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Surfing in Santa Barbara

Surf’s Up in Santa Barbara!

Can You Surf All the Breaks near Santa Barbara?

Long before it was a world-recognized sport, surfing was a cornerstone of Santa Barbara culture. Today, the cozy beach town is home to both epic surf breaks and some of the sport’s most notable names. Wander down the streets of Santa Barbara and you might bump into well known filmmaker Bruce Brown—his cult classic, The Endless Summer, put surfing on the map. Ten-time world champion Kelly Slater frequents his place in Montecito. Surf legend Pat Curren calls Santa Barbara home while his son, Tom, transforms the up-and-comer surf scene along with fellow locals, Conner and Parker Coffin. And for the ultimate surf legend sighting, you might catch a glimpse of Shaun Tomson, a South African professional surfer, former world champion, environmentalist and author who now calls the SB breaks home. You can learn a little bit more about why he’s chosen Santa Barbara in our Inside SB video series.

Whether you’re looking for local surf lessons or want to ride some of the best breaks on the West Coast, Santa Barbara is the ideal wave-lover’s base camp with mild tides and moderate ocean temperatures. The season begins to ramp up in the fall but local break offer something for every ability level year-round.

These popular breaks offer up a swell time:

Rincon Point: If you’ve wandered into a California surf shop, you’ve most likely seen a picture of this famous break, known among surfers as “The Queen of the Coast.”

Hammonds Point: Located just north of San Ysidro Road, this powerful right-breaking wave is best at medium tide.

Leadbetter Point: Looking for beginner-friendly? Leadbetter Point is a great place to steady your surf legs.

If you’re looking for a new twist on the sunny sport, give stand-up paddle boarding (or SUP’ing) a try. The area offers a variety of great places to learn. Head to beginner-friendly calms of local beaches, such as Butterfly, West Beach and East Beach to test your balance on these ultra-long boards.

Additional breaks can be found at El Capitán State Beach, Jalama Beach and Santa Claus Lane Beach. Skip the hassle of flying your board and rent one at one of the local surf and outdoor gear shops where you’re sure to find knowledgeable surfer staff who can help outfit you with surfing lessons, gear and apparel.

To complete the Santa Barbara surf experience, head to the Santa Barbara Surfing History Museum for some Hang Ten 101. Did you know that prehistoric petroglyphs depict wave riding all the way back to 1000 B.C.?

Before you head for the water, don’t forget to stop by your nearest surf shop to get the latest on surf conditions. The local experts are happy to point you in the right direction given your ability level. There’s no question that the surf’s up in Santa Barbara year-round so grab your board, or rent one, and come check out the famous breaks along Santa Barbara’s South Coast.


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