Two men and a woman were on the beach around 2:30 p.m. One of the men went into the water and started struggling in the waves.
His companions left, but witnesses saw what happened and called police.
"We saw this guy getting into the water and in about two to three waves, he just got knocked down really bad and we could see that something was going to happen because he was basically not getting out of there," said witness Mihail Matikov.
The woman finally called the coast guard 3.5 hours later and identified the victim.
Crews searched some 45-square miles of water using a helicopter and a boat, but they have now suspended the search.
The Coast Guard isn't releasing the victim's name until his family is notified.