Fall is here and with it comes better surf and smaller crowds all across California. Here are 7 spots you should consider for a weekend getaway if you live in Southern California.
San Elijo State Beach
As far as surfing goes, you can’t go wrong in North County, San Diego, and San Elijo State Beach offers a consistent beach break that will guarantee a good time. You’ll be sleeping on the bluffs surrounded by multi-million dollar properties in either direction, but none of that will matter. And if beach breaks aren’t your thing, head north or south to Swami’s or Cardiff where you’ll find higher quality breaks. Beacons, Del Mar and Ponto are all a short drive away as well.
San Onofre State Beach/San Mateo Campground
There’s nothing quite like a weekend spent at San Onofre. Bocci ball, bonfires, good company and, somehow despite the crowds, plenty of fun waves for everyone. The vibe tends to be upbeat and positive and it can sometimes feel like you’re stepping into a Beach Boys song. San Clemente is next door, so you’ll have all of its offerings at your disposal, including the world class waves at Lower Trestles. If you’re at any of the high performance spots, there’s a good chance you’ll see pros in the water or at the local diner. If you don’t want to compete for waves with Filipe Toledo, head to more forgiving spots like Old Man’s or Churches.
Doheny State Beach
Located in South Orange County, Doheny was California’s first state beach. Back in the day, Dana Point was known as Killer Dana because waves came from deep water and broke on the rocks lining the beach. Today there’s a jetty that creates a breakwater and produces gentle surf perfect for beginners. Tent and RV hookups are available and it’s family friendly.
Leo Carrillo State Beach
Want to get away from the glitz and glamour of LA? We don’t blame you. Pack your tent and head north to Leo Carrillo. Although campsites tend to fill up quickly and catching the right swell can be tricky, when Leo Carrillo does its thing, you’ll be reminded why it’s great to be a surfer. Being a point wave, Leo Carrillo has a small takeoff zone and anytime it’s good, you’ll be hard pressed to catch a wave. If competition intimidates you, there can be fun re-forms on the inside suitable for all levels. And if there isn’t enough swell, head down to Zuma for a fast beach break, drive down the coast to the Malibu pier, or test your driving skills in the canyons.
Carpinteria State Beach
Located within walking distance of the downtown area of quaint Carpinteria, the State Beach offers beach camping where you can fall asleep to the sounds of crashing waves. Santa Barbara is also a short drive away, so there is plenty to do for any non-surfers in your group. If the waves aren’t good right out front, head to Emma Wood, Ventura Overhead, C Street or Rincon. Start your day with a morning surf, have breakfast in Carpinteria, head to the vineyards in Santa Barbara for lunch and return to your campsite for a picture-perfect sunset.
El Capitan State Beach
You’ll have to wait for the right west swell to score at El Cap, but if you do, you’ll soon understand why it has a reputation as one of the best right points in California. Just north of Santa Barbara, campsites are located in a lightly wooded area with trails that lead to a rocky beach. If you’re lucky, you might catch a glimpse of Tom Curren’s unmistakable cutbacks.
Pismo State Beach
This is the only place in California where it’s legal to drive your vehicle on the beach. ATVs rule the dunes at Pismo beach, and on busy weekends there are thousands of people riding around in dune buggies. You can camp right on the beach and there are tent and RV options. Nearby breaks include Pismo Pier, Shell Beach and Avila beach.