. The shades of green, turquoise and blues are almost unrealistic, such is their ultra vivid quality. As the wave breaks, the water takes on the appearance of blown glass for the briefest of moments before it is infused with a translucent quality, then turning the purist white.
Then a new set will roll in and the whole thing can be enjoyed again. The beauty of watching waves from the pier is that it is never the same twice and the smallest of swells makes it more than worthwhile. Each new swell provides different elements of enjoyment, the weather and light change things dramatically, as does the darkness at night. And if there is a clear starry night with a bright moon, well that really is something to behold.
Each of the senses gets a treat when on the pier. For while there are the visual elements, there are also the sounds, as well as the smell of salt water and the feeling of the spray as it hits your face. Not to mention the shudder that passes through the pier structure, as the wave slams in to the reef below. All of which contribute greatly to this fantastic experience, which I have to say is up there as being one of my favourite things to do.