Surfing in Los Angeles: A Beginner’s Guide

Learn to Surf LA private surf lessons in Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Venice, Manhattan Beach, and Malibu

Surfing in Los Angeles: A Beginner’s Guide

Tips and Information on Surfing Near Los Angeles, California

Surfer riding wave in Santa Monica , California

Home to the Hollywood entertainment industry, Los Angeles, California is famous worldwide for its palm tree-lined streets, perfect weather, and countless attractions. Boasting nearly 300 days of sunshine each year, the warm Southern California weather attracts millions of residents and visitors to the beaches of Los Angeles and surrounding areas. Not surprisingly, this makes the Los Angeles area one of the most popular surfing destinations in the world.

With 70 miles of Pacific Ocean coastline, Los Angeles County hosts a number of well-known and not-so-well known surfing beaches. The local beaches of Santa Monica, Venice, and Manhattan Beach are popular among surfers of all levels while the cobblestone point breaks of Palos Verdes and Malibu are better suited for intermediate and advanced wave riders.



As a general rule, surfing in Southern California means surfing with crowds. Regardless of the time of day (or year), you can almost guarantee that you won’t be the only one in the water. That said, if you know where to go, you can still score fun, uncrowded waves during early mornings as well as weekday afternoons and evenings.


Despite sunshine and warm temperatures throughout the year, many beachgoers are surprised to find cloud cover and fog as they reach the coast. This cloudy marine layer is known locally as ‘June Gloom’ but can be present any time of year. This marine layer helps keep temperatures mild near the coast and usually burns off by the afternoon, giving way to sunny skies and ocean breezes.

Water Quality

While Southern California isn’t known for having a lot of rain, when it does, it is usually a good idea to stay out of the water for a couple days. Rain washes runoff and pollution from city streets into the gutters that drain into the ocean. While rain is most common during the winter, it is always a good idea to surf and swim away from storm drain outlets.  

Water Temperatures

Thanks to the California Current, water temperatures stay refreshingly cool year round. Coastal water temperatures in Santa Monica Bay range from a chilly 54 to 61°F (12 to 16°C) during the month of February and peak at around 70°F (21°C) in late August and early September. Most surfers wear some type of wetsuit year-round to stay warm in the water. These can be purchased or rented from any local surf shop and are also provided by surf schools for those who book private surf lessons.

Beach break wave


As with anywhere else in the world, the surf conditions around Los Angeles can change drastically from day to day or even hour to hour, so it is always a good idea to check the surf conditions and forecasts on websites like before hitting the waves. Many factors such as swell size, swell direction, tides, and wind affect surf conditions. Certain surf breaks are only surfable at particular tides, while others, such as the beaches of Venice, Santa Monica, and Manhattan Beach, can be fun on any tide. Many surfers try to get in the water early to enjoy smooth, glassy surf conditions before onshore winds pick up by the afternoon.

What You Should Know Before Surfing in Los Angeles

Regardless of where in the world you surf, it is always important to stay safe in the ocean by being aware of local surf conditions as well as following proper surf etiquette when sharing the waves with other surfers. Always surf near a lifeguard tower and never enter the ocean alone if you are not 100% comfortable in the surf.

If you are a surfing novice or unfamiliar with being in the ocean, it is highly recommended that you take a private surf lesson before venturing into the waves with a surfboard by yourself. Group surf lessons and one-on-one surf instruction are the perfect introduction to surfing and are a fun activity for individuals, couples, and families visiting the beach.

Surfing lesson Santa Monica, California

Surfing Lessons in Santa Monica and Venice Beach

Since 2002, Learn to Surf LA has helped thousands of people from around catch their first waves at Los Angeles-area beaches such as Santa Monica, Venice Beach, Manhattan Beach, and Malibu. Our team of knowledgeable and professional surf instructors ensures all students have a fun (and safe) time in the ocean. Private and group lessons for surfers of all ages and abilities can be booked online.     

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