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Santa Monica Surf Guide: Where to Surf, Where to Park, & How to Score

Updated: Sep 5, 2023

Located on the southern coast of California is the beautiful and lively city of Santa Monica.


You will see palm trees and rarely a rainy day.


Being one of the highest rating hospitality cities in California, you will be welcomed with open arms and have a great time.


Santa Monica Surfing


Waves in Santa Monica

With many surf spots within a short walk, some a short drive, you won’t run out of options.


If one break is not looking well, drive to one of the other spots.


You are bound to at least find one spot that is breaking if no where else is, which makes Santa Monica a reliable surfing destination.


The beautiful blue water and skies make these beaches irresistible.

The fall is considered the best time of the year to go surfing wave-wise, although summer is a popular time because of the sunny weather.


You won’t get as many crowds during the fall though because school is in session and people aren’t usually taking vacations that time of the year.


The fall SW and WNW swells can end up pretty fun!


Santa Monica Surf Culture

Surf culture is exactly and you may imagine it here in southern California.


Yes, you cannot outrun the grump old locals who think they own the place, but there’s also many friendly faces who will welcome visitors with open arms.


The local people here are very close to each other and there are generational relationships that have thrived for a long time.


Be nice and respectful and you will be more than welcomed and may make some new connections.


Overall, Santa Monica is very beginner friendly as well, there are multiple surf lesson businesses and beginners are encouraged to learn the craft of surfing.




Gear Needed to Surf Santa Monica

During the fall season, you will need a 3/2 full suit until winter starts to roll around.


In between the transition from fall to winter, you may have to pair some booties with your suit until it gets too cold and then you will need booties, gloves and a 4/3 full suit during winter.


You may not need gloves during the winter, but if you are going to be surfing for long periods of time, you will be more comfortable with them.


When spring rolls around, all you will need is a 3/2 full suit.


During the summer, you really only need a spring suit or jacket. If the water gets warm enough, you might be able to pull out the board shorts and bikinis!


Regardless of season, you'll need to wear reef-safe sunscreen to avoid a sunburn.



The Top 5 Surf Spots in Santa Monica

Santa Monica Pier

The Santa Monica Pier is a great option for surfers of all skill levels.


With a mushy sandbar peak, depending on the swell, all sorts of waves may make an appearance here.


Definitely surf this spot early in the morning before the beach crowds make it.


This sand-bottom spot is consistent and best to surf during a WSW swell, NE winds and is best during low tide.


Bay St.

Bay Street is an extremely welcoming spot to surf in Santa Monica when it comes to the people and the parking.


This spot is great for all types of surfers including long boarders, short boarders, body boarders, and more.


Mid-tide pushing high is the best for surfing here because waves can get mushy, so a little push is nice.


Will Rogers State Beach

If you are looking for a spot with less of a crowd, Will Rogers State Beach is for you.


Although it is not as consistent as other spots, this one will have less people surfing here even when it gets good. For this sand-bottom spot, the best swell direction is SW whereas the best wind direction is NE.


Sunset Beach

For a fun, summer surf session, Sunset Beach offers a consistent sandbar break that is for all skill levels of surfers.


You will see mostly long boarders here because the spot doesn’t get very big.


This sandbar works well with a NE wind and SE swell. The spot is a little more of a drive from Santa Monica.


Venice Beach

Everyone from all types of surfing is welcomed here at Venice Beach.


The crowd isn’t too bad unless it is absolutely firing.


The spot has a record for close outs, but with the right tide, swell, and winds, Venice Beach can get pretty fun.


The best swell is SW where the best wind would be an east wind.

This sand bottom spot works well with mid-tide pushing high so that the mushy waves can get a little more of a push. The spot is a little more of a drive from Santa Monica.



What To Do in Santa Monica When Waves Are Flat

Santa Monica is one of the most walkable spots in southern California which allows you to be able to hop from one fun thing to the next.


The Santa Monica Pier is a popular spot for first-time visitors or local families and friends.


The Pacific Park on the Santa Monica Pier is an amusement park with ocean views!


Walk or skate around Palisades Park on a beautiful, sunny day.


There are also many accommodations here in Santa Monica due to the high hospitality ratings which makes this spot an easy travel destination!



Surfing in Santa Monica

You can have it all here in Santa Monica: surf, sunshine, and fun!

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