Here are 9 California Beaches to Catch a Wave At


Written By: Joe Laing, Victoria Ramirez and Taylor Gorski California Surf Spots

California Surfing Day is on September 20. This SoCal holiday honors the California surfing lifestyle, culture and history. Whether you’re a pro or just learning how to ride a wave, celebrate this special day in the big blue. Here are the best SoCal beaches for catching a wave. Along with these beaches are nearby shops where you can buy or rent surf gear and places that offer lessons. Surf’s up! 


1 | El Porto Beach, El Segundo

El Porto beach is great for surfers of all skill levels with its consistent waves and easy access. Campsurf is conveniently located near this beach and offers lessons for individuals and groups wanting to learn how to surf. Additionally, Campsurf offers stand up paddleboard lessons. El Porto Surf Shop is a one stop shop for all surfing necessities ranging from wax to boards to wetsuits. 


2 | Sunset Beach, Pacific Palisades 

If you are a beginner looking for mellow waves, Sunset Beach is for you. The waves are not large, making it a great spot for beginners to get acquainted with the basics. The vibe at this beach is friendly and laid back so you won’t encounter any surfers who are possessive of their turf. As an added bonus, the wildlife in these waters—pelicans, seal and schools of dolphins—will occasionally interact playfully with surfers. 


3 | Malibu Surfrider Beach, Malibu 

Malibu Surfrider Beach is a hotspot for surfers of all levels. It is known as one of the world’s most famous surf breaks. The waves closer to the shore are calmer and ideal for beginners. As advanced surfers go out further, they will encounter larger breakers. Malibu Surf Shack is located near the beach and offers rentals on boards, wetsuits, body boards, kayaks and paddleboards. The Malibu Surf Shack also offers lessons for kayaking and surfing.


4 | Silver Strand State Beach, Oxnard 

The waves at Silver Strand State Beach range from 4-7 feet throughout the year making it a perfect place to catch a wave. The Silver Strand Surf School is a surfing school that offers 5-day surf camps for children and teens ages 8-16. They also offer group and private lessons. Two shops near the beach are the Ventura Surf Shop and the Seaward Surf & Sport


5 | San Onofre State Beach, San Clemente

As one of California’s top five most-visited state parks, San Onofre State Beach is ideal for beginning surfers. The average swell is a mellow 3-4 feet year-round. San Onofre Surf Beach, a portion within the beach dedicated to surfers, is known for its consistently gentle waves. Maybe you’ll even camp out here for the weekend! 


6 | Bolsa Chica State Beach, Huntington Beach

Bolsa Chica State Beach, located near Huntington Beach dubbed as “Surf City, USA” is a mainstay for local and foreign surfers. The average swell height ranges from an easy 3-5 feet year-round. The beach caters to all ages offering something for everyone. Corky Carrol’s Surf School is located right in Bolsa Chica State Beach and offers lessons and camps to kids ages 6 and up. 


7 | The Wedge, Newport Beach  California Surf Spots

The Wedge is a must-surf SoCal spot with its hollow, deep waves that easily break in the sand. Although it is best known for its bodyboarding waves, surfers can still expect an excellent time. The Wedge is known to be the hot spot for the best bodysurfers because of the potential of 30 foot waves. The best time to catch these enormous waves is during the summer and fall seasons. Visit Main Street Surf Shop, which offers a variety of clothing, wetsuits and boards both for purchase and for rent. 


8 | Doheny State Beach, Dana Point

Doheny State Beach is home to mild waves ranging from 3-4 feet high. This beach is optimal for beginning surfers looking to catch their first wave. Killer Dana Surf Shop offers amazing deals for rentals on a wide variety of surfboards. Girl in the Curl Surf Shop is notable for their surf camps and surf lessons catering to young women. They also offer surf lessons for boys at their Boy in the Barrel Surf Camp. 


9 | La Jolla Shores area California Surf Spots

Here you will find numerous possibilities from Sunset Cliffs just south of I-5, to Torrey Pines or Scripps, just west of University City. Your choices are numerous but for beginning surfers, Torrey Pines State Beach beckons with 1-2 foot waves and usually calm winds. Another California State Beach and park, Torrey Pines boasts a natural reserve from which you can hike a trail to the beach. For camping nearby, try Campland on the Bay on Pacific Beach Drive in San Diego. This park is right on the beach with a lot to do for everyone in the family.


10 | Beach Cleanup California Surf Spots

And if you’re a surf advocate but don’t like to ride the waves yourself, participate in the California Coastal Cleanup any Saturday in September. Volunteers are encouraged to head to the beach in small groups to clean up trash. Report your cleanup by recording data on the CleanSwell app or by completing this form.

Helpful Links for more Information:

For all state park beach information, see

Here is a remarkable site for locating surfing spots and current conditions:

About the author

Taylor is a graduate from the University of Southern California with a degree in journalism. She is our Los Angeles and Orange County editor. You can find her dining at a new restaurant, in the ocean or planning her next adventure. Say hello!


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