Surfing in Santa Barbara

Surfing is part of the culture in Santa Barbara

Anyone who has spent even the briefest amount of time in our beautiful home city of Santa Barbara will have gazed out onto the ocean at some point and marveled at the surfers riding the waves rolling in onto the shore. You may have even been one of those surfers at one time or another.

There are those, of course, who spend almost every waking hour out on the waves. But for most of us, we have to fit in some time at the beach around a busy work or school schedule. You may not have even had the opportunity to give surfing a go. Well, what better time than the start of a New Year to take the plunge?

Even if you have ventured onto a board at some time in the past, you may want to a little heads-up about where to catch the best waves and what a surfing lifestyle really means. You shouldn’t expect to be winning contests and appearing in newspapers and the best betting sites in California. But we thought we could impart some local knowledge to help you get started. It could be the beginning of a whole new you!

Start Today

Before we tell you about the best beaches and waves around Santa Barbara, we wanted to tell you that you should not be putting this off for a “better time”. We get it, everyone is busy these days. But your downtime should be just as important as work – and surfing is a great way to keep fit at the same time.

Many people will make New Year’s resolutions around eating healthier and exercising. But we can’t think of another more enjoyable way to enjoy the outdoors and look after your physical and mental well-being at the same time. You might find that surfing could be the key to living a much better life.

Where to Surf

Ok, now we have shared our little pep talk to get you going, we should really think about where you should go to catch some waves. If you are a complete newcomer to this lifestyle (more about that in a moment) there are some perfect surf spots that offer smaller and consistent waves.

Leadbetter Point is a perfect example of this kind of “beginners’ beach”. Standup paddlers also love this place as it offers just enough excitement, without causing too much trouble. Campus Point, found unsurprisingly at the University of Santa Barbara, is also ideal for novices. The swells can produce bigger waves in the winter though.

If you are looking for the quintessential California surfing beach, straight out of a Hollywood movie, then Rincon Point should probably be your port of call. Just off Highway 1, “the Queen of the Coast” has long acted as a magnet for anyone searching for the perfect waves.

If you already have some experience on a board but are looking to get back into the groove, you might want to check out Hammond Point, just north of San Ysidro Road. Medium tide produces the best waves and the place is packed with locals enjoying the best that nature has to offer.

If you are really looking to test yourself, El Capitán State Beach, just 15 miles out of town, is the place to capture those perfect tube rides. You obviously need to know what you are doing but you can also just take in the action from the sandy beach, which also makes a great picnic spot. If you are willing to go a little bit further from the crowds, just north of Port Conception is the Jalama Beach Park. But be warned – this place is not for the faint-hearted. The high wind and reef breaks mean that the waves can get pretty big and some real experience is needed to enjoy this stunning locale.

The real experts might not even be reading this guide to Santa Barbara surf spots. But if you want to know where the very best surfers go, you should head out to the Channel Islands National Park. They probably won’t be too happy with us telling you this but there are some secret surf spots to be found there, where reefs and exposed breaks can really test anyone on a board.

We would seriously recommend that you only try these places if you consider yourself an expert though, because they can be very dangerous for those who don’t know what they are doing.

Surfing is a lifestyle before it is a sport

More Than a Sport

We briefly mentioned earlier the contests and competitions that now come connected with surfing. But if you are in Santa Barbara you will know that surfing is so much more than a sport. For many, it has been a lifestyle for generations and we would hope that everyone who picks up a board thinks of surfing in that way first.

Maybe some of you will be inspired to follow people like Kelly Slater and Tom Curren and become world-renowned surfers on the international stage. But the main idea behind surfing should always be the enjoyment and connection with nature that it brings.

Anyone who ever spends any time in Santa Barbara will recognize how lucky we are to be so close to some of the most amazing surf spots in the world. As long as they are respected, they can be enjoyed for many years to come. All you have to do is pick up a board and give it a go.

Don’t worry about looking like a novice – there are plenty of surf schools and teachers only too happy to share their knowledge. As we said, just take the plunge and come into the water.

_An Edhat Reader

Written by _An Edhat Reader

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