Top Surf Spots: 10 Best Beaches to Surf in California

best beaches to surf in california

California is home to some of the best surf beaches in the world, attracting surfers from near and far. With its diverse coastline and ideal wave conditions, the Golden State offers something for everyone, from beginners to seasoned pros. Whether you’re looking for mellow waves to practice your skills or challenging breaks that will test your limits, California has it all. Let’s explore the top surf spots and best beaches to surf in California.

Best Beaches to Surf in California Uncovered

  • California offers a wide range of surf spots for all skill levels.
  • The state’s diverse coastline provides different types of breaks and wave conditions.
  • Some of the top surf spots in California include Trestles Beach, Huntington Beach, Malibu Surfrider Beach, Rincon Point, Mavericks, Santa Cruz (Steamer Lane), Oceanside Harbor Beach, Cardiff Reef, Pacific Beach (PB Point), and Mondos Beach.
  • From powerful waves that attract professional surfers to mellow breaks perfect for beginners, California has something for everyone.
  • Surfing in California offers not only great waves but also a vibrant surf culture and stunning coastal landscapes.

Trestles Beach

Trestles Beach, located in San Clemente, is a world-renowned surf spot known for its consistent waves and diverse breaks. The beach is actually made up of several breaks, each offering a unique surfing experience. Popular breaks at Trestles include Uppers, Lowers, and Church. Surfers can expect powerful waves, long rides, and epic barrels at Trestles Beach. It is a favorite among both locals and professional surfers.

The Different Breaks at Trestles

Trestles Beach is home to three main breaks that provide surfers with a variety of wave conditions to suit their preferences and skill levels.

1. Uppers: Uppers is known for its fast and hollow waves, offering an exhilarating ride for experienced surfers. With its steep takeoff and powerful barrels, Uppers is a challenging break that rewards skilled surfers who can navigate its powerful sections.

2. Lowers: Lowers is often considered the main attraction at Trestles Beach. It offers long, consistent waves that are ideal for both high-performance maneuvers and long rides. Surfers can enjoy the perfect canvas for showcasing their skills and creativity on the walls of Lowers.

3. Church: Church is the southernmost break at Trestles Beach. It is known for its playful waves and wide-open faces, making it a favorite among surfers looking for a more relaxed and fun session. Church provides a great option for surfers of all levels to enjoy the beauty and thrill of Trestles Beach.

Trestles Beach

Huntington Beach (Surf City USA)

Huntington Beach, also known as Surf City USA, is a legendary surf spot located in Orange County. It has a rich surfing heritage and is home to the iconic Huntington Beach Pier. Surfers of all skill levels can enjoy the waves at Huntington Beach, with a variety of breaks and swells throughout the year. The beach is also host to the prestigious Vans US Open of Surfing, attracting surfers from around the world.

Huntington Beach, Surf City USA

“Huntington Beach, a paradise for surfers with its perfect waves and vibrant surf culture.”

If you’re looking for incredible waves and a vibrant surf culture, look no further than Huntington Beach. Known as Surf City USA, this iconic surf spot offers something for every surfer, from beginners to professionals. With its stunning shoreline and consistent surf, Huntington Beach has rightfully earned its reputation as one of the best places to catch a wave in the world.

What sets Huntington Beach apart is its variety of breaks and swells. Whether you’re a longboarder looking for mellow waves or a shortboarder seeking powerful barrels, you’ll find it all at “HB.” The beach showcases a range of surfing conditions throughout the year, ensuring that there’s always an opportunity to ride some of the best waves at Huntington Beach.

Adding to the allure of Huntington Beach is the iconic Huntington Beach Pier. Stretching 1,850 feet into the ocean, the pier provides not only stunning views but also a perfect vantage point to watch the surfers in action. It’s no wonder that this pier has become synonymous with the vibrant surf culture of Huntington Beach.

Surfing at Huntington Beach goes beyond just catching waves. The beach is a hub for surf events and competitions, including the renowned Vans US Open of Surfing. Each year, this prestigious event brings together surfers from around the world to showcase their skills and compete for glory. The lively atmosphere and the excitement of watching the pros ride the best waves at Huntington Beach make it an unforgettable experience for spectators.

So whether you’re a seasoned surfer or someone eager to learn, Huntington Beach promises an unforgettable surfing adventure. With its perfect waves, rich surfing history, and vibrant surf culture, it’s no wonder why Huntington Beach holds the title of Surf City USA.

Malibu Surfrider Beach

Malibu Surfrider Beach, nestled in the picturesque coastal city of Malibu, Los Angeles, is an iconic surf spot that has left an indelible mark on the world of surfing. This legendary beach offers some of the most famous waves in California, attracting surfers from near and far.

malibu surfrider beach

Surfers at Malibu Surfrider Beach have the opportunity to ride the long peeling point breaks that make this spot truly iconic. First Point, Second Point, and Third Point provide surfers with a range of wave options, ensuring that there’s something for everyone.

