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Surfing the Sprawling Coastline of Southern California

By Tim Houghten,

Sprawling coastline made for beach goers and surfers

The state of California is a sprawling coastline all but made for beach goers and surfers. With Pacific swells constantly swirling off the coastline, California's beaches enjoy some of the best year round and seasonal swells. Surfing in Southern California is a way of life; with news channels and other media outlets giving daily updates on conditions, water temperatures, and swell heights, surfers in Southern California can pick and choose what location is best for their preferences or energy levels that day.

Best time to surf in Southern California

There is no doubt that the best time of year to surf in Southern California is in the fall, from September through November. Fall in Southern California brings warmer conditions and cleaner water than other seasons. The influence of Santa Ana winds bring northern and southern swells up to mix, forming perfect waves for surfers to catch. Summer is another great time to go surfing in Southern California as well with temperatures reaching 90 degrees, ocean temperatures hovering in the 60s, and strong swells coming from the south.

In the winter time temperatures stay between then 60s and 70s, but can sometimes get as low as freezing at night, so this time of year is only reserved for those who truly have the passion and equipment to brave the cold waters. Springtime is the least popular time to surf in Southern California with cold temperatures and unpredictable weather casting a shadow on any opportunity to have a good surfing day.

Best locations to go surfing in Southern California

If you're wondering where to surf in Southern California, one of the most popular locations for is Huntington Beach. This area is the most reliable in terms of consistently producing surf, and although it is not known for particularly large surf, its reliability is the reason why it is the designated location for the US Open of Surfing. The Wedge is a great spot for advanced surfers, known for its big waves but dangerous jetty, so make sure you have the skills to handle these intense conditions before going. On the other hand, Doheny State Beach is perfect for beginner surfers; with smaller waves and a local hotspot it's a great place to head for the day to improve your skills.

Malibu State Beach is always on the list of best surfing locations in SoCal and is so popular that there are separate locations for swimmers and surfers. This area is beyond beautiful, but don't ever expect to show up without fighting against huge crowds. Other great mentions for surfing in Southern California are Blacks Beach, San Diego, Oceanside Pier, Oceanside, Cardiff Reef, San Diego, Ricon, Santa Barbara, and Trestles, San Clemente.

Spots to avoid the crowds when surfing in Southern California

The state of California has a population of 36 million people, so trying to avoid crowds when surfing in Southern California will take some insider knowledge and a bit of sacrifice. While these places may not offer the most consistent waves, beautiful beaches, and local spots to stop and get a great lunch or pick up an extra bottle of sunscreen, they offer an escape from large crowds and eliminate distraction.

Capitola is a small resort town near the very well known, and very crowded surfing spot, Santa Cruz. Capitola however has the same surf conditions as Santa Cruz but is just far enough removed from this bustling location that it gives surfers more serenity and less competition for waves.

In this same vicinity is Monterey Peninsula, which offers excellent surfing off the beaches of Pacific Grove, Seaside, Monterey, and Carmel-by-the-Sea.

The residents of this area are mainly retirees and vacationing families, so it's a great, unsuspecting spot that hosts amazing swells and easily accessible beaches for surfing. 1000 Steps County Beach is another noteworthy mention for having little crowds and great waves for surfing in Southern California. You need to climb many stairs to get to this prime location, which is probably a reason why it has remained secluded and untouched by most tourists.

The best location for your next surf vacation

If looking for a location that offers great beaches, fun activities, huge waves, or smaller consistent swells, then Southern California is the best location for your next surf vacation. There are thousands of activities to do for singles, couples, and families, and lots of locations to learn how to surf or to break out your board again and get back in touch with nature. Surfing Southern California's coast could be the most unforgettable experience of your life so start thinking about where you may want to head for your next vacation!
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