California tops the list in the nation for surfing and can accommodate surfers at all stages —beginners, intermediate and advanced. Gather up your friends, co-workers or family members and go “Surfing USA.”
What Are the Top 10 Surf Spots in California?
Experts on surfing don’t always list the same spots in the top 10, but here are the top 10 spots listed by Wavehuggers. The list begins in northern California and takes you down the West coast.
Steamer Lane in Santa Cruz
Steamer Lane is a challenging surfing spot, and unless you’re an experienced surfer, it’s not a recommended that you tackle the challenge. The first wetsuit hit the market back in the 1950’s, an innovation that allowed surfers to withstand cold-water conditions. Jack O’Neill had a surf shop in San Francisco at that time and he was the first to sell wet suits. A few years later he moved his surf shop to Santa Cruz where the surfing culture had gathered momentum. In 2009, Surfer Magazine listed Steamer Lane as one of the best surfing spots.
Rincon in Santa Barbara
Rincon means “corner, spot or place” in Spanish, and in Santa Barbara, it is the number one spot for surfing. Various surfing legends acquired their skills by riding Rincon’s waves, and its popularity is widespread. It’s also a great spot for surfing when winter waves swell in from the West and Northeast. In January, the beach holds the Rincon Surf Championships. Rincon is located just off the 101 near the border for Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.
Malibu in Los Angeles
Malibu has ideal waves for longboarders and shortboarders. You’ll find people of all ages along with beginners and highly experienced surfers here. This iconic beach bears the name of “Surfrider Beach,” where the movie Gidget was filmed. In fact, Malibu has more than 30 beaches, which have been settings for numerous movies like Grease, Pirates of the Caribbean and The Karate Kid, to name a few.
Venice Beach in Los Angeles
People know Venice Beach for its smooth waves that are appropriate for beginning surfers. Seasoned surfers, who want bigger swells, go to Venice Breakwater, located between Venice and Santa Monica Piers. You’ll enjoy the quirky, eclectic atmosphere of the Venice Beach Boardwalk, which is full of shops and restaurants, and the beach has biking, rollerblading and volleyball areas.
Huntington Beach South of Los Angeles
Huntington Beach is the perfect spot for year-round surfing. Located 35 miles south of L.A. and about 95 miles from San Diego, it’s officially “Surf City USA” and the site where the U.S Open of Surfing happens. The Annual World Surfing Championships have also brought Huntington Beach world renown. The International Surfing Museum is located there.
Newport Beach, The Wedge
Only experienced surfers dare ride waves at The Wedge, which is well known for its huge waves (sometimes 18-20 feet high) and unpredictable surf. When two separate waves combine, a wave larger than either emerges, resembling a wedge, and the wave formed is always unique, which makes the breaking point unpredictable. The pop punk band All Time Low refers to The Wedge in their song “Let it Roll.”
Dana Point, Doheny State Beach
The Beach Boys gave a nod to Doheny Beach in their songs “Surfing’ USA” and Surfing’ Safari.” The beach has tremendous breaks for long boarding, and the jetty blocks the bigger swells, which make it a wonderful spot for learning how to surf.
San Clemente, Lower Trestles
A hot spot for surfing contests like the World Qualifying Series (WCT) and World Championship Tour (WCT), Lower Trestles consistently provides challenging waves for longboard and shortboard surfers. If you’re all about high performance, this is the place.
Cardiff Reef, San Diego
Located in Encinitas, Cardiff Reef offers reliable waves year-round. It’s a wonderful beach for surfers on longboards or shortboards and at any level of skill. This beach’s surfing popularity began in the 1940’s and continues today.
Blacks Beach, San Diego
The underwater canyon, called Scripps Canyon, empowers waves to grow tremendously large before they break, making this one of the most powerful break beaches in Southern California. Only experienced surfers should consider surfing at Blacks Beach due to the dangers involved. Incidentally, Blacks Beach is also one of the largest nude beaches in California.
Plan Your California Surfing Trip
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