Surf Spots

Windansea – Travel Guide

Cobalt water speckled on the horizon where the kelp bed has stopped short of its urge to reach for the sky; the shape-shifting peaks emerging and reacting with elemental choreography; the inside shorepound, arid sandstone ledges, rocky shoreline and the iconic shack at Windansea — combine these with the gaggles of European men prancing about in banana hammocks, and you’ll think it’s the Mediterranean with waves. The stretch of San Diego’s coast from PB Point to La Jolla Cove is peppered with reefs. In the early days, these reefs contributed more to California surfing than most any other length of the coast in the state. The peak at Windansea has been the main stage of the area since the 1930s. Previous histories of the spot have divided conglomerations of surfers who have passed here into movements and revolutions: the Plant Boys, the Meal Hall gang, the Red Fin era, etc. Once the favorite spot of beer-swillin’, beast-riding watermen, Windansea has become, in recent years, the center of the community. The wave that spawned Hawaii’s first generation of big-wave surfers and developed a round of hotshot Californians in the ’70s has since been relegated to fun-wave status. Surfers looking for more critical waves have moved on, even if only a quarter-mile south to Big Rock. But the community has filled in where the mavericks have left off, and the surf culture at Windansea continues to thrive. — kimball taylor

Places To Eat

El Pescador, at 627 Pearl St., fixes the finest grilled-fish sandwich anywhere (858-456-2526), and it’s located next to one of San Diego’s best surf shops, Mitch’s. If you just want a burrito, Bahia Don Bravo (858-454-8940), at 5504 La Jolla Blvd., is a notch or two above your corner taco stand. La Jolla, especially Prospect Street, is home to many fine, but pricey, dinning establishments. One of the more reasonable joints is Girard Gourmet (858-454-3321), a deli with the best turkey, avocado and cheese sandwich in the business.

Places To Stay

Just knock on any one of the mansions fronting the ocean here and ask to use their facilities — they are unusually accommodating. Ha. La Jolla is, hands down, the most chi-chi neighborhood in San Diego, and the exuberance of its elite resorts borders on bizarre. The Chopra Center for Well Being, for example, offers the Pizichilli treatment ($210), a stream of heated oil poured over the body while two therapists rub you down. Assuming most surfers would rather get lubed up in the ocean, a good bet is to stay in Mission, or Pacific Beach, where there are more hotels and no-tells than you can shake your stick at. Or, with rooms between $40 and $120, check out the La Jolla TraveLodge at 1141 Silverado St. (858-454-0791).

Things To Do

La Jolla Cove is a great place to snorkel, due to its location at the edge of an underwater wildlife reserve. Just up Jenner Street from the Cove, check out the Crescent Cafe, where you can access one of the Seven Sisters caves through a stairway in the former Shell Store. Although it’s not so legal, many people jump off the cliffs between the Cove and the Seven Sisters caves at high tide. South of the Cove on Jenner Street is the Children’s Pool, a manmade beach and breakwater, which is a terrible place to take a kid, but a great one for watching the sea lions that have taken it over. One of the Jewel’s real gems is the Museum of Contemporary Art, 700 Prospect St., which is housed in a local landmark that overlooks a couple of reefs not named here — $2 to $4 (858-454-3541). North of the La Jolla Shores and above the Scripps Pier is the stately Birch Aquarium, 2300 Expedition Way (858534-3474). Catch a breath of fresh air at Torrey Pines State Beach and Reserve — hiking trails, pristine beach and view — off of I-5 at Carmel Valley Road (858-755-2063).

Surf Shops

-California Surf N’ Sport, 619 Pearl St., 858-454-4580
-Mitch’s Surf Shop, 631 Pearl St., 858-459-5933
-Rusty Surfboards La Jolla, 2170 Avenida De La Playa, 858-551-0262
-World Core, 7863 Girard Ave., 858-456-6699


Pacific Beach – Travel Guide



PB Point is a rolling right that meanders through various slow sections. In fact, it’s the slowest wave around and requires a low tide and swell with push to make it decent. There was a time, though, when these qualities made the Point ideal. The very first San Diego shack, a copy of the Polynesian throwback at San Onofre, was erected at PB Point during the early ’40s. This was the first headquarters of Pacific Beach and La Jolla surfers before they migrated to Windansea. The shack was rebuilt there in 1946. It seems they were moving on to better hunting grounds. Which makes one wonder: where would the shack be now if the tradition had continued?

