Surfing has been a beloved pastime along the American West Coast for generations. With its vast coastline and diverse wave breaks, the West Coast offers an array of world-class surfing spots. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a beginner eager to catch your first wave, you’ll find the perfect spot along this coastline. In this two-part series, we’ll explore the top surfing destinations on the American West Coast.
1. Trestles, California
Trestles, located in San Clemente, California, is renowned for its consistent, high-quality waves. It’s a favorite among surfers, both locally and internationally, and is part of the San Onofre State Beach. Trestles offers multiple surf breaks, including Uppers, Lowers, and Middles, each with its own unique characteristics.
The consistency of the waves here makes it an excellent choice for surfers of all skill levels. If you’re just starting, consider taking a lesson from one of the nearby surf schools. Trestles is not only famous for its waves but also its natural beauty, with rugged cliffs and pristine shoreline.
2. Mavericks, California
For the more adventurous and experienced surfers, Mavericks in Half Moon Bay, California, is a legendary destination. This big-wave spot is not for the faint of heart, as it’s known for some of the most massive waves in the world. Mavericks can reach heights of up to 60 feet or more, making it a bucket-list destination for professional surfers.
The massive swells are most common during the winter months when the Titans of Mavericks competition takes place. Even if you’re not riding these colossal waves, watching the experts tackle them is a thrilling experience. Mavericks is not a spot for beginners, so if you’re planning to visit, be sure you’re well-prepared and experienced.
3. Rincon Point, California
Rincon Point, often referred to as the “Queen of the Coast,” is located near Carpinteria, California. It’s famous for its long, peeling right-hand waves and consistent surf conditions. Surfers from around the world are drawn to Rincon’s classic point break, which offers rides that can last for hundreds of yards.
This spot is known for its relaxed, welcoming atmosphere and is suitable for surfers of all levels. The point break offers both gentle, rolling waves for beginners and faster, more challenging waves for the experienced surfers. Its iconic “Indicator” section is where many surfers showcase their skills.
4. Huntington Beach, California
Huntington Beach, often referred to as “Surf City, USA,” is a surf mecca located in Orange County, California. With its wide sandy beaches and consistent waves, it’s an ideal spot for surfers of all ages and skill levels. The city even hosts the annual Vans US Open of Surfing, a major event on the pro surfing calendar.
The Huntington Beach Pier is a focal point for surfers, and the area around it is perfect for catching waves. Whether you’re a beginner looking to take your first lesson or a seasoned pro looking for great surf, Huntington Beach has it all. Additionally, the vibrant beach town offers plenty of entertainment and dining options for after your surf sessions.
Stay tuned for part two of our series on the top surfing spots on the American West Coast, where we’ll explore more exciting destinations for catching the perfect wave.
5. Tofino, British Columbia, Canada
While not in the USA, Tofino in British Columbia, Canada, is a must-visit destination for surf enthusiasts on the West Coast. Tofino is known for its rugged coastline, old-growth rainforests, and, of course, fantastic surf breaks. Chesterman Beach and Cox Bay are two popular spots for riding the waves, and you’ll find waves suitable for all levels of surfers.
Tofino is also famous for its unique cold-water surfing experience. Many surfers here wear thick wetsuits, boots, and hoods to brave the chilly waters. The pristine natural beauty of this area, with its abundant wildlife and stunning scenery, makes it a surf destination like no other.
6. Santa Cruz, California
Santa Cruz, located on the northern edge of Monterey Bay, is renowned for its top surfing spots and has a rich surfing history. Steamer Lane, in particular, is a legendary surf spot that offers a powerful right-hand point break. The waves here can get sizeable and challenging, so it’s often frequented by experienced surfers.
The city of Santa Cruz has several surf shops, museums, and a lively boardwalk. It’s a great place to immerse yourself in the surf lifestyle. If you’re looking for a surf spot with a mix of big waves and a vibrant surf community, Santa Cruz is an excellent choice.
7. Ocean Beach, San Francisco, California
Ocean Beach, located in San Francisco, is known for its consistent beach break and powerful waves, making it one of the top surfing spots on the American West Coast. This beach stretches for miles, offering various peaks and plenty of space for surfers to find their perfect spot. The waves here can range from mellow to challenging, making it suitable for surfers of different skill levels.
The strong currents and cold water at Ocean Beach make it a destination for more experienced surfers. If you’re planning to surf here, it’s essential to be well-prepared and have the right equipment. The reward is a memorable surfing experience with the iconic Golden Gate Bridge in the background.
8. Newport Beach, California
Newport Beach, located in Orange County, California, is a beautiful coastal city with a range of surf breaks. The Wedge, in particular, is famous for its massive shore break waves, which can reach impressive heights during south swells. This spot is not for the faint of heart, and only experienced bodyboarders and bodysurfers should attempt riding these waves.
For a more traditional surf experience, Newport Beach offers other breaks suitable for various skill levels. The city’s charming atmosphere and scenic coastline make it an attractive destination for surfers and beachgoers alike.
In the world of surfing, the American West Coast is a treasure trove of diverse waves, breathtaking landscapes, and a vibrant surf culture. Part one and two of our series have unveiled some of the top surfing destinations in this region, catering to surfers of all levels, from beginners to seasoned pros.