Any Californian will probably tell a newcomer that they're proud of their state's prolific surf spots - and many of the best are in the southern parts of California. Home to a number of infamous beaches said to be some of North America's top surfing areas, it's not too difficult to find decent waves to ride in Southern California.
From the surfing capital of Los Angeles to Santa Barbara and San Diego, 220 glorious miles of coastline in and around SoCal means there's no lack of epic surfing beaches - many of which have played a significant role in world surf culture and served as testing grounds for surf technology innovations.
And it gets even better; most SoCal surf zones are easily accessed without the need for lengthy swims out to catch the waves. Of course, every local surf buff has their favorite spot, and many of these incredible surfer's beaches are on their list.
8 Venice Beach
This famous hipster beach attracts surfers who enjoy well-rounded tides. Overall it's a superb spot for surfers of all skill and experience levels, but particularly for beginners who want to practice and find their feet before challenging more energetic swells. For the very best waves though, surfers should head to the Venice Beach Breakwater Beach, which is an incredibly popular swell-riddled shoreline attracting tourists and wave-riders alike.
Plus, the area is perfect for those with non-surfing friends and family tagging along; the walk from Venice Beach to Santa Monica is great for exploring before or after tackling the waves and is where plenty of entertainment can be enjoyed. Think street performers, artists, skateboard parks, and plenty of food joints.
7 Huntington Beach
With a nickname like "Surf City", Orange County's Huntington Beach is clearly a proven surf spot worthy of being rated amongst the best in the whole world. It's even the home of the Annual World Surfing Championships, which has helped it achieve further global fame. The beach has incredible waves throughout the whole year that range from three feet tall right up to 12 feet, so beginners and seasoned surfers are both kept well-entertained.
Both sides of Huntington Beach pier offer fantastic waves, which are said to be some of the most consistent breaks in Southern California. However, waves that are just as excellent as they are reliable do translate to crowds, but those to whom flocks of people don't matter will be in their element regardless.
6 Black's Beach, La Jolla
Black's Beach near San Diego offers one of the most powerful surf breaks in SoCal. It's all down to the unique formation of the underwater Scripps Canyon, which paves the way for large and energetic waves to grow.
Because of the waves' sheer size and power, Black's can be a dangerous surfing spot and should only be challenged by the most experienced and skilled surfers. Crowds often gather at the beach too to watch the gigantic waves come crashing down whilst expert surfers attempt to straddle them as they flow towards the shore.
It's also worth noting that Black's Beach is infamous for being one of the state's largest clothing-optional beaches. As such, visitors should be prepared to potentially spot a few sunbathers lounging in their birthday suits - especially during the warmth and sun of summer.
5 Doheny State Beach, Dana Point
Made famous by The Beach Boys in their hit songs "Surfin’ USA" and "Surfin’ Safari", Doheny State Beach is undoubtedly a top candidate for beginners learning how to surf in SoCal. Also known for being California’s first State Beach, it offers some of the most awesome longboard breaks in the region thanks to the rocky bottom forming perfectly-shaped swells, whilst at the same time the harbor jetty shelters against larger waves.
Malibu is that picture-postcard place of the ultimate SoCal dream and is very much as it's portrayed in Hollywood movies. The place's beaches are even more amazing and offer numerous surf breaks for all skill and experience levels. There are calm, fun longboard waves for inexperienced surfers and fast-paced, bigger waves perfect for shortboarders and those with more skill. And thanks to the diversity of waves that crash along the coast, the beaches in Malibu aren't only fantastic for beginners and advanced - they're equally ideal for adults and kids alike.
3 Lower Trestles, San Clemente
Lower Trestles is very popular amongst skilled surfers and hosts various professional surfing competitions, including the iconic World Qualifying Series and the legendary World Championship Tour. The reef break here attracts powerful swells that deliver reliable and consistent left and right-breaking waves throughout the entire year to make the place a top-rated surfing spot in SoCal - no matter when one visits.
2 The Wedge, Newport Beach
The Wedge at New Port Beach is well-known for being one of the most powerful beach breaks in the state, producing enormous, mighty waves that form in the shape of a wedge. The break is more popular amongst bodyboarders, although there are a few advanced surfers who dare to challenge it.
Throughout summer and fall, the breaks at The Wedge increase in intensity as Southern Hemisphere tropical cyclones and storms procure some of the most kinetic, jaw-dropping waves that even seasoned surfers do a double-take at. During this epic time, merely watching the waves without getting in the water is enough of a sport in itself.
1 Cardiff Reef, Encinitas
Cardiff Reef has long since been one of San Diego's best-loved surfing areas ever since the 1940s. The flat, rocky reef bottom beneath the water's surface produces constant smooth waves with long, entertaining rides all year-round that are suitable for surfers of all experience and skill levels.
Any kind of board can surf these waves too; long or short - it really doesn't matter. What's more, the reefs that form these waves can be explored at low tide, allowing beach-goers to observe the local marine life in between riding the waves and lounging on the sand.