The Ultimate Guide to Surfing in Huntington Beach

The Ultimate Guide To Surfing In Huntington Beach

Huntington Beach, CA, is one of the most popular locations for surfing in the United States. It is a top surfing location globally, home to many top surfers, including Duke Kahanamoku.

In addition, the beach is known for its consistent waves, even in the winter season. It is located in Orange County, home to several other popular surfing locations.

The Ultimate Guide to Surfing in Huntington Beach

The Huntington Beach pier is located on the south end of the beach and has been a landmark for surfing here since 1914. There are breaks on either side, which lend themselves to zooming into shore.

The pier is 1250 feet long and has a restaurant, shops, and even a surfing museum!

Huntington Beach is also home to the Surf City USA festival. This festival is held the weekend before the Super Bowl and includes professional surfers performing stunts and competitions.

So if you love watching experts at their surfing craft do their thing, we recommend heading to this event! You’ll be able to witness some genuinely stunning wave carving during this festival and may even pick up a few tricks yourself.

Places To Surf In Huntington Beach

Newport Beach 

The waves at Newport beach tend to be a bit less high than in Huntington Beach, which means it’s an accessible spot for beginner surfers. Also, this place is on the Balboa Peninsula, which means it has excellent waves from the south.

The benefit to visiting this beach is that it suits surfers with all skill sets, so you’re likely to be comfortable here.

The Ultimate Guide to Surfing in Huntington Beach (1)

If you belong to a friendship group with beginner and professional surfers, you can all have fun at Newport Beach. A great thing about this place is that it’s less crowded than the surfing near the Huntington pier, so you’re more likely to have a smooth ride into the beach.

However, the breaks are less consistent, so you might find yourself bobbing on your board without catching anything on a down day.

Huntington Pier On The Northside

The Huntington Pier on the Northside suits those visiting the area to surf in the summer months. This is because the currents often run in a South Westerly direction, which means the waves are reliable and take a reasonably short formation. 

If you’re a short boarder, you’ll be in good company here as there’s many surfers with these boards who want to quickly come into the shore. Sandbanks here cause the water above to form curving waves, which crash down on both sides.  

Suppose you want to find a quiet spot without many other surfers around. In that case, we recommend going elsewhere because the place is often crowded.

However, with so many people enjoying this sport in one place, you’re likely to make friends.

Also, nearer to the pier supports the waves get less powerful, so it can be an excellent spot to start a session if you can handle this place.

The Northside is beloved by people who like strong waves because you can often really zoom into the beach here. 

Huntington Pier On The Southside

Huntington pier’s Southside is so popular with surfers that it’s home to the Us Open of Surfing. So, you can be sure that you’re likely to experience some excellent wave breaks if you visit here. 

This area is renowned in the surfing community for being a fabulous place because the waves are so versatile. However, because it’s a legendary place to surf, you’re likely to be there with crowds, so make sure you are comfortable with dodging other people in the water. 

We recommend going in winter for the best experience on Huntington pier’s Southside because it has a North Westerly swell. This wave direction causes the water to flow under the pier’s supports, which causes the water to form perfect curls.

You can rip these waves, which are typically super consistent, and make brilliant formations. Therefore, these waves are super dreamy!

If you visit in the summer, you might be disappointed to learn that the lifeguards indicate with the flags that you can’t surf here. This is because it’s dangerous to enter the water as the waves are likely to crash you into the pier.

In this case, you can easily pop round to the north side.

When this section is open in the warmer months, the waves are ideal for professionals. We advise getting your shortboard out, and you’ll be able to rip the waves.

To keep yourself where you want to, you’ll have to paddle hard because the swells can push you around.

Make sure you’re super fit and prepared to work hard if you tackle these waves!


While you can surf at Laguna, we recommend looking elsewhere if you can. It’s worth journeying to other Southern California beaches if you only want to surf.

However, if you’re not super serious about surfing and want an aesthetically pleasing vacation spot, this is a perfect option. 

The Ultimate Guide to Surfing in Huntington Beach (2)

To get the most out of surfing here, we recommend going to Brooks Street because you can see some powerful waves here. In addition, the South Westerly and North Westerly currents can create some belter breaks, which you can ride into the shore.

However, as we said, it’s not the best place to surf in this region, and we advise professional surfers to look elsewhere. 

Bolsa Chica 

To access Bolsa Chica by car, you can reach it by coming off the Pacific Coast Highway and driving approximately 10 minutes away from Huntington beach.

The advantage to traveling away from the surfing hotspots is that you’ll get fewer people taking up space in the waves.

In addition, there is much less than in Huntington Beach here, so you can enjoy a more peaceful break.

The Ultimate Guide to Surfing in Huntington Beach

The waves break on a few sandbank sections, allowing you to practice beginner skills before heading to more powerful swells.

