santa monica surfing

Surfing in Santa Monica

Santa Monica is an easy-breezy place to catch a wave. Discover an ocean of fun when you explore all things Santa Monica surf, from beach breaks to wet suits.

Visitors to Santa Monica often hear the sparkling Pacific calling to them once they take in the stunning ocean views. Seeing the Santa Monica Pier glittering in the distance while the light offshore winds tickle your skin is enough to make anyone want to try their hand at a surfing experience in Santa Monica.

Named the official state sport in 2018, Santa Monica surf culture has been around forever, and surfing has long been an iconic part of the California lifestyle. Catch waves and surfing events throughout the year and be sure to join locals every May for Santa Monica’s iconic Pier 360 event, showcasing classic surfing competitions and friendly TANDM surf races.

Santa Monica’s 3.5-mile stretch of beach uniquely situated just steps from many of the city’s hotels makes it an easy and accessible surfing spot for visitors. Newbies and advanced enthusiasts will find convenient, professionally run surf schools offering surf lessons in Santa Monica with an expert surfing instructor standing by to further their skills.

Man surfing a wave in the ocean
surfing santa monica
Tips for hanging ten

No Rules, Just Waves

“Surfing is different from other sports in that there are no written rules,” says Eric Gross, surfer and stand-up paddleboarder and shop manager at Poseidon Paddle & Surf. “You definitely want to get an instructor for your first time to learn not only how to surf, but also the do’s and don’ts of surf etiquette.”

He offers these tips for riding the Santa Monica surf:

  • Hit the ocean in the morning when winds are likely to be calm. Check the surf report and weather forecast before heading out.
  • To help maintain your balance on either type of board, keep your head up. “Look up, stay up,” Gross says. “Look down, fall down.”
  • On a paddleboard, “speed is your friend,” says Gross. “Like when you’re on a bicycle, the slower you go, the less stability you have.”

Seaside Smarts

Be sure to check water conditions and temperatures before diving in, as average ocean temperatures in Santa Monica range from 54°F – 61°F in early February to 63°F – 70°F in early September. If conditions are right, apply that sunscreen and look the part with a full-body wetsuit. Take two wheels instead of four to the beach and always remember to stay hydrated. When you’re ready for some food, fuel up at fan favorites Back on the Beach Café or Perry’s at the Beach, where you can nosh with your toes in the sand or enjoy one of Santa Monica’s many other beachside restaurants.

Man on Santa Monica Beach holding surfboard heading into the ocean
Outdoor dining in the sand at Santa Monica Beach; orange umbrellas providing shade to people sitting and eating

Surf Lessons in Santa Monica

If you’re looking for a surf shop near Santa Monica, look no further than these Los Angeles-area businesses. These local surf shops in Santa Monica provide gear rental and/or surf lessons.

Surf Rentals and Lessons


Discover Santa Monica

Explore itineraries, local tips, hot spots and curated adventures to make sure you get the most out of your Santa Monica experience.

View All Blogs