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9. San Clemente

San Clemente’s famous spots

Although I’ve been to a number of incredible surf spots across the globe, my home break in San Clemente will forever be my favorite. San Clemente, a seaside town in Orange County, California, was founded in the 1920s and has been on the map as one of the best surfing spots in the USA for quite some time.

San Clemente is home to a number of world-famous surf spots: T-Street, Upper Trestles, Lower Trestles, and San Onofre. If you’ve ever been surfing in and around New York, you know the story—traffic is unavoidable both on and off the water. But, battling the throngs of people will be well worth it once you drop into a wave at Lowers.

San Clemente is home to several famous surf spots.
San Clemente is home to several famous surf spots

The four main breaks of Trestles

Trestles is a world-renowned wave and what San Clemente is best known for. Trestles consists of four main breaks: Cotton’s, Uppers, Lowers, and Church. Lowers is the best and most popular spot and frequently hosts surf competitions; it offers an A-frame wave that breaks over a cobblestone bottom. The beginner-friendly breaks are outstanding, not unlike those you get when surfing in Costa Rica.

San Onofre

A few miles south is San Onofre, one of the dreamiest longboarding spots in the world. San Onofre, or San O, as the locals call it, includes The Point, Four Doors, Old Man’s, and Dog Patch. Old Man’s is probably the most famous spot and offers long, rolling waves, perfect for hanging ten. Although San Clemente sees waves year-round, my personal favorite season is fall — the water is warm, and the summertime crowds are gone.

Other hot spots in the area

If you’re new to surfing in Cali (or in general), taking surfing lessons in Santa Cruz is a great choice. They’re hosted by local legends, so you’ll have a wealth of knowledge at your disposal. I’ve already covered all you need to know about surfing in Santa Cruz, so feel free to check it out. The surfing in San Diego is also top-notch, with great late-summer-early-fall swells and a booming community. And for off-the-board activities, California is one of the best places to rock climb in the world, so why not give it a go?

About the author
Southern California-based surfer and travel writer

Rebecca is a seasoned writer and outdoor enthusiast. Born and raised in Orange County, she has spent countless hours exploring the California coastline. She loves surfing, standup paddling, and anything that involves water. When she’s not in the ocean, you can find her exploring the local trails or sleeping under the stars alongside her adventure pup, Koa.

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