Discover the ultimate American Roadtrip

Surfing <strong>California</strong>

Surfing California

San Diego - San Francisco

Wax your board and hit the West Coast waves on our Surfing California road trip. From Huntington Beach to Santa Cruz, this route takes in all the best surf spots and some stunning landmarks along the way. Novice, expert or Big Kahuna, get on board and prepare to Hang Ten on a real-life surfer’s paradise.

Surfing California

Stop 1: La Jolla 1/12

La Jolla

Bordered on three sides by the Pacific Ocean, La Jolla is an idyllic surfing community just a short hop from central San Diego. Trendy boutiques, chic cafes and high-end restaurants grace the curving coastline, while surfers ride the waves from dawn ‘til dusk. La Jolla Shores is an inviting spot, with gentle waves and balmy temperatures suitable for surfers of all levels. You can snorkel, swim and dive at La Jolla Cove, and catch more testing waves at Windansea Beach.

La Jolla, San Diego, CA 92037

https://lajollabythesea.com/

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Surfing California

Stop 2: Birch Aquarium at Scripps 2/12

Birch Aquarium at Scripps

You don’t need a wetsuit to dive into this immersive attraction. Birch Aquarium is a cutting-edge Oceanography research centre and mesmerising maritime experience that overlooks the Ellen Browning Scripps Memorial Pier. Wander through the Giant Kelp Forest and Hall of Fish, admiring colourful shoals and delicate seahorses as they weave through the gentle green leaves. Get acquainted with moray eels, leopard sharks and a friendly loggerhead sea turtle – and be sure to stick around for feeding time.

2300 Expedition Way, La Jolla, CA 92037

https://aquarium.ucsd.edu/

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Surfing California

Stop 3: Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve 3/12

Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve

The wild heart of San Diego, Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve is a sprawling 1,500-acre chunk of protected land stretching across the south Californian coastline. Half a dozen hiking trails wind through the sandy valleys, affording breathtaking glimpses of oceans, lagoons and gorges from the summit of sun-baked cliffs. Get here early in the morning to spot native deer grazing in the grassy lowlands, flecked with colourful flowers, while red-tailed hawks and hummingbirds swoop through the fresh coastal air.

12,600 North Torrey Pines Road, San Diego, CA 92037

https://torreypine.org/

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Surfing California

Stop 4: Crystal Cove State Park 4/12

Crystal Cove State Park

Make a beeline for Crystal Cove State Park and explore this action-packed paradise by board, bike and foot. Scotchman’s Cove and Pelican’s Point are two must-visit spots for surfers, while other nooks are noted for their colourful snorkelling and diving. Take a swing at Long Beach Golf Course, wind through the lower woodlands on a rental bike, and then enjoy a romantic waterfront dinner at 1930s hangout The Beachcomber as the sun sinks below the horizon.

8741 North Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

http://www.crystalcovestatepark.org/

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Surfing California

Stop 5: Newport Beach 5/12

Newport Beach

Home of ‘The Wedge’, Newport Beach is where the wave masters come to play. At the far end of this municipal beach, incoming swells bounce off the rock jetty to create towering, wedge-shaped waves up to 30 feet high. Not one for the faint-hearted, you might want to watch as experienced surfers chase the ride. Along the beach, you’ll find gentler spots to hone your moves, as well as water sports hire, a fun fair for youngsters and Main Street Surf Shop – effortlessly cool since 1979.

Newport Beach, CA 92660

http://www.newportbeachca.gov/

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Surfing California

Stop 6: International Surfing Museum 6/12

International Surfing Museum

With some of the best conditions in the whole of California, it’s easy to see why Huntington Beach is known as Surf City USA. This is a place that lives and breathes surf culture, right down to the International Surfing Museum with its historical memorabilia, monuments to surfing heroes and the world’s largest surfboard. Down on the beach, find a spot that catches your eye along the 10-mile sweep of golden sand to enjoy consistent waves and inviting temperatures all year round.

