How many surf spots are there in So Cal?
Hundreds? Thousands? 100 Billion? I suck at math, so for the sake of brevity, let’s just guesstimate that number at around “a lot.”
Anyway, so I was little aggravated when I overheard some surfer at a party (yes, I was bored, so I listened in to his conversation… don’t judge) brag to this unfortunately naïve girl that he had surfed most of the surf spots in So Cal. Hmm… and the word of the day is: LIAR!
No, there is no way, that he (nor any other surfer on earth) has surfed every surf spot in Southern California. It’s impossible! Even if Kelly Slater was granted the powers of the Lord Almighty (and honestly, it could happen… he’s won 11 world titles), I don’t even think he’d be able to do it. You know why?
Because there are tons of So Cal breaks that most people just don’t surf. Yes, there are waves at said breaks, but the majority of So Cal surfers (save for a few certifiable lunatics) don’t ever go near them. Oh, and for good reasons too.
So, on that note, here are five surf spots in Southern California that most surfers will never, ever surf.
5) Shit Pipe (near LAX)
The name says it all. This little gem is next to the Hyperion Water Treatment Plant—so yes, if you surf this spot you’re surfing in the collective waste of the entire city of Los Angeles. Do you remember the guy in Robocop that crashed his van into the tank of toxic goo and turned into a melting, mutant rat/fish monster? Well, I’m not saying that’s exactly what will happen if you paddle out here… but let’s just say no amount of Purell could ever disinfect you. To make matters worse, the take off spot at Shit Pipe is actually on top of, well, the shit pipe. The peak breaks on the Hyperion sewer pipe, which is often partly exposed during low tide—its barnacle-covered, rusty exterior makes for a rather painful wipe out. Okay, the surf can occasionally get good here, and on a positive note, since you’re so close to LAX, you can watch planes take off. Plus, the noise from the jets should be enough to distract you from the fact that your wetsuit is probably melting off.
4) Lunada Bay (Palos Verdes)
Lunada Bay is nasty. Not in a Shit Pipe sort of way mind you, but more so in an assault-and-battery-maximum-prison sort of way. You see… Luanda bay is LA’s only true big wave surf spot. Mr. Greg Noll himself swears that he’s seen Lunada break at a legitimate, Hawaiian-style 20 feet. Sounds incredible, right? Yeah, it’s truly incredible… and that’s why the so-called “Bay Boys” gang has sworn to keep all non-local surfers out. Trying to sneak into Lunada for a quick session is like trying to sneak past a pack of sleeping Irish Wolfhounds while wearing pants made from bacon and beef tartar—no matter what you do, you’re going to get your ass ripped to shreds. Things have kind of calmed down a bit since a number of the Bay Boys were slapped with assault charges back in the 90s, but localism is still alive and well at Lunada Bay. The wave is also kinda tricky too; back in the 1960s, a freighter named The Dominator ran aground here. The surf was so gnarly, that the crew had no choice but to abandon ship. Several barges were sent to retrieve the ship’s cargo, but they also sank. The ship can still be seen to this day, lying in rusty pieces, abandoned like the hopes of all non-locals who have fallen victim to the ill wills of the infamous Bay Boys. Basically, unless you’re looking for a Castaway/Goodfellas sort of experience, stay away from Lunada Bay.
3) The Wedge (Newport Beach)
If the Wedge were a person, it’d probably be a psychopathic murder with a penchant for snapping people in half. The Wedge breaks off of the west jetty of the Corona del Mar Harbor, and it’s actually a combination of two waves. The jetty is angled in such a way that it has the ability to refract large south swells into a cross-peak that churns out extremely powerful (and dangerous) doubled-up waves. A wave can start out as a 2-foot, knee-slapper at the end of they jetty, and can remarkably be transformed into a 15-foot monstrosity with the power of cleaving boards, people and egos in twain. Only a handful of people surf the Wedge on a regular basis (but they’re usually pros that are borderline certifiable). Moreover, here’s a memorable quote from Surfer Magazine’s Guide to Southern California Surf Spots: “Wedge is definitely a Quentin Tarantino kind of place. For example: the Winnebago Day. A thief was chased to the beach in a stolen Winnebago. The RV bogged in the sand and the thief was killed in a gunfight with the cops. Years ago, a fisherman was walking on the jetty and was killed by lightning. There was a suicide by nail gun some time ago…. The last suicide was a young guy in choir robes who draped himself in chains one predawn morning, walked into the surf, and drowned.”
2) Vandenberg Air Force Base (north of Point Conception)
One of the few pics of Vandenberg AFB
Have you ever wondered what the inside of Guantanamo Bay looks like? Curious to see how’d you look in orange fatigues? Well, just try surfing at VAFB, and you’ll be shipped over to GITMO faster than you can say, “cavity search.” Surfer Mag noted that the government wouldn’t even allow Kenneth Adelman to photograph the surf in the area for his www.californiacoastline.org project, so no one but the military knows what the waves are like at VAFB. Other So Cal military bases, like Pt. Mugu and Camp Pendleton, have been surfed before, but this particular base has remained completely off-limits. On a side note, the base actually has its own $3.2 billion shuttle launch pad. I can see it now: SURFERS IN SPACE! Eat your heart out, Mel Brooks.
1) Cortes Bank (115 miles west of San Diego)
What was once a navigational hazard is now one of the most famous big-wave surf spots in the world. Ships have been avoiding Cortes Bank for centuries—Spanish explorers wrecked a few ships here, and in 1985, the skipper of the aircraft carrier the USS Enterprise lost his command when he accidentally hit reef. It can easily hit 80 feet here, and only world-class big-waves surfers (like Mike Parsons or Peter Mel) are skilled enough to handles the waves at Cortes Bank. Furthermore, it’s one of the few spots on the planet that’s capable of producing the highly coveted (but so far elusive) 100-foot wave. With all that said, the only way to get to Cortes Bank is via boat or helicopter, and wiping out means swimming with the fishes—as in big, toothy and very hungry fishes. Only a small handful of surfers have ever surfed Cortes Bank.
So there you have it, five So Cal surf spots that most surfers will never surf in their lifetime. I made my point, and now I desperately want to surf each one of these spots. Oops. Who wants to come with me? Anyone?