Tricks to Surfing In Southern California
by: Wesley Somoza
Owner of Visit Southern California
As promised in this post I will discuss some fun surf breaks and the rules that go along with them in Southern California. I am a recreational surfer (I try to paddle out 2 times a week if the surf is up) so I am not a pro nor a beginner. I actually did not start surfing until about age 18 and I have grown up my entire life right here in Southern California. That is crazy to think about. I went my first 18 years here in So Cal no more than 20 minutes away from Malibu and never once paddled out on a surfboard. I mean I went to the beach a lot and bodysurfed and boogie boarded around but never a stand to my feet surf session. For me I moved to San Diego to go to school in the mid 90s and because I was living right by the beach in La Jolla I decided I had to at least try surfing. I did enjoy myself the first time I went and it was not until my mid 20s did I truly fall in love with it. As Kelly Slater said (I paraphrasing here) "It’s like the mafia. Once you’re in – your in. There’s no getting out.".
My first years learning to surf were primarily done at La Jolla Shores Beach and Scripps located down the same stretch of beach. These are beach breaks which have both good and bad qualities to them. The good is the soft sand bottom which is nice on the feet and head soooo.... it is perfect for beginners. If you can find some gentle beach breaks in So Cal and you want to learn to surf these are your best bets. However the water at beach breaks is not alays forgiving. I mean you battle through a lot of white water shore breaks only to get into the line up and face waves coming from anywhere which means finding a good point of reference or take off spot is not easy and will more often than not get the best of you. Just keep that in mind. If you are a beginner I recommend finding a Wavestorm soft top 8 foot board or even a fiberglass 8 foot wide board. You will more than likely float well on the board and can catch anything in the 1-4 foot range. Chances are you are going to "eat shit" a lot out there so be prepared for a surfboard to the head. Nice thing about beach breaks though is everyone is usually a novice to the sport out in the water so the attitude is way more chill from locals and non-beginners. We know we can out surf you for a good wave so we don't mind when you snake us (cut us off) or wipeout badly sending your board flying wildly in the air. I have dinged up my board at a beach break on a number of occasions so just accept it. It will happen. I will always recommend La Jolla Shores and Scripps as fun beach breaks in So Cal. I have also surfed up in Northern LA at Zuma Beach. The wave their is much more heavy on a bigger days so you will get thrown around a bit. I have also surfed the beach breaks in Pacific Beach and Coronado Island which are fun for beginners.
Now once you have hit a new level with your surfing or are already a good surfer you are ready to move on to Point Breaks or Reefs. The great thing about these types of waves is they have a real ride to them that can last a long time (10 seconds or more) and you can see them coming so positioning yourself in the water is less stressful. However the downside to this is every other good surfer knows of these breaks and even beginners think they can tackle them. So be prepared to battle crowds of people and a lot of attitude! For example I used to surf at Malibu's First Point (Surfrider Beach). It has a long great right point that is a ton of fun on 2-5 foot days but becomes epic on 4-7 foot days. Any bigger and it becomes the stuff of legends which does not happen usually. The minus side to this is the break is over ran by longboards. 8 foot and above which is great if you want to catch that wave early and have a long dull ride, but for me (I ride a 6'2 fish right now) I like to get in a little late and move. This does mesh well with Malibu. Oh yeah and if you snake somone or have a party wave going don't be upset when you get yelled at or shoved off a wave. I have seen it before it is not pretty and ruins the mood out in the water. You could slide over to 2nd and 3rd point at Malibu but truth be told the point break at those spots (just down the beach) is nothing terrific. County Line to the north has some great waves as well, but it is extremely dependent on the tides. Too much water and the waves stop, not enough water and you are surfing on rocks which will hurt your head, feet and your board. Keep that in mind.
I do love the Topanga break in So Cal but so does half of LA and since that point break can handle most tide swings pretty well everyone and their mother tries to surf here and it comes with a lot of accidents and attitudes so I would say to avoid a nasty incident stay away from Topanga or surf with caution here. It is a fun fun wave but it is not an easy session.
Again at the end of day these are just my opinions and guidance. I have surfed at Swami's in Solana Beach/Del Mar and it was okay. The water to me is a bit sloppy. I have surfed at Huntington Beach and had fun before but it was not a great surf day so giving a recommendation on it is not easy. The big rules to keep in mind is try not to snake someone in the water, don't be a wave hog and grab anything and everything coming through. Sharing is caring. And at the end of the day have fun. Surfing is meant to calm you, make you feel one with the water and nature. Don't make it a pissing contest in the water it will make you miserable. I mean who wants to be miserable? Surf for the Soul my friends! Chaka!
Dec 05, 2016 at 09:56 PM
I live in San Diego and agree that for beginners La JOlla Shores and Scripps are great, but why don't you talk about Blacks Beach? Most epic break in all of Southern California