Orange County Surf Spots
North Coast Orange County
Santa Ana River Jetties - On the border of Newport Beach and Huntington Beach. River Jetties has been called the most consistent break in Newport, when other Orange County regions are flat there is usually something to ride here. This fast shortboard beach break is at the end of the Santa Ana river and picks up a wide range of swells. Breaks best with combo west and south swells. Winds are an issue here, and kite boarders are known to ride up the river to the PCH bridge and back out to the ocean. This place can get epic though on the right swell with the Santa Ana winds blowing. Expect crowds and good surfers, not a place to show up with your longboard and teach yourself how to surf. Since this beach break is at the end of one of Orange County's "rivers" you can expect some pollution after any rainfall.
How to Get to this Orange County break - There are two ways to access this beach break, simply park at the southern most point of Huntington State Beach (which will cost you to park) and walk across the 1/4 mile of sand following the river to the ocean, and you will see beach break peaks popping up. The closest streets on the Huntington Beach side are Brookhurst Street and Pacific Coast Highway. If you are coming from the Newport Beach side, take PCH north, a left on Prospect St and an immediate right turn on Seashore. Take Seashore all the way until it ends and park where ever you can and again, follow the river to the ocean and look for a good spot to paddle out. Parking is always tough in Newport, so think about parking on the Huntington side over the bridge. If you do park in Newport, be sure to check out the sweet beachfront houses on the Newport side, and keep an eye out for Bob Hurley who is rumored to still live here. Classic Orange County money is right here.
Newport Beach Jetties - A row of man made rock jetties designed to stop beach erosion, also makes for great staggerd surf spots. The jetties start at around 28th Street and go all the way up to 56th Street. Sandbars get created next to the jetties that can produce world class waves when everything comes together. I like the Newport jetties the most because no matter how big the swell you can always pick a jetty to surf according to your skill level. On a summer south swell for example, the swell will hit the upper numbered streets bigger, and if you aren't comfortable in cranking overhead surf, you can go mellow out and still catch some great waves a few streets down which will be a little smaller. This is also a good natural selection for everyone. The most popular are 54-56th St and 36th St. Best on wnw and south swell combo. The jetties pick up swell from the north or south, so as long as some swell is in the water you should be good all year round. Always crowded in Newport, and 54th and 56th Streets are known for being reserved for the pros and up and coming semi-pros. Newport has a great boardwalk to bike up and down and check the surf and tons of beautiful Orange County girls roaming around.
How to Get to this Orange County break - From the 405 or 5 freeway take the 55 freeway south into Newport Beach, take a right on 32nd street, the beach is straight ahead, and at this point you can simply check all the street numbers and see which one you like best. Which will probably depend on where you get parking. Always watch the parking signs in Newport, they have no mercy here.
Blackies - On the northside of the Newport Pier. Slower beach break, great for old guys, longboards, and learning to surf. Best on winter time wnw swells or wind swells, all the summer south swells usually miss Blackies. This break reminds me of how old beach towns used to be. Low to medium tide is best. Right in the heart of Newport Beach, lots of tourist shops and burger joints here.
How to Get to this Orange County break - Park right at the pier in front of Blackies the bar and make sure you get a drink there after and tell tall tales about the good ol’ days with all the other Newport locals!
Newport Point - South of the Newport Pier out in front of 17th St. Steep beach break that frequently closes out. Best on short period sse (Hurricane) swells. Shoot for low tide. Best in the summer months, gets sic Hawaiian style barrels out there if a hurricane swell hits it just right, but pretty rare and usually you won't see this break light up at all during the summer months.
How to Get to this Orange County break - Contiune south on Newport Blvd from the 55 fwy until you get to 17th street (in Newport Beach) , make a right and you will run right into it.
The Wedge - The Wedge is a must see spot when its on, huge waves break super close to shore putting on a death defying show for all to see. The wedge is at the very south end of Newport Beach, next to the Newport Harbor man made jetty. What makes the wedge so unique, is a south swell will push in and bounce off the rock jetty and essentially collide with another wave coming in and the energy of the two waves will create a wedge or peak that can have 15 - 20 foot faces. Some have called the wedge the best body surfing spot in the country. All this action happens right in front of the beach too, so you can sit back and watch all the action under the comfort of your beach umbrella. Mostly body surfers, skim boarders, and boogie boarders rule this part of Newport, not because they are tough guys, but because Surfers are blackballed or banned from here unless its early morning or late evening. Good luck if you decide to tackle this place. Basically only breaks in the summer, don't even bother driving all the way down here if its winter.
