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bigs-Surfing-green wave at Huntington Beach CA-e1 (Large)
Typical wave at Huntington Beach

Surfing is big in California to say the least. It’s a way of life for many and a spectator sport for others. Up and down the coast there are worthy surf spots, not just in Southern California (even though they have the best-known breaks). Central and Northern California have several surfing beaches that rival the south, but you will need a thicker wetsuit!


Surfing has a long history and California helped the sport get noticed through movies, music, TV shows, and the surf culture which began in the early 1900s and exploded in the 50s and 60s. Visit one of the Surfing Museums in California to learn more about the history of the sport in our state.

Surfers Point in Ventura

If you are not from California, we don’t want to scare you off, but we do have sharks here. Attacks have happened at nearly every spot on the coast. Learn more about shark attacks in California and where they happen.

Localism is another issue at some beaches, but we tried to pick beaches for this list that have less of a local attitude problem. Keep a low profile and it’s usually all good.

For the best surfing beaches in California see the list below ordered from south to north.