From our friends at CBSlocal.comSmooth waters, colorful sunset skies and warm weather make Orange County the ideal spot to try out the emerging trend of paddleboarding. Though interest in this pastime has been building throughout the last few years, more and more shops are offering rentals near popular seaside hotspots, making it super easy to get your hands on a board and a paddle. Following continued success, some shops are even offering innovative experiences, like light-up boards and fitness classes. These are our picks for the best places to paddleboard in Orange County.
-Perfect Paddles Travel Brief-
Best Time of Year to Visit:
The best travel time for California is from May to September. In these months it is sunny, warm and the likelihood of rain is very low. April and October are also good months for a Californian getaway! For holidaymakers who can't stand high temperatures, I would recommend avoiding the period from July to August. (www.holidayguru.ie)
Much of California has a Mediterranean-like climate with warm, dry summers and mild, wet winters. On the coast, the average daily high temperature hovers around 70°F and up, but can occasionally spike to 80°F or more on hottest summer days; freezing temperatures are rare, even in winter. (www.visitcalifornia.com)
SUP Environments to Paddle In
SUP Activity Highlights:
Orange County is truly a beautiful place. And easily one of the best places to experience all types of marine wildlife including dolphins, seals, whales, manta rays, and more! To get in on a wildlife paddle, use our Locations/Activities guide HERE!
SUP Surf Spots (source here)
Before heading out, please be honest with your skills and surfing abilities. These breaks are often crowded and need proper care before heading into the lineup!
Trestle Beach: Located at the southern tip of Orange County, Trestles is home to some of the best surf spots around. Upper, Lower, and Middle Trestles are frequently visited by experienced surfers who enjoy hollow, powerful waves. With its world-class wave quality, Lower Trestles (Lowers) holds a professional surfing contest every year along with NSSA (National Scholastic Surfing Association) Nationals. As a local favorite, Trestles can be a little crowded, but if you are courteous and respectful to other surfers, you will definitely enjoy your time on these waves.
T-Street Beach: Just south of the San Clemente Pier, T-Street is friendly to surfers of all levels. T-Street gets its name from a “T” shaped pedestrian overpass that allows foot traffic to safely cross the railroad tracks. The San Clemente High School Surf Team is no stranger to T-Street, as they practice there during winter months to maintain their position as one of the best high school surf teams in the nation. Because surfing is so popular here, T-Street is “blackballed” between the hours of 9 AM and 6 PM in the summer, meaning only swimming and boogie boarding is allowed at that time. T-Street’s distant reef produces a consistent frequency that is enjoyable for all levels of surfing.
Doheny Beach: Located in Dana Point, Doheny Beach offers great surfing at its northern end. Doheny is the prime spot for beginner surfers or for those who are looking to catch a less powerful wave. This surf spot is best for longboarding and promises to give some of the longest rides in Orange County.
Laguna Beach, Brooks Street: One of the biggest breaks in Laguna Beach, Brooks Street is a local favorite. South swells attract many experienced surfers and provide long, powerful waves that start breaking out at the reef. Low tides can expose sharp rocks and surfers should use caution when paddling out and know how to surf a rocky bottom. Brooks Street is home to the oldest surf contest in the world. The Brooks Street Surfing Classic was started in 1955 and holds the title of the world’s longest-running surf contest.
The Wedge: Located at the east end of the Balboa Peninsula, The Wedge is a local favorite for surfing, skimboarding, bodyboarding, and bodysurfing. The wedge-shaped waves are a result of the rock jetty that lies on the west side of Newport Harbor. The hollow, fast waves can be very large and unpredictable, even for experienced surfers. Waves reflected off the jetty meet up with incoming waves, making them several feet larger than those in surrounding surf areas. The Wedge is blackballed between the hours of 10 AM and 5 PM from May through October, making it a bodyboarding hotspot during the summer months.
Newport Beach, 56th Street: One of the most popular surf spots in Newport Beach, 56th Street is great for pro and amateur surfers alike. Stable wave sections and line-ups add to the overall quality of the surf spot. Hollow waves and a sandy bottom make 56th Street one of the best spots in Newport to catch a wave when surf conditions are good.
Huntington Beach Pier: One of the world’s most iconic surf spots, Huntington Beach offers miles of beach break waves. Located at PCH and Main St, the Huntington Beach Pier area is a classic every surfer should experience. Known as “Surf City, ” Huntington Beach annually holds one of the largest surf competitions in the world, the U.S. Open of Surfing, on the south side of the pier. From beginner surfers to experienced professionals, Huntington Beach Pier is a favorite spot among Orange County surfers.
Perfect Paddles Deals to Get Your Ready for Your Trip:
RHEOS (Floating) Sunglasses- 15% off with Member Benefits
Duk Gear- 20% off a waterproof cell phone case with Member Benefits
Check out more of our gear options HERE!
Interested in any of these extra activities? Be sure to head HERE to find a list of paddle pros in the area and what they offer!
Additional Attractions (source here):
Southern California is home to some of the best places to visit on the coast including Hollywood and countless beaches! Let’s discover some more!
Disneyland Resort: The Disneyland Resort, commonly known as Disneyland, is an entertainment resort in Anaheim, California.
Disney California Adventure Park: Disney California Adventure Park, commonly referred to as Disney California Adventure, California Adventure, or DCA, is a theme park located in Anaheim, California. It is owned and operated by The Walt Disney Company through its Parks, Experiences and Products division.
