California native Greg Long has carved out a name in the world of competitive big wave surfing by conquering the most challenging waves on the planet: He’s the only surfer to win the Red Bull Big Wave Africa competition, Mavericks Surf Contest, and the Quiksilver Big Wave Invitational. Despite being at the top of his game, 32-year-old Long has not lost sight of his California roots.
Born and raised in San Clemente, Long’s lifeguard father first introduced him and his brother to the ocean as young boys. Now, two decades into a decorated career that has taken him to the far corners of the globe, Long still feels most at home in the place where he originally learned how to ride the waves.
Where do you live? San Clemente, California.
Why there? It’s where I was born and raised and that’s where my family and closest friends live, so it will always be “home.” Also, there are consistent, quality waves year-round—which is hard to find.
Who or what is your greatest California love? I love California’s cultural and geographic diversity. One moment you’re surrounded by metropolitan suburbia and the next you can escape into some serene setting that feels like you’re thousands of miles away. You can have a morning adventure in the mountains and in a matter of an hour or two, be back down in the sun hanging at the beach. For outdoor enthusiasts, I don’t know if there’s anywhere else in the world where such a vast array of activities and environments are so accessible.
What is the biggest misperception about Californians? Sadly, I think a lot of “reality” television shows have given the world a very distorted idea of what life and people are like in California. Throughout my travels, I am regularly asked if that’s what people are really like here—especially in Southern California. I assure them that that does not represent the majority of Californians. We just don’t live that way…
What is the stereotype that most holds true? …but, in the same breath, I have to admit that there are certain places where you see the aforementioned negative qualities. So I guess there are nuggets of truth to some stereotypes!
What is your favorite Golden State splurge? Road-tripping through Central and Northern California and taking an extended detour hopping from winery to winery. I usually end up with a case of wine by the time I’ve made it through all the “detours.”
Time for a road trip—where are you going? From San Clemente, I head to San Francisco taking Highway 1 all the way to Big Sur. There’s great surfing, camping, and hiking all along the way. Then either take a pit stop in Tahoe on the way home, or circle up and around and come back down by way of the Eastern Sierras.
If you could decree an official state culinary experience, what would it be? It would be to spend all day at the beach working up an appetite, then dining at some local hole-in-the wall spot. I like a good Mexican place. Up and down the California coast, you can find these little gems right next to the beach.
Best California song? Any and everything from the Grateful Dead, while driving in the car, windows rolled down, volume up loud.
How would your California dream day unfold? Sunrise snowboarding followed by some late-morning fly-fishing and finished off with an evening sunset surf and a bonfire on the beach. Of course all the above shared with the closest of friends!
Whether it’s manicured beach towns or celebrated theme parks, all framed by oceanfront towns and luxury yachts, “The OC” stands out as one of the state’s most iconic destinations. The always-amazing Disneyland Resort, roughly a 1-hour drive south of L.A. and 2 hours north of San Diego, continues to be one of the best-loved theme parks in the world, while Knott’s Berry Farms and other OC attractions amp up the fun meter.
“Surfing is like golf. . . it keeps knocking you down. But when you stay with it and catch that wave. . . magic.” — actor Dennis Quaid
Shop at spectacular South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, or get the surfer look in Huntington Beach, aka Surf City, USA.
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