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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.

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.


Beaches on this list

  • Ocean Beach City Beach

    Ocean Beach City Beach is the main beach in the San Diego neighborhood of Ocean Beach. This is a wide sandy beach that has formed at the south side of […]

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  • Pacific Beach

    Pacific Beach (the beach) is located between Pacific Beach Drive and the Crystal Pier in the Pacific Beach District of San Diego, CA. North of the pier is North Pacific […]

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  • Tourmaline Surfing Park Beach

    Tourmaline Beach is at a San Diego area surfers’ mecca called Tourmaline Surfing Park. This beach sits on the border of the Pacific Beach and La Jolla districts of San […]

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  • Windansea Beach

    Windansea Beach is below Neptune Place in La Jolla at the west end of Westbourne, Nautilus, and Bonair Streets. The name is a shortened version of “Wind-and-Sea” and comes from […]

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  • Scripps Beach

    Scripps Beach is adjacent to the UCSD Scripps Institution of Oceanography campus in northern La Jolla. The long concrete Scripps Pier is not open to the public unfortunately, but the […]

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  • Cardiff State Beach – Seaside Beach

    Seaside Beach is a sandy beach in Cardiff State Beach at the border between Solana Beach and the Cardiff-by-the-Sea area of Encinitas, CA. Cardiff State Beach is the long sandy strip along […]

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  • Swami’s Beach

    Swami’s Surf Beach is a famous surfing mecca at the south end of Encinitas, CA. The park at Swami’s Beach is a great vantage point for watching surfers and has […]

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  • Beacon’s Beach

    Beacon’s Beach in Encinitas is technically “South Leucadia State Beach” because it is the southern beach access of this state park, but this state-owned and city-run beach has been called […]

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  • Tamarack State Beach

    Tamarack Surf Beach, as this part of Carlsbad State Beach is known, is located where Tamarack Avenue crosses Carlsbad Boulevard. At this intersection is the entrance to a large parking […]

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  • Oceanside Pier View South Beach

    Pier View South Beach is the most popular beach in Oceanside, CA. Like the name suggests, it’s the beach just south of Oceanside Pier, and yes the beach on the […]

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  • San Onofre State Beach – Surfing Beach (Old Man’s)

    San Onofre Surfing Beach (the official state park name) is located next to Camp Pendleton in North San Diego County. Access to this public beach is via the Old Pacific […]

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  • Trestles Beach

    Trestles Beach is the northernmost part of San Onofre State Beach and of San Diego County, but access is from San Clemente in Orange County. Surfers know this area near […]

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  • T Street Beach

    T Street Beach is found at the west end of Esplanade Street in San Clemente and that is why it is sometimes referred to as Esplanade Beach. T-Street is part […]

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  • Doheny State Beach – North Beach

    Doheny State Beach has two separate beaches and day-use areas – north and south. This North Beach is located north of the San Juan Creek mouth and has a large […]

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  • West Jetty View Beach – The Wedge

    West Jetty View Park is located at the end of Balboa Peninsula in Newport Beach, CA. The park is small, but the beach here is large. The waves at this […]

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  • Huntington City Beach

    Huntington City Beach is the center of a long stretch of sandy waterfront for the city of Huntington Beach, CA. This huge asset and the fact that surf’s up regularly […]

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  • Seal Beach

    Seal Beach (the beach) is located in the city of Seal Beach, a small beachside community wedged between Long Beach and Huntington Beach. It is the northernmost beach town and […]

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  • Malaga Cove Beach

    Malaga Cove is the northernmost and sandiest beach in the city of Palos Verdes Estates. This spot is actually the south end of the long sandy shore that includes Redondo […]

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  • Hermosa City Beach

    Hermosa City Beach occupies the entire waterfront in the city of Hermosa Beach in LA County. It starts at King Harbor Marina in Redondo Beach and continues north for nearly […]

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  • Manhattan County Beach

    Manhattan Beach (the beach) is the main beach of the city of Manhattan Beach in Los Angeles County. It’s a popular beach that becomes a madhouse on weekends especially near […]

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  • Venice City Beach

    Venice City Beach is the main beach in the Venice District of Los Angeles. It stretches from the Venice Pier up to the north end of the Venice District at […]

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  • Topanga Beach

    Topanga Beach is the closest Malibu California beach to Los Angeles. The Eastern Malibu coast faces south and Topanga Beach is at the east end next to the Pacific Palisades […]