411 Olive Avenue, Surf City, Huntington Beach, CA 92648

http://www.surfingmuseum.org/

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Surfing California

Stop 7: Rincon Point 7/12

Rincon Point

Known as the ‘Queen of the Coast’, this world-famous surf spot along Route 101 is celebrated for its no-frills authenticity. For beginners, the gentler breaks of Leadbetter Point and Campus Point are good options nearby. Carry on to Santa Barbara, and enjoy a break in this glamorous oasis of sun-kissed promenades and fine dining. It’s worth parking up your hire car and enjoying an overnight stay, tasting the fruits of the local vineyards on the Santa Barbara Urban Wine Trail.

Rincon Point State Beach, Rincon Point Road, Carpinteria, CA 93013

https://www.californiabeaches.com/beach/rincon-point-state-beach/

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Surfing California

Stop 8: Santa Barbara Channel 8/12

Santa Barbara Channel

If whale-watching is on your bucket list, head for the Santa Barbara Channel – the premier West Coast destination to glimpse these giants of the ocean. From late spring to early autumn, Humpback and blue whales emerge from the depths, while the winter months see Pacific Grey Whales pass through in their thousands as they migrate to warmer waters. You’ll find a host of excursion companies in Santa Barbara Harbour, as well as a paddle sports centre and the local maritime museum.

Santa Barbara Harbor, 132-A Harbor Way, Santa Barbara, CA 93109

https://channelislands.noaa.gov/

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Surfing California

Stop 9: SLO CAL 9/12

SLO CAL

Slow it down in San Luis Obispo – or, as the locals call it, SLO CAL. Here, the ocean seems a more vibrant shade of blue, the sunshine a little more golden and the Californian dream a living, breathing reality. Head to the waterfront for a relaxing yoga session, gallop down the beach on horseback, or pull on your hiking boots and soak up those hilltop vistas. Back in the water, catching waves around ‘The Rock’ in Morro Bay is a must for your inner surfer dude.

San Luis Obispo, CA 93407

https://www.slocal.com/

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Surfing California

Stop 10: Hearst Castle 10/12

Hearst Castle

Take a break from the surfboard and indulge your cultural side at Hearst Castle, a European-inspired masterpiece that stands resplendently in San Simeon. Verging on dreamlike, the estate sprawls across 123 acres – a wonderland of luxurious rooms, Roman pools and blooming gardens. Choose one of the tours to explore, then take a seat in Hearst Castle Theatre and get lost in the magic of Building the Dream, a cinema experience that recreates life in the castle during its golden years.

750 Hearst Castle Road, San Simeon, CA 93452

http://hearstcastle.org/

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Surfing California

Stop 11: Lighthouse Point 11/12

Lighthouse Point

A city steeped in surfing history, Santa Cruz is the ultimate place to enjoy some quality wave time. Legend has it that this is where surfing first came to the USA, when Hawaiian princes surfed over on boards hewn from redwood trees. It’s also the home of late legend Jack O’Neill, father of the iconic surfing brand. Steamer Lane is the most famous haunt, with designated zones for different experience levels. Overlooking these punchy swells, the red brick Lighthouse Point is now home to a fascinating surfing museum.

700 West Cliff Drive, Santa Cruz, CA 95060

http://www.santacruz.org/

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Surfing California

Stop 12: Ferry Building Marketplace 12/12

Ferry Building Marketplace

Round off your California road trip in San Fran, enjoying a well-earned bite at the city’s iconic Ferry Building. Tuck into all-American cuisine and artisanal coffee, seeing what catches your eye as you cruise the vibrant lanes and farmers market. With the sparkling bay waters just a short stroll away, you can soon get back out on the big blue. Boat rides, windsurfs and kayaks are all available for hire so you can have fun against the backdrop of the iconic Golden Gate Bridge.

One Ferry Building, San Francisco, CA 94111

https://www.ferrybuildingmarketplace.com/

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