When you think California, what comes to mind? Hollywood, movie stars, Glamour, the Golden Gate Bridge, Malibu, The OC? Little known to many Australians, the Golden State boasts a lengthy and distinguished surfing history, riddled with unmatched spots and legendary personalities.
The first time I was fortunate enough explore these waters was in early 2008, a mere 17 year old high school graduate with a thirst for adventure and waves. My dad and I drove down the scenic highway 1, the renowned road that curves down the cliffs of the Californian west coast, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Undoubtedly the most beautiful drive in the United States. We Rented a Chrysler convertible, threw my board and 4mm wetsuit into the backseat, and viola, life was good.
Our first memorable stop was Santa Cruz. A small coastal town with incredibly consistent waves. I paddled out to ‘Steamers Lane’, aptly named because the water was bloody freezing. Even with my thick suit, gloves, booties and hood I was frozen to an icicle. It was worth it. The waves were big, fat and fun.
A little further south we drove through and saw miles and miles of perfect waves below the cliffs, inaccessible to anyone without a parachute. We followed the scenic highway 1 south to LA, stopping for quick surf at any beach that we could find. By the time we arrived, I felt oddly fortunate that I was not mauled by a great white at the dozen or so breaks I surfed by my lonesome.
Since my trip in 2008, I have returned to California half a dozen times, and surfed some pretty amazing waves. Yet, like any sequel, none will ever really live up to my first experience. Oh well, that’s just life really.