Whether you’re a novice looking to catch mellow waves closer to the shore, or an experienced surfer seeking larger and more challenging waves further out, Malibu Surfrider Beach caters to surfers of all levels. The beach’s gentle waves near the shore gradually increase in size and power as you venture farther out into the ocean.

The allure of Malibu Surfrider Beach extends beyond the waves themselves. This surf spot has played a significant role in shaping surf culture, with its rich history and vibrant community. Surfers from all walks of life come together to enjoy the beauty of the coastline and the thrill of riding the iconic waves at Malibu Surfrider Beach.

Rincon Point

Rincon Point, located between Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, is often referred to as the “Queen of the Coast.” It is renowned for its long and perfectly formed point break waves, offering some of the best right-handers in California. Surfers can enjoy long rides and epic waves at Rincon Point, making it a favorite among experienced surfers. The area is also popular for its stunning scenery and beautiful coastline.

rincon point

If you’re looking for a surf spot with incredible long and consistent rides, Rincon Point is the place to go. The point break at Rincon produces wave lines that seem to go on forever, allowing surfers to carve and ride the wave for an extended period. The long rides at Rincon Point provide an exhilarating surfing experience, attracting surfers from all over the world. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or an intermediate surfer looking to challenge yourself, Rincon Point offers exceptional waves for every skill level.

In addition to its incredible surf, Rincon Point boasts breathtaking scenery and a picturesque coastline. Surfers can enjoy the panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and the surrounding coastal cliffs while waiting for their next wave. The beauty of the area adds to the overall experience, making Rincon Point a must-visit destination for surfers and nature lovers alike.

Mavericks

Mavericks, located in Half Moon Bay, is legendary for its massive waves and challenging conditions. It is famous for hosting the Mavericks Invitational, an invite-only big wave surfing competition that attracts the world’s best surfers. Waves at Mavericks can reach heights of up to 60 feet, providing an adrenaline-pumping experience for expert surfers. However, the spot is extremely dangerous and should only be attempted by experienced big wave surfers.

mavericks surf spot

Santa Cruz (Steamer Lane)

Santa Cruz is a beloved surf town in Northern California and is home to the iconic Steamer Lane surf spot. Surrounded by the scenic beauty of the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Cruz Mountains, this coastal city offers a fantastic surfing experience for enthusiasts of all levels.

Steamer Lane is the crown jewel of Santa Cruz’s surf spots, attracting surfers from around the world. This legendary surf spot boasts classic waves that have become synonymous with Santa Cruz’s surf culture. The consistent and powerful waves at Steamer Lane make it a favorite among local and professional surfers alike.

steamer lane surf spot

Steamer Lane is known for its diverse breaks that provide surfers with a range of options to choose from. There are four distinct breaks at Steamer Lane:

  • Indicators: Located on the north end of Steamer Lane, Indicators offers long and peeling waves that are popular among longboarders.
  • Middle Peak: In the middle of Steamer Lane, Middle Peak boasts powerful waves that are ideal for intermediate and advanced surfers.
  • The Slot: The Slot is a narrow channel that separates Indicators and Middle Peak, producing fast and hollow waves that challenge even the most experienced surfers.
  • The Point: Situated on the south end of Steamer Lane, The Point features reef breaks and is known for its long and consistent waves.

Surfing at Steamer Lane provides not only an incredible wave-riding experience but also a chance to immerse oneself in the vibrant surf culture that Santa Cruz is known for. After catching some waves, surfers can explore the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum, which is located nearby and offers a glimpse into the rich history of surfing in Santa Cruz.

Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a beginner looking to catch your first wave, Santa Cruz and Steamer Lane are the perfect combination for an unforgettable surfing adventure.

Oceanside Harbor Beach

Oceanside Harbor Beach, located in Oceanside, is a popular surf spot known for its mellow waves and family-friendly atmosphere. Surfers of all levels can enjoy the consistent waves at Oceanside, with smaller breaks closer to the harbor and larger, more challenging waves further out. The beach is also home to the California Surf Museum, providing a glimpse into the history and culture of surfing in California.

oceanside harbor beach

Oceanside Harbor Beach offers a picturesque setting with its sandy shores and stunning ocean views. The harbor creates a protected area that helps create mellow and manageable waves, perfect for beginners and those looking for a more relaxed surf session. The beach is also well-known for its family-friendly environment, making it a great destination for surfers of all ages.

As you venture further from the harbor, you’ll find larger waves that provide a more challenging experience for advanced surfers. These waves attract more experienced riders, creating a diverse and vibrant surfing community at Oceanside Harbor Beach.

When you’re not catching waves, be sure to visit the California Surf Museum located right on the beach. Explore the rich history of surfing in California through exhibits, artifacts, and interactive displays. Learn about the evolution of surf culture and the influence it has had on the coastal communities of California.

