OT: moving to LA... Santa Monica or Venice?

I know there are a lot of LA folks on the forum, so thought this would be a good place to ask the question. I’m going to be at UCLA for a one year program before heading back up to Santa Cruz. Venice is a bit further of a drive, but I’m thinking that the surf would be a little bit better if I’m going to hit up a quick dawn patrol before heading over to class. Honestly, I’ve never surfed LA before and have no idea.

Any input regarding the surf, or the commute from living at the beach to UCLA would be invaluable.

I did shape my last board with beach breaks in mind… so this is a little bit on topic :slight_smile:


Venice or Santa Monica would be your closest breaks. You can get to UCLA up Wilshire. Try to go early (or late) and avoid traffic.

In a nutshell:

In my opinion,Santa Monica beach is not really a surf spot. Used to be before they took out POP pier circa mid 70s. Venice is better, it has its days supposedly, but fickle. So you really have to travel either North or South of those areas to find reliable breaks and either N or S is a matter of preference and season. There are plenty of Southern California Surf Guides about. Its really necessary.

Yeah Pat, do Venice before S.M. for surf - Can you afford M-bu? Considering other commutes around L.A. Yours will be like “a walk in the park”.


; )



I’m a UCLA alum, and lived in Santa Monica and Venice at different points during my years there. SM is a nicer place to live overall IMO, but is a poor surf spot. Venice is nothing to write home about surfwise, but it is better than Santa Monica, and has more “local character” as a city.

Coming from SC, I think you’ll weep at what is considered a decent surf day in either city. Plan on driving a lot, surfing pathetic waves, or consider living far away from West LA if your school schedule and / or budget will permit it. Ventura, for example, is much less expensive, you can get to UCLA in about 80 minutes depending, and the surf is orders of magnitude better and more consistent. I never lived in Malibu, but I’ve heard there are not-too-expensive rentals available in the area, esp in the canyons nearby, which are being paved as fast as greed will permit.

Lastly, commuting from Santa Monica to UCLA is no slam dunk. It can easily take you 30-45 minutes to get to campus, because the traffic is so snarled. As was said, try to go early or late.



I never lived in Malibu, but I’ve heard there are not-too-expensive rentals available in the area, esp in the canyons nearby, which are being paved as fast as greed will permit.

Id say Venice would be best, you can easily get to South Bay, or go north to Malibu. Surfing in Venice you can be in class an hour after you get out of the water. Traffic between 8:30 and 10am isnt too bad from there to UCLA.

Santa Monica is closer to some nice spots just above Sunset Blvd. off PCH. Only about 15 minutes, maybe less depending on traffic.

UCLA Alumni

Go Bruins

you can also do something like culver city…not by the beach, but close enough to hit any where north or south

since your near the (405)freeway. SM and Venice pretty much suck. you ususally go to the southbay or malibu area depending on swell and season for “local” surfs. the slight “bonus” is you live equally as far(or close) from orange county and ventura county, which are super consistent if you have extra time for the drive. surfling in LA means DRIVING…ALOT.

good luck.

Hey Guys,

Thanks for all the responses. Since I’m going to be at the school at least 4 days a week, I need to be relatively close. I guess I still have this image of getting up in the morning, grabbing a quick surf, and heading off to the grind for 8 am classes. I know the situation at either beach will be nothing like the 1/2 mile bike ride to steamer lane. That’s why I’m going to try to get back to my adopted home as soon as possible :slight_smile: I don’t want to die, like afoaf has warned.

Sounds like venice might be best. My impression is that the spots up towards malibu, that I might hit up if I lived in santa monica, are mostly for longboards. Is that right? If I’m going to drive to surf, and then drive directly to class, it’s going to be shortboard only, and leave it in the car during the day. Not the best option, but hey, what are you going to do. That’s why my boards have vents, right?


there is some truth to what afoaf is saying… LA is eating away at my soul, thank god I only have 3 months left there.


Hey Pat, Venice is only about 12 miles to UCLA, Santa Monica maybe 10. Your best bet is to live as close to the beach as possible, surf, drop your board (and car) at home and get a good bike for getting to class. Between 8 & 10 am a bike will be way faster over those 12 miles than a car. Its very flat. You’d need more than a Lane Cruiser, but not much more.

Even a scooter if you’re prone to running late, but I don’t think you are. :wink:

And if you’re doing grad work in Med / Dental, many of the hospitals & clinics are actually out in Santa Monica so you might not have to worry about getting over to Wilshire & 405 all that often anyway…

I wont disagree


I live basically a stone’s throw from Santa Monica and Venice up PCH a short ways. Topanga State Beach is a block from my house.

Santa Monica has no surf except on the rarest of days. Years ago I bothered to surf there one time, when there was actually some surf and I lived three blocks from the water. Never bothered with it again.

If you want to live within walking distance of a surf in the morning and be in that area, then Venice is basically your only option. Otherwise, you are talking a 10 minute drive for the dawn patrol between the piers in Santa Monica and Venice, so you could live in either area.

If you want to stay out of the traffic grind and still get to UCLA for the 8am, then Venice is it. It’ll be the most consistent spot in the area, which isn’t saying much. If you want to deal with traffic, the next option further south is Manhattan Beach/El Porto, but then you’ve got a 45 minute to an hour commute.

Going to the north, options are limited as well. You’ve got Sunset (which is a kook beginner spot) and Topanga. Any further north and you are going to have trouble getting in a surf and getting to class on time, especially in the winter with the late rising Mr. Sun.

Any more questions, send me a PM.

i would base all livng arrangements on the info in the cheap eats section of this webSite: www.LATaco.com

Seriously- we know Pat and he is a wonderful person- someone here should rent their granny unit or studio to him.

try this: http://www.lataco.com/tag/cheap-eats