Stay safe! Read our Ocean Safety tips before venturing near the ocean.
Article Contributed by a Mystery Surfer
A surfer friend shared some local surfer knowledge with me, breaking it down into where “experienced” surfers go and where “others” go.
He’s experienced, but finds himself looking for a spot that will be the best workout on any given day.
The beach at Point Arena Pier (35 miles south of Mendocino) and Virgin Beach, just on the north end of Fort Bragg, produce waves on some days my pal describes as “overhead” and “double overhead.” This is where the experienced surfers go.
“Other” places to go include Caspar State Beach (on Point Cabrillo Drive off Highway 1 between Mendocino and Fort Bragg), Hare Creek Beach (access is just south of the Hare Creek Bridge before you enter Fort Bragg city limits), Blues Beach, south of Westport, and Wages Beach, just north of Westport.
From Point Arena to Westport is about 65 miles, so the surf spots listed here nearly three-fourths of the Mendocino (County) coastline and are easily accessible from Highway 1.
Regardless of where you go, you’ll need at least a 4/3 mm (thickness) wetsuit. The water is in the low 50’s year-round, so you may also want a hood and booties. “Purists,” my pal notes, “don’t wear booties. I do just because my feet get numb pretty quickly in the cold seawater.”
If you’re a beginner, learn surf etiquette by talking with local surfers. “We’re a pretty friendly bunch,” my pal says.
You can buy/rent surfboards and wetsuits at Sub-Surface Progression, 18600 Hwy 1 Fort Bragg, Ca 95437; (707) 964-3793, or Gone Surfing, 330 North Franklin Street, Fort Bragg, CA 95437 (in the downtown) Phone: 707-961-0889. The store at Caspar Beach also rents soft boards. Call ahead to find out if these businesses offer what you need.
For more information about local surfing, contact the Mendocino County Surfriders, a local non-profit dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of the worlds oceans, waves, and beaches, for all people, through conservation, activism, research & education. Address: PO Box 138, Caspar, CA 95420 Phone: (707) 962-0221.
Finally, be self aware: know your limitations. If you don’t have a lot of experience, stay out of the water on big storm wave days. As we locals tell visitors walking along the cliffs of the Mendocino Coast: be swept away by the beauty, not by the waves. Same holds true for those in the water.