Upgrade your browser - Unfortunately, this site has updated features that cannot run on this version of Internet Explorer. Download a free upgrade of Internet Explorer.
Discover Story Ideas Details Back to Story Ideas

Top Surf Sites to Spend California Surfing Day

August 1, 2019

Surfing is an official lifestyle in California, with sunny vibes spanning the Golden State north to south. So long as the coast is near, surfing is celebrated. Spend California Surfing Day on September 20 at one of these beach towns or surfer’s spots.

San Francisco Bay Area

  • Half Moon Bay
    Witness one of the most epic wave-breaks in the world at Mavericks Beach in Half Moon Bay, known to pump out 25-footers on a consistent basis. This awe-inspiring sight draws surfers to the destination every January for the Mavericks Challenge, a spontaneous, invitation-only competition on some of the biggest waves on the West Coast. Pick up gear from Mavericks Surf Company and catch the film Chasing Mavericks to fully embrace the phenomenon.
  • Santa Cruz
    This classic California beach town – the birthplace of mainland surfing – was made famous by local legend Jack O’Neill’s invention of the wetsuit. Suit up and catch waves at Steamer Lane, an iconic break and one of the best places in the United States to surf, or observe from the Santa Cruz Wharf or Beach Boardwalk. Learn more about the Santa Cruz surf scene and its many traditions by visiting the Surfing Museum, quaintly located in a local lighthouse.
  • Monterey
    Mark the surfing holiday with a shopping trip to On The Beach Surf Shop in Monterey before hitting the popular Asilomar State Beach. The consistent waves and wind bring surfers here on a daily basis, but surfers aren’t the only ones in the water–with plenty of wildlife in the area, you’re bound to see a wide range of marine creatures.


Orange County

  • Huntington Beach
    Huntington Beach got the nickname of Surf City, USA™ from its 10 miles of pristine beaches with consistent swells and professional World Surf League contests. At the International Surfing Museum, learn how surfing forefathers George Freeth and Duke Kahanamoku both surfed in Huntington in the early part of the 20th century, and the U.S Surfing Championship—now summer’s Vans U.S. Open of Surfing—was first held there in the late 1950s.
  • Newport Beach
    One of the most famous–or infamous, rather–waves in Newport is known as “The Wedge,” serving up 20-foot-plus intimidators for only the brave to ride. Little Corona, located south of the harbor, is better suited for “Barneys,” or inexperienced surfers. Made popular by the Newport Beach surf culture documentary Echo Beach, TK Burgers is the perfect joint to grub across from Newport Pier.
  • Laguna Beach
    Laguna Beach has a wave for every skill level: hollow barrels, 10-footers and gentle swells. Seasoned experts can make the rounds at epic spots like Brooks Street and Rockpile, or beginners can dip their toe in at Thalia Street. Stay at Surf & Sand Resort and ride the tide with the “Make a Splash” package, which includes a one night stay paired with a private surf camp for two. Pre-or post-class, fill up with a hearty breakfast or lunch at oceanfront restaurant Splashes.
  • Dana Point
    Dana Point is known for world-class surfing, and is home to Hobie Surfboards’ first store and Surf Magazine headquarters. It’s also the perfect place for first-timers – visit Doheny Beach to take Girl in the Curl surfing lessons or the ‘No Fail Surf Lesson’ offered by Monarch Beach Resort’s Ocean Adventures program. Strands Beach and Salt Creek are go-to spots for locals and visitors alike.
  • San Clemente
    Trestles on San Onofre State Beach is a series of point breaks found at the end of a short hike – a prime beach that is well worth the effort it takes to get there. The world-class faces are claimed to be the best on the mainland, but best-suited for the experts who travel far and wide to catch them.


Los Angeles

  • Malibu
    With over two dozen beaches to choose from on 21 miles of coastline, Malibu is the perfect place to visit on California Surfing Day. Malibu’s Surfrider Beach, just off the Malibu Pier, was named the first World Surfing Reserve. Nearby Zuma Beach is a sun magnet for locals and families, located adjacent to Point Dume viewpoints. Visitors can also check out a collection of 30 historic surfboards at Pepperdine University’s Surf Museum during their stay.
  • Venice
    Venice Beach represents an idyllic California surf town: visitors can stroll an eclectic boardwalk while artists and free spirits fly by on rollerblades and skateboards. The streets are lined with surf shops like Mollusk, taco bars and juice stalls. Venice's surf spots – such as Breakwater and the Pier – have enough variety to welcome all skill levels, while the adjacent Santa Monica Beach is great for observers.


