If you ask anyone the around what the defining sport in California is, they’ll tell you it’s surfing. And the craze for wave riding began in Los Angeles. The mystical athletic endeavor stars in movies and TV shows, yet it’s something lots of folks can learn to do. Whether you’ve been riding waves for decades or you’ve never before touched a surfboard, going surfing will add a touch of real California culture to your L.A. visit.
You’ll find a fabulous array of surf breaks in the L.A. area, with waves of all sizes beckoning to riders of every ability level. Most folks come out to the beach at Venice to check out the zoolike boardwalk, but you can ride the waves here on the lifeguard-protected beach too. A great break for all levels, the breakwater at Venice Beach is a favorite spot for locals.
If you’ve never surfed before, your best bet is to sign up for a lesson (or two) with a reputable surf school. Most schools can get you standing up on your longboard on the very first lesson!
One of these, Learn to Surf LA (641 Westminster Ave., #5, Venice, 310/663-2479, www.learntosurfla.com, $60–120), operates on Venice Beach. You can take a private lesson, a semi-private lesson with friends, or join a regularly scheduled group. Each lesson lasts almost two hours and includes all equipment (you’ll get a full wetsuit in addition to a board), shore instruction and practice, and plenty of time in the water.
No, the brightly colored foam longboards you’ll learn on aren’t the coolest or most stylish, but they’re perfect for new surfers looking for a stable ride on smaller waves.
Learn to Surf LA offers lessons for both kids and adults-, and this can be a great activity for the whole family to tackle together. Intermediate and advanced surfers can also find great fun with this school, which has advanced instructors capable of helping you improve your skills.
© Liz Hamill Scott from Moon California, 2nd Edition