California has some of the most scenic beaches and the best waves to surf all through the year. A surfboard, wetsuit, and a good wave are all you will need to get started. Also, make sure that you find the perfect surf spot for your adventure and ability level.
The 10 best surf spots in California for beginners to learn to surfer are:
- Zuma Beach, Malibu
- Leo Carrillo, Ventura County
- Tamarack State Beach, Carlsbad
- Bolinas Beach, Marin County
- Cowell’s Beach, Santa Cruz
- Sunset Cliffs, San Diego
- Pillar Point, Half Moon Bay
- Mavericks, Half Moon Bay
- Mondos Beach, Ventura
- Oceanside Pier, San Diego
Keep reading to see which of the 10 surf spots for beginners in California is best for you.
Table of Contents
Zuma Beach, Malibu
Zuma beach is found on the north end of Malibu that accommodates both novice and intermediate surfers alike.
It is a popular beach in California that is known for its white sands and excellent surf.
It has large parking areas, lots of boogie boarding, and occasional rip tides.
Thankfully, lifeguards are always in sight.
Leo Carrillo, Ventura County
This beautiful beach offers a friendly beach break that is perfect for dial in your surfing.
The sandy beach extends for 1.5 miles and provides ample space for surfers to spread out.
Surfers enjoy this beach because of the consistent rideable swells year round.
Tamarack State Beach, Carlsbad
At Tamarack in Carlsbad, California (north county San Diego) you will find an ideal break with well-formed waves for your beginners and surfers of all skill levels.
This beach has a large parking lot that fills up fast on weekends and residential parking that can be challenges in the dead heat of summer.
The long sandy beach extends all the way to the Frazee beach.
It is a surfing hot spot in California with frequent rideable waves.
Other than learning how to surf at this beach you can also enjoy some volleyball, longboarding, and swimming here.
Bolinas Beach, Marin County
Bolinas Beach, and its neighbor Stinson Beach, is about 13 miles north of San Francisco.
Waves can be small be, around 1-3 feet, which is perfect for beginners.
This stretch of ocean is also known for adult white sharks that reside in the area all year long.
Now you know.
There are surf shops in the area that you can rent surfing gear from and a little town to grab a bite to eat and some great coffee as well.
Cowell’s Beach, Santa Cruz
This popular California beach is located in Santa Cruz a short hour and a half drive south from the Bay Area.
The waves here are friendly for beginners and so is the weather which is warm and sunny for the better part of the year.
The grandiose Dream Inn hotel offers an excellent backdrop to this beach.
Bring a big board as this wave is favored by longboarders.
Sunset Cliffs, San Diego
Sunset Cliffs in San Diego is one of the more scenic beaches on the list (and they are all beautiful in their own way).
This beach has a stunning coastline that is surrounded by cliffs and reef breaks.
This is suitable for intermediate learners and advanced surfers who are looking for consistent waves that get some decent size in the wintertime.
Pillar Point, Half Moon Bay
You may have heard of Half Moon Bay and Mavericks. Pillar Point is off the 101 near Half Moon Bay.
This wave is a fraction of the size of Mavericks where 20 foot waves are common.
Pillar Point has 3 to 5 foot waves on average with a 20 foot paddle to get into the line up.
Mavericks, Half Moon Bay
If a swell is breaking at Marvericks, go check it out. It is quite a sight to see with your own eyes.
Mondos Beach, Ventura
This beach is located in Ventura and is ideal for beginners to hone their skills before they can venture out to larger waves.
The waves at this beach tend to range between 2-5 feet providing some of the best conditions to learn to surf.
Oceanside Pier, San Diego
This Californian beach is located in Oceanside in San Diego County.
It has a pier as the name suggests and it provides a consistent surf for advanced surfers.
Other beaches for newbies and experiences surfers alike in California (depending on conditions) include Newport Beach, La Jolla, Surfrider Beach, Huntington Beach, San Onofre state beach, and San Clemente in San Diego.