Hey there, surfers! Are you looking to ride some amazing waves and soak up some California sun? If so, you’re in luck. Today we are taking a deep dive into the top ten surf destinations in the Golden State. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a brand-new surfer, Cali truly has something for everyone.
Grab a new bathing suit, your board, some sunscreen, and a keen sense of adventure, because we’re about to explore the ultimate surfer’s paradise: The California coast.
What Should You Wear When Surfing?
Surfing is a sport, and like any other sport, there is equipment required. The fun thing about surfing is that half of your equipment is just a fashionable swimsuit.
Here are a few of our top picks:
1. The Malibu One Piece
We love the Malibu Suit because it comes in multiple fabrics, colors, and styles, but overall it is an athletic style with a medium leg cut that is going to stay in place. The snap-front neck and removable cups let you customize this suit to your fab body every time. It pairs well with a sporty ball cap and colorful towel, with the wind in your hair, of course.
2. The Torquay Rashguard
If you’ve never worn a rashguard like the Torquay, you should definitely try one out. The Torquay Rashguard is long-sleeved, which is perfect if you’re going to be out in the California sun for long periods of time. They also help minimize the rubbing and friction that comes from swimming.
3. The Maui Top
Though many prefer a one-piece suit for surfing, there are people who are die-hard bikini fans. If that’s you, we recommend the Maui Top. It has adjustable straps for comfort, a scoop neck, and maximum bust support for all your athletic needs. Over 200 happy reviews are certain: It’s as comfy as a crop top and be-fitting of athletic mermaids in all seven seas.
What Are the Top 10 Surfing Spots in California?
Honestly, you can’t really go wrong when it comes to catching a wave in Cali. But we curated a list anyway!
Here are our picks for the top ten surfing locations in the state of California:
Widely known as the birthplace of surfing in California, Malibu is a classic spot for experienced surfers. But some good news: beginners can catch a wave here too. Malibu offers a range of breaks suitable for surfers of all levels, but it is especially famous for its right-hand point break, known as First Point. Waves here can be slow and rolling or fast and barrelling, depending on the swell and conditions.
If you’re visiting Malibu for surfing, you will definitely want to check out Andie Swim’s Malibu Storefront, where you can grab the perfect swimsuit for your surfing excursion.
2. Huntington Beach
Also known as “Surf City,” Huntington Beach is one of the best spots for beginners and home to a number of professional surfers. The breaks here are generally not too powerful, which makes it an excellent spot for surfers of all levels to practice their skills.
Surfing is a big part of the overall culture of Huntington Beach, with several surf contests held here throughout the year, including the US Open of Surfing. If you’re visiting on vacation, you may want to visit the surf museum and the Surfing Walk of Fame. After surfing, bring FIdo in on the fun at Huntington Dog Beach (two miles northeast of the Huntington Beach Pier).
3. Santa Cruz
This laidback beach town is home to a famous surf spot known as the iconic Steamer Lane, which can be challenging for even the most experienced surfers. Other Santa Cruz locations, such as Pleasure Point and Cowell Beach, offer a milder, more consistent break that is more suitable to those with beginning or intermediate skills.
Santa Cruz is also home to the Santa Cruz Pier for when you need cotton candy or a corn dog (or three).
Mavericks in California is considered one of the most challenging and dangerous surfing spots in the world. Located off of the coast of Half Moon Bay in Northern Cali, Mavericks is known for its massive waves, which are caused by a unique underwater rock formation.
This big wave spot is truly reserved for only the bravest of surfers, with waves reaching up to 60 feet tall. Exercise caution, and surf here if you are experienced and skilled.
If you’re not sure if this is your speed, there are plenty of other things to do in the area while your more experienced friends are catching a giant wave. Half Moon Bay is known for its beautiful beaches (and adorable shops), so go for a walk in your cute cover-up. You could also visit the Half Moon Bay Brewing Company, which is a top-tier post-surf craft beer and delicious food.
