When the Swell Isn't So Swell

WORDS & PHOTOS BY: TAYLOR KEMPKES

Just because the word “beach” is in our city’s name doesn’t mean Long Beach is filled with spectacular waves. This is especially true if you are interested in surfing; you’ll definitely need to look elsewhere. Since the 1940’s when the breakwater was built to protect the Long Beach ports, little swell, if any, makes it to our beaches.

Even if Long Beach itself isn’t home to much surf, you don’t have to look far to find decent waves in Southern California. Here are a few spots south of Long Beach you might want to check out. 

Seal Beach

 

Seal Beach is right around the corner, only a few miles south of CSULB. When the Tropical Storm Lowell swept through Mexico, Southern California experienced some of the largest waves it’s seen in years. With the largest waves approaching double-overhead, only a few brave souls endured the huge waves and stormy conditions. During more modest swells, good waves can be found on both the right and left sides of the pier. 

 

Huntington Beach

 

Huntington Beach aka “Surf City,” is home of the most consistent surf in Southern California. Its beaches pick up swell year around and when the wind and waves align just right, the outcome can be epic. This lone surfer scored the wave of his life with no one around to contend. 

 

Newport Beach

 

Newport, and more specifically 56th Street, is another great spot to check depending on the swell. Pictured here is Newport at its best, but even mediocre days can be fun. Short-boarders from all over swear by the fast, racy waves found between Newport’s jetties.

 

Laguna Beach

 

If you know where to look, Laguna Beach, yes Laguna Beach, even has good waves to offer. Thalia Street is a local favorite. During the summer months, the waves of Thalia are littered with surfers young and old enjoying the warm water and mellow waves. During the fall and winter months when the kids are back in school, Thalia can pick up slightly larger swells and yield fun waves without the crowds found at more traditional surf spots such as Huntington and Newport.

 

Dana Point

 

Finally, Dana Point is home to home to a great surf spot known as Salt Creek.  Pictured here is Creek on an average swell—decent size and clean conditions make for some fun waves. During the summer months, the south end of Creek produces point-break lefts which turn into hollow, glassy blue barrels on the inside.