Surfing in Los Angeles is breathing the origins of modern wave riding. The surf culture, the lifestyle, and the innovation out in the watermark the Californian surf experience. L.A. has endless surf spots that can be a little bit overwhelming at first.
Whether you’re a seasoned salty surfer or a relatively dry rookie, you’re sure to find a spot suited for you.
Venice Beach’s 2.5-mile eclectic boardwalk is a fun and quirky spot that offers everything you want in a Los Angeles beach experience.
All in all, surfing is good for all levels but one can mostly catch mellow waves (which are perfect for beginners). For those more advanced surfers, the best swells are located along the Venice Breakwater between Venice and Santa Monica Piers, respectively.
The neighborhood is full of plenty of surf rental shops and instructors making it an ideal spot for beginners to test out the waters.
It is also where shortboarding was pioneered in the 70s.
Plus, there’s no better place to relax after a long day of surfing than Venice’s famous boardwalk. The scene includes drum circles, roller skaters, hula hoopers, and an array of other colorful characters that make this one of the most memorable beaches in Southern California.
Getting there is also easy since there is parking at the end of Washington Boulevard or in any number of paid lots and metered spaces along the neighboring streets.
Local lodging tip: Fifteen minutes on foot from the waves, you’ll find The Admiralty. Furnished one- and two-bedroom units here include access to a shared outdoor pool, steam room, library, and bicycle storage. Surfers will appreciate the dedicated on-site gym, balconies, and in-unit washer and dryer.
Topanga Beach is one of the best surf spots in Los Angeles today.
For those seeking more action, the breaks at Topanga Beach are a little easier to drop into and they are perfect for the beginner’s longboard. It’s a reef break with a rocky bottom, so it’s got a great form and it’s a long ride.
Then there is also a lagoon that forms behind the sandy beach. The only drawback is that conditions are so flawless that you might have to compete with plenty of good surfers for waves.
It’s also a lot less crowded than some other spots in LA.
Other than surfing, many people visit this beach to scuba dive, fish, and sunbathe. Activities are not restricted to the beach though. The massive Topanga State Park is nearby in the Santa Monica Mountains with hiking trails and mountain biking opportunities.
At the end of the day when you get hungry, the famed Mastro’s Ocean Club Restaurant is right on Topanga Beach at the east end.
Local lodging tip: Riva is a furnished one-bedroom unit located in the coastal city of Santa Monica and is only a fifteen minutes car ride from Topanga Beach.
All in all, the building is pet-friendly, has a roof deck, and an elevator. The unit itself has everything you need including a balcony and a washer and dryer.
A local favorite in the area, Zuma Beach is located on the north end of Malibu. There you can find clear waters, a bit of a crowd, and great waves.
Above all, it’s a fantastic surf spot for everyone but caters especially to beginners and intermediate surfers. It’s a three-mile stretch with a sandy bottom beach break as well as a close-to-shore break.
Because of the length of the beach, crowds are rarely a problem at Zuma.
It is also extremely family-friendly and offers a number of surf camps for kids.
Zuma includes everything you need for an exciting day out including rock climbing, swimming, hiking, dolphin and seal watching, or just relaxing under the Californian sun.
There are also plenty of nearby restaurants for full sit-down meals with great views over the sea.
Another standard in the Los Angeles area is Leo Carillo, which lies about eight miles North of Zuma. This beach offers a great break and is accessible to surfers of all levels. It’s flat rocks and sand create a slow-rolling break which is ideal for longboarders.
Other nautical activities include windsurfing and surf fishing. Nearby is Leo Carillo State Park with exciting biking and hiking trails and a campsite nearby. The family-friendly vibe makes it a perfect setting for a relaxing day out in the waves.
If you’re more of a laid back person, you can always walk along the pier and enjoy a meal at Malibu Farm or visit Adamson House or the Malibu Lagoon Museum.
Manhattan Beach is exactly what you picture when you think “Southern California beach” – white sands, volleyball courts, and lots of sun-loving people. It’s a great spot to surf, especially in the fall and winter when bigger and more consistent 12-feet tall waves roll in from the northwest.
Luckily there’s a large parking lot, but it tends to fill up quickly so the key is to arrive early.
The biggest catch is that it’s close to the airport so you can ride a few waves before you take off to your next destination.
It is also known as one of the most intriguing beach towns since sand is the only thing between the surf and luxurious oceanfront homes.
Just a block uphill from the beach is an urban and charming downtown where its streets are lined with local boutiques and restaurants.
Local lodging tip: Not too far away in Playa del Oro, you can find ideally located and fully furnished units. They are professionally decorated and have an array of amenities such as an outdoor shared pool, gym, sauna/steam room, indoor parking, sky lounge, and a garden.