Surfing in Santa Barbara County

Surfing guide to Santa Barbara County, , ,
Santa Barbara County has 3 main surf areas. There are 13 surf spots . Go explore!

Overview of surfing in Santa Barbara County

Santa Barbara County can easily be divided into two parts: The area North of Point Conception and the area that extends to the East after the coast turns. There are also the Channel Islands which offer some amazing and mostly unexplored/unpublished surf spots. The county borders the Pismo Beach to the North and ends with Carpinteria in the Southeast. This coastline marks the start of Southern California, and although Santa Barbara may not be as famous as other areas, it is one of the most important counties in surf history for the USA. Channel Islands Surfboards calls this area home, and it has produced incredible surfers along the years: Tom Curren, the Coffin Bros, Bobby Martinez, Lakey Petersen, and the transplanted Kelly Slater. The surf here is best known for long left hand point breaks that are unfortunately dormant for most of the year. Santa Barbara County is a beautiful, pristine area full of nature and life as well as a city and some smaller coastal communities.

The Good
Great surf, mostly points
Good weather year round
Plenty of flat day adventures to have
The Bad
Swell shadows, summers are tough
Driving is the key to success here
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Surf seasons and when to go

The best time of the year to surf in Santa Barbara County


Santa Barbara County is another example of a great temperate climate in California. Cool mornings with fog blend into sunny afternoons with slight to heavy winds. The weather does not vary much year round, although it is cooler and wetter in the winter. Lately summers have been very dry and fires have been a problem over the last few years. Layers in the morning and evenings, less in the afternoons.


This is the best time to surf in Santa Barbara, the western coastline lights up and can get quite big while the southern facing coast turns into perfect point after perfect point. Point Conception cuts the size of massive winter swells and turn them in to head high peelers. Offshore breezes are common in the mornings and onshore winds will hold off until early afternoon. A 4/3 will suit you fine here this time of year.


This time of year is terrible in the South facing part of the coast. It is greatly shadowed by the Channel Islands, so no South swells sneak through. The place to surf this season is the Western facing Northern Coast. the beach breaks there can get quite good when crossed up with windswell from the North. A 3/2 or 4/3 is good this time of year. Get on the surf early as onshore winds can come up quickly.

Annual surf conditions

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Santa Barbara County surf travel guide

Find trips that fit a flexible lifestyle


Toward the northern parts and even up to the larger cities there are a lot of wonderful camping options. Once you hit the smaller towns and urban areas there are a ton of resorts and hotel options available for all budgets and plans. Most areas will be cheaper than further South, but expect some higher price points than elsewhere in the world.

Other Activities

Santa Barbara has some amazing hiking and camping options in the Northern and even Southern parts. Take your time to find some mostly empty trailheads that lead to some beautiful coastal areas. There is a growing wine scene here that produces some excellent beverages for those over 21. The city of Santa Barbara has a college town feel with a laid back atmosphere. Late bar nights are common, but you won’t see too many clubs or anything.

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