Surfing California


I’ve got a job over in CA in the summer and after am traveling up the coast from LA to San Francisco by bike with a mate, has anyone done this is it possible to surf your way up the coast? This is going to be in sept and Oct i was wondering what thickness wetsuit i will need? I have had a look around and some people have mentioned 3/2mm but i know there are a shed load of CA guys here so i thought i would just ask you.

Also the job i have is on the Catalina Islands and i have heard a couple of places on the web that there is no surf breaks! is this true could someone set the record straight?

Thanks alot and Swaylocks helps me get through the winter here in England cold and rainy.


Catalina / waves and sharks. Seals too, someone might pipe in soon.

Good surf and weather months in CA, that will be an epic bike ride. You can get several “Surfing in CA” books online that will tell you the main spots and what ocean/weather conditions to expect. Most people north of Pt. Conception will wear a 4/3 year round, add booties and hood after November, all depends on how you deal with cold water.

Catalina - never been there, but I’m guessing you should take a board or two.

Most of the surf spots on catalina are on private property but you can sneak and it depends on the swell. I am doing a bikeride/surftrip from vancouver island to SD in a year hopefully most of the cali coast is on 101. you should be fine just rig a way to lock your shit up. and bring it to the beach with you so you can keep an eye on it.

IMO, get dropped off with all of your gear near The Queen just in case an early swell comes through. You didn’t say where you were starting from but I don’t see the sense in starting in LA, you will have enough chances of being splattered on the way up.

You will have it tough no matter, the bike route is designed for the North to South tourer and you will be riding against the prevailing winds especially North of Sur.

I have done Central Oregon Coast to Santa Cruz twice with a board/suit, using my 8’4" as the ‘chassis’ for my pack trailer.

You could use a 3/2 all the up at that tme of year but a 4/3 would be a safer bet.

Drop me a line when you are coming through Malibu. I can show you a few spots that are pretty hidden to get away from the crowd.

In the 70’s I biked from Laguna Bch to Monterey, three days. With a board and taking your time to surf it’ll be more like a week (7 days). San Francisco is another 100 miles north of Monterey. That will be a FUN trip!

I use a 5,4,3 November to April or when ever the ocean temp is below 55 degrees. I usually use a 3/2 for the rest of the time.

When your near Monterey give me a call/e-mail.


I offer a place to pitch your tent, or use our bunk house, a hot shower and a hot meal for any of you guys travelling by bike up/down Highway 1 in Northern CA. I am only 1.8 miles inland from Fort Bragg. I can also ofer you any ding repairs you may have collected along the way!

Come stay at Fatty’s.

OP is coming from England. In other words, it is cold there. I would say September October, a 3/2 plus some booties and maybe a hood should do you fine. If you get cold easily, 4/3, but you might find that it is too warm a lot of the time.

Catalina does have waves, but the previous deterrants (sharks, private property) definitely apply. That’ll be a fun trip, hopefully you’ll get alot of combo swells and offshore winds. Fall is my favorite time of the year in California. Good luck.

I was just thinking… that’s just about the time that we have our California Swayloholics get-together!

Hopefully the timing will be right and you can join us!!!


When you get to Ventura county Mcgrath and Ema Wood over flow are both good spots for bicycle camping, with plenty of surf spots close by. A 3/2 full suit would be ok, but if your used to cold weather you might want to bring a spring suit . The number for Mcgrath is (805)968-1033 .

I surf mostly in Santa Cruz which is near the North extent of your trip so I can’t say much from personal experience North of SF. September and october are some of the best surfing months here. Still possible to get a southern hemi swell and it is the start of the Northern hemi season. Weather can be spectacular with lower chance of coastal marine layer than June/july and still very little chance of rain. September/october have the best chances for strong offshore winds whether you like them or not. Most days will still be calm in the morning with onshore winds in the afternoons. South facing places like Santa Cruz are more sheltered from these winds than West/Northwest exposures. Either a 3/2 or 4/3 is fine. I use a 4/3 most of the time. The 3/2 is fine that time of year unless it is windy and/or cloudy. My feet are almost always the first thing to go when the water is colder so at least for me, the booty choice is more important that the wetsuit. I am not a wetsuit minimalist so if i had to bring one wetsuit, I would bring the 4/3 and 5mm booties. Case in point: I went to Morocco last week where a 3/2 is recommmended. I brought my 4/3. It was little warm on sunny days but we had some bad weather (wind and rain) and others were jealous of my 4/3.

