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SUMMARY
+ Rincon Point
+ Powerful beachbreaks
+ Nice weather
+ Fairly consistent surf
- Windy
- Crowded
- Polluted
- Traffic
- Urban atmosphere
Kustom



Ventura County - West, Southern California, USA, NORTH AMERICA


Rincon, Rob Gilley

Surf Spots

Rincon Point
La Conchita Beach
Little Rincon/Mussel Shoals
Hobson County Park
Faria Beach
Pitas Point/Faria County Park
Solimar Reef and Beach
Ventura Overhead/Emma Wood State Beach
California Street (C Street)

The Surf

Much more exposed than Santa Barbara, the scenic Ventura County coast is a haven for summertime S swells, wintertime NW swells, and just about everything in between. Consistent and high-quality surf is not uncommon, and there is a wealth of different surf spots to choose from on any given day, from pounding beachbreak barrels to slow beginner’s waves. The Channel Islands do not have such a prominent swell-shadowing effect as they do for Santa Barbara, which can be waist high during a big winter swell while Ventura County is double-overhead. Onshore winds are usually stronger here than in Santa Barbara, and all Ventura spots blow out fairly easily. Strong offshore winds are a frequent occurrence, especially during the winter months in Oxnard, causing classic conditions. Rincon, one of the world’s most famous pointbreaks, is in the extreme north end of the county, while to the south exist world-class beachbreaks like Silver Strands and the Santa Clara Rivermouth. South swells do better at the south county spots like County Line and Point Mugu, which is off-limits to anyone without a valid military identification card. W swells typically have the most power and are the most lined-up, but solid S swells tend to work wonders in south county. Most waves in the county can been seen from Highway 1 or Highway 101 and are easily accessible.

Significantly more exposed to most swells than Santa Barbara, the scenic Ventura County coast is a haven for summertime S pulses, wintertime NWs, and just about everything in between. Consistent and high quality surf is not uncommon, and there is a diverse wealth of surf spots to choose from on any given day, from pounding beachbreak barrels to slow beginner’s waves. Down here, the Channel Islands don’t have as prominent a swell-shadowing effect as they do in southern Santa Barbara County, which can be waist high during a big summer swell while Ventura County is double overhead. However, due to the angle of the coast, onshore winds are usually stronger here than in Santa Barbara, and all Ventura spots blow out fairly easily. Fortunately, strong offshore winds are common, especially during the winter in the Oxnard area, creating classic conditions. Rincon Point is generally considered a Santa Barbara break, but it’s just over the Ventura County line. In fact, there’s a series of points and reefs all along the county’s northern shores, from Punta Gorda (Little Rincon) to Pitas to California Street. These loosely-populated areas south of Mussel Shoals along Highway 1 usually offer some sort of uncrowded option for waves. You’ll find a much denser pack at the Overhead and California Street. From the city of Ventura south, there are some world-class beachbreaks like the Santa Clara River mouth and Hollywood-by-the-Sea/Silver Strand. S swells do better at the Oxnard/south county spots like Point Mugu, which is off-limits to anyone without military ID. W swells typically have the most power and are more lined-up at most county spots. The sandbar at the Santa Clara River mouth forms after heavy winter rains and can be the best rivermouth break in California. The locals are not nice, however. The best NW-swell spots are at the county’s north and south ends – Rincon and County Line. Most waves in the county can been seen from Highways 1 or 101 and are easily accessible. Ventura offers a fun variety of surf and a range of experiences, from extreme localism to good-time camaraderie. Bottom line: whatever you’re looking for, Ventura County has it.

When to Go

The primary source of swell comes from the NW lows out in the Aleutian Islands in winter (Oct-Mar). Waves can reach 18ft, but average 3-8ft on W to NW swells; Point Conception shadows some N swells. SSW groundswells and SE hurricane swells from Baja are good at some of the southern spots. Either side of summer, frequent 2-6ft W groundswell or windswell can occur. Calm days and offshores are more common in winter even though the E Santa Ana winds tend to blow in late summer. Dominant winds are W-NW, NW – 28% (Dec) to 39% (Aug) – bringing choppy conditions from noon till dusk and sometimes earlier. Record tidal range is -1.6ft to 7.2ft (-0.5-2.2m).

SURF STATISTICS
J
F
M
A
M
J
J
A
S
O
N
D
dominant swell W -NW W -NW W -SW W -SW W -NW W -NW
swell size (ft) 4 3-4 1-2 1-2 4 4
consistency (%) 60 60 20 20 60 60
dominant wind W -N W -NW W -NW W -NW W -NW W -N
average force F3 F4 F4 F4 F4 F3
consistency (%) 63 60 65 66 66 66
water temp (C) 14 14 16 17 16 15
wetsuit 4/3 4/3 3/2 3/2 3/2 3/2
Population
Santa Barbara - 100,000

Coastline
Santa Barbara - 41km (25mi)

Timezone
GMT -8hr

Travel Information

Weather

Southern California is famous for its sunshine. It seldom rains. Spring-early summer dense fog and low clouds are common, often cleared by light afternoon onshores. The driest and sunniest time occurs when the easterly Santa Ana winds blow from the desert, usually in late summer and autumn. Winter is mild with a few rainy days, but bigger swells and favourable winds common. Water temp is cool, requiring a 3/2mm fullsuit most of the year, sometimes booties in the winter. El Niños bring warmer water, lots of swells (maybe too much), along with flooding rains and pollution. La Nina years are dismally flat.

Nature

Take a whale watching cruise or a day trip to the Channel Islands (islandpackers.com); go sport fishing or sailing; head up the 33 to lovely Lake Casitas; stroll out to the end of the pier or eat/drink/shop your way down Main Street in Ventura; ride a bike or skateboard along the boardwalks. Hike up to Two Trees or arrange for a tour of the Point Mugu naval base. Pretty much anything you can think of, you can do in this county (except snow sports).

Hazards

All of the spots visible from Highway 101 will be crowded if they are good. At low tide, the points expose rocks that hurt if hit (use a leash). There are white sharks here but sightings are rare. Beware of hyper-competitive wannabe pro surfers and a large number of kooks at most spots. Rincon is the marquee destination in winter, and it’s a scene. Traffic on the 101 can be bad at any time – Los Angeles is the next county south.

Hints

Be mentally prepared to surf in a huge crowd at Rincon. A gun may be useful, especially at the Overhead. A new shortboard costs ±$750. Several stores offer gear: Ventura Surf Shop, Patagonia, Seaward, Beach Break, etc. Be low-key at spots like Silver Strand and Santa Clara Rivermouth. Wear a leash at the pointbreaks.