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+ Rincon Point
+ Powerful beachbreaks
+ Nice weather
+ Fairly consistent surf
- Windy
- Crowded
- Polluted
- Traffic
- Urban atmosphere
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Stormrider Guide to surfing Ventura County - West


Southern California, USA, NORTH AMERICA


Rincon, king of Ventura surf spots, 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)

Surf in Ventura County - West

There are a wealth of different Ventura surf spots to choose from on any given day, from pounding beachbreak barrels to slow beginner’s waves.

Consistent and high-quality surf is not uncommon as Ventura County is much more exposed than Santa Barbara. The scenic coast is a haven for summertime S swells, wintertime NW swells, and just about everything in between. 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.


The Rivermouth (technically a creek, not a river) and Rincon Cove at the Santa Barbara-Ventura county line comprise two-thirds of ✪Rincon Point. Justifiably, Rincon is one of the world’s most famous waves. A long, perfect righthand cobblestone pointbreak which gets hollow and is usually very lined-up. Always very crowded. Try to wait your turn, or be aggressive. Watch out for flailing boards and bodies. Rides are possible from the very top of the point (above the river mouth) all the way to the highway, but the swell has to be big enough and of the proper direction (NW) not to section off. Rincon can be good at all tides, but low provides the most tube-time. The rivermouth generally likes a higher tide, while the cove likes medium-low. The rivermouth has some rock hazards at lower tides. Plainly visible from Highway 101. The inner cove is generally a mushier, softer wave popular with longboarders, but it too can be screaming fast. Avoid surfing Rincon after heavy rains (which are rare) since the septic tank sewage seeps into the ocean from the houses on the point. Accessible via two big free (for now) carparks off the Bates Road exit. Fronting Highway 101, La Conchita is a stretch of occasionally fun beachbreak peaks just south of Rincon Cove. Can get hollow and is rarely crowded. A good summertime alternative. Lower tides best with peaky windswells. Little Rincon (aka Mussel Shoals) is actually nothing like Rincon, except that it’s a right, located on the south side of the iconic oil pier below La Conchita. A righthand point/reef wave with several rock hazards. Excellent spot during large winter swells with low tide. Gets hollow and fast. Less crowded than Rincon but not as good. Some unfriendly locals. Hobson County Park offers fun cobblestone reef peaks; good with any swell and any tide. Long lefts can be had off the northern peak; long, mushy rights are the call at the south peak, which closes out on the inner sandbar. Faria is a long stretch of beachbreak; park along the old Pacific Coast Highway. Best with medium-high tides and small, peaky swells. A popular area with recreational vehicles as it’s free to park here. Pitas Point (aka Faria County Park) is an extensive righthand cobblestone pointbreak. Lots of room for everyone but variable quality. Separate take-off areas and some long rides. Gets hollow and fast. Sheltered from the prevailing northwest wind. Can handle winter size and gets summer souths. A good alternative to Rincon but is getting more crowded each year. Campground up top. Solimar sometimes offers fun reef waves; mostly rights. Best with S swells and low tide. There is another wave on the inside, best with winter swells. Accessible by walking along pathways north and south of the community of Solimar. Park along the road. There is an outer reef here that is short, fast, and hollow, but very kelpy and a long paddle-out. Emma Wood State Beach is a very popular beachbreak/reef spot, punchy and hollow; mainly rights, but some good lefts on summer souths. Peaky swells are great. Gets a lot of swell and crowds, especially with kids. The outside reef is called Ventura Overhead, working only with big NW and W swells. Big-wave boards are recommended for the big drops and fat shoulders. Gets packed quickly amongst the kelp. C Street (aka California Street) is a very long righthand pointbreak fronting the Ventura County Fairgrounds. Very reliable spot that works on all tides with all swells up to double-overhead. Several take-off zones over a cobblestone and sand bottom. Rather mushy, but long and forgiving, so popular with longboarders. Paddling out can be difficult during big swells. Beware of water pollution after rains. San Buenaventura State Beach comprises a handful of jetties in the Pierpont Bay area, south of the Ventura Pier. Various beachbreak peaks; good with small, peaky swells. Fun during the summertime, but often windy. New Jetty/South Jetty provides good, hollow beachbreak waves on the south side of the new jetty to the south of the Ventura Harbor mouth. Good with any swell up to a few feet overhead, making the locals territorial. Santa Clara Rivermouth can be a world-class sandbar, plus it gets good up and down the beach too. Severely polluted after heavy rainfall, which is when the shape can be flawless, dispatching A-frame peaks spinning off into long, fast walls in both directions. Holds up to several feet overhead. Gets crowded, but for good reason. One of California’s best rivermouth breaks when everything comes together. McGrath State Beach is miles of beachbreak peaks that are uncrowded, but also suffer from pollution after rains. Needs smaller swells and higher tides. Silver Strand is a popular mile of powerful beachbreak flanked by two jetties. One of California’s best beachbreaks. Site of nasty localism in years past; beware of potentially sour attitudes in and out of the water. Epic barrels during the wintertime. Seen in many surf magazines and videos. Always has some kind of surf. Port Hueneme Beach Park offers average beachbreak on both sides of the pier, with S swell lefts in summer. Can’t handle any size, yet it’s never flat. Higher tides and peaky swells work best. Ormond Beach is uncrowded beachbreak at the foot of Perkins Road, south of Port Hueneme. A good alternative to the crowds during peaky S swells.

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.