7 Singular Surfing Spots in California

California is the continental United States’ surfing mecca. It boasts internationally respected surfing and the Beach Boys (from Los Angeles) wrote the score that defined surf music. The culture on the west coast is sun-drenched and ocean-oriented. The surfing ranges from the gentle rolling beginner waves of Bolinas Beach to the bigger sets and strong rip current of Zuma Beach to the big barrels of Oceanside Pier. Every surf spot is unique to its conditions, affected by directional swells, wind and reefs. Here are seven of the most unique surfing spots that the Golden State has to offer. Make sure to also read this comprehensive guide to wakesurf boards.

Swami’s Beach, Encinitas

People find peace through surfing. At Swami’s Beach in Encinitas, surfers can watch other people find peace, too. The beach is named for Swami Paramahansa Yogananda, who established the Self-Realisation Fellowship ashram on the cliff that overlooks the beach in the 1930s. The dramatic view from the stairs leading from the parking lot down to the beach is striking in its panoramic completeness. It is a destination that attracts Hindu pilgrims from around the world to come for meditation. The surfers come for the triple-overhead swells.

Rincon Point, Carpinteria

If you’re looking for a long, smooth ride, set your surf location finder to Rincon Point. Nicknamed the Queen of the Coast for its beauty and magesty, this nondescript site is actually three surf spots and they’ll be packed on any given day. Rincon hosts the Rincon Classic surf competition every January, which features pro surfers and is also open to the public.   

Lunada Bay, Palos Verdes Estates

If you’re looking for a nice, relaxed place to drop into a wave, Lunada Bay might be the best place for Surfing in California. Known for four to 30 feet tall waves, it’s also known for a territorial attitude from the locals. This is what’s called a localised surf spot, where locals try to decrease the overcrowdedness by behaving aggressively through speech or actions toward non-locals. The Lunada Bay Boys have been the area’s de facto surfer gang since the 1960s. 

Mavericks Beach, Half Moon Bay

This is where you go when you want to ride monsters, or watch other people ride them. When big winter swells roll in from the northwest, and the wind is blowing east, waves can be a sheer 18 metres tall. The annual big wave competition is held during these conditions. Would you like to drop in on your gun board?

Hollister Ranch, Santa Barbara County

Hollister Ranch is a gated community that has effectively banned surfers for decades. Unless they are guests of the residents, surfers are not welcome. Over the years, the only legal way for surfers to access such spots as Little Drake’s or St. Augustine was to boat in or walk in during low tide. Some of the more adventurous would hike in at night, illegally. Part of the reason that this part of the coast is so pristine is that it has been private for over 50 years. Will the allure be lost if and when the public is granted access?

Trestles, San Onofre State Beach Park

Trestles is several surf spots on the borders of San Diego County and Orange County. Separated into five breaks, from Cotton to the Church, Trestles is at once secluded and world-renowned and has surfing for all levels, for longboards and shortboards. The brakes run from right to left and sloping to steep. Trestles has garnered comparisons to a skate park because it offers five different breaks to ride.

Huntington Beach

Iconic and historic, the surfing at Huntington Beach is world-class. The well-known Huntington Beach Pier stretches 563 metres into the Pacific, with surfing on the north and the south sides. The beach itself is 16 kilometres. It features a year-round swell and hosts professional surfing competitions. Known as Surf City U.S.A., Huntington Beach has a culture and history as impressive as its beach-breaking rollers.