Before heading to Bolsa Chica, we recommend checking the forecasted weather because surfing can get hairy if the wind is strong. 

If your goal is to surf with the best at Huntington Beach pier, we recommend visiting Bolsa Chica first. This is because the waves aren’t as smooth and powerful as Huntington, so you can concentrate on advancing your skillset away from the big breaks. 


If you’re searching for a place that will allow you to stretch your professional surfing legs, we advise going to Surfside. However, the water builds powerfully from the Surfside Jetty, meaning this is only a place to visit if you’re extremely good at surfing. 

Goldenwest Near 22nd Street

In Huntington Beach, Goldenwest is next to 22nd street, which means you can get away from many tourists that gather at the pier. The waves are less curvy at Goldenwest than at the pier.

However, you won’t have to dodge as many people here, so you can get a good session uninterrupted.

This is an A-frame spot, so it’s ideal for visiting during summer and fall when the wind blows away from the shore.

You can often get a Westerly and South Westerly swell here, allowing you to rip the tide easily during these seasons.

This is an excellent place to head if you’re a professional surfer because the waves are a lot like those falling at the Huntington Beach pier.

To get to the breaking waves, you’ll have to have strong muscles to paddle out because this area is exceptionally forceful. To get the most from visiting here, make sure the winds aren’t mighty, and the waves are pretty far apart.

This will allow you to carve more easily.

Places To Stay In Huntington Beach

If you want to stay somewhere that’s surfer-friendly, it can be tricky to find a spot because the accommodation is usually booked up in peak season. This is why we advise planning far ahead, especially if you’re coming down for the surfing competitions held yearly in this area! 

If you don’t find yourself somewhere suitable to stay, you can miss out on crucial competitions, meaning losing sponsorship deals! So we’ve scanned the internet and found some top accommodation options for surfers to stop this from happening.

Read on to find out more about these stays!

Kimpton Shorebreak Huntington Beach Resort

The Kimpton Shorebreak Huntington Beach Resort is perfect for surfers because it even has surfing-themed accommodation. Perhaps the best thing about this resort is that it’s just over a 5-minute walk to the famous surfing spot, Huntington Beach Pier. 

Staying here will give you access to the hotel’s transport links, including a private car service so that you can travel to surrounding beaches when you want to. T

here’s even a handy airport shuttle for people flying in from anywhere in the world! 

We love that there’s a free fitness gym, allowing you to brush up on your strength training when the weather is rough outside. The spa is a perfect place to go if you want to wind down after a long day catching waves.

You can put your feet up here and even get yourself a quick haircut if you realize that your locs are getting in your face when you’re carving the waves! 

The rooms are light and airy, with some having incredible ocean views, which lend themselves to water-loving housing surfers.

To continue the sea theme, the restaurant serves high-quality shellfish dishes so that you can fully immerse yourself in the lovely Huntington Beach experience.

Huntington Surf Inn

If you want a place where you can simply chill out after a long day catching waves, we recommend considering staying at the Huntington Surf Inn. This is a brilliant budget option, which offers you access to the beach, stunning views, and free parking. 

The bedrooms have been decorated with surfing in mind. Some even have sweeping wave murals applied to the walls so that you can live out your escapism dreams as you sleep. The rooms are clean and well maintained, and the bathrooms are also modern.

It’s everything a surfer on a budget needs to feel right at home! 

And, there’s even a patio on the second floor that would lend itself to surfers gathering as the sun sets to enjoy the ocean views. This laid-back place has flat-screen TVs and free wifi so that even if you want a break from heading into the salty sea, you can still be entertained.

Surf City Inn

Just over 20 miles from the airport, Surf City Inn is an ideal place for surfers to put their feet up before heading into the sea. The blue and white themed room has a fresh feel, allowing you to chill out after a busy day catching waves.

This is a brilliant option for those on a budget as the rooms are pretty inexpensive and pleasantly functional.

If you need any help while you’re staying here, the reception is open all day and night, so they will be available even if you need them in the early hours. Every room is air-conditioned and has a stunning flat-screen TV, allowing you to wind down in the cool away from the full sun. 

The beach isn’t far away, at just under a 10-minute walk, which means you don’t even need a car to bring your surfboard to the water. This is a popular spot for visiting couples too because there are many activities other than surfing to enjoy near the Surf City Inn.

If you like cycling, running, or windsurfing, we advise considering staying here because you’ll have access to these activities in the surrounding area.

There is nightlife aplenty in this spot, too! So, you can enjoy yourself in bars and restaurants after dark to refuel before another fun day catching breaking waves.

The Surf Seasons In Huntington Beach

If you’re looking for the absolute best time to grab your board and head to Huntington Beach, we recommend going in winter.

This is because, during this season, there are powerful Westerly and North Westerly currents, which allow experts to surf up a storm.

