So So-Cal Surfing, Bra

The motto of any East Coast surfer is: “Take what you can get and be happy with it.” As sad as this may be, it is very true. Waves tend to pound the Eastern seaboard consistently once a year in the fall and a couple of times during the brutally cold winters.

In the summer when the waves should be coming through, all we can do is sit in the water as fat tourists float by screaming at their wives on the beach to take a picture of the newly crowned “Seaweed King”.

Though this sounds like a nightmare to some, for the surfers, it is all we have. But a reasonable solution to this problem (aside from arming surfers with tourist-seeking spear guns) is to look into some intercontinental travel. The words ‘surf travel’ often bring to mind warm barrels in the South Pacific while islanders row around in their canoes over the shallow reefs. As nice as this would be, it is not always a reality.

When most people think of California they think of the Malibu scene in ‘Endless Summer’ where Robert August rides a knee high wave through hoards or beach goers narrowly missing each and every one of them. If they don’t think of that, then they think of stuffy line ups with localism so prevalent in the water it washes up on the beach.

While these two stereotypes of surfing in California may be partially true, they are mostly wrong. The water even in Southern California is too cold for the average person to just stand in nine out of twelve months of the year. And the only thing that would get you in trouble in the water with the locals is showing disrespect for them. But if you are from the East, you realize how crucial every wave is for everyone so sharing waves is something you’ve known to do since you learned to share blocks.

Southern Californian surfing is a thing of beauty for any surfer from the East. Not only because the breaks are plentiful, the waves tend to be what we would call “huge” more often than not, but there is either a Krispy Kreme or an In N’ Out around every corner. The constant miles and miles of road-accessed shoreline makes surfing nearly any wave in Southern California possible for even the mere mortal surfers.

When heading north from San Diego, just before you cross over the border where the Gucci warriors driving their pastel colored BMW’s live in Orange County, a break sits that is very well known by the surfers who should be surfing there. Trestles is a surf spot that some consider to be the best contest wave in the country. Long, nearly perfect a-frames make any normal surfer feel like Kelly Slater. The waves break within a hundred yards of shore which makes the paddle out a relatively easy one and a good place for spectators and filmers.

The walk from the parking lot to Trestles takes about twenty minutes but most locals do it on a longskate or a pimped out low-riding bike. Many pros who live in the area often make the trek so it is beneficial to keep one’s eyes open.

A half hour south of Trestles is a right point-break called Swami’s. Swami’s is just north of the easily accessed Cardiff Reef, so anyone unaware of the picturesque rights that hit the point just head to the Reef.

That is what makes Swami’s a special place to surf: The brotherhood of people who have been surfing there for most of their lives.

Granted most of these guys are hairy chested middle aged longboarders with a paddling style that will run over you without missing a beat, but it is a good scene nonetheless.

Further south from Swami’s is Black’s which is far and away the best beach break in the county. Everyone knows about it but the access to the beach itself involves parking in the neighborhood where Diana Ross lives in her $3 million home, and hiking down a grueling mile long hill. This prevents the lunch break surfer from catching a few waves at Black’s because it is such a commitment.

When Southern California gets a swell, Black’s gets hit the hardest. Heavy, hollow rights, and fast racy lefts make this beach the spot of choice if you’re packing heat under six feet.

There is another catch however-Black’s is also a nudist beach. When walking north from the access road one can find themselves’ watching the locals stick lofty 540’s until they turn to the beach and find a guy wearing only fleece coat stretching.

Just below Black’s is probably the crown jewel of Southern California surfing: the La Jolla Shores.

While everyone in La Jolla is shopping for Prada and a Bentley to carry their Prada in, the waves are hitting the Shores relatively empty. Legendary reef breaks like Windansea and Big Rock which can have a meager line-up on the biggest of days.

Windansea has been the epicenter of local surfing since the 1930’s and it was at one point the training ground for big-wave Hawaiian surfers. It is now more of a fun wave for the Windansea Surf Club members who rule the spot.

At low tide when the spot starts to go off the water over the reef is rarely deeper than three feet. A spill anywhere over the reef will force you down into the rocks which are covered with eel grass which cushions any fall like a hard thick carpet.

Big Rock is a few hundred yards sout of Windansea and it is said to be the perfect training grounds for Pipe. If the mean, hollow left over a shallow rock reef doesn’t scare you away, then the locals who know the spot too well surely will. Unless you live in the neighborhood, this spot is best for spectating.

Further south into Pacific and Mission Beach area are decent beach breaks with indecent crowds. The access to these beaches are way too easy for anyone to get to and surf shops practically give foam boards away to anyone walking by. But if gaining respect means dropping on or flat out running over a guy riding six inch thick foam board, sobe it.

Then, if the city of San Diego were to fall off a cliff and disappear into the Pacific never to be seen again, Sunset Cliffs is where it would happen. For nearly a mile, reefs are laced intermittently below dramatic sandstone cliffs that the waves pummel day in and day out. This is a favorite spot for the Ocean Beach locals who know how to jump off rocks to get in the water, and ride the wave up onto the same rocks to get out of it. Bring a sweatshirt and a six-pack to enjoy while watching the sunset

With this in mind, put that money you were saving for Tavarua towards something that you can actually afford and head left. You won’t regret it for when you run into your new friend Kelly Slater at Trestles you can convince him to take you to Jeffrey’s next time he goes.