Where to Surf in Los Angeles

It's an "Endless Summer" at LA's world famous surfing spots

Leo Carrillo State Beach Surf Surfer
Leo Carrillo State Beach | Photo courtesy of Jeremy Lusk, Flickr

Whether you’re getting on a surfboard for the first time at one of LA's best beaches, or you’re a seasoned rider searching for LA’s best breaks, there’s something for everyone. Beginners can learn how to surf with mellow, consistent waves; while experts can head toward the big stuff. No matter what level you’re at, you’ll want to check out these legendary LA surfing spots and dive into surf culture USA.

“Malibu is the exact spot on Earth where ancient surfing became modern surfing.” ~ Paul Gross
Malibu Surfrider Beach | Instagram by @samisneider
Malibu Surfrider Beach | Instagram by @samisneider

Surfrider Beach (Malibu Lagoon State Beach)

Surfing locations don’t get much more iconic than Malibu Lagoon State Beach (23200 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu 90265) better known as Surfrider Beach and one of the most popular surfing spots in L.A. County. Surfrider Beach is located off Pacific Coast Highway near the historic Malibu Pier, about 30 minutes west of Hollywood. The 110-acre site was dedicated as a state park in 1951, and it became the first World Surfing Reserve in October 2010.

Surfrider has three primary surfing areas - on the south swells most common in late August and September, surfers can ride all the way to the pier. The famous right-break had a major influence on 1960s Southern California surfing culture.

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Zuma Beach | Photo courtesy of Eric Demarcq, Flickr

Zuma Beach

Zuma Beach (30000 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu 90265) sits at the northern end of Malibu and stretches nearly two miles. Expect clear waters, significant waves and a local crowd.

Topanga Beach Surf Surfing
Topanga Beach Surfing | Denise Taylor, Flickr

Topanga Beach

For adventurous novices, the swells at Topanga Beach (18700 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu 90265) are a little easier to drop into and perfect for the beginner’s longboard. There's a continuous right break that wraps around Topanga Creek - it's one of the most popular surfing spots in the area, so get there early to avoid the crowds.

After your session, the nearby Topanga State Park offers 36 miles of hiking trails. Located across PCH from the Topanga Beach parking lot, the Reel Inn Malibu serves up fresh seafood in a funky fish shack setting.

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Photo courtesy of Chris Goldberg, Flickr

Venice Beach

One of LA's most popular tourist destinations, Venice Beach (1800 Ocean Front Walk, Venice 90291) offers mellow waves that are ideal for beginners. Surfers paddle out beyond the Venice Breakwater to catch waves that break in both directions. There are numerous surf rental shops and instructors for those testing the waters for the first time.

The world-famous Boardwalk stretches for two miles and welcomes more than 10 million visitors a year, including the Venice Skatepark, Muscle Beach and the iconic basketball courts made famous in White Men Can't Jump.

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Surfing in Manhattan Beach | Photo courtesy of JKG II, Flickr

Manhattan Beach

One of the best beaches for winter riding, Manhattan Beach (400-500 The Strand, Manhattan Beach) takes the cake for large surfs (and waves with fast closeouts). Expect big waves and ideal opportunities to practice your aerials.

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Photo courtesy of Shannon Howard, Flickr

Hermosa Beach

One of LA’s hippest beaches, Hermosa Beach (Hermosa Avenue and 33rd Street, Hermosa Beach) boasts some of the area's best waves, though at times the water can be colder than you’d expect for California weather (consider a wetsuit). The break is best during low tide and during the fall and winter.