From early on California has taken over as one of the top surf destinations in the world. After all, many of the roots and stories of the sport were also born here.
Since the musical inspiration of the Beach Boys — remember “California Girls”? — to surf legends like Tom Curren or Miki Dora, this US state doesn’t leave any surfer indifferent.
There are many surf beaches I could highlight in this article such as Huntington Beach, the so-called “surf city,” or Mavericks, a legendary place for big-wave surfers, but the five spots that followed were the ones that marked me the most during my trip to this part of the world.
It’s a California classic! In Carpinteria, on the border between Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, this bay runs three distinct waves that, depending on the swell, can run simultaneously.
From full-handed surfers like Tom Curren, a former world champion and local to this beach, or families of longboarders who populate the beach, in Rincon we breathe surfing and younger generations are taught what it’s like to be a surfer in California.
With a bottom made of sand and stone, I remember how much fun it was to surf those waves, especially on days when groups of dolphins decided to share some waves.
Lower Trestles, or simply Trestles, as it’s commonly called, is one of California’s most iconic surf spots. Not only for the quality of the waves but for having hosted several events of the world surfing championship.
Situated in the San Onofre State Park, near San Clemente, this surf spot is best suited for those who already have some experience in the sport. As the level in the water is high.
But don’t be intimidated. Right next door is Upper Trestles, a more straightforward but equally fun option.
To get to the beach, you’ll have to walk a long trail, which passes over the train line. So, avoid going too heavy.
Very popular, Malibu Beach is known to house many Hollywood artists’ homes, such is the proximity to the city of Los Angeles.
On the way of the Pacific Coast Highway, the spirit of classic surfing reigns here. The one that makes you want to get into the water with a longboard and try endless nose rides.
Spending the day here or even spending the night is not for everyone. But that wave deserves to be appreciated calmly. It’s no wonder that from all the surf spots in California it was the first to be considered a World Surfing Reserve.
In the city of Encinitas, the same one that saw the emblematic surfer Rob Machado grow, you’ll find Swami’s. Located in San Diego County, this beach is sought after by multi-level surfers due to the variety of waves it offers.
The access is made from the top of a cliff, where’s the car park and from where you can have a broad view over the sea. Perfect for assessing conditions.
Fun fact: “Swami’s” began as a nickname given by surfers to that beach, since there was the ashram of guru Swami Paramahansa Yoganansa, built in 1937. The denomination was later made official.
Another must-see surf spots in California, Santa Cruz has a long surfing history. Steamer Lane — or Steamer’s — is considered one of the best point breaks in the world. It covers four different wave peaks: Indicators, Middle Peak, The Slot and The Point. Each one more difficult than the other.
If you are a beginner, this is not a place for you. But you can always try out Cowell Beach.
Big names in world surfing have been in Steamer Lane, and many known surfers have started their way here, as is the case of Peter Mel. This is also the land of Jack O’Neill, “guilty” for creating the wetsuit in the 1960s.
To know the whole history of this World Surf Reserve, nothing like a visit to the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum located at the lighthouse overlooking Steamer Lane.
Now it’s your turn! From these five surf spots in California, wich one would you like to visit? Is California in your bucket list? Leave your thoughts in the comment box below.
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Surf Spots in California