The Golden State is the epicenter of surf culture – and a great place to be a surfer. Along its 1100 miles of coastline lie three distinct surf regions: Southern, Central, and Northern California. All three areas catch swells year-round with the fall, spring and winter being the most consistent seasons. And all three areas are beautiful places to live and visit.
Southern California, known for such breaks as Malibu and San Onofre, is Ground Zero for everything surfing. San Diego’s Sunset Cliffs and Los Angeles’s urban scene are examples of what this diverse surf zone offers. As a surfer, the clothes you wear, the board you ride, and the “surf lingo” you speak are all traceable back to this stretch of sunny California. The water is warmest here, and the skies are almost always clear – think Mediterranean with good waves.
Central California is less commercialized, although it does boast a genuine surf capitol in Santa Cruz and some pricey seascape in Carmel and San Francisco. But don’t let that fool you – the water is colder and the waves are heavier. The vibe along this coast is more serious, and closer to “soul” than “neon” in outlook. You can find lots of places to surf between Santa Barbara and San Francisco, but pack your wetsuit.
Northern California encompasses the area from Marin County to the border of Oregon. More like Oregon than the rest of California, the coastline here is rugged, beautiful, and greyer in nature than the sunnier southern climes. Black wetsuits, sharks, and really cold water rule in the north. The scenery and weather tend to dwarf you along this coastline, but if you’re a dedicated surfer – and willing to check it out – don’t be surprised if you find some good surf.
All in all, California has something and someplace for everyone. The Beach Boys sang about it and surf magazines radiate it – California is cool.