California is nearly synonymous with surfing, so a trip to the West Coast wouldn’t be complete without catching a wave. With miles of surf to choose from and beautiful coastline drives to get there, you’ll understand why Californians are so crazy about the sport.

For those interested in surf culture, we recommend exploring as many beaches as possible. A road trip is the classic California way to see the landscape and fall in love with the winding coastline.

Rent a convertible, drive up Pacific Coast Highway to Malibu, and stop at the pier to observe why the city is such a hot spot for all types of surfers. You’ll see professionals, joy riders, and young kids with talent beyond their years, all trying to catch a wave on one of the best breaks in town.

For a little more action, venture further North to Mavericks, famous for some of the biggest, most dangerous waves on earth. With plenty of rocks and a possible shark or two, you’ll see firsthand how dedicated these surfers are to the sport.

If you prefer, head South to San Diego and try things out for yourself at Tourmaline Surf Park, a great spot for beginners. While in San Diego, be sure to check out the California Surf Museum and Wave House, an outdoor venue where surfers show off their skills on machine-made waves while crowds can watch and enjoy a drink. You don’t even need to get your feet wet to be immersed into California surf culture.

Surf Terminology Decoded

Dropping In- when a surfer cuts in on a wave that another surfer was on first.
Carving- symmetrical, fluid turns with the board.
Turtle Roll- a technique used to face oncoming waves by grabbing the rails of your surfboard flipping over, and when the wave passes, rolling right side up.
Snap Up-  to stand up quickly on your board to catch the wave.
Goofy- surfing with your right foot forward, as opposed to the more common approach of left foot forward.
Switch Foot- a surfer who can surf with either foot forward.

Annual Surf Contests that Draw Major Crowds

Mavericks Contest

US Open at Huntington Beach

Malibu Surf Association Classic

The consistency of California surf is world-class, and the diverse beauty of the state is unlike anywhere else. We are sure you’ll enjoy getting to know California culture from a surfer’s point of view.