Statue of Surfer with His Board at Huntington Beach, California
Tom Story

Orange County Surfing & Surf Culture

Orange County Surfing & Surf Culture
Take a lesson or just watch pros carve it up

Orange County’s surfing tradition dates back more than 100 years when pioneering Hawaiian surfer George Freeth performed wave-riding demonstrations during the dedication of the new Huntington Beach Pier in 1914. In the 1920s, surfing and Olympic icon Duke Kahanamoku also surfed at the pier. But the sport really took off in the 1950s and the 1960s when Huntington Beach began hosting major events and emerged as the most important surfing city on the American mainland. As local surf legend Corky Carroll has said, “Orange County is the cultural centre of the surf world and Huntington Beach is like the heartbeat.”

Huntington Beach’s shops echo the theme. In front of Jack’s Surfboards, the Surfing Walk of Fame honours top surfers with engraved granite stones in the walkway, while nearby Huntington Surf and Sport immortalises local surf legends with hand- and footprints in a Surfing Hall of Fame. See one of Duke Kahanamoku’s longboards at the International Surfing Museum.

Of course, there’s plenty of surfing in Orange County beyond Huntington Beach. Down at The O.C.’s far southern reaches are San Clemente and San Onofre State Beach (where top surfers ride the legendary breaks at Trestles). Back up the coast, see board-free daredevils bodysurfing at Newport Beach’s experts-only The Wedge.

Want to give surfing a try? Consider Corky Carroll’s Surf Schoolin Huntington Beach or Bolsa Chica State Beach, or head south to San Clemente Surf School.  

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Huntington Beach by Scott Mansfield

Southern California

Discover Orange County

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11
March
Average (°C)
Mar - May
26°
High
5°
Low
June - Aug
35°
High
11°
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Sept - Nov
31°
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5°
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Mar - May
26°
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5°
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Whether it is 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, about one hours’ drive south of Los Angeles and two 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 metre. 

“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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Courtesy of Pelican Hill

The Resort at Pelican Hill

Indulge in Mediterranean elegance, world-class golf courses and five-star service at this Newport Beach resort

Tuscan elegance paired with panoramic ocean views is central to the eternal allure of ...

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Mission San Juan Capistrano, founded in 1776, was the first winery in California.
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Carsten Erler/Getty Images

Spotlight: Anaheim

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Amazing attractions, shopping and dining in the one-of-a-kind Orange County town

With its laid back vibe and unbeatable attractions, this vibrant city on the northwest side of Orange County has become a popular destination for...

The magic of Disneyland, walking through the tunnel underneath the train station to Main Street, it just transports you to other places and other times.
John Lasseter
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Trip 4-5 days 10 stops

Pacific Coast Highway - South

Beach Towns, Iconic Theme Parks
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Start your coastal cruise in this elegant city hugging the coastal mountains, where classic Spanish architecture gives the region a sun washed European look straight out of the Riviera. Santa Barbara, nicknamed 'the American Riviera,' has a burnished antique look like much of the Mediterranean,...

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End your trip with at this sunny, waterfront city. Downtown, shop at Horton Plaza, or catch a baseball game at Petco Park. See the giant pandas at the San Diego Zoo. Next, explore one of the city’s diverse neighbourhoods, Little Italy, North Park, South Park, East Village, pedestrian friendly...

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Unleash the kid within at California’s ultimate play lands

From Disneyland classics to beachfront carousels, the Golden State’s best-in-class theme parks deliver something for everyone, from tots and teens to film buffs and daredevils. Find out what is...

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Lucas Himovitz
Orange County is the cultural center of the surf world and Huntington Beach is like the heartbeat.
Corky Carroll (Orange County surf legend)
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Harriot Manley/Sunset Publishing

O.C. Shopping

Discover boutique brands and bargains

Shopping in The O.C. is almost as legendary as surfing. Start at expansive South Coast Plaza, California’s largest luxury shopping complex, with...

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Where to release your inner fashionista

Shopping is an art form in California. Whether you are in search of the perfect cocktail dress or an authentic Mexican piñata, you will find it here. Want to sample fresh fruits and...

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Prayitno/Flickr
July/August

With a nickname like ‘Surf City, USA’, Huntington Beach is the obvious place for this 9-day, sun-and-wave extravaganza, the world’s largest surf event. Top pros including Kelly Slater and Rob...

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William Fovall/Flickr
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Courtesy of Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel

Orange County's Luxury Resorts

Live like a star at posh getaways

The good life might have been invented in ‘The O.C.’—especially when it comes to resort destinations. With spas, elegant dining, five-star...

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Get into the coastal vibe

Maybe it’s the sun-streaked hair, the frequent smiles, the eyes always gazing west, looking to the horizon to see when the next set might roll in. It’s the unmistakable look and vibe of a...

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Trip 5-7 days 10 stops

Highway One Classic

Take the trip that captures the heart and soul of the Golden State
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Discover the awesome sports scene in the Golden State

With nearly twice as many professional teams as any other state, California is big league all the way. But the state’s sports scene goes far beyond football and baseball, with a diverse line-up of...

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Christina Lauren/Flickr
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Harriot Manley/Sunset Publishing

Crystal Cove State Park

Stroll a perfect beach with an intriguing past

In 1912, an early Laguna Beach artist described finding a rugged coastline “with cove after cove and headland after headland, golden cliffs and...

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From Gold Rush history to 8th wonders of the world, visit these favorites

If there was ever a box of chocolates—and all of them delicious—it’s the rich collection of natural treasures, fascinating...

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Amy Meredith/Flickr
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Golf in Orange County

Tee up at top courses, with some ocean views

With ideal Southern California weather and some of the country’s most celebrated courses, Orange County justly earns the nickname ‘California Golf...

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Check these amazing experiences off your bucket list

Kiss a beluga, see cool movie props, and learn about Walt’s secret hideaway on exclusive and behind the scenes tours at California’s theme parks and attractions. Here’s a roundup of actvities...

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Photo by Michael Saechang/Flickr
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Courtesy of Orange County Great Park

Orange County Great Park

Explore an impressive urban park

Turning former military land into a roughly 1,300-acre green space, this Irvine park is as ambitious as it is beautiful. Though it...

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Every year, the Orange County Great Park Balloon dons a smiling jack-o-lantern mask, marking the unofficial start of fall in Orange County.