About a century ago, the sport of surfing made its way from Hawaii to California’s coast. Since then, almost every area of surfing – design of surfboard, riders, and the industry – have showed drastic changes while the best surfing spots have pretty much remained unchanged. There are numerous amounts of them stretching from Northern California down to Southern California incorporating many different types waves. 

Just a little off the Highway 101, Rincon can be found on the edge of the line of Santa Barbara County and Ventura County.  On a good day you will get rubbery legs from this lengthy point-break, which is divided into: the Cove, Indicators and Rivermouth. For years, a lot of the progression of surfing took place at this spot and it is also known as the spot that produced popular surfers like Bobby Martinez and Tom Curran.

Rincon, which has a reasonably small beach, perches on the shoreline’s curve and angled towards waves coming in. This angled coastline provides and ideal setup and waves peel down the beach. This spot is a winter spot with W/NW swells making this plate light up.  As a result of the Channel Islands, the summer months are typically very flat. 

Rincon’s Best Surfboard

Although there are a variety of different boards being ridden at Rincon, the preferred stick is a shortboard.  This wave can become very high performance on the right swell and having a responsive board is key.  The shortboard surfboards are generally less than 7ft in length. There are various kinds of shortboard surfboards, including quad fin, thruster, step up and pod. This wave provides plenty of large shoulders to perfect your cutbacks, big turns and airs. 

Classic Day at Rincon - Sea Movies from on Vimeo.

California features a variety of surfing spots and Maverick Surf Spot in Half Moon Bay is among one of the most impressive. You'll find this break 2 miles away from Pillar Point north of Half Moon Bay at the village of Princeton-By-The-Sea. The wave at Mavericks gets its shape from the underwater rock formations and caves.

The best massive wave surfers around the world arrive to Maverick as a winter destination. These surfers are the hellmen who are willing and brave enough to face the conditions at Mavericks. Depending on the swells and conditions, there's a contest there once a year however it's invite only.

Maverick got its name from a German Shepherd named Maverick, after the roommate of his owner and his 2 friends tried to surf within the waves off Pillar Point in 1961. He was with them because it was a customary for him to swim with either his owner or his owner's friend after they went out to catch a wave. Though they left the dog on the shores of the beach, he started to follow them out them out into the ocean. However, as a result of the unsafe conditions of the water, they took him back to the bumper of the car before rejoining  his friends within the water. These surfers failed to have success surfing that day though because the waves were simply too dangerous for them. They name the surf location after the dog since he appeared to have much more fun then they did that day. At first it was called Mavericks Point but was later shortened to just Maverick's.

Mavericks only has a few events a year and they typically attract large crowds that want to witness the big-wave surfing contests firsthand.  This doesn't happen anymore because environmental and safety issues have rendered it not safe for spectators to be there anymore.

Mavericks is not easily seen from land. As such, it remained a mystery to the public until early 1990's. Approximately 1/2 mile offshore is where the waves typically break many times in shadow of the Air Force Station of the Pillar Point making it virtually invisible from Highway 1 or any of the streets that neighbor it. A walking path is the sole access by land to Mavericks. Additionally, once you get to the shoreline, all you typically can see is a huge rock and the whitewash of previous waves that were once massive themselves.

Leave your beginner surfboards at home, big wave guns and tow boards are the only thing that work here....


If you're trying to seek out the best surf spot in California, then Trestles in Orange County is that place. Trestles is named after the train tracks that run the gamut of the San Mateo lagoon that's on the beach.  In contrast to how it was used before where Trestles wasn't opened to everybody, currently anyone can catch a wave there on their favorite shortboard surfboards; these surfboards might have been confiscated in the past.

Albeit there's an absence of amenities on the beach of Trestles; no showers, bathrooms or snack bars are there. However, the good waves that are on that beach makes one ignore those things and focus on the numerous locations that are there for you to surf.  This can be attributed to the very fact that it's accepts a variety of different swell angles and this makes for a large variety of surfable waves.

