A description of the epic & iconic surf spots in Los Angeles!
Surfing in Los Angeles
75 miles of coastline.
Mostly beach break scattered with a handful of right point breaks.
Very sensitive to swell direction and winds.
Watch winds! Typical for spots to get blown out by 10am-ish. Check winds before you go!
Rule of Thumb: NW facing spots are best in the winter, S facing spots best in summer.
The most populous stretch of coast in the state – will be reflected by crowd factor in water.
BEWARE of black balled beaches. No surfing allowed in the ocean when it’s black balled Fall-summer in densely packed spots by the late morning.
Island blockage - offshore islands decrease swell energy Catalina blocks south swell while Santa Cruz blocks some north.
Weather is epic in LA year round. Surf is much more fickle… usually ya can find a bump to shred!
LA’s local surf spots!
Southern end of LA’s South Bay, 1.5 mile stretch of NW facing beach break best for wintertime swells. Fairly consistent; get hollow with outgoing tide; bad rip currents. Localism is strong. Not kook friendly. Know what you’re doing before ya paddle out.
Palos Verdes/Bluff Cove
Fairly exposed reef break with reliable surf; best conditions are a west swells with offshore winds from the SE. The break in the middle of the cove is a long, slow, rolling long board friendly wave; both lefts and rights. On the south end of the cove is boneyards, a juicy left shortboarding breaks that gets hollow over a shallow reef; works from mid-tide up, shortboard friendly.
Locals only right-hand point break. Conditions have to be just right for this spot to be on but when it is, it’s world class (1 of 2 world class waves in LA). Localism here is legendary. 2300 block of Paseo del Mar.
Haggertys at Malaga Cove
Northernmost and sandiest beach in the city of Palos Verdes Estates. Rocky point break that shoots out hard lefts, especially in fall and winter. Breaks differently from most Southern California waves because it likes a west and especially a northwest swell.
Ideal PV Cove Spot Conditions
Swell Direction: WSW, W
Wind: E, SW
Surf Height: 4-8 ft
Tide: Medium to High
PV Cove Surf Report & Forecast
Fairly exposed beach break with both left and right hand waves, consistent surf. Tends to be best in the spring.
Ideal Redondo Beach Conditions
Swell Direction: WSW, W, WNW
Wind: S, SE, E
Surf Height: 4-15 ft tall
Tide: medium-higher tide (often closes out at low tide)
Redondo Beach Surf Report & Forecast
A fast, powerful, hollow left point break that’s heavily localized. Lots of moving water, strong currents and sand bottom. Wave ends in severe shore pound. Can handle size – one of the few big-wave spots in town.
Ideal Spot Redondo Breakwater Conditions (from Surfline):
Swell Direction: WSW, W, WNW (mid-long periods best from 13sec+)
Wind: E, SE, ENE
Surf Height: 6 to 20 ft
Redondo Breakwater Surf Report & Forecast
2 miles of sand shoreline and exposed beach breaks with left and right handers best for fall and winter.
Best bet is low-medium tides, early morning offshores, dual swells and hope for sandbars. Doesn’t handle big swells – will close out much above head high.
Ideal Hermosa Conditions (from Surfline):
Swell Direction: anything peaky (crossed up combo swells)
Wind: E, SE
Surf Height: 2-10 ft
Tide: low to medium
Hermosa Beach Surf Report & Forecast
El Porto – Manhattan Beach
45th St & The Strand.
Most powerful and consistent beach break in LA. 2 miles of scattered peaks, with left and right handers, long and shortboarder friendly, sandy bottom. Gets waves year-round but best swells arrive in winter, can hold up to double-overhead waves.
In the winter, El Porto is consistently 1-2 ft bigger than any other spot in town and considered LA winter swell magnet spot. But the SW swells of the summer get blocked by Palos Verdes Peninsula and the southern Channel Islands, often completely missing over this spot.
Weekends, especially in the summer, get ultra-crowded and part of beach gets blackballed.
Best place to park is in the metered parking lot on 45th Street just west of Highland Avenue.
Ideal El Porto Conditions (from Surfline):
3100 to 2700 Ocean Front Walk.
Fickle beach break with left and right handers, sand bottom.
