So here is a question we receive calls and emails about every single day: What is the best place to surf if its your FIRST TIME EVER. I'm afraid I can't speak for every break in the world (I wish I could) but this article is going to cover where the best places to surf are for your first time in Los Angeles County.
Before the list of better beaches begins lets just start this article by suggesting that if you want to take on surfing you should heavily consider taking your first lesson with an instructor. There is a multitude of reasons but here are the two biggest ones. First, surfing is hard. Its hard because it is a completely different experience from anything you've probably ever done. I don't know what kind of life you have had or where you're from but I can promise if you've never surfed you also probably haven't done anything similar to balancing on a piece of foam on a moving wave. Having an instructor show you how to float is worth its weight in gold. Secondly, surfing can be dangerous if you don't know what you are doing so why not save some time and potential injury and have someone show you what to look out for.
Now to the good stuff. Notice these beach listing are jam packed with links to photos and some cool things to check out in the area:
LOS ANGELES BEACHES - from 'best' to 'not so best'
1. Zuma Beach is a perfect spot for your first wave. Here's why. The water level is lower than most beaches so instead of putting yourself in the situation of having to paddle out into the deep to catch the wave, instead the waves break over shallow water. The waves that do break here are often smooth, small, and roll in a a slower speed providing more time to get to your feet and find the correct footing. I teach at Zuma several times a week and I would say I see pods (a group) of dolphins 80% of the time. They love it there.
2. Santa Monica Beach. This beach has a great wave for beginner surfers. Its gentle, mellow, the water level is shallower than most surfing locations and to top it all off it has a front row view of the incredible ferris wheel and carnival on the Santa Monica Pier. The only thing that could make this not the best is that the crowds in Santa Monica are very dense. It is now one of the most tourist visited locations in the united states and it can get a little tricky with crowded swimmers in-between the surfers trying to ride waves. I should also mention the City Of Santa Monica is know for nickel and dime-ing its residence at every turn so expect to pay at least $12 for parking if you want to be within walking distance to the water.
3. Sunset Beach. This spot is unusual to mention and if you have not been to Los Angeles long you've probably never even heard of it. That because its not by anything. Sunset beach straddles the Malibu and Santa Monica Border about 10 min north of the Santa Monica Pier. Its topography of the ocean floor reveals a rock-reef instead of the more usual sandy ocean floor. This rock bed extends about 200 yards out to sea where it drops into an underwater cliff. The swell rolls in hitting this cliff creating sizable but smooshie waves that any beginner can ride. You can almost feel the positive vibes radiating from the surfers on this break.
4. Venice Beach is another waves that makes the list. Smooth water, and unique community of artists and adventurers, and mellow waves will have you feeling satisfied along with the bragging rights of riding a wave most people have heard about.
5. Our final recommendation is Manhattan Beach. Its an amazing place to spend your entire day. The waves are a bit larger and pack more of a punch than the prior beaches listed but rest assured its not anymore than a beginner surfer can handle. Some of the best restaurants in LA are only a stones throw from the water. Great shopping and community. Best part of all is if you are visiting this fine city its the closest beginner waves to LAX Airport.