9 Best Surf Spots In California, USA

surf spots in california
Elah Angelica
Elah Angelica 
| 5 min read

Dubbed as the Golden State of the United States of America, California is one of the places that promise life-changing experiences to anyone visiting. From cheery surf beaches to murky forests, California will give you the best adventures. Everything about this state is breathtaking. With roads stretching from Mexico to Oregon, it gets more dramatic and sensational with every mile you pass. The region has a diverse culture and scenic landscapes you shouldn’t miss. There’s more—California produces some of the world’s best entertainment in Hollywood. You won’t find yourself short of new things to try here. If you want to make great memories, you can always start with learning to surf. Check out our list below of the best surf spots in California, USA.

1. Swami's Beach

Sunset at Swami's, Encinitas (again)
Source: Photo by user Phil Price used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Known as Swami’s Reef, Swami’s Beach is an internationally famous surfing spot in Encinitas, California. It’s an ideal spot for tourists who want to learn the basics of surfing. It has waves that are easy enough for first-timers. But if you are already a pro, then you’ll enjoy the place even more. Swami’s Beach also features a park, which offers a great vantage point to watch surfers and has shaded areas perfect for picnics as well. When the tides are low, you can enjoy a stroll south to San Elijo State Beach. Exploring north, however, will lead you to steep bluffs called Boneyards. Once you get tired of the day activities, you can always check out nearby cafes and restaurants for a quick snack or a full meal.

Swami's Beach

Address: 1298 S Coast Hwy 101, Encinitas, CA 92024, United States

2. The Wedge Newport Beach

Body Surfing The Wedge Newport Beach CA photo D Ramey Logan
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Don Ramey Logan used under CC BY-SA 4.0

One of the biggest swells in Southern California, The Wedge Newport Beach, located at the end of the Balboa Peninsula, is a must-visit destination in California. It features shore-breaking waves, so it’s no wonder that it’s a hot spot for all types of surfers. The place has the potential to produce 30-foot (9-meter) waves, ideal for bodyboarders or bodysurfers. However, it’s advised that surfers be cautious since the area can be dangerous. The same jetty-beach triangle producing big waves can also create strong rip currents. The ideal season to visit The Wedge is during the summer and the fall seasons, where you can catch a higher surf.

The Wedge Newport Beach

Address: 2300 Channel Rd, Newport Beach, CA 92661, United States

Website: The Wedge Newport Beach

3. Malibu Surfrider Beach

Malibu Surfrider Beach
Source: Photo by user William Warby used under CC BY 2.0

Surfing movies in the ‘50s and '60s paved way for Surfrider Beach to be known as one of the go-to places when in search of the best Southern California surfing experience. Malibu Surfrider Beach is part of Malibu Lagoon State Beach, promising you a unique beach experience during your visit. Even though these attractions are adjacent to one another, you’ll notice that there’s a plethora of activities to do and scenic spots to enjoy. Whether you’re looking for an excellent spot to surf or bird-watch, Surfrider Beach is always a great place to start.

Malibu Surfrider Beach

Address: 23050 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu, CA 90265, United States

Website: Malibu Surfrider Beach

4. Pismo Beach Pier

Sunset at Pismo Beach Pier
Source: Photo by user mLu.fotos used under CC BY 2.0

Sitting right on the white-sand beach of Pismo Beach, Pismo Beach Pier is visible from various cliffside hotels and resorts—from where tourists can easily access it by climbing down a set of stairs. It offers a lot of fun activities to indulge in. From flying kites to watching seagulls, a thrilling surfing experience to swings, it’s something not to miss. Additionally, guests can stand on the pier or take a stroll below to get acquainted with the crashing waves. Enjoy a magical late-afternoon surfing session when the entire beach is lit with dim lights and with the sun setting on the horizon.

