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The ultimate Southern California surf guide

Ultimate Surfing Guide: Southern California

Guide to Surfing in Southern California

There’s nothing quite like the rush you get from turning your board around to face land again, paddling, and popping up on your board just as the wave takes control of your journey toward solid ground. It can be one of the more freeing experiences you can expect to have. Surround that with beautiful beaches, stunning sunrise and sunset views, and some of the best waves around, and you just might be finding yourself hanging ten on one of these stunning Southern California beaches, which offer some of the top surfing around.

Beginning surfers

Manhattan Beach

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For the ultimate Southern California experience, perhaps no other beach can compete with the famous Manhattan Beach — located just southwest of Los Angeles. This beach and surf town of the same name is known for its clean, large, and sand beaches, and visitors from all over the world flood the beaches to do everything from bike and shop to surf and body board.

Because of the breaks at Manhattan Beach, there is a little something for all skill levels, assuring that anyone who paddles out to catch a wave is going to have a good time, and surfing in Manhattan Beach is certainly more of an overall experience that embodies so much more beyond the water.

Source: Fido

Malibu Beach

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Another hot spot for folks looking to take on surfing for the first time is the famous Malibu Beach. First coming into notoriety during the 1960s surf scene, Malibu Beach has continued with its reputation as a spot with the right point break, and while it’s a great spot for beginners to break in on the breaks, there are also spots for more advanced surfers to work the swells.

With a 21-mile long strip of ocean side paradise, Malibu is famous for its warm water, sandy beaches, and of course, its Malibu longboards. Take your time paddling out and enjoying the scenery, then pop up on your longboard and take that relaxing pace back to the sand with a calming swell.

Source: Lauren Allik

San Onofre State Beach

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In what is probably the most family-friend beach around, San Onofre State Beach has consistent waves perfect for learning how to surf. So, make sure to book a San Clemente hotel room that’s big enough for everyone! At this beach, you’ll find kids, RVs, barbecues, sand volleyball, and lots of folks taking in the swells. The waves are soft and great for beginners and for longboards.

Intermediate surfers

La Jolla Shores

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While Blacks Beach offers great surfing year-round and a little taste of a naturalist lifestyle, neighboring La Jolla Shores isn’t lacking in fantastic surf, and the access is much more doable for surfers of all levels and motivations for surfing. In fact, La Jolla Shores is hailed as one of San Diego’s best and certainly most popular beaches, and when you’re looking to fine-tune or even practice or learn the art of surfing, this beach and its protection from the wind is the perfect spot.

With year-round lifeguard services and fantastic facilities, it’s no wonder people from all stay in La Jolla for the gentle waves and friendly breaks. In fact, the surf is so friendly that many local surf schools utilize La Jolla Shores as a practice facility to train their surfers before graduating them on to larger breaks.

Source: Bob Ramsey

Rincon Beach

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The crown jewel of Santa Barbara, Rincon Beach has some of the best-maintained and groomed beaches and waves. When the break is right and the surf is at the top of its game, a surfer can catch a wave and finish out their ride nearly 400 yards away from where the wave was first met. This beach is ideal for intermediate or more advanced surfers, and with its location being just a little more north than other area beaches, the winter season brings the best surfing in Rincon.

Known as the Queen of the Coast, Rincon’s swells aren’t the only things that make it one of California’s most famous beaches, as the Beach Boys mention the surf spot in their classic 1962 hit, Surfin’ Safari. Voted No. 24 in the book 100 Best Surf Spots in the World, you’ll quickly learn why it’s garnered this ranking with one run on these majestic waves.

Del Mar

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There just may be no surfing spot in San Diego or all of Southern California more reliable than Del Mar. With enough territory for even the busiest of summer crowds, this beach lends itself to a surfer looking to find somewhere to call home for an afternoon. Del Mar is said to have a good mix of sand bottom beach break and patchy reefs to help create good exposure to all different types of swell directions.

The northern half of Del Mar City Beach is arguable the best spot for surfing, especially for those who tend to surf more at an intermediate level. However, there are surf lessons offered along Del Mar, and with proper guidance and instruction, the break here is a great spot for folks looking to try their luck at catching a wave. Del Mar lends itself to a less competitive surfing atmosphere than some other beaches in the area and provides an excellent spot for the social surfer.

Source: jc.winkler

Advanced surfers

Blacks Beach San Diego

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Perhaps the best waves you’ll catch in the San Diego area will come at Blacks Beach. There is almost literally no bad time of year to catch the surf at this cliff-side beach in La Jolla, and as one of the hottest spots in town to surf, you’ll notice the wave breaking in long, organized lines. For those willing to put in the effort to paddle into the lines, the surf creates swells that more than make the hard work pay off. If you’re looking to escape for a day, the mere activity of taking in a sunset off the neighboring Torrey Pines cliffs is enough to make your trip worth it.

Because Blacks Beach is situated between a hearty cliff and the ocean, it does require a bit of a hike to reach. But, on the right day, the stunning views of the sun breaking through the clouds from atop the cliffs and radiating off the water as you hike down could rival the experience on the water. As secluded as Blacks Beach is, it lends itself to a laid back and almost romantic atmosphere, and you may fall in love with more than just the excellent surf.

Source: Mick Chester

Trestles Beach

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Located on the border of San Diego County and Orange County, Trestles is a world-famous river-mouth break. Taking in the swells at Trestles isn’t for the faint of heart, as it requires a significant hike to the beach and a competitive lineup, which often consists of experts and even professional surfers. But when the swell is at the top of its game, there is nothing that can compare to catching a wave at this beautiful location.

With three different sections of break, the Lower Trestles section is often considered the best spot to catch epic waves. For those looking to be beach-sitting spectators, Trestles is the perfect spot to watch some of the best work out new maneuvers and approaches. Don’t miss the annual ASP World Tour surfing competition held at Lower Trestles to really check out the talent.

The consensus amongst surfers is that Southern California has something for everyone. From people looking to stand on a board for their first time to people looking to fine-tune their existing skills to even professionals or advanced surfers looking to innovate and work new maneuvers on top-notch waves, Southern California has what you need. When you book a hotel room in San Diego, you’re close to every spot. Even land lovers have more than enough to entertain themselves as they watch surfers handle the swells with some of the most gorgeous backdrops known to man behind them.

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