A feasibility level nearshore wave energy resource characterization is conducted for the East Coast of the United States using a 32-year (1979 – 2010) hindcast from a high-resolution unstructured-grid Simulating Waves Nearshore (SWAN) model with a spatial resolution of 200 m along the coastline. Wave energy resource attributes including wave energy potentials, seasonal variability, frequency and directional spreading, and extreme sea states are characterized using a broad range of resource parameters from which opportunities, risks, and constraints for wave energy conversion (WEC) projects are assessed. Cross-shore and alongshore variations of these parameters due to varying wave energy climate and coastline orientation relative to the dominant wave systems are examined. The present study also introduces a zero-crossing method for delineating wave energy climate regions based on a broad range of resource attributes beyond just wave power. Applying this method, eight nearshore wave energy climate regions are delineated for the East Coast; each region with a unique set of resource attributes to inform regional energy planning, WEC project development, conceptual WEC design, and the operation and maintenance of WEC projects.