Looking for a surfing destination that’s both scenic and challenging? Look no further than Santa Barbara. Known for its breathtaking coastline, consistent waves, and year-round surf opportunities. In this guide, we’ll take you through the best places to surf Santa Barbara, complete with insider tips and recommendations. Advanced surfers will know all the spots already so we focused this on beginner and intermediate surfers. When the swell angle is just right, surfing in Santa Barbara is world-class.

Rincon Point Surf Spot

One of the most famous and revered surf spots in the world, Rincon boasts long, peeling waves that can be enjoyed by everyone from long-boarders to short-boarders. The area is known for its friendly atmosphere and consistent waves, making it a great spot to surf all year round. Keep in mind that Rincon can get crowded during peak season (usually December through March), so arrive early to secure a spot. Beginners, stay on the very inside for the easiest waves. This is known as “The Cove”.

Check out the video below by Surf Rinse Repeat to see the definition of a perfect right-hand point break which is Rincon Point.

Surfing Leadbetter Beach

Perfect for beginners, Leadbetter Beach is located in the heart of Santa Barbara and features gentle waves that are perfect for practicing your skills. The beach is also home to a surf school that offers lessons and equipment rentals, as well as ample parking and facilities. Surfing at Leadbetter Beach is the easiest wave in Santa Barbara.

Best Surf Near UCSB – Campus Point

Located at the University of California, Santa Barbara, Campus Point is a pristine beach that offers a right point break that can be epic on the right swell. The spot is suitable for all skill levels, making it a great place to surf with friends or family.

Surf Sandspit (on a small day)

If you’re feeling confident in your surfing and looking for a challenge, Sandspit is the spot for you. The break is located at the end of the Santa Barbara Harbor Breakwater. Sandspit serves up a powerful and fast wave that guarantees an adrenaline rush. Note that beginners should only surf here on very small days. When this wave gets big, it is extremely dangerous and definitely NOT a beginner wave. Check out the video below by Red Bull to see what we mean…

Refugio State Beach

Situated a short drive north of Santa Barbara, Refugio State Beach is a remote and picturesque surf spot that offers fun waves. The beach is surrounded by rocky cliffs and lush greenery and offers a variety of breaks depending on the tide and swell direction. Keep in mind that the beach is relatively isolated, so bring plenty of water and food for the day.

Planning a Surf Trip to Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara is a surfer’s paradise, with a range of breaks and conditions suitable for all skill levels. Whether you’re a local or a first-time visitor, there’s always something new to discover. So pack your wetsuit, grab your board, and head to one of these amazing surf spots. Who knows? You just might catch the wave of a lifetime.

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Tips for Beginners

Here are some tips to keep in mind when starting out surfing in Santa Barbara:

  • Take lessons from a certified instructor to learn the basics and proper safety measures.
  • Always check the conditions before heading out. Santa Barbara has a variety of surf spots, so it’s important to find the right one for your skill level.
  • Respect the locals and follow proper surf etiquette. This includes taking turns for waves, not dropping in on others, and being aware of your surroundings.
  • Don’t be afraid to fall! It’s a natural part of learning how to surf. Just remember to fall away from your board and protect your head.
  • Stay hydrated and nourished. Surfing can be physically demanding, so make sure to drink plenty of water and fuel up with healthy snacks before and after hitting the waves.

History of Surfing in Santa Barbara

Surfing has been a popular activity in Santa Barbara for decades, with its roots dating back to the early 1900s. The first surfers in the area were locals who would ride their wooden planks on the waves for fun. However, it wasn’t until the 1920s that surfing gained popularity as a sport in Santa Barbara.

In 1924, George Freeth, known as “The Father of Modern Surfing”, introduced surfing to California and popularized it along the Santa Barbara coastline. He was hired by a group of local businessmen to perform surfing demonstrations and promote the area as a tourist destination.

In the 1960s, the surf culture in Santa Barbara exploded with the help of local surfboard shaper Al Merrick and his company Channel Islands Surfboards. The city became known for its high-quality waves, attracting surfers from all over the world. Today, Santa Barbara is considered one of the most iconic surfing destinations in California.

Sustainable Surfing in Santa Barbara

With its rich history and thriving surf culture, it’s no surprise that Santa Barbara has also become a hub for sustainable surfing practices. The city hosts several annual events dedicated to promoting environmental awareness within the surf community.

One such event is the Rincon Classic, a surf competition held at one of Santa Barbara’s most famous surf spots. The event has a strong focus on sustainability and encourages participants to use eco-friendly materials in their equipment.

The city also has a ban on single-use plastics such as straws and bags, helping to reduce pollution in the ocean. Many local surf shops have also started carrying sustainable products and offering recycling programs for old wetsuits.

In addition to these efforts, several non-profit organizations in Santa Barbara are dedicated to preserving the ocean and promoting sustainable surfing practices. Organizations like Heal the Ocean and Surfrider Foundation work towards reducing pollution and protecting marine life.

Santa Barbara also has a strong community of surfers who actively participate in beach cleanups and promote responsible surfing behaviors. With such initiatives in place, the city is not only preserving its beautiful beaches and waves but also setting an example for sustainable surfing practices around the world.

Additional Activities

In addition to surfing, Santa Barbara also offers a variety of other activities to enjoy during your stay. Here are a few suggestions: