Yesterday morning was what summer is supposed to be—raging south swell, south current, warm water and fun waves (with some pesky onshore wind). Sometimes with June Gloom in Southern California you forget that summer is supposed to be warm and sunny.
The south swell didn’t last long. Early Tuesday morning south swell sets were booming. By mid-morning Tuesday a northwest wind swell was working its way into the lineup. This morning the waves were rights and the current was north to south, dropping water temperatures five to six degrees.
In all my years in the water, I'm not sure if I have ever seen such a dramatic and complete change in swell direction in such a short period of time.
Since we had cold water over the past two summers due to an extended La Niña, I am looking forward to warmer ocean temperatures this summer and actually having a real summer. I love south swells and the excitement they bring.
For me, every swell is a historic event that is lodged into our collective memory banks. I have vivid memories of surfing my first Chubasco swell back in 1978 with 6-8’ lefts booming off the Imperial Beach Pier and surfing with the legendary Hulk.
This was back before surf forecasting, so my grom friends and I showed up for our usual dawn patrol and were blown away by the size, speed and Indo-like barrels roping off of the Imperial Beach Pier (Hurricane Norman produced some of the best south swell waves ever in Southern California).
Summer is beach and family time. Summer is time to surf, explore the coast, swim, bodysurf, and celebrate our communion with the ocean.
Here are some places and things to do this summer to make it a season worthy of remembrance.
Swim with Leopard Sharks: La Jolla Shores is arguably the best place to see and swim with docile schools of friendly and harmless leopard sharks. Little is known about these unusual sharks except for the fact that they find a safe haven in La Jolla’s warm and tranquil waters before they swim south to Mexico and north beyond Orange County.
Relive California’s Golden Age: Crystal Cove State Park is a step back in time to an era when California families congregated on unspoiled beaches and spent balmy nights in cool little cabins. Located on the northern edge of Laguna Beach, Crystal Cove is a great place for family reunions, surfing, tide pooling and taking in a seaside gourmet meal.
Surf Trestles and San Onofre: Sure the lineup here is crowded. But the waves are awesome, there are lots of smiles, and it is still one of the prettiest and coolest state parks on the planet. Take the groms to surf Lowers or Uppers and to see some of the world’s best surfers taking our sport to new heights. Or take your longboard to Church’s and San Onofre for mellow noseriding and a beach barbecue.
Visit the Sierra Nevadas: This isn't a beach activity, but it is a fact that the Sierra Nevada is one of the most beautiful and iconic mountain ranges in the world. The towering Sequoias provide a refuge for urban visitors and wildlife that are really only a few hours from the sweltering suburbs of Southern California. I’m always shocked by the number of surfers who don’t take the time to visit our beautiful natural attraction and the Sierras which includes Kings Canyon and Yosemite National Park.
Bodysurf: For some reason, bodysurfing has become a cool and trendy sport. Of course real bodysurfers know they are about the least trendy and or cool people anywhere. But they are experts at feeling the incredible glide and power of the ocean that bodysurfing permits. So grab a pair of fins and head to the beach and feel the glide. If you are a novice by all means avoid the Wedge. But if you find yourself in Newport Beach during a big south swell, check out the best show in Southern California.
Family Beach Time: For those of us raised in Southern California our memories are chock full of beach scenes—mom drying us off after a cold plunge into the Pacific, setting up our tents with dad at a coastal state park campground, and sipping hot cocoa and singing songs around a beachside campfire. We are lucky to be blessed with hundreds of miles of coastline that are free to use, ours to enjoy, and our responsibility to take are of. So don’t wait—make our coast your priority this summer and all year-round.
I will be taking a break for the rest of June and look forward to reporting on summer swells and more adventures when I return. And thanks to all of you who made the 1st Annual WilLDCOAST Baja Bash a raging success!
Serge Dedina is the Executive Director of WiLDCOAST, an international conservation team that conserves coastal and marine ecosystems and wildlife. He is the author of Wild Sea: Eco-Wars and Surf Stories from the Coast of the Californias.