Pismo Beach Pier

Address: Pismo Beach Pier, Pismo Beach, CA 93449, United States

Website: Pismo Beach Pier

5. Trestles Beach

Distant surfer watched from the rocks (Unsplash)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user tidesinourveins used under CC0

Located on the northernmost part of San Onofre State Beach in San Clemente, Trestles Beach is known by surfers as Uppers, Lowers, Middles, and Cottons. It pertains to the different surf spots near the train trestle that the beach is named after. Not only is Trestles Beach known for its great waves, but it also has the perfect spot for bird-watching. Because it’s adjacent to San Mateo Creek and San Mateo Campground, tourists can even indulge in hiking activities and explore scenic areas. Sunsets are also something to look forward to while here.

Trestles Beach

Address: 3929 S El Camino Real, San Clemente, CA 92672, United States

6. Steamer Lane

Steamer Lane Lighthouse Santa Cruz, California
Source: Photo by user Richard Masoner /... used under CC BY-SA 2.0

If you’re a big fan of surfers or one of those who call themselves ocean frolickers, Steamer Lane is the perfect place to muster the courage of getting on a surfboard. Arriving at the iconic Steamer Lane Beach, you’ll already feel the surfer spirit all over the pace. Seeing wetsuit-clad surfers present in the water and playfully carved faces and figures engraved into the rocky outcrops of the beach, you will want to jump right into the cold blue water. There’s more—you might enjoy visiting Santa Cruz Surfing Museum, which is just a short walk from the beach.

Steamer Lane

Address: W Cliff Dr & Pelton Ave, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, United States

7. Mavericks Beach

Step Into Liquid
Source: Photo by user Steve Jurvetson used under CC BY 2.0

Experience surfing on one of the most feared surf breaks all over the world. Mavericks in Half Moon Bay, Northern California, has dangerous waves capable of killing an in-form surfer in seconds. It earned the reputation of having some of the deadliest waves on the planet, where most thrill-seekers are willing to risk themselves to have that adrenaline-inducing experience. Despite it being on the dangerous side, surfers can’t help but be attracted to the place like how moths are attracted to a flame. It certainly has its charm, but not everyone can appreciate it—specifically, people who live on the safe side of life.

Mavericks Beach

Address: Pillar Point, Princeton-by-the-Sea, Half Moon Bay, CA 94019, United States

Website: Mavericks Beach

8. Rincon Point

the original rincon surfers
Source: Photo by user snapper used under CC BY 2.0

Located at the border of Santa Barbara and Ventura counties in Carpinteria, California, Rincon Point State Beach is a public beach next to the private gated Rincon Community. It’s one of the most popular surfing spots in California for right-hand waves breaking around the east side of the point. Every year, Rincon Point State Beach holds a Rincon Classic surf competition, where surfers from different places compete with one another for a large amount of money. Not only that, if you want a wider beach, you can easily go to adjacent Rincon Park County Beach.

Rincon Point

Address: 172 Rincon Point Rd, Carpinteria, CA 93013, United States

Website: Rincon Point

9. Huntington Beach Pier

Huntington Beach Pier
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Bamsb900 used under CC BY-SA 4.0

One of the longest piers on the West Coast, the iconic Huntington Beach Pier measures almost 1,850 feet (564 meters) in length. Situated right on the intersection of Main Street and Pacific Coast Highway, it’s known as the heart of Huntington Beach and is one of the most picture-worthy spots in town. Its location allows guests to enjoy surfing in Huntington Beach. Also, tourists will get to witness breathtaking views while watching the crashing waves, with the feel of the ocean breeze brushing their arms.

Huntington Beach Pier

Address: 103 Pacific Coast Hwy, Huntington Beach, CA 92648, United States

Website: Huntington Beach Pier

Experience the ride of your life in the Golden State

Whether you’re looking for the right place to take a breather or something to spice up your life, California ensures to provide both. From its scenic drives surrounded with lush forestry to sunny surf beaches, you’ll surely find something to keep you entertained while in this wondrous state. If you want to have the ride of your life, try getting on a surfboard and learn to ride the waves. Don’t forget to check out our list above of the best surf spots in California, USA.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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Elah Angelica Casallos is a Psychology student who hopes to see the world one day. Right now, she's currently exploring the world around her through writing. When she's not busy with school works...Read more

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