Going California

Information, advice or questions on travelling to surf. Or reports and photos from your recent trips.

Going California

Postby bena48 » Sat Apr 13, 2013 11:18 am

My daughter and I have the last two weeks of August in California. We will be living out of a basic camper van.Wild camping where and if we can.

My 14 year old daughter is a rapidly improving learner and I am a 50 year old shortboarder.

I would really appreciate some advice on the areas to visit. I do not have massive expectations about the waves given that it is August. Basically I am looking for for weak beach break for my daughter and the odd point/reef to keep her Dad happy.
The two options that come to mind are

San/Clemente down to San Diego or Ventura up to the southern border of Monterey (accepting that much of Santa Barbarra will be in a wave shadow at that time of year).

We are flying in with British Airways :roll: . I therefore need a strategy for getting two boards and leaving them behind when we go home. I want some fairly decent equipment and had hoped to buy second hand from a shop/factory on a buy back deal. Does this sound realistic? My daughter rides a 7' 6'' funboard shape and I ride a 6'6'' shortboard or 6' fish.Perhaps a fishy/short bobby shape is the way to go in the Californian Summer?

All advice hugely appreciated.
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Re: Going California

Postby mountain man » Sun Apr 14, 2013 7:52 am

Well I've done a trip from San Francisco to San Diego driving down, stopping off for a few days here and there along the route. Superb trip and you'll get plenty of waves. Too many spots to list all but particular highlights were Blacks beach at La Joila, Pismo Pier, San Clemente beach. Be prepared for crowds at certain spots though of course but can still get uncrowded waves if you time it right.
Yep fishy type board with a bit of volume good choice.
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Re: Going California

Postby Supafly » Thu Apr 25, 2013 6:20 pm

There are camp grounds up and down the coast, but most are pretty close to the train so sleeping isn't the greatest. That being said, we used to go up to San Onofre a lot when I was a kid and had fun. there is plenty of beach break. You can't miss an opportunity to surf Tressels, which is right there. The surfers there are good and a bit aggressive, but not localized, meaning their just good, but not mean like in Windnsea further down the coast.

There are also camp grounds in San Diego in Carlsbad - surf is so so. Probably your best bet is the camp ground in Encinitas. Close to good food and some pretty good surf. You've got Swamis, excellent point break, which will catch some summer swell. Just south of Swamis is Pipes, where you'll probably spend most of your time. It should have some fun small summer waves for your daughter. Will be a bit crowded, but that's unavoidable these days in California. you can go up the coast as there are camp grounds in Santa Barbara, but further north of Rincon the water will be very cold, even in the summer.

My suggestion is the camp ground in Encinitas. It's a very chill surfer town. You may spot Rob Machado in the water.

Good luck.
That Rabbit stole the Space Modulator.
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Re: Going California

Postby ant785 » Fri May 17, 2013 12:52 pm

Hey,

My mum lines in North California (and I have family in the South), so I've done that trip plenty of times. Everytime i visit i try do a west coast trip. Done it in campervan over three weeks once, and the other times with a hire car staying in motels/hostels.


WHERE TO GO
LA to San Diego is only two hours so its easy to buzz back and forward. Trestles is a must - crowded, but have uppers, middles and cottons as well as lowers, so plenty of waves to go around. Cardiff/Encinnitas and that area is a good place to base yourself - good waves and an hour either way for lots more options (Huntington, San Clemente to the North & Sa Diego Breaks to ther South). When we were there we stayed around there, surfing there when there was a wave and heading to Blacks which gets a load more swell when it got small.
Lots of options in Ventura, beaches, points and reefs, worth a visit - and places to camp i think.
If you decide to head North of Ventura, the options for waves thin out a bit (you drive a long time between breaks, whereas in the south, its just break after break), though the Big Sur drive is mindblowing, especially if sunny, and there are breaks around there, rarely see a crowd, in fact ive never seen anyone surfing there. Some good waves, but some very average ones (Pismo, crap wave, fun place!).

CAMPING
On the campervan living, the one think i noticed is that wild camping is not that easy! EVERYWHERE - laybys, car parks etc etc have a sign up saying 'no overnight parking/camping'. This is the whole way up the coast from San Diego to San Francisco. It is particularly hard in the south where the place is very urbanized. However, we did get away with it - WALMART parking lot, out of the way laybys etc, but be warned everywhere has a sign! Occasionally stayed in campsites, think it was about $30pn (this was out of season, we were told you may need to make bookings in peak season). Don't think there are any campsites in Huntington to San Clemente area, though there were plenty between there and San Diego, they are all state parks so are easy to look up. The one at Encinnitas/Cardiff is particularly good, fronts the beach, great waves there.

