Surf Spots in Los Angeles

November 10, 2022
Surf spots in Los Angeles

With a population of roughly 10 million, Los Angeles county is one of the most populous in the world. Everything you could possibly want–food, restaurants, lodging, and every type of business imaginable–it’s all there, centered around the county’s more than 70 miles of coastline, and why shouldn’t it be? Southern California is known for its temperate weather and warm waters–waves that would fit beginner and intermediate surfers alike.

We’ve all seen them, curving in on themselves, blasting against the shore, rising and falling in the distance. Surfers will tour the city and the surrounding area, riding the diverse breaks. Los Angeles boasts big waves, writhing foam, and barrels so perfect you’d salivate if you saw them. It’s also the hub for surf culture in America, where people live on the beach, preferring to stay outdoors, always close to the sea, than spend their time in covered buildings, confined by the neverending rat race that is life in the city.

What’s the point in living near the coast if you don’t enjoy it? That’s the best part of Los Angeles. The highways might be clogged, and the streets can be shady, but there’s always sand. There’s always the ocean, and the tide will never stop moving, offering an endless series of natural roller coasters, each a different experience.

There’s a reason surfing is so popular in LA. There are plenty of beaches, both big and small, crowded and empty, and they all have something extra to offer. There’s a rich history, a series of pros and legends, tribes of surfers on every strip of sand, all with their own stories and subculture. Different styles abound.

Like the rest of the world, beaches in LA come in different flavors. They have their own energy, their own power–a buzz that seems to color the land and sea. They border simple streets, markets, havens for street sellers or series’ of mansions, all setting the tone for a different story to be written, a life to be lived, tuned to the rhythm of the tide.

El Porto Beach

Pedro Szekely / Flickr

El Porto Beach

El Porto in North Manhattan Beach is exactly what comes to mind when you think of the California coast. It’s a long strip of white sand, where sun-loving types come to play volleyball, feast at the beach’s food court, wade through the foam, or ride the surf. The waves can reach up to 12 feet during the fall and winter. There’s a consistent swell that comes in from the northwest, so you might want to think about getting surf lessons in Venice Beach before you give it a try–or you could wait for summertime when beginners swarm the water, eager to try out the 3-5 foot breaks.

Zuma Beach

Wade Mcmillan / Flickr

Zuma Beach

At more than 4 miles, Zuma Beach is one of the longest surfable beaches in the state. It’s internationally renowned, known for its crystal clean water and its swells, which can reach a whopping 20-feet high–high enough that even experts can have trouble conquering its tallest breaks. If it’s something you’d like to try out, definitely look into surf lessons in Venice Beach first. You could also try the northern section of the beach, where the breaks don’t often top out at more than a few feet high, perfect for beginners who are still trying to ride the foam. Zuma is also known its snack stands, street vendors, shopping and volley ball courts. It’s great for a day in the sun without or without a board.

Lunada Bay

Tairescott / Flickr

Lunada Bay

Lunada Bay in Palos Verdes is a playground for big wave surfers.  When swells concentrate in the area, they can reach a whopping 30-feet high. To add to the challenge, there’s shallow rock formations, and a harsh ocean bottom, making it difficult for even those with experience. Lunada Bay is also the home of the Bay Boys, a club of rich, mostly middle-aged white men who think they own a public beach. They hassle anyone that goes there, dropping in, herding them towards the rocks, and hurling insults. They’re even known to get physical, slash tires and write on windshields with board wax. There’s been a series of lawsuits against them, proving that the police are refusing to enforce laws against them, and until recently that continued to be the case. Now they’re being put in check. They tore the gang’s illegal clubhouse down, and people are starting to come out, reasserting their right to use the water. More than likely, you won’t come up against much trouble, but you will need surf lessons in Venice Beach if you want to conquer those waves.

Surfrider Beach

Surfrider Beach in the Malibu Lagoon is one of the most popular surf spots in the world. It’s the upscale center of surf culture in California, lining one of the country’s most expensive real estate markets, home to celebrities, executives, and rich heirs and heiresses. Everyone has a story about this place, and it’s famous for being featured in 1950 and 1960s surf flicks, quintessential films that have since defined the culture and the genre. Surfrider isn’t necessarily popular for its breaks. There’s several, ranging from 3-8 feet. It’s popular because of its history. Still, if you’d like to surf there during a swell, you’re going to want to try out surf lessons in Venic Beach.

Venice Beach

Venice Beach isn’t for movie stars or ladies from Malibu, hoping to line their walk-in closets with high heels and fancy dresses. It’s a bohemian paradise, where men and women from all walks of life swarm the boardwalk the boardwalk selling food–elote, Mexican hot dogs, tacos, and burgers. You’ll find tarot card readers lying out blankets in the sand, and bohemian bums, dreadlocked, and smelly swimming through the crowds. The authorities have tried to stamp down on the place, but people still gather, selling everything they can get their hands on, holding drum circles on the beach, building bonfires just out of reach of the tide.

Venice, as its known to the locals, isn’t about the waves. It’s about free-spirits, living, dancing, doing what they can. The break is only 3-5 feet high, so it’s better for beginners, people who have yet to learn how to ride the waves.

Surf Lessons in Venice Beach are easy, straightforward and risk-free. Instructors are certified in CRT and CPR, and they’re also certified as lifeguards. Regardless of experience level, they’ll guide you through the process and have you riding the waves in no time. If you’d like to sign up for surf lessons in Venice Beach, click here.