Wow that sounds so fun. There are tons of spots to explore but to get from the 1 to the coast, especially after pt. conception, can take time in a lot of places.

All Calif. campsites offer free camping to cyclists, even if they’re otherwise full.

Just bring a 4/3 and booties. You’ll be fine. If you’re using a BOB trailer, you can add a lockable box to those pretty easily but you’ll be tight for space.

I’m sure you’ll hear this again: Just be careful. People drive crazy. Around Guadalupe it’ll be truckers. North of SLO it’ll be the midlife-crisis Vette hitting turns at 70 mph. Be off the road well before sundown.

And above all, post pics when you’re done!


Thanks everyone for the response. Thanks for all the offers of showing us around your local break, don’t be surprised if you get an email in Sept or Oct… ha. All encouraging news i am really looking forward to it just have to get my self through my dissertation and exams then pure freedom and surf the perfect life.

Hope i’m around for the swaylock get together would be awesome to have a surf with you guys and see some crazy sticks.

Don’t wanna sound rude but if you live on the coast from LA to SF and you wouldn’t mind a couple of English guys kipping in your yard then that would be awesome.




I’ve got a job over in CA in the summer and after am traveling up the coast from LA to San Francisco by bike with a mate,

Call in for a report anytime.


**Google **California state parks.

You might want to hitch a ride between Pacific Palisades and Down-Town Malibu. A swaylocker with a pick-up truck would be nice. Only one road and you’ll be 6 inches from rushing traffic. North of Malibu it gets a lot friendlier. You’ll find campgrounds on the beach all along the coast. The first one north of Malibu is at Leo Carillo. Nice surfspot too. Also look up county parks (Santa Barbara County, Ventura County, Los Angeles County). Check out Jalama! It’s a 15 mile winding ride each way through the hills off the highway, but if its working it will be well worth it. The recorded information number (805) 736-6316 with a surf report that might save you a detour.

Plenty of great surf awaits you…3/2 is okay, but the further north you go the more you’ll be begging for thicker.

You’ll have a great time.

I live in Solvang, and the Tour of California Time Trials are this Friday…go team Astana! Lance looks as good as ever!!

Having lifeguarded Catalina for many years in the past, I can tell you it does get surf. Problem is… only a small amount of registered vehicles are alowed on the island, permits required even to take a mountain bike into the interior to get to the other side. Your options are limited to making friends with the locals or renting a boat to take to the other side. Ben Westin or Shark Harbour can produce some pretty fun waves.

Good Luck

I agree…Jalama would stoke you out, plus yo camp there on a first come first served basis. And if you aren’t a vegetarian, you will love the world famous Jalama burgers. Story goes that Ray Krok asked them for their secret sauce recipe.

Catalina sounds like you should just be a tourist and not even bother trying to surf there…the Channel Islands are full of awesome waves (I’ll include a link that shows you an empty barrel that we stopped diving abs and went out instead). But you would need to connect with someone that has a boat.

As you head north of Santa Barbara take Hwy 1…surf, surf and more surf as you hit the Five Cities of Nipomo, Pismo, Shell Beach, Los Osos…Hazard’s, St. Anne’s, and a host of secret spots…Pico Creek, Sand Dollar, Big and Little Sur…at the north end one of my all time faves that shall remain unnamed…a left with a fresh water rinse off nearby that pumps a perfect left on any given day.

Beyond Big Sur you get Marina…can be sharky like a lot of Monterrey area, great wave though and challenging current ripping thru most the time. Carmel, colder than Santa Cruz bay, but some honest gnarly waves…then Santa Cruz with great consistent surf…a plethora of great waves like Pleasures & Little Windnsea, Stockton, he Slot, The Hook, Rivermouth, New Brighton (on just the right swell) Manresa (more south of town along with the endangered Moss Landing). 3 and 4 mile, Ano…on and on and on…be nice in SC and display a classic set of wave manners.

A ton of surf in the north…all groundswell, and the cold will wake you up! Esp. The Zoo or Gate in SF.

Your trip sounds epic- make sure you document it! I’d love to hear how its going/ turns out

Make sure you stop through Huntington Beach!! Waves should be pretty bomb.

peace my friend.


love your girl shapers