Central Coast

  • Cayucos
    Surfers from around the world flock to Cayucos for its ideal conditions and local gear. Cayucos Surf Co. offers wetsuits and boards made by nationally-known surfboard craftsmen; both short boards and longboards are found in the Cayucos waters. For first-timers and families looking to experience all Cayucos Pier has to offer, Good Clean Fun offers private one-on-one lessons and beach rentals.
  • Morro Bay
    Morro Bay offers miles of unspoiled beaches and awesome surf breaks. For those who haven’t mastered the sport, Morro Bay Surf School provides surf lessons and camps in San Luis Obispo County, teaching students the fundamental skills needed to hang ten. New boards can be purchased at Joe’s Surfboard Shop, where “good surfboards make happy surfers.” Before you visit, follow the Morro Bay Surf Report from Magic Seaweed to stay updated on local swells, wind and pressure charts plus a live surf webcam.
  • San Luis Obispo
    Ride horses and waves in the same day in San Luis Obispo, a relaxed college town in a unique Central Coast environment. Uncrowded beach breaks are best found at Pismo Beach, a favorite surf spot for area shredders and the site of World Surf League’s Pismo Beach Open. For those in town for California Surfing Day, Pismo Beach is hosting the Still Frothy Surf Festival from September 20-22.
  • Santa Barbara
    Santa Barbara is known for being at the forefront of surf culture and its technologies. The leading brand of surfboard wax, Mr. Zog’s Sex Wax, was invented here, as well as Yater Surfboards, founded by local legend Reynolds “Renny” Yater. Endless Summer Bar-Café in the Santa Barbara Harbor is themed after the 1960s surf movie “The Endless Summer,” and contains vintage signed surfboards and other themed memorabilia. Downstairs from Endless Summer is the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum, which exhibits a simulated surfing experience and video histories of local surfing pioneers.
  • Ventura
    Not one, but two Ventura surf breaks are in "Surfin' USA" by The Beach Boys: County Line and Rincon. Just north of Malibu off Pacific Coast Highway, County Line has good waves to surf all year round. Often called “The Queen of the California Coast,” Rincon offers three great locations that provide steady, surfable sets: The Cove, Rivermouth and Indicator. International surfers gather for the famous Rincon Classic, making it one of America’s top surfing destinations.


San Diego County

  • Oceanside
    From surfboard design and manufacturing to elite and novice surf contests, Oceanside is home to some of the most experiential surf culture in California. Celebrate Surfing Day at Oceanside Pier and Oceanside Harbor, where the holiday feels more like a lifestyle. SuperGirl Surf Pro is held here annually, bringing in some of the world's top female surfers, including Bethany Hamilton. Find her infamous shark-bitten board at the California Surf Museum, a hot spot for visitors curious about surfing-related history.
  • Encinitas
    Beach-worshippers flock to Encinitas, north of San Diego, where surfboards are strapped to every car’s roof and the climate is more than ideal. The main draw here is Swami’s State Marine Conservation Area, the classic right point break that is suitable for intermediate skill levels and up. Cardiff Reef is fun for the whole family, where quaint beach spots and campgrounds can be found. Overnight guests can fully immerse themselves at the surf-inspired boutique hotel Surfhouse, equipped with beach cruiser and surfboard rentals right off Highway 1.
  • San Diego
    Warm waters and sunny skies make San Diego a world-renowned surfing destination. Embrace all La Jolla has to offer at Surf Diva surf shop and school, an iconic establishment in the community for 20+ years. For the full SoCal experience, visit Windansea Beach, as featured in the Tom Wolfe bestseller, “The Pump House Gang.” Bird’s Surf Shed in Ocean Beach introduces visitors to local surf culture with hundreds of boards hung from every conceivable location, including the ceiling.
  • Del Mar
    Del Mar is Spanish for "of the sea" or "by the sea," and this beautiful city in San Diego County lives up to its name! Here, local businesses like Rusty Del Mar Surf Shop and Fulcrum Surf School make it easy to catch some waves, and seaside restaurants like Jake’s Del Mar are there to keep the smile on your face even after you’ve left the water. The beach at Del Mar Powerhouse Park Street (15th Street) is a popular spot to surf; to the left of the main path you can surf a mellow reef break that has both lefts and rights. Great waves can also be found along with 18th, 23rd and 29th streets.


For more information about California’s incredible surfing destinations, visit www.visitcalifornia.com/feature/surfing-hot-spots.