If you’re a professional surfer, getting into the water by Huntington Beach Pier during this period will allow you to ride some of the best waves for riding in the world. During winter, the Southside is the place to be because long breaking waves roll into the sandy shore.

In addition to these magnificent waves, fewer tourists are coming to Huntington Beach in winter, so you can really pick your spot to surf in.

The chilled-out vibe during this time allows you to get your heart racing with excitement without having to dodge beginners.

Below we’ve scoped out a few seasons for surfing, talking about their pros and cons to help you decide when to go. 

Summer (From June To August) 

As with most places where you can easily surf, Huntington Beach is often very crowded during the warm summer months.

Unfortunately, this means that the lifeguards are likely to shut off Huntington Beach’s Northside to avoid dangerous situations, including crashes and people drowning.

The Ultimate Guide to Surfing in Huntington Beach (3)

If you’re an early riser and want to go to The Huntington Beach Pier’s Northside, we advise you to go before 10am. This is because the lifeguard will often put up the flags prohibiting you from surfing in certain places around this time.

Visiting Goldenwest is an excellent idea often during this season because it’s usually much less crowded and far enough away from the bustling pier. 

Fall (From September To October) 

Often in Fall, the winds flow away from the shore, which means that it’s an excellent time to visit if you’re an expert.

However, the waves here are often super strong, so you need to be fit and willing to paddle hard to stay in place. 

The Ultimate Guide to Surfing in Huntington Beach

An advantage to visiting the area is that the water’s temperature is at its highest this time of year. So, you might even be able to take off your wetsuit and surf more freely!

Winter (From December To February) 

Around November time, the power in the water increases from a Westerly direction, which means it’s excellent for experienced surfers. Visiting the Huntington Beach Pier’s Southside is a dream at this time because you can carve so many brilliant waves.

As the competitions have usually finished, the area is less crowded than in the summer months. However, if you’re a beginner, we don’t advise you to try heading too far into the water.

The Ultimate Guide to Surfing in Huntington Beach

This is because the powerful swells are likely to be too much for you to handle, which could put you in a tricky situation. 

In addition to not being very beginner-friendly, the water can be the coldest all year, so you need a thick wetsuit with boots to enjoy these Westerly swells. 

Spring (From March To May) 

During Springtime, surfing is mediocre, making it more accessible for many beginners. In addition, the currents come from the West, North West, and South West, which means you can enjoy surfing around the pier at this time. 

The Ultimate Guide to Surfing in Huntington Beach

The main problem is that the wind can cause the waves to not be perfect. However, during these months, you’re unlikely to experience many tourists, meaning crowding is a lot less than in other seasons.

Huntington Beach surf shops

As it’s home to many surfers, Huntington Beach has surf shops aplenty. The following are a few excellent ones that cater to surfers with different skill sets. 

Huntington Surf & Sport

This is a legendary surf shop, which is in a superb location for many surfers in the area to visit. It’s next to the cycling trail and offers many great pop-out surfboards. In addition, this shop sells anything from wetsuits to surfboard tools, allowing you to stock up whenever you visit. 

Jack’s Surfboards

Another excellent place to shop for surfing gear is Jack’s Surfboards’ classic shop. It was established in 1975, which means the store is built on decades of professional surfboarding knowledge.

You can buy rash vests from big surfing brands here and ask the staff for advice on buying more significant purchases.

Great Restaurants In Huntington Beach

Sancho’s Tacos

If you fancy a healthy bite to eat after a long session carving up waves, we advise you to head to Sancho’s Tacos. This eatery is legendary amongst the surfing community for producing delicious food originating from Mexico.

In addition, the laid-back vibe and budget-friendly price list make it an excellent choice for those who want a no-fuss meal.

If you try their tacos, be sure to handle the heat because there can be chilies in these dishes.

Surf City Fish & Grill

The Surf City Fish & Grill uses high-quality products to create hearty meals that can be enjoyed by many hungry surfers. The wholesome food comes in large quantities, making it a perfect way to refuel after a long day paddling and popping up. 

As the name suggests, this budget-friendly restaurant offers grilled meats, delicious seafood, and hot fries. They even have a Taco Tuesday and Happy Hour, allowing you to celebrate surfing in a global surf hotspot in style. 


Suppose you want to enjoy the best surfing spots Southern California has to offer. In that case, we recommend you travel to Huntington Beach.

Here, if you’re an expert, you can enter yourself into globally renowned surfing competitions to show off your skills and ride some truly brilliant waves.

The advantage to this area is that there are waves that suit beginners right up to professional-level surfers. And, you don’t have to visit on a day trip if that’s too much traveling.

In addition, many luxury resorts are surfer-friendly, which often have indulgent spas so that you can wind down after carving some waves. 

There are suitable options for those on a budget, including specialist surf inns, restaurants serving delicious food, and accessible beaches. Happy surfing!

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