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  • Malibu Surfrider Beach

    Malibu Surfrider Beach is the popular sandy beach and surfing spot between the Malibu Pier and the Malibu Lagoon. Surfrider Beach is part of Malibu Lagoon State Beach which has […]

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  • Zuma Beach

    Zuma Beach is a Los Angeles county park facility in Malibu. It’s a long wide beach with enough parking spaces for the Superbowl. The main beach at Zuma is about […]

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  • Surfers Point Beach

    Surfers Point Beach at Seaside Park in Ventura begins west of the Ventura Pier and follows the Promenade to the Ventura River Estuary. A lagoon forms where the Ventura River […]

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  • Rincon Point State Beach

    Rincon Point State Beach is a separate unit of Carpinteria State Beach located at the border of Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties. It’s a public beach right next to the […]

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  • Campus Point Beach

    Campus Point Beach is on the east side of Goleta Point at the University of California Santa Barbara campus. Students and surfers call the area east of the point Campus […]

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  • Surf Beach at Vandenberg AFB

    Surf Beach is a public beach located on Vandenberg Air Force Base near Lompoc, CA. Access to Surf Beach is from the Amtrak train stop parking area along West Ocean […]

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  • Pismo Beach Pier Beach

    Pismo Pier juts out into the Pacific from the center of the Pismo Beach city waterfront giving visitors a grand view of the beach. Pismo Pier Beach is best known […]

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  • Morro Rock City Beach

    Morro Rock Beach is the city beach between the iconic Morro Rock and Morro Strand State Beach in Morro Bay, CA. This is a wide sandy beach just north of […]

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  • Capitola Beach

    Capitola City Beach is a sandy beach at the north end of Monterey Bay in Capitola, CA. It’s a popular urban beach that can be jam packed on sunny days […]

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  • Pleasure Point Beach

    Pleasure Point Park is a small park on the bluff above a popular surfing spot in the Live Oak area of Santa Cruz. Climb down the stairs from the park […]

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  • Steamer Lane

    Steamer Lane is really just a surfing spot for experienced surfers near Point Santa Cruz. The shoreline here is mostly cliffs and piled up boulders except at the lowest tides. […]

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  • Surfers Beach

    Surfers Beach is just outside the rock jetty that protects Pillar Point Harbor across Highway 1 from the community of El Granada north of Half Moon Bay. This location under […]

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  • Mavericks Beach

    Mavericks Beach at Pillar Point near Half Moon Bay is the site of the annual big wave surfing competition called Maverick’s. This big wave surf area is located a quarter-mile […]

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  • Ocean Beach

    Ocean Beach is a long beach spanning the entire Sunset District of San Francisco from Cliff House south to Sloat Boulevard. It’s also a wide beach especially when compared to […]

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  • Stinson Beach

    Stinson Beach (the beach) is a large public beach within Golden Gate National Recreation Area located in the town of Stinson Beach, California. It’s a popular getaway about an hour […]

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  • Bolinas Beach

    Bolinas Beach is a quiet public beach in the small town of Bolinas. It’s often called Brighton Beach because the main access road to the beach is Brighton Avenue. Parking […]

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  • North Salmon Creek Beach

    North Salmon Creek Beach is right off Coast Highway 1 just north of Bodega Bay. A large parking lot is available, but it can fill up in the summer so […]

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  • Arena Cove Beach

    Arena Cove Beach is the main beach in the Mendocino County town of Point Arena. The cove isn’t really known for its beach since there isn’t a lot of beach […]

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  • Big River Beach

    Big River Beach is at the spot where Big River flows into the Pacific Ocean just south of the small town of Mendocino. The beach provides access for launching canoes […]

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  • Samoa Dunes Recreation Area

    Samoa Dunes Recreation Area is a sandy off-highway vehicle play area on Samoa Peninsula near Eureka. The recreation area is located on the south end of the North Jetty at […]

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  • Moonstone Beach County Park

    Moonstone Beach County Park is at the north side of the Little River mouth near Trinidad. The beach is popular with surfers and also with families that can play safely […]

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  • Agate Beach at Patrick’s Point State Park

    Agate Beach is the large main beach at the north end of Patrick’s Point State Park near Trinidad. It requires a twisty steep hike from the parking lot at the […]

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  • South Beach

    South Beach is a locals beach just south of Crescent City Harbor where Highway 101 rolls into town. It’s a wide sandy beach that is partially protected from the west […]

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