The most well known section of referred to as Lower Trestles or just Lowers. This spot attracts waves from a variety of various directions. When there's the summer southern hemisphere swells, this is often the time when the waves are breaking at their best. At this time, the waves go both left and right however the right is typically provides a longer ride than the left.  This is often where several amateur as well as many professional contests for surfing are held. When there's a summer swell, there are typically many surfers attempting to catch the perfectly shaped waves rolling through Lower Trestles.

The other main break is Upper Trestles located to the north of the Lower Trestles and has nice exposure to the southwest, northwest, and also west swells. However, this spot for surfing breaks equally as nice in the wintertime and summer.  Since this wave breaks and rolls down a point, the crowd can spread out more then at Lowers.  The correct swell can light this point up and give you 100 yard rides with plenty of face time.  Both Lowers and Uppers are breaks that are geared more towards shortboard surfboards but longboard surfboards and funboard surfboards will work as well.

Additionally, There is Church's, Cottons as well as Middle Trestles. These are 3 other alternative locations for surf breaks within the Trestles location. Middle Trestles and Church's are south of Lower Trestles. They're nice surf spots on their own. As such, they assist to absorb a number of the crowd from the Lower Trestles as well as from Upper Trestles. You may also notice Cottons to the way north of Upper Trestles. It's not as quick with respect to wave speed.  However, it connects to the inside wave creating a rampy left with a large shoulder  and this makes it very fun for surfers no matter age. To the south of Trestles, is another excellent break called San Onofre which is great for longboard surfboards.  We will review this break in the next installment of Surf Spot Breakdown and explain why it is the best option for beginner surfboards


When people refer to Malibu they typically are referring to Surfrider Beach on Pacific Coast Highway (US 1) in the town of Malibu.  This spot is as iconic to surfing as Duke K and it’s popularity is only dwarfed by the wave quality.  Regarded as one of the world class breaks in Southern California, 100’s of surfers descend on this place on a given Summer weekend and it’s not uncommon to have 500 plus surfers in the water on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon.  Although crowds do thin slightly during the week, when the surf is crankin’ the break is packed giving it the well deserved nickname “Malizoo”. 

The cobblestone sea floor keeps the wave quality consistent while a S/SW swell is the desire direction.  When the surf kicks up, it is not uncommon to get 100 yard rides.  There are a variety of different waves at Malibu with the steeper faster ones coming in on the outside section while slower mushier surf rolls through as you get closer to the pier.  While most surfers are riding longboard surfboards, smaller boards will work depending on wave size and where you paddle out.  Malibu does have some localism but with large amount of surfers, it’s hard to enforce.  Just be respectful and watch out for others and you will have a great time.

Is Malibu a good spot for beginners?  This is a good spot if you stay towards the inside and jump on some of the shoulders that run through.  With a basic understanding of surfing etiquette, you should have no problem catching a few slow rollers coming through.  Another alternative for beginner's is Sunset surf break a few miles to the south. 



El Porto Surf spot located in Manhattan Beach, CA is a great surf spot for many reasons. It offers a quality wave for all ability levels. If you are a beginner surfer looking to catch your first waves, the inside section has many sand bar which break the waves and allow beginners to practice getting to their feet on the white wash.  Grab your longboard, mini-longboard, or funboard and head on out! Once you have progressed from beginner to intermediate skill level, you can move to the outside impact zone. Depending on the season and movement of sand, this area can be firing! Tides also play an important role in making the waves mushy or closing out. If you want to test your ability level, make your way down to El Porto during the winter months. Typically the waves remain much bigger during this time, so your shortboard surfboard is a must. The picture from above is from El Nino winter. The order vibe at Porto is pretty easy going if you follow the most basic surfing etiquette. Get out there and enjoy the waves.

A day at one of the world's best lefts with Marc Lacomare, Alain Riou & Aritz Aranburu.

Song- Mt Eden Dubstep - Sierra Leone

Shot & Edited- Jimmy Graham/FMG

Additional Footage- Jason Hearn

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