It doesn’t matter if you’re the next Gidget, a seasoned Spicoli, or an old booger (that’s surfese for “body boarder”) that is looking to put some fiberglass under their feet, there are plenty of places along the shores of Los Angeles County for you to hang ten (or however many toes you may have).Here are five of the top surf spots in L.A. to catch some waves (with consideration for individual skill levels, or lack thereof):
45th St & The Strand
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
El Porto is officially part of the City of Manhattan Beach between Dockweiler State Beach and Manhattan Beach. The best place to park is in the metered parking lot on 45th Street just west of Highland Avenue. Get there early, it fills up quick.
If you’re a novice (or looking for lessons) you can’t do any better than El Porto (just south of El Segundo). The area is a great place to learn the hows and whys of surfing — not just the mechanics, but also the etiquette that is such a big part of surf culture. Thanks to an underwater cave El Porto offers some pretty sizable waves well into the winter that more seasoned surfers will enjoy.
30000 Pacific Coast Highway
Malibu, CA 90265
Located at 30000 Pacific Coast Highway, just north of Malibu, is the famous Zuma Beach. Zuma offers both beginners and intermediate surfers a nice array of waves to choose from. There is paid parking in the lot and free parking along PCH (but it’s a bit of a hike). Unlike most of the other Los Angeles beaches, Zuma is at its best in the summer, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t plenty of nice swells throughout the year. The water here tends to be a bit colder, and you may want to consider a wetsuit. Added bonus, they filmed Baywatch here. So there’s that.
3100 to 2700 Ocean Front Walk
Venice, CA 90291
Speaking of popular beaches, Venice offers everything you think you want in a Los Angeles beach experience. Not only does it host an eclectic boardwalk, but lots of volleyball, rollerblading and biking. Plus it’s adjacent to Santa Monica with its popular pier and some pretty decent surfing of its own.
The surfing at Venice is good for all levels. This is the place to surf if you want to be seen. It’s also the place to surf if you’re a tourist and want to get your feet wet. The waves don’t lie, but they do break. Nicely. The best swells are located along the famed Venice Breakwater between the Venice and Santa Monica Piers, respectively.
Parking can be found at the end of Washington Boulevard near the fishing pier or in any number of paid lots and metered spaces along the neighboring streets of Pacific Avenue and N. Venice Blvd.
18700 Pacific Coast Highway
Malibu, CA 90265
Just off of Topanga Beach Drive is Topanga Beach, which has a little something for everyone. Some like their waves breaking on beds of sand, and some like their terrain a bit more rocky. Topanga Beach offers both. The beach is, relatively speaking, off the beaten path and is not nearly as crowded as other Los Angeles beaches, but it still offers all the amenities (lessons, bathrooms, retail, dining, and bikinis) of the big sandboxes. The break at Topanga provides a longer ride (due to aforementioned rocky terrain, it’s like science) and is a popular spot with surfers. These are the tasty waves you heard about.
2300 block of Paseo del Mar
Palos Verdes Estates, CA 90274
Lunada Bay, the rumors say, is the best surf spot in all of Los Angeles for reinforcing negative stereotypes. The area is widely accepted as “local’s only” and the locals are, according to folklore, the kind of people that will commit criminal acts to prevent you from surfing on their waves. Most surfing publications suggest that you don’t go there unless you have insurance.
They also say that the surfing is pretty darn good. If you are serious about surfing then Lunada Bay is not to be missed, but be prepared to earn your spot in the rotation. Maybe show up with fruit smoothies for everyone, that’s always a great way to make a first impression.
Take the Pacific Coast Highway to Palos Verdes and go west on Rocky Point Road. Park far enough way that nobody knows which car is yours, but close enough that you can run to it quickly should it come to that.
Whit Honea loves the Beach Boys and addresses strangers as Moondoggie. His internet home can be surfed at Honea Express.