Whether you’re a seasoned surfer or just starting out, Oceanside Harbor Beach offers something for everyone. With its mellow waves, beautiful surroundings, and rich surfing heritage, it’s no wonder why this surf spot is a favorite among locals and visitors alike.

Cardiff Reef

Cardiff Reef, located in Encinitas, is a popular surf spot known for its mellow and forgiving waves. It is a favorite among longboarders and intermediate surfers, offering consistent and approachable waves.

Cardiff Reef is known for its right-hand point break, providing long and enjoyable rides.

Surfers can also enjoy the laid-back beach atmosphere and beautiful coastal scenery at Cardiff Reef.

cardiff reef

Pacific Beach (PB Point)

Pacific Beach, commonly known as PB, is a vibrant beach community in San Diego and is home to the popular PB Point surf spot.
PB Point offers fun and playful waves, making it a great spot for surfers of all levels. Surfers can enjoy long rides and rideable waves throughout the year.
PB Point also offers a lively beach and nightlife scene, attracting locals and tourists alike.

pacific beach surf spot

Mondos Beach

Located in Ventura County, Mondos Beach is a hidden gem for beginner surfers. It’s the perfect spot to dip your toes in the water and ride your first waves. The beach boasts consistent and manageable waves, making it ideal for novices looking to learn and improve their skills.

One of the reasons why Mondos Beach is so beginner-friendly is its soft sandy bottoms, which provide a forgiving landing for wipeouts. Additionally, the waves at Mondos Beach are generally smaller in size, allowing beginners to gain confidence and practice without feeling overwhelmed.

What sets Mondos Beach apart is its welcoming surf community. They are always ready to offer tips, guidance, and encouragement to those just starting their surfing journey. So, whether you’re a local or a visitor, you’ll feel right at home as you paddle out and catch your first waves at Mondos Beach.

FAQ

What are the best beaches to surf in California?

Some of the best beaches to surf in California are Trestles Beach, Huntington Beach (Surf City USA), Malibu Surfrider Beach, Rincon Point, Mavericks, Santa Cruz (Steamer Lane), Oceanside Harbor Beach, Cardiff Reef, Pacific Beach (PB Point), and Mondos Beach.

What makes Trestles Beach a top surf spot?

Trestles Beach is a world-renowned surf spot known for its consistent waves and diverse breaks. With breaks like Uppers, Lowers, and Church, surfers can experience powerful waves, long rides, and epic barrels.

Why is Huntington Beach known as Surf City USA?

Huntington Beach, also known as Surf City USA, has a rich surfing heritage and is home to the iconic Huntington Beach Pier. Surfers of all skill levels can enjoy a variety of breaks and swells throughout the year.

What makes Malibu Surfrider Beach iconic?

Malibu Surfrider Beach offers some of the most famous waves in California and has played a significant role in shaping surf culture. Surfers can ride the long, peeling point breaks at First Point, Second Point, and Third Point.

Why is Rincon Point called the “Queen of the Coast”?

Rincon Point is often referred to as the “Queen of the Coast” because of its long and perfectly formed point break waves. Surfers can enjoy some of the best right-handers in California and experience long rides and epic waves.

What makes Mavericks famous?

Mavericks is legendary for its massive waves and challenging conditions. It hosts the Mavericks Invitational, an invite-only big wave surfing competition that attracts the world’s best surfers. Waves at Mavericks can reach heights of up to 60 feet.

What makes Santa Cruz (Steamer Lane) a classic surf spot?

Santa Cruz is home to the iconic Steamer Lane surf spot, which offers a variety of breaks and powerful, consistent waves year-round. It has four distinct breaks known as Indicators, Middle Peak, The Slot, and The Point.

What can surfers expect at Oceanside Harbor Beach?

Oceanside Harbor Beach is a popular surf spot known for its mellow waves and family-friendly atmosphere. Surfers of all levels can enjoy the consistent waves, with smaller breaks closer to the harbor and larger, more challenging waves further out.

Why is Cardiff Reef popular among surfers?

Cardiff Reef is a popular surf spot known for its mellow and forgiving waves. It is a favorite among longboarders and intermediate surfers, offering consistent and approachable waves. Surfers can enjoy long and enjoyable rides.

What makes Pacific Beach (PB Point) a fun surf spot?

Pacific Beach, commonly known as PB, is a vibrant beach community in San Diego and is home to the popular PB Point surf spot. It offers fun and playful waves, making it a great spot for surfers of all levels to enjoy long rides and rideable waves.

Why is Mondos Beach ideal for beginner surfers?

Mondos Beach is a beginner-friendly surf spot known for its consistent and manageable waves. It is an ideal spot for novice surfers to learn and improve their skills, with soft sandy bottoms and smaller waves.