top of page

Cowabunga! Hang Ten at the Best Surfing Breaks in Santa Barbara

Introduction to Santa Barbara's surfing scene

Surf's up in Santa Barbara! Nestled on the stunning California coast, this city boasts some of the best surfing breaks in the world. Whether you're a seasoned pro or a beginner eager to catch your first wave, Santa Barbara has something for everyone. With its consistent swells, sunny weather, and breathtaking scenery, it's no wonder that surfers from around the globe flock to this surfers' paradise.

Surfing in santa barbara

Types of waves and surfing breaks in Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara's diverse coastline offers a variety of waves to suit every surfer's preference. From gentle, rolling waves perfect for beginners to powerful, barreling waves that challenge even the most experienced riders, you'll find it all here. The type of wave you'll encounter depends on the specific surfing break you choose.

easy surf break santa barbara

Best surfing breaks in Santa Barbara - Rincon Point, Campus Point, Mesa Lane and Leadbetter Beach

Rincon Point

Rincon Point, also known as the "Queen of the Coast," is a legendary surf spot that consistently delivers world-class waves. Located just south of Santa Barbara, Rincon Point is famous for its long, peeling right-handers which can provide rides that seem to go on forever. Whether you're a longboarder or a shortboarder, the waves at Rincon Point will leave you stoked and wanting more.

Campus Point

If you're looking for a surf break that's perfect for beginners, look no further than Campus Point. Situated near the University of California, Santa Barbara, this mellow beach break offers smaller, forgiving waves that are ideal for learning the ropes. With its sandy bottom and gentle swells, Campus Point is also a popular spot for longboarding enthusiasts.

Mesa lane

If you're looking for a local's spot and don't mind the workout walking your gear back up Mesa Lane Steps (240ish of them), this is a great low key location to hit the waves. Just as the name implies, this spot is located on the Mesa at the end of Mesa Lane and you can park in the neighborhood.

Leadbetter Beach

Leadbetter Beach, located in the heart of Santa Barbara, is a vibrant surf spot that caters to surfers of all skill levels. Whether you're a beginner looking to catch your first wave or an experienced rider seeking a challenge, Leadbetter Beach has you covered. With its consistent waves and stunning views of the Santa Ynez Mountains, this beach break is a must-visit for any surfer in Santa Barbara.

Surfing equipment and gear for Santa Barbara's waves

Before you hit the waves in Santa Barbara, it's essential to have the right equipment and gear. Here's a list of what you'll need to make the most of your surfing experience:

  1. Surfboard: Choose a surfboard that matches your skill level and the type of waves you'll be riding. Longboards are great for beginners, while shortboards are better suited for more advanced riders.

  2. Wetsuit: The water in Santa Barbara can be chilly, so a wetsuit is necessary to keep you warm and comfortable while surfing. Opt for a wetsuit with the appropriate thickness for the season. Average annual water temperature on the coast in Santa Barbara is 59°F, by the seasons: in winter 57°F, in spring 56°F, in summer 62°F, in autumn 62°F. Minimum water temperature (52°F) in Santa Barbara it happens in March, maximum (66°F) in August.

  3. Leash: A leash connects your surfboard to your ankle, ensuring that you won't lose your board if you wipe out. It's an essential safety precaution that every surfer should take.

  4. Wax: Applying wax to your surfboard gives you better traction and grip, allowing you to maintain control while riding the waves. Make sure to choose the right type of wax for the water temperature.

  5. Sunscreen: Protect your skin from the sun's harmful rays by applying a waterproof sunscreen with a high SPF. Remember to reapply frequently, especially if you're spending long hours in the water.

surf equipment santa barbara

Surfing etiquette and safety tips in Santa Barbara

As with any sport, surfing has its own set of etiquette and safety guidelines that every surfer should follow. Here are some essential tips to ensure a positive and safe surfing experience in Santa Barbara:

  1. Respect other surfers: Santa Barbara has a vibrant surfing community, and it's important to show respect. Observe the lineup and wait your turn to catch a wave.

  2. Know your limits: Be honest with yourself about your skill level and only take on waves that you can handle. Trying to surf waves that are too advanced for your abilities can result in accidents and injuries.

  3. Stay aware of your surroundings: Always be mindful of other surfers and any potential hazards in the water. Look out for rocks, reefs, and other obstacles that may pose a danger.

  4. Communicate and signal: Use hand signals and verbal communication to let other surfers know your intentions. This helps avoid collisions and ensures everyone's safety.

  5. Be a good ocean steward: Respect the environment by not littering and picking up any trash you come across. Avoid disturbing marine life and be mindful of the impact your surfing activities may have on the ecosystem.

  6. Reconsider surfing right after a big storm when runoff can cause water quality to decrease.

Surfing competitions and events in Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara's vibrant surfing community comes alive with various competitions and events throughout the year. From amateur contests to professional showcases, there's always something exciting happening in the local surf scene. Keep an eye on the local surf shops and online community forums to stay updated on upcoming events and opportunities to showcase your skills. The Rincon Classic is one of the most popular contests near Santa Barbara.

Surfing lessons and surf schools in Santa Barbara

If you're new to surfing or looking to improve your skills, Santa Barbara offers a range of surf schools and lessons to get you started. Experienced instructors will guide you through the basics, teaching you proper technique, ocean awareness, and safety protocols. Whether you prefer private lessons or group sessions, these surf schools ensure a safe and enjoyable learning environment for surfers of all ages. Did you know that Santa Barbara City College offers classes in Surfing just across the street from the school at Leadbetter Beach.

Surfing communities and organizations in Santa Barbara

Surfing is more than just a sport in Santa Barbara; it's a way of life. The city is home to several surfing communities and organizations that promote the sport and foster a sense of camaraderie among surfers. These communities organize beach cleanups, surfing events, and social gatherings, providing an opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals who share your passion for riding the waves. Checkout the Surfrider Community.

Other water sports and activities in Santa Barbara

While surfing may be the highlight of your trip to Santa Barbara, the city offers a multitude of other water sports and activities to keep you entertained. From paddleboarding and kayaking to sailing and boating, there's no shortage of aquatic adventures to embark upon. Soak up the sun, explore the stunning coastline, and make the most of your time in this water lover's paradise.

parasailing santa barbara

Final thoughts on surfing in Santa Barbara

Surfing in Santa Barbara is a dream come true for any wave enthusiast. With its incredible surf breaks, beautiful beaches, and thriving surf culture, Santa Barbara offers an unforgettable experience for surfers of all levels. Whether you're a beginner catching your first wave or a seasoned pro seeking the ultimate adrenaline rush, Santa Barbara's surf scene has it all. So grab your board, hit the waves, and prepare for an epic surfing adventure. For current surf and tidal conditions click here.


bottom of page