As a new surfer in the Los Angeles area, I didn’t really know where to begin. Luckily, I had the guidance of a long-time surfer to help me get started at the right break and with the appropriate materials. If you are new to the area or to the surf in general, and you are thinking about hitting Malibu, this article will give you a little bit of my own insight on the area, with emphasis on Third Point, Malibu.
Though the term “Malibu” rolls off the tongue with a satisfying after-taste, have you ever thought of what it means? Well, put simply, the name “Malibu” is of the Native American Chumash origin and literally means “noisy surf”. And no mistake was made in naming it this, because not only do its waves speak volumes, but it’s popularity makes for a significant
amount of noise. Since the mid 1900s, Malibu has been one of the most iconic surf scenes in California. Just the mention of the area’s zip code can bring feelings of envy to any surfer who is stationed elsewhere. Since the tide here varies from day to day, these waves will keep you on your toes, while you keep your toes on the nose!
This popular point break has three main sections, all of which attract a very diverse crowd. The point of focus in this article will be Third Point, because that’s where I learned, and whether it’s glassy like a lake or blown out like an 80s hairdo, Third Point will always be my favorite spot.
Third Point is an increasingly popular spot, mainly to local surfers, because it tends to have bigger wave breaks than the surrounding areas. In fact, a new “surfing only” rule has been instated at Third Point because it has been overtaken by surfers. It is located right off of Las Virgenes Canyon, near the Malibu pier. If you plan on surfing here, you’re going to want to arrive early, otherwise you’ll add an extra half-hour to your trip as you will need to park a long way away. Walking a mile while clutching your surfboard will end up being more of a work out than when you’re actually surfing! Parking on the PCH fills up fast, as does the small parking lot near the beach. But getting there early does have its downsides. If you’re a new surfer, and you head out around 7 ‘o’ clock, you might run into a group of intimidating “locals” who will know right off the bat that you are a beginner. It’s best to just ignore the surfers who give you dirty looks; they don’t really understand the meaning of the surf anyway. For some people it will always be a sport, and for others it will be much more than that, but you’ll run into plenty of different personalities along the way.
But don’t get discouraged! If Third Point is not quite your cup of tea, you can head down a little bit more towards the pier to Surfrider’s Beach, where you’ll find almost every surfer cruising a long board. It’s generally a bit more shallow around this area, and if the weather is right, you’ll be surrounded by good company and probably catch a few really fun waves. Even though it gets pretty crowded, you’re almost always surrounded by either old folks or fellow beginners, who are typically more willing to give you a wave or two. Even if you get in someone’s way, they usually just laugh it off and paddle back out.
As a new surfer, you have the option of starting in the white water- that’s the foamy part of the wave that forms after it breaks and is powered by the momentum brought on by the crash, so it’s a bit nicer than the wave itself. This is what I recommend, at least until you get a sense of what the board feels like when it’s actually being maneuvered by the wave. But of course, you can always head out to the line-up. That is, if you’re fond of learning by repeated failure. That may sound harsh, but such is learning how to surf well: you have to bail. A lot. The line-up is pretty brutal because it’s where each wave in a set starts to break. To an experienced surfer, this is great news, but to a beginner, it means face dives. Learning how to correctly drop into a wave usually looks like this: paddle out to the line up. Catch your breath because it was so ridiculously difficult to paddle out to the line up. Miss the first set. Miss the second set. Almost miss the third set and try desperately to paddle hard enough to catch one of the last few waves of it. Bail. Freak out and formulate an over-the-top story about how you almost drowned that you’re going to tell everyone who wasn’t there. (Okay, maybe that last one was just me.) Anyway, REPEAT.
If that doesn’t appeal to you, like I said, just ride the white water for starters. It’s simple and subtle and gives you much more time to stabilize yourself on the board before you fall. That way you can at east tell everyone that you stood up on the board for the first time.
If you think that surfing may be too extreme for you or your family, or just might not be something you’d be into, I encourage you to try it anyway. With the off chance that it still isn’t for you, there are plenty of other ways to connect to the ocean. In fact, you don’t even have to get wet to interact with the ocean. If you head down the PCH, away from Kanan Canyon, you’ll find the Malibu Surf Shack, where you’ll meet some down-to-earth people who would love to help you find your place in the ocean’s community. They rent surf boards and wetsuits, and if you’re interested, you can try paddle-boarding. It’s kind of like a mixture between surfing and canoeing. The Malibu Surf Shack hosts group paddle-boarding lessons. You start at the pier, and work your way to third point, where you get to watch the surf from the rest of the ocean rather than from the shore. It’s one experience among many that you will not want to miss out on while you are in Malibu.
There’s nothing quite like becoming a child of the surf, especially the surf found right here in California. My favorite part about being in Malibu is pretty much getting owned by the ocean, then finishing the day off by watching the sun set beneath the horizon from the Pacific Coast Highway, and appreciating the ocean just as much as I did before it slapped me around; possibly even more. But whether you’re surfing, tanning, or just there for the view, Malibu does not disappoint.
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