Located in Santa Barbara, Rincon boasts some of the longest, most consistent waves in California. This locale is good for beginners and experts alike. This beloved spot is located in Ventura County, between the cities of Carpinteria and Santa Barbara. The waves are long, peeling, and super fun to ride.
Rincon is divided into three separate sections: The Cove, The Rivermouth, and The Point. One reason why this is such a popular destination is that there is something for everyone of all abilities.
The Cove is the most beginner friendly, with smaller waves that are perfect for honing your skills. The Rivermouth adds a little extra challenge, perfect for intermediate surfers. The Point, which is the most famous section of Rincon, has long, fast-moving waves and is better suited for advanced surfers.
6. Trestles, San Onofre State Beach
This surf spot, situated in San Diego County in Southern California, is famous with experienced surfers looking for challenging, fast waves. One thing that makes this locale unique is that it is a collection of several surf breaks that are spread out along a stretch of coastline on the San Onofre State Beach.
The waves at Trestles are well known for their power and speed, making them ideal for experienced surfers. Surfing at Trestles can sometimes prove challenging because of how popular the area is. The ideal waves can draw a big crowd.
Something important to know about Trestles is that it is located in a protected ecological reserve, which means that it is absolutely beautiful there. It also means that if you’re visiting, be extra careful to preserve the wildlife and environment as you surf and walk the beach.
7. Cardiff by the Sea
If you’re looking for a surf sport in San Diego that’s well-suited for surfers of all levels, this is for you. You'll find both slow and fast-paced waves and surfing fun for everyone in your group. Often simply known as Cardiff, this coastal community in San Diego County has consistent waves and a scenic beachfront.
The main surfing spot in Cardiff is known as Cardiff Reef, which is a reef break that produces consistent, powerful waves. The opportune time to surf here is in the fall and winter months, but, truth be told, you’ll be able to catch a wave no matter the season.
Cardiff Reef can be super crowded on the weekends and holidays, but there are some other surf breaks in the area that you could also check out, including Seaside Reef and Swami’s Beach.
Once you’re done surfing, check out the town itself. Cardiff by the Sea is absolutely adorable, with charming shops and restaurants, perfect for exploring after a day on the waves.
8. Black’s Beach
Also located in San Diego, Black’s Beach is probably the most scandalous of any of the locations on this list: it’s a nude beach. The waves are challenging, and if you get tired of surfing, you can finally get that line-free tan.
The surf break at Black’s Beach is a powerful, hollow wave best suited for those with some surfing experience. Waves can reach up to 20 feet and are known for their steep drops. Because of the beach’s secluded location within a state park, surfers must hike down a steep trail to access the beach, but honestly, that’s part of the adventure.
9. Newport Beach
This Orange County location has a variety of surf spots, including a surf break known as the “wedge” that can generate up to 30-foot waves. Still, the surf at Newport Beach is suitable for surfers of all levels, from beginners to experts. Newport Beach also boasts a strong surf culture and the beaches are gorgeous.
Many surfers tend to flock to the Newport Pier, which has fun and forgiving waves with plenty of peaks and channels for surfers to choose from. The pier also creates a nice break in the waves, which can help to make the surf more manageable for the less experienced surfers out there.
This cute little surf town is located north of Los Angeles and offers a variety of surf spots. The most popular spots in Ventura include C Street and Emma Wood. There are surf breaks that are great for all skill levels.
Ventura has a thriving surf culture, with many locals who are passionate about the sport. There are surf shops, surf-themed restaurants, and plenty of laid-back establishments to explore. Though surfing is clearly the main attraction in Ventura, you can also go hiking in the nearby hills or take a day trip to nearby Santa Barbara, which also has some iconic surfing.
Wherever you decide to catch a wave, you can’t really go wrong in California. There’s truly something for everyone. If you’re a beginner, double-check the conditions and make sure you’re not getting in over your head. Now, go catch a wave and have a blast!