Trip Planning

RV Surfing on the West Coast

An RV trip is always an adventure, but sometimes you need to turn up the adventure even more. This was one of those times and we decided to travel from the Mexican border all the way up the west coast to the Canadian border, surfing along the way on a mega RV surfing trip!

I’ve heard and read about people doing this trip before, but almost always it’s in a camper van and they’re roughing it. We did it a little differently, heading up this absolutely breathtaking coast, with all the conveniences of home. There’s no way to express some of the memories that are etched into my mind from this RV trip, truly a once in a lifetime experience.

The Start – San Diego

We left Minnesota in December shortly after Ella was born to sunny San Diego. I couldn’t wait to hit the waves! We were staying at a campsite where there was nothing between us and Mexico other than a mountain. My goal was to start surfing right at the Mexican border in Imperial Beach. When we got there, we found that it had rained and it washed a bunch of sewage and toxic waste from Tijuana into the ocean causing them to shut down the beach…

Luckily, San Diego is just a few miles north, close enough to go and hit the waves and far enough to stay away from the Tijuana waste. There’s a lot of great beaches in San Diego and we got to visit many of them. One of the benefits of going surfing in a metro area is you have lifeguards watching over many of the beaches.

surfing on the beach
jeep on the beach

Orange County

The next stop was Orange County. We stayed at the Newport Dunes RV Resort in Newport Beach which is centrally located. In my opinion, it is perfectly located to visit all the great beaches of the OC. Orange County has a lot of world class beaches making it difficult to choose which ones to spend time at, so I hit the waves at all of them.

The Trestles

Starting from south Orange County is the world famous Trestles. This is one of the best surf spots in the world and where they hold the Hurley Pro each year. It’s a little bit of a hike to get to the beach but it’s secluded, beautiful and offers consistent quality waves. If you’re new to surfing and the waves are good, it’s best to avoid this spot because you’ll be battling some of the top sponsored surfers and things can get pretty heated if you make a rookie mistake or cut into the lineup.

Dana Point

Doheny State Beach is a good spot to bring the family, relax and hit the waves. On a nice weekend this beach can get really busy but it’s a relaxed atmosphere. A big highlight of this spot is that the water color will often turn emerald green and it’s absolute paradise.

Laguna Beach

It’s known for being on TV and for being a very affluent small town in Southern California, but the beaches here are TOP NOTCH! They offer everything from a relaxing atmosphere, tide pooling, excellent snorkeling, to great waves to ride. Much like any surfing town in So-Cal, it’s comprised of many small beaches. You’ll want do your research on the current wave status and what you’re looking to accomplish to figure out which specific area you want to visit. Our favorite spot is called Wood’s Cove which is a very family friendly area with a wide variety of things to do.

The Wedge

This is one of the most famous surfing/bodyboarding/skimboarding spots in the world because of the freakishly large waves it produces (google image the wedge). I’ve been lucky enough to bodyboard this incredible place and been even luckier to be a spectator as some of the top riders in the world paddle out while a 25 ft wall of water is about to come crashing down on them.

It probably goes without saying that it’s not a place for beginners. But on a day where there are mid-sized waves, someone who has an intermediate skill level can have the time of their life being tossed in the air by this massive shore break. If you go, respect the locals and play by the rules.

Newport Beach

Another world famous surfing community is Newport Beach. Many of the top surfing brands are from this area and it seems like everyone’s a surfer. With miles of beach to explore, consistent waves and an overall fun atmosphere, it’s one of our favorite places in the country. When a storm rolls in off shore, monster waves can occur so as always make sure you check the surf report. Surfers here are generally friendly, but if it’s crowded you may want to head to a different section to avoid battling for the waves.

Surf City USA

Huntington Beach is called “Surf City” for a reason. It has a great surf culture and fantastic waves. The locals can get territorial near the pier so if you’re visiting you may want to head further down the beach, which is fine cause it has miles of beaches.

Each year they host a dog surfing competition where you’ll see all different kinds of dogs catching some waves.