Main surf spot in Venice. With the right conditions, usually in the winter, it can be a long, fast and rippable right. Maxes out when the swell gets too big. Local spot. Can get blackballed in the summer.
Ideal Venice Beach Spot Conditions (from Surfline):
Swell Direction: SSW, SW, WSW, W
Surf Height: wait to head high; doesn’t handle much over 8 ft
Tide: Medium coming up.
Venice Beach Surf Report & Forecast
Santa Monica - SM Pier, Bay Street & Ocean Park
Beach breaks- mellow, mushy sandbar peaks that break left and right. Never gets too big and very beginner friendly.
Ideal Santa Monica Conditions (from Surfline):
Swell Direction: Combo of W, NW, and SW
Surf Height: Waist high to a foot overhead
Santa Monica Surf Report & Forecast
Right point break that best on southern swells. It’ the northernmost beach in Will Rogers State Beach in Pacific Palisades. Waves are long, slow, easy right hand rollers that break in a few different spots. Parking for Sunset Beach is available along the shoulder of PCH north and south of Gladstone’s. Beginner friendly.
I vote it as the least crowded point break in LA. Likely due the few pebbles you have to walk down to get to the water, which I’ve heard folks refer to as cliffs.
Ideal Sunset Beach Conditions (from Surfline):
Swell Direction: SW, WSW
Surf Height: 3-6 ft
Tide: Medium tide
Sunset Beach Surf Report & Forecast
18700 Pacific Coast Highway
Long, fun, consistent right point break at the base of Topanga Canyon, the closest Malibu beach to LA. Can handle up to double-overhead. Strong local crew on the point. Sit on the inside if you’re a beginner/kook – it’s more mellow just don’t drop in on anyone going down the line #etiquette. Long and short board friendly.
Super fun wave that’s less perfect than Malibu and also much less crowded.
Parking in the main paid parking lot on the beach or in the few spots along the highway for free.
Ideal Topanga Beach Conditions (from Surfline):
Swell Direction: SSW, SW, WSW, W
Wind: light easterlies
Surf Height: waist high to double overhead
Topanga Beach Surf Report & Forecast
Malibu - Surfrider Beach
23050 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu
The most perfect right hander in all of California! Which also makes it the most crowded point break in Cali! It’s of the most famous waves in the word and the most iconic beach in LA.
3 separate take-off zones: first point, second point and third point.
First Point: long right point break that’s the most consistent and most surfed of the Malibu waves. Perfect shape that works the full tidal range – like a wave machine. Gets hollower as the tide drops.
Second Point: much shorter ride than first though faster. Can get hollow.
Third Point: Furthest out shortboard spot that’s fast, hollow and dominated by locals.
Full on beach facilities, a small pay parking lot, and free parking along PCH.
Ideal Malibu Conditions (from Surfline):
Swell Direction: S, SW, WSW
Wind: northwesterlies are side offshore
Surf Height: wait high to double overhead
Malibu Beach Surf Report & Forecast
3000 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu
2 miles of sandy thumping beach break. There’s sandbar peaks for all levels and boards. Beginner waves are at the North end of beach, more advanced waves to the South. Southern most end of Zuma is a stretch called Westward or Drainpipes, ones of the heaviest beach breaks in SoCal.
Gets hollow and barrels on a solid summer S swell. Can hold up to 1-2 ft overhead.
South/southwest swells of the summer create lots of punch lefthanders up and down the beach in the summer and north swells in the winter mostly rights, if it’s not closing out.
Beach is typically blown out by 10-11am in the summer months (unless winds are offshore) and by the afternoons pretty much year round. Most of the beach get blackballed in the summer.
If yaw anna score Zuma, come early on a medium tide.
A huge pay-parking lot borders the entire three-mile-plus stretch of beach.
Ideal Zuma Beach Conditions (from Surfline)
Swell Direction: S, SW, W
Surf Height: waist high to double overhead and beyond
Zuma Beach Surf Report & Forecast
There’s secret peaks scattered on the coast. You’ll have to find those on your own. I’m a surfer too and only spilling the beans on the known spots #surfcode. More coming soon!
Most important to remember when in the water:
2. The best surfer is the one having the most fun.
Stoked on Surfing in California?! Me too! Check us this post on Surfing in Santa Cruz!
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Hope to see ya in the water sometime and lets make waves in the kitchen and water!