The surfing industry has changed drastically since its inception, but the one aspect that has remained fairly consistent is the list of best surf spots around the world. We are proud to say that Southern California is home to many infamous beaches known to be the best surf spots in North America.
Many believe that “a surfer is only as good as the wave,” which is why finding that perfect surf spot is crucial for most surfers. Since surfing depends entirely on nature, finding good waves can be a difficult task! Each of these surf breaks has played an important role in popularizing surf culture, creating world class surfers, and have acted as a testing grounds for new innovations in surf technology.  While every local has a favorite place to catch the best waves, these ten key surf spots in Southern California simply cannot be overlooked.


Los Angeles



the Malibu pier surrounded by a bright blue ocean stacked with big waves breaking into foamy white wash
Malibu during Hurricane Marie. Photo: Bryce Lowe-White

Malibu is that ultimate SoCal beach, being quite similar to what you might see in the movies. The beaches are amazing, offering several perfect surf breaks that range for all skill levels. From calm and playful longboard waves, to the bigger, faster waves suitable for shortboarders, Malibu will cater to kids, adults, beginners, and advanced surfers alike.


Venice Beach

man in red poncho dancing along the shore during an orange sunset in front of the rocks at the venice breakwater
Sunset at the Venice beach breakwater

This well-known hipster beach is home to many local surfers that enjoy the mellow tides. It is a great place for all levels, especially for beginners who want to perfect their skills before heading out into rougher swells. The best waves are located at the Venice Beach Breakwater, another popular beach amongst tourists. The walk alone from Venice Beach towards Santa Monica is chock-full of entertainment, with street artists, performers, newly renovated skateboard parks, and the infamous muscle beach. Catch some waves before enjoying people watching on the strand, you may even see a movie star.


Orange County


Huntington Beach

The north side of the Huntington Beach Pier. Waves full of surfers catching small, unbroken waves, while pedestrians walk to a red roofed Rudy's Diner at the end of the pier
North side of the Huntington Beach Pier. Photo: Amber Amay

Also known as Surf City USA, Huntington Beach is the ultimate surf spot for many. It gained its popularity throughout the years as home to the Annual World Surfing Championships. It has the perfect waves all year-round, starting from just three feet tall and working its way up to twelve feet. Both sides of the pier will guarantee you rideable waves, and while it’s almost always crowded you’ll never go home empty handed. As on of the most consistent breaks in SoCal, it provides fun waves for everyone.


The Wedge at Newport Beach

a surfer and his board flying above the wedge: a large, green, barreling wave at newport beach Located in beautiful Newport Beach, The Wedge is known to have one of the most powerful beach breaks, creating large, breathtaking wedge-shaped waves that are perfect more famous for bodyboarders, and are ridden by a few advanced surfers. During the summer and fall seasons, the beach breaks at The Wedge become intense from Southern Hemisphere storms and large tropical cyclones, making it the ultimate surf destination for those who are experienced in wave riders and for those who just want to sit in the sand and watch the show.


Doheny State Beach in Dana Point

Doheny State Beach, famous for being mentioned by The Beach Boys in “Surfin’ USA” and “Surfin’ Safari,” is one of the best places to learn how to surf in SoCal, and is arguably one of the best longboard breaks around. The rocky bottom gives perfectly shaped waves while the harbor jetty blocks the bigger swells, allowing for endless fun any day of the year at California’s first State Beach.


Lower Trestles in San Clemente

ariel shot of a surfer in a black wetsuit paddling out beyond the white wash in a green ocean near Lower Trestles in San Clemente, California

While Huntington Beach is known as the “Surf City USA,” Lower Trestles is another hot spot for many surfers, and is the home for many professional surfing contests both for the WQS (World Qualifying Series) and WCT (World Championship Tour) events. This reef break is a swell magnet that consistently provides great right and left breaking waves all year round, but can be a hassle to surf. You will be competing with the best surfers in the world out there!


San Diego


Cardiff Reef in Encinitas

The cardiff coastline during the golden hour. A pink sky, bright blue waves, and golden cliffs covered in greenery, and people walking on the beach in cardiffCardiff Reef, which is in Encinitas, has been one of the most popular surf spots in San Diego, dating back to the 1940s. The flat rock reef bottoms just beneath the surface creates consistent smooth waves with long rides all year-round for surfers of all skill levels. It is perfect for any type of board, whether it’s a short board or a long board. These reef bottoms that extend up to 50 yards from shore can also be explored when the tides are low, making it a keen spot for visitors to check out marine life.


Blacks Beach in La Jolla

a white lifeguard tower pearched on a golden southern california cliffside, covered in yellow and purple flowers overlooking blacks beach, the best surf spot in La Jolla near San Diego

Blacks Beach is one of the most powerful surf breaks in Southern California due to the underwater canyon, Scripps Canyon, that allows the waves grow in size and power for they break. Due to the advanced waves and often aggressive crowds, Black’s is a dangerous surfing location that should only be explored by experienced surfers. The beach is also known for being one of California’s largest nude beaches, so do not be alarmed if you pay a visit and see people basking in the sun in the nude.

Finding that perfect surf spot can also be affected by your level of surfing. If you are a beginner or at an intermediate level, check out the Locale Magazine. It can give you more insight on the best beginner surf spots in SoCal.
We hope that these key surf spots can help you discover that perfect surf destination, just for you.