The Complete Traveler’s Guide To Best Beginner Surfing In California

California is home to some of the best surfing spots in the world. With its long coastline and diverse environment, it offers an ideal setting for beginner surfers.

This article will provide a complete traveler’s guide to the best places for beginners to learn surfing in California, including Santa Cruz, San Diego, Malibu, Huntington Beach, and Oceanside.

Each destination provides a unique experience with varying levels of difficulty that are perfect for those looking to begin their surfing journey.

Key Takeaways

  • Santa Cruz and Monterey Bay are considered one of the best surfing spots in California for beginners due to their relatively small and consistent waves, wide sandy beaches, warm temperatures, and calm waters.
  • San Diego offers a wide range of options for beginner surfers, with consistent waves suitable for all skill levels. The beach break areas in Pacific Beach are ideal for beginners, and the year-round warm climate provides opportunities to observe experienced surfers.
  • Malibu is a popular destination for beginner surfers, with consistent waves and ideal conditions. Surfrider Beach and Zuma Beach are great for beginners, offering long rides with gentle waves and plenty of space for practicing.
  • Huntington Beach and Southern California are renowned surfing destinations with waves for all skill levels. The gentle and forgiving ocean swells make it ideal for beginners, and the variety of breaks including points, reefs, and river mouths provide diverse surfing experiences.

Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz, California is considered one of the best surfing spots in the state for beginners due to its relatively small and consistent waves. Its location on Monterey Bay makes it an ideal spot for novice surfers to learn their skills.

The beach itself is wide and sandy, providing plenty of room to practice and maneuver. Moreover, the warm temperatures make it comfortable for all levels of surfers. The waters are usually quite calm with minimal current or rip tides, making them perfect for those just starting out.

Additionally, there are several shops in town that rent out equipment and offer lessons if needed. All these factors create an atmosphere where even a beginner can feel free to enjoy their time in the ocean while learning how to surf properly.

San Diego

San Diego is renowned for its consistent waves, making it an ideal location for surfers of all levels. Surfing in San Diego offers a wide range of options, from the mild waves found on Coronado Island to the more challenging ones at Black’s Beach and La Jolla Shores.

Beginner surfers can also take advantage of several beach break areas in Pacific Beach. With its sandy shoreline, year-round warm climate, and ample opportunities to observe experienced surfers in action, San Diego provides beginning surfers with an optimal environment to hone their skills.

Surf schools are available on many beaches throughout San Diego County offering lessons and equipment rental for those wanting to learn how to catch a wave or refine technique. With its diverse array of beaches and surfing styles, novices will find plenty of options as they explore San Diego’s coastline while learning the basics of surfing.


Malibu is a popular destination for surfers due to its consistent waves and ideal conditions. The area is known for having some of the best beginner surfing spots in California, such as Surfrider Beach and Zuma Beach. These beaches offer long rides with gentle waves that make them suitable for novice surfers who are just starting out.

Both locations provide plenty of space for a variety of skill levels, making them ideal places to practice and hone your skills. Additionally, both areas have nearby restaurants, bars, and shops that will keep you entertained when not on the water.

Malibu’s near-perfect weather year-round means you can enjoy the beach anytime without worrying about cold temperatures or rain. For those looking to learn how to surf in California, Malibu should be at the top of their list!

Huntington Beach

Huntington Beach is a renowned surfing destination offering waves suitable for all skill levels. Located in Southern California, the beach offers stunning waters and views of the Pacific Ocean.

The ocean swells at Huntington Beach are ideal for beginners as they are usually gentle and forgiving. Experienced surfers also find great pleasure here due to the array of breaks available throughout the day. There is plenty to explore in terms of points, reefs, and river mouths that offer a variety of different wave types.

Furthermore, Huntington Beach has been host to numerous international surfing events such as the US Open of Surfing which attests to its popularity among surfers worldwide.

With so much potential for learners and masterful waves alike, it’s no wonder why Huntington Beach is considered one of California’s best beginner surfing spots.


Oceanside is a coastal city located in Southern California, offering numerous beaches and opportunities for recreation. The city is home to world-renowned surfing spots, such as Buccaneer Beach, Stonesteps Beach, Oceanside Pier South Jetty and Harbor Beach. Its warm water temperatures make it a great destination for the beginner surfer looking to learn the basics of riding waves.

With mild ocean swells, the waves at these locations are perfect for novice surfers who want to get comfortable with their board and develop their skills in a safe environment. There are also several surf schools in Oceanside that offer lessons and rental equipment for those who want to learn how to surf or brush up on their technique.

In addition to being an ideal spot for beginning surfing, Oceanside also offers plenty of options when it comes to recreational activities like swimming, sunbathing or exploring its many beachside attractions.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best board to use for beginner surfing in California?

For beginner surfing in California, a soft-top foam board is recommended. It is easy to use, provides good buoyancy and stability, and helps with developing paddling strength and technique.

What is the best time of year for beginner surfing in California?

In California, the best time of year for beginner surfing is typically during summer months when there is more consistent wave activity and balmy temperatures.

Are there any beginner surfing lessons available in California?

Yes, many surfing schools in California offer lessons for beginners. Professional instructors teach the basics of wave selection, surf etiquette, safety tips and paddling technique. These classes provide an ideal opportunity to get started with surfing in a safe environment.

What are the safety regulations for surfing in California?

In California, all surfers must adhere to safety regulations that include wearing a life jacket or floatation device, avoiding areas with hazardous conditions such as riptides or rocks, and never surfing alone.

Are there any restrictions on the types of wetsuits that can be used for surfing in California?

In California, the use of wetsuits is subject to regulations; these restrictions may vary depending on the beach and water temperature. Generally speaking, they should be designed to keep the wearer warm and minimize drag in the water.

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