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Whether you can ride the waves like a pro or are just learning how to surf, California has it all. We’ve rounded up a list of the best surfing beaches along the California coast—from the shores of San Francisco to the swells of San Diego—so don your wetsuit and grab your board, because it’s time to catch some waves.
La Jolla Shores, La Jolla
La Jolla Shores is one of the most popular beaches situated along the coastline of San Diego and is an amazing place to surf, scuba dive, and swim. First-timer surfers, don’t worry: The mellow waves will make it easier for you to catch your first break. La Jolla Shores has many amenities—including free parking, restrooms, picnic tables, and firepits—and is wheelchair accessible. The beach is also clean, well-maintained, and feels very safe. It can get packed on sunny weekends, though, so make sure to come early to get a spot.
Rockpile Beach, Laguna Beach
Rockpile Beach is hidden between craggy boulders and is tucked between larger, more well-known beaches, but it’s definitely worth visiting—especially if you’re an avid surfer. This spot is Laguna Beach locals’ favorite surfing break due to the angle and height of the waves. So if you’re a confident and experienced wave rider who answers the call of extreme surfing, this is the place to go. You’ll also be able to take fascinating photos while you are here.
Note that Rockpile is a designated surfing beach, so swimming is prohibited here. There’s also no parking next to the shore, but you can park your car at Main Beach and walk less than 10 minutes to this beautiful paradise. Trust us, it’s worth it.
Huntington Beach Pier, Huntington Beach
Huntington Beach is a must-visit destination for anyone who’s serious about surfing. The town’s nickname is “Surf City USA” for a reason, and Huntington Beach Pier has a reputation for being one of the best places to surf in California. The beach boasts unique swells and breaks that draw surfers of all skill levels. There are always rad waves to surf at Huntington, but make sure to check the forecast and choose the right hour for swells that meet your needs.
While you’re in Huntington Beach, check out the famous International Surfing Museum. You can follow the evolution of surfboards and other surfing gear and learn about the surfers who helped make this sport so popular.
Venice Beach, Los Angeles
You have likely heard about Venice Beach, but you may not have thought about surfing here. While the iconic, boho-spirited town home draws crowds with its eclectic shops, quirky boardwalk, renowned skate park, and Italian-inspired canals, it’s also worth visiting for its world-class surf and pristine beach, which is a perfect gathering place for young surfers. You can enjoy an afternoon of relaxed rides and hone your skills on the soft swells at this top L.A. surf destination. Then, you can spend the rest of your day exploring the town’s many other attractions.
Moonstone Beach, Cambria
At Cambria’s Moonstone Beach, the tides are high, the swells are low, and there’s no wind—making it one of the best surf spots along the Central Coast, especially for novice surfers. While you’ll find all kinds of swells here, most of them are small and easily manageable for newbies. Aside from surfing, you can also fish, search for shells, and rock climb at this beach nestled along the scenic Pacific Coast Highway. So plan to spend a day by the peaceful shore enjoying the water, sand, and sun.
Asilomar State Beach, Pacific Grove
Also located along California’s Central Coast, Asilomar State Beach has everything needed for a perfect surf day: soft swells, beautiful scenery, brilliant blue waters, and pristine shores. (It’s a great spot to take a date, too.) Higher waves occur here every now and then, but they are not the norm, so it’s an ideal beach for those seeking a more laid-back surf experience. Just make sure to check the forecast so you know what to expect. When you’re done riding the waves, take a leisurely stroll along the shoreline and linger until sunset.
Pleasure Point, Santa Cruz
Pleasure Point is one of those beaches where you can catch a wave even when all the other surf spots are flat. Thanks to the range of reef breaks here, surfers of any level will find what they’re looking for at this cozy beach. Another big bonus: Pleasure Point is hardly ever crowded though, and you’ll find plenty of parking and restrooms. Take some time to explore the rest of Santa Cruz, too, where you can refuel with a cup of coffee, meander along the boardwalk, see the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum, or grab a bite to eat.
Pescadero State Beach, Pescadero
Pack your surfboard, your wetsuit, and your best camera—this is going to be a scene to remember. Featuring a breathtaking variety of wildflowers, vibrant sunsets, and cerulean waters, Pescadero State Beach is a spectacular destination and is guaranteed to be the most Instagrammable surf trip you’ve ever had. Situated about 15 miles south of Half Moon Bay, the beach offers easygoing swells that are safe for beginner surfers, so prepare yourself for some relaxation time. The best part is, you won’t see many surfers; most people just come here for a walk or a picnic, so the waves will be all yours.
What are your favorite surf spots in California? Tell us about them in the comments.
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