Santa Cruz

Heading up to central California is the iconic surf city of Santa Cruz. Although Huntington has the official label, many consider Santa Cruz to be the unofficial surf city. The surf culture is strong here, and so are the waves. I spent a good amount of time surfing the beaches here and Bailey even joined me one day. Cowells Beach is a great spot for beginners and longboarders. It’s been said to be one of the top places in the world to learn how to surf. The waves are gentle and offer a long ride.

Just a mile or so north is Steamer Lane. It’s one of the coolest places I’ve surfed and many people jump off the cliff to hit the spot. It’s dangerous and the locals are VERY aggressive so make sure you know your stuff and play by the rules. If you want to be a spectator this spot offers incredible views from the cliff of the surfers below.

dog surfing
people sitting on a beach

The Mavericks

What would an iconic surfing trip be without stopping in at the Mavericks in northern California? I’m not a big wave surfer, in fact I’m not even a very good surfer, I just enjoy it. The day I came here there were 30 ft waves and there were a few surfers who braved their way out. However they were just wrapping up their day when I got there and I never got to see anybody take any waves. I’ll be back…

Point Reyes Seashore

This is such a beautiful and rugged area. The waves were really rough the entire time I was here and I’m sure at some point they calm down, but the unique part is that it’s windy more often than it’s not making it an ideal place for wind-surfing. There were A LOT of wind surfers and there was A LOT of wind.

surfing on the beach
flying kites on a beach

The Redwoods

When I get to a new area I do a lot of online research before I head out on an adventure. I was really excited because when I found out we were staying in Klamath, CA I read that it has some of the best surfing in California. I then found out that it’s extremely dangerous from a mixture of big waves, a massive seal colony, oh yeah and it’s one of the highest populated areas of Great Whites due to the massive amount of marine life where the Klamath River dumps into the ocean. It’s such a remote area that if I did take my chances here, I’d not only be the only person in the water, but the only person on the beach. The risk vs reward just wasn’t worth it.

So I opted to head 15 miles up the coast to Crescent City Beach which is a flat, wind-protected beach. It’s a large beach with plenty of room to find seclusion to ride the wave of your choice.

horseback riding on the beach
waves on rocks

Agate Beach

When we were in central Oregon I hit up Agate Beach. It was pretty rough and the waves were pretty big. The beach was nice and big with a bustling crowd.

Lost Creek State Beach

This was a true gem. We stayed at the Whaler’s Rest RV Resort in Newport, Oregon. Our campsite was just on the other side of some trees to the beach.

I couldn’t find ANYTHING online about anyone ever surfing here before and the rangers told me they’ve never heard of anyone surfing here. So I scoped it out at low tide to look for any rocks and found a spot where I’d give it a go.

It was awesome! We were there for 3 weeks and I had the entire spot all to myself. I could walk right out from the RV and I only had to share it with a seal who kept visiting me while I was paddling out.

man with surfboard
man surfing
man surfing

Short Sands Beach

This is paradise and one of my all time favorite beaches! The hike in is a 1/2 mile trail that opens up to a wild and rugged beach. It is sheltered by a cove blanketed with a lush forest that’s lined with volcanic basalt and sandstone cliffs. My pictures don’t do this place justice, it literally took my breath away. I was surprised how many people were here for such a remote location.

Indian Beach

Located just north of Cannon Beach is Indian Beach. A beautiful drive ends with an even more beautiful beach. There were quite a few surfer vans with groups of people hitting the waves. There’s a lighthouse in the distance and it was such a great moment to watch the sunset behind it while waiting for the next set.

Olympic National Park

I was blown away at the rugged beauty of Olympic National Park. To be able to surf here is on another level of awesome. First Beach offers the chance to hit the waves with the backdrop of large cliffs. It makes you feel very small.

Ending the Trip – The Canadian Border

On one of the last days before leaving the coast I wrapped up this big surfing adventure by paddling out at Salt Creek County Park. It was right by the campground we were staying at and if you look in the distance you can see Canada!

It was the perfect way to relax in the water waiting for the sun to dip below Canada in the horizon. What a way to end the perfect west coast surfing trip!

family in front of RV

Shore Looks Nice

Eric Hannan

Have you ever wanted to pack it all in and hit the road full time in an RV? That’s exactly what the Hannans did when they ditched the corporate lifestyle of Orange County, CA to travel across America. They work full time in the RV while visiting friends, family and the scenic areas of this country.