I paddled out this morning at around 8 a.m.
From the end of Elm Avenue the surf looked fun. After watching a glassy and clean 3’ set roll in next to the pier with left and right corners, I put on my wetsuit and grabbed my board.
Unfortunately it was one of those days in which it looked much better than it was. After catching a few waves on the north and south sides of the pier I caught a wave in.
The surf was horrible.
Sometimes spring can bring consistent and surfable waves up and down the beach that break all day. A plethora of wind swells, mixed swells, combo swells, southern hemi swells and the last remnants of northwest groundswells can come together to create A-frames up and down the beach.
Add southerly and northerly sideshore winds and you have the classic springtime surf scenario.
Unfortunately the lack of any large swells this winter has meant that the bottom along the beach is almost uniformly flat. That is not a good sign for the south swell season. No inshore holes can mean long lines and closeouts.
The only good news is that the water is warm. It has been close to two years since we’ve experienced water in the normal range. With temperatures hovering in the low 60s’, it is time to dust off the springsuit or short-arm fullsuit.
So while Southern California can be so-so in the spring, destinations to the south, in the southern hemisphere and across the globe, are receiving lots and lots of southern ground swells.
So get out the map and plan a trip to either a warm water or cold-water summer surf destination.
Your best bets for the south swell season include:
Baja: South of the Border vets know that early season southern hemis consistently pound the East Cape and places like Scorpion Bay and Punta Abreojos.
Mainland Mexico: If you like long lefts, head to Sinaloa and northern Guerrero. If you are into getting giant barrels, surf either Pascuales or Puerto Escondido. The rivermouths of Michoacan provide cobblestone rivermouths like La Ticla and Nexpa, but Narco-violence can make travel there sketchy.
Indonesia: Perfect waves, tropical waters and non-stop surf. What more do you need?
Hawaii: Warm water, lots of surf and Aloha. We’re heading to Kauai and the South Shore of Oahu in August. For me, even the leftover waves in the Islands are fun.
Australia and New Zealand: If you want rugged coastlines, friendly people, insane waves of every variety and tons of wildlife and national parks then head Down Under.
South Africa: This is arguably the coolest surf destination on the planet. Where else can you see elephants, lions, wildebeests and surf J-Bay.
So get off the couch and start learning why there is nothing better than spending a few days or weeks surfing perfect waves somewhere on a coast that is not your own.
Serge Dedina is the Executive Director of and the author of Wild Sea: Eco-Wars and Surf Stories from the Coast of the Californias.