Newport Beach: Newport Beach, a coastal city in southern California, is known for its large, boat-filled harbor. Balboa Peninsula has 2 piers, Newport Beach Pier and Balboa Pier, plus the Balboa Fun Zone, an old-school amusement park with a Ferris wheel and ocean views. Local beaches include the Wedge, known for its big waves, and Corona del Mar State Beach. The Orange County Museum of Art exhibits modern and contemporary works.
Heisler Park: This beach area offers artsy park benches, sculptures, ocean views, rocky shores & tide pools.
Balboa Island Ferry: The Balboa Island Car Ferry is a ferry service in Newport Beach, California. The ferry boats travel under 1,000 feet from Balboa Island to the Balboa Peninsula and vice versa, reaching a top speed of four miles per hour.
Huntington Beach Pier: The Huntington Beach Pier is a municipal pier located in Huntington Beach, California, at the west end of Main Street and west of Pacific Coast Highway. At 1,850 feet in length, it is one of the longest public piers on the West Coast.
For reference, be sure to check out our Perfect Paddles Activities map! For Southern California, you will find it below:
Perfect Paddles Shops/Outfitters Near the Locations:
1. Paddle Method: Marina Del Rey (Buddy Deal)
2. Goff Tours: Laguna Beach (Buddy Deal)
3. Bliss Paddle Yoga: Newport Beach (Buddy Deal)
4. Paddle Sports Center: Santa Barbara (Buddy Deal)
5. Sunset Standup Paddle: Laguna Beach (Buddy Deal)
6. SUP with Wade: San Pedro
Buddy Deals: Don’t forget to take advantage of our fantastic Buddy Deals for exclusive discounts for our members! To become a member head HERE.
229 Marine Avenue
Newport Beach, CA 92662
www.islandpaddleboard.comBalboa Island and the nearby Newport Harbor are the perfect place to try stand-up paddleboarding for the first time. Because the island is so small, it’s easy to reach the beach from the paddleboard shop. But, aside from coastal access, Balboa Island has another benefit for first-timers: calm waters. Set further away from the open ocean, it’s easy to get the feel for the board and find your balance. Once you do, you can traverse the nearby Newport Harbor as well for views of local boats and waterfront restaurants. Those who are especially daring can paddle down the coast to Corona del Mar, where there are rocks to maneuver around and small beaches to be found.
Laguna Beach State Marine Reserve
La Vida Laguna
1257 South Coast Highway
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
www.lavidalaguna.comEnlist the help of La Vida Laguna to paddleboard to the Laguna Beach State Marine Reserve, a pristine area off the shoreline that is unlike anything else you’ll find in the area. These guided tours take visitors over clear waters, giving them a chance to peer down onto kelp beds, rock reefs filled with colorful fish and underwater canyons. But, aside from the mysteries hiding below the surface, the area is brimming with other life as well—dolphins, whales, sea lions, birds. There is so much to see here; if you’re looking to get up close and personal with marine life outside of an aquarium, this is a fantastic way to do so. Tours launch from a gentle cove, making it easy to get started, and they include all equipment, the tour and even photos.
Dana Point Harbor
34451 Ensenada Place
Dana Point, CA 92629
www.westwindsailing.comThough technically a sailing company, Westwind has expanded to include stand-up paddleboarding as well. In addition to rentals, they offer lessons on the calm waters of the Dana Point Harbor, an area that is always teeming with activity from boats, canoes, swimmers and more. The Westwind rentals are also located right next to the water so you don’t have to walk with the board to reach the water. A beautiful backdrop of greenery and houses dot the cliffs behind the harbor and plenty of events are held along the shoreline, making it easy to combine your day of paddleboarding with one of many local festivals.
Newport Back Bay
Pirate Coast Paddle Company
1131 Back Bay Drive
Newport Beach, CA 92660
www.piratecoastpaddle.comAnother place removed from the rough waves of the ocean, Newport Back Bay has the calm waters that make for the ideal paddleboarding environment. Those who haven’t tried it before can opt for a free on-shore tutorial before heading out onto the bay; they also offer longer paid lessons that go over important techniques and etiquette. The thing that truly makes the Back Bay fun to explore via paddleboard is Pirate Coast’s SUP Glow night tour. The iridescent glow of the LED lights attached to the boards makes for a fun and utterly unique experience once the sun starts to go down. Explore the bay under the light of the moon on this one-hour guided adventure.
Huntington Beach Harbor
OEX Sunset Beach
16910 Pacific Coast Highway
Sunset Beach, CA 90742
www.oexsunsetbeach.comOf course, just as the Newport and Dana Point harbors were ideal for paddleboarding, so is the Huntington Beach Harbor. Traverse the waters that wind past nearby beach houses and boats while you take in the views of the distant mountains and harbor palm trees. The water here looks like glass as you glide over the top, creating a relaxing environment, especially early in the morning or just before sunset. Grab your rentals from OEX Sunset Beach, a local shop that also offers lessons, group adventures and boards for sale. Rental rates are great here so you can spend half a day out on the water for only $35.
Bliss Paddle Yoga
631 Cliff Drive
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
www.blisspaddleyoga.comWhile paddleboarding itself is a blast (and an excellent workout if you’re moving fast enough), combine it with yoga for an even more difficult fitness adventure on the water. You can still rent paddleboards from Bliss and even take standard lessons, but contorting your body into famed yoga positions on top of the board takes the word balance to a whole new level. Tone your muscles and test your balance skills as you focus not only on nailing the poses, but also on staying atop the board and not tumbling into the water below. Yoga is already a relaxing, spiritual workout, but on the water at sunset, it becomes an irreplaceable experience with a truly stunning backdrop.
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