As a social gathering place, and center of a community, the parking lot and beach at the end of Tourmaline Street is something to be cherished — old friends, old stories, old boards, and a brand-new sunset every night. The atmosphere here is the antithesis of the aggro jostling going on just a quarter of a mile away at the Crystal Pier. The people who surf Tourmaline love it. And you’d have to be bleary-eyed with love to stick with waves that mushy. Longboards are the rule.
— kimball taylor

Places To Eat

Kono’s Cafe, at 704 Garnet Ave., has a solid breakfast menu (858-483-1669). The finest Hawaiian plate lunch in town is served at Da Kine’s (858-274-8494), 4120 Mission Blvd., on the top floor of the Promenade. From the outdoor patio at Da Kine’s, you can watch the surf at the end of Pacific Beach Drive, just a block away. Be adventurous: Mission Boulevard and Garnet Avenue offer a plethora of face-feeding possibilities.<Places To StayFrom 10 of the rooms at the Crystal Pier Hotel, you could wake in the morning, grab your board, hop the pier railing, and land in the lineup. Of course, you could get a ticket for jumping off of a pier, but it’s physically possible. Check your tide book — you wouldn’t want to break your legs by landing on hard-packed sand. Rooms at the Crystal Pier Hotel run from $95 to $305, and reservations as long as six months in advance may be necessary (858-483-6983). The Banana Bungalow Hostel, at 707 Reed St., offers dorm-style rooms from $15 a night, but it’s necessary to show a foreign passport or proof of international travel (800-546-7837). Rooms at the stylish Catamaran Resort Hotel, at 3999 Mission Blvd., run from $130 to $315 (858-488-1081). There are smaller, less expensive hotels all along Mission Boulevard.
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Things To Do

Toss horseshoes, throw back beers, compare “tats,” sit on the seawall and whistle at girls. Oh, wait, that’s for locals. For visitors, there are a number of cheap, fun activities going on within the two-mile stretch from Mission to Pacific Beach. Of them, riding a bicycle to Windansea and back is a supreme pleasure. Bike and bodyboard rental huts are just slightly outnumbered by taco shops: if you spit, it will land on one or the other. Ride the 70-year-old roller coaster at Belmont Park for $3.50 a pop. If the waves are flat, there is a barreling curiosity at Belmont Park’s Wave House, a facility holding SD’s first permanent Flow Rider. After you’ve mastered the artificial wave, go down to Garnet Avenue (comparable to Melrose in L.A.), get tattooed, pierced and coiffed, and you’ll fit in great. Also, while cruising the boardwalk, keep your eye out for the notorious Flash (aka the Naked Man, the PB Flasher) of Mission Beach. He’s tall, virtually nude and highly mobile. Insider’s tip: local exotic dancers often spend their mornings tanning between Thomas and Reed streets. Bring mirrored sunglasses.

Surf Shops

Big Time Surf Shop, 4428 Ingraham, 858-483-2444

Bob’s Mission Surf, 4320 Mission Blvd., 858-483-8837

Clairmont Surf Shop, 6393 Balboa Ave., 858-292-1153

Edge Coastal Outfitters, 4287 Mission Blvd., 858-483-4597

Pacific Beach Surf Shop, 747 Pacific Beach Dr., 858-488-9575

Pacific Drive Surf Shop, 756 Thomas Ave., 858-270-3361

Solid Surf, 4655 Mission Blvd., 858581-9283

South Coast Windansea Surf Shop, 740 Felspar St., 858-483-7660

Surf Club, 952 Garnet Ave., 858-483-4854

Surf Schools

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