How to Get to this Orange County break - Continue south on Newport Blvd from the 55 fwy, past all the surf spots listed above, past the Balboa pier, and from here you will enter a more residental looking area, and continue on this street until it ends, look for parking and follow the crowd along the harbor jetty.
Huntington State Beach - Two miles of beach break. Best on smaller swells and generally not as good as the pier, but less crowded. Good on crossed up swells in the morning before the wind blows out in the afternoon.
Huntington Cliffs - North of Huntington Pier. Best on a low tide and west to southwest swells. Generally more gentle than the pier except on a long period west swell which can really focus here. Metered parking along PCH. Great to surf when not so big out, because when its big out the paddle out will kill you.
Huntington Pier - The center of "Surf City". Very crowded and consistent on both sides of the pier. North side can handle larger swells. Can work on all tides, but shoot for medium. Metered parking on Huntington St, Beach Blvd, and First St. Handles the onshore flow a little more than surrounding areas but the masses will be there. Crowds drop off away from the pier. Great place to be seen and corral for chicks. Lots of bars and things to do here.
South Coast Orange County
Salt Creek – This is a great wave to surf, and I have seen it looking like Hawaii when everything comes together. This is one of the best and most beautiful beaches in Southern Orange County in my opinion, it's no wonder the Ritz Carlton picked this spot to have their hotel overlook. You will always find surfers stopping at the top of the hill to check the surf on a daily basis, it's a nice quick drive up check, you don't even need to get out of your car to see the conditions. The creek will pick up almost any swell direction, and is a fun wave to surf that is one of the few places in OC to get some tube time. This is an extremely crowded break though, with lots of really good surfers out in the water. A great place to sit on the beach and watch semi-pro surfers go at it. Salt Creek has a few different breaks at it, the best is the point in front of the rocks (the point), which when everything comes together on a South swell produces an epic left hander that is fast and furious. Most of the time though you will generally surf "Middles" which is usually beach breaky peaks that are great for pulling into close-out tubes. All in all, the creek is a great place to surf and spend a day at the beach.
How to Get to this Orange County break - Exit the 5 Fwy at PCH in Dana Point and head north until you get to Ritz Carlton Drive, go left at the light and you'll pull into the Salt Creek Parking lot. This is a pay lot and gets filled up pretty quickly on hot summer days. During the winter the parking is no problem generally. For more complex driving instructions, just google the Ritz Carlton in Laguna Niguel and use this as your reference point.
Doheny State Beach – One of the dirtiest beaches in Southern California thanks to another one of California’s “rivers” flowing right into this longboard break. Doheny is also so polluted because of the Dana Point harbor rock jetties they built, so the water flow remains pretty stagnant. You can actually smell the toxins in the water on a bad day, and you will still find 100 people in the break. On that note, this break is a longboarder’s dream wave when its on! Not much shortboarding done here at all, the break is to soft and really only produces long rollers. Great place to learn how to surf. Doheny breaks long rollers right and left, and you can sit outside by the kelp reefs way outside and ride them more then 500 yards to the beach if you can connect the sections. I personally have gotten sick after surfing this break, so be careful after heavy rains, but I understand if its 5’ and cranking its worth the risk. Doheny only breaks on a South swell, and over the last few years doesn’t seem to be breaking like it used to, but always worth a check on a big south swell. I always like to have a morning session somewhere else and maybe a mellow longboard afternoon session here to cap the day off.
How to Get to this Orange County break - Exit the 5 Fwy at PCH in Dana Point and head north until you get to Doheny Park Road, go left, and make your first left at the light which will get you into the entrance of Doheny State Beach, you'll see the park ranger station here. Pay to park and walk right out to the beach.
“T” Street or Trafalgar Street
San Onofore State Beach