BOARDS
Board shopping in CA is a lot of fun, there are SO many good boards and lots cheaper than the UK. I have the same problems with boards and airlines, so have bought cheap secondhand ones there. I got a two decent condition lost... boards for 120bucks and 100. You will have no problem picking up second hand boards - lots of places in every surf town> Not sure about selling, I sold a board in a shop, but they didnt want to give me cash upfront, they sent it on when the board sold (to my Mum - so was quite straight forward), but to be honest you can get boards quite cheap and I imaginer you will be able to sort something!

You are going to have an awesome trip, CA is a blast!
I'm quite likley going to there myself actually!!
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Re: Going California

Postby singlefin70 » Tue May 21, 2013 2:10 pm

i too am thinking of cali,in nov dec,i want to hire a camper and wild free camp,i heard its a bitch to find places,im happy to kip overnight in a walmart or whatever,trying to think of a way to see cali cheapest,any ideas?for a month and half then going to mexico,any tips appreciated....
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Re: Going California

Postby ant785 » Tue May 21, 2013 4:26 pm

I've done it in the Dec/Jan with a camper - check out escape campervans and lost campervans, they seemed the cheapest. Though there are signs everywhere saying no camping/overnight parking, we got away with it, its harder in the south as it is so urbanized, but never got moved on. Stayed in the Walmart parking lot near Huntington, residential streets in San Clemente, even the state car park at Rincon, and a business park near Santa Cruz. Loads easier further North, and as it is is similar time of year to when i was there, i imagine you will have similar experiences (though in the summer i reckon it would be close to impossible in the south). We had a van with a pop-up roof, so has soon as that went up it was obviuos what we were doing, without that it would of been far easier - bare that in mind, seen plenty of other vans that were clearly camping as well.
It did become part of the daily routine looking out for parking spots, but once we worked out what we could get away with it was fine.
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Re: Going California

Postby singlefin70 » Thu May 23, 2013 10:26 am

thanks ant,great reply,im pretty discreet in my van here,how was the weather generally and the water temps?that time of year?so on an average street can you park up at night like in uk or are all the streets regulated,residential parking etc?cutting out the accommodation costs helps,just want to wander up and down the coast for 5 or 6 weeks,how did you find the rental company?thanks for finding the time to reply....ave a gooden...p.s how was your trip?????/
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Re: Going California

Postby ant785 » Thu May 23, 2013 1:54 pm

Hey no worries,
Water temp is comfy, big swing between North and South though. That time of year South CA is similar to early english summer, plus the air temperature is consistently 20degrees in the day, and usually sunny. I had one suit a 4/3, i wore that with no boots in the South, and North of say, Santa Barbara the temperatures drop, so would wear with boots. The sea gets colder again North of Santa Cruz, pretty similar water temperatures to Cornwall in the winter, though warmer air/better weather.
We were there for 4 weeks and had the odd shower, mainly dry though and often sunny. There was a cold snap for a few days, unusually cold for CA, was getting down to 0degrees overnight, made living in the van a bit hard, but plus side is none of the locals where in the water that early, so had a particularly memorable surf at uncrowded Rincon!
I think if you are low-key you can get away with crashing in your van that time of your year, i suppose the worst that happens is you are moved on. We would arrive at where ever we were going to camp, go straight to sleep and leave early. Big shopping centre carparks often had small campers in, and WALMART has somesort of pilcy where you are allowed to camp in its carparks i think (though maybe not all WALMARTS). and as i said its much easier further north, though the night time temperatures get a bit lower.
I would suggest south CA, between San Diego and Huntington - Blacks & Trestles are pretty special and drop everything if there is a big swell and get to Rincon & Ventura Points. Also Santa Cruz for density of surfspots, good beaches, points, reefs and never really flat in the exposed places that time of year. You will have an awesome trip, massively underrated as a surf destination.
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Re: Going California

Postby benjamin007 » Fri May 24, 2013 11:51 am

Sounds all time to me, my parents have been to san onfree area a couple of times and liked it....deffinatly on my hit list for next year with the missus and my nipper should be a good trip!
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Re: Going California

Postby singlefin70 » Sat May 25, 2013 10:22 am

thanks again mate for the good reply,been toying with goin to cali for a while now ,worried its gonna be pricey,but might buy a van and do it feral for couple months and hit mex,your a legend
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Re: Going California

Postby bena48 » Tue May 28, 2013 1:21 pm

Thanks for all replies. there is some really useful stuff there.

I have decided to stay with southern Orange County and San Diego because it it will offer some warm water and some great spots to surf (probably) with lots of other people too :roll: I have booked a few places at the various state parks.

The central coast seems ultimately more appealing but I think that it deserves a more dedicated approach at another time of year.
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Re: Going California

Postby otterr » Fri May 31, 2013 8:41 am

if you need a local contact/ instructor/guide, try rusty friesen:

rusty@socalsurflessons.com

based near carlsbad

he fixed me up with a decent-ish board to hire and gave me a couple of lessons a few weeks back

good guy and knows the area backwards
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