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Surf's up in California

Posted in DESTINATIONS By Maggie O' Sullivan

Governor of California Jerry Brown recently signed a new law making surfing the official sport of the Golden State. To mark the occasion the team at Visit California has put together a guide to the best places to ‘hang ten’ yourself or to sit back and watch the pros show has it's done. Courtesy SanDiego.org

The birthplace of mainland surfing in the US and home of surfing legend Jack O’Neill, Santa Cruz is a great place for first-timers. The best place to start is Cowell’s Beach which offers long, gentle waves. For those looking to catch the pros, there’s a spot about two miles up the coast where ocean swells pile up against an offshore reef, creating waves that can reach up to 80 feet. When that happens, a select group of 24 surfers is invited to take part in a competition. The start time is only announced 24 hours in advance so surfers (and onlookers) have to be ready to get up and go.Courtesy Annie Pearson/SanDiego.org

San Diego’s La Jolla beach is an ideal place to learn to ‘hang ten’ due to its calm to moderate waters. Surf Divas Surf School is a great place to start: it began as an all-girls surf school 22 years ago and provides year-round private and group lessons for all ages. San Diego's surf culture hosts competitions and events all summer, including dog surfing (yes, really) to raise funds for the San Diego Humane Society.Courtesy Mark Weber/ SantaBarbaraca.com

All surf lovers should know about Rincon Point in Santa Barbara, located off Highway 101 between La Conchita and Carpinteria. Surfers come here from around all around the world to catch a wave, especially the famous break known as The Queen of the Coast. Rincon Point is also a testing ground for surfboard technology with Santa Barbara’s most famous surfers and surfboard designers putting kit through its paces here.Huntington Beach, southeast of Los Angeles, is widely known as Surf City USA ® after the first surfer took to the waters at Huntington Beach pier over 100 years ago. It’s now widely recognised for its famous surf culture and lifestyle and hosts the Vans US Open, the world’s largest surf competition, every July.For surfing of a different kind try San Francisco where the Bay Area's breaking waves and uncrowded beaches (plus the iconic Golden Gate Bridge as a backdrop) make it an ideal destination for kite surfing. It's also incredibly clean thanks to the San Francisco Chapter, an organisation responsible for protecting the diverse coastline within San Francisco County, which finds creative ways to prevent plastic pollution from making it to the beach and ocean.With a coastline of more than 30 miles along the Pacific and Highway One, Malibu has achieved almost mythological status. Considered to have some of the most perfect waves, Malibu’s Surfrider Beach, just off the Malibu Pier, has been named the first World Surfing Reserve and nearby Zuma Beach is a sun magnet for locals and families. Check out the 30 historic surfboards on display at the Surf Museum at Pepperdine University’s Payson Library.

BY MAGGIE O'SULLIVAN

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