What Northern California boasts is beyond describable in words when it comes to hidden gems for SUP surfing. From the not-so-hidden coast near San Francisco all the way to the nearly inaccessible spots near the Oregon border. With a variety of waves for every level of SUP surfer, Northern California should never be overlooked when you're on the hunt for that potentially perfect unridden wave.
JUST South of the Golden Gate Bridge:
San Mateo & San Francisco county
Starting just a short 40 minute drive south of San Francisco is one of the most iconic big waves surfing spots in the world: Mavericks. Those willing to paddle out here will be greeted by waves reaching heights of up to 60 feet, so by no means do we recommend this spot unless you're seriously prepared. On the other hand, with an even shorter drive south from SF lies Pacifica; a great spot for beginners and advanced standup paddle surfers alike. But look to the outskirts of the city of San Francisco and you will find none other than Ocean Beach. Known for it's heavy, sandy bottom barrels, Ocean Beach can handle many different swell directions along with waves from knee high up to a not so unusual double to triple overhead.
A QUICK TRIP NORTH OF THE GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE:
Head across the iconic Golden Gate Bridge and you will find none other than Marin County; home of Desolation Outdoors. As you can probably suspect we love where we live and if there was one spot that we could surf every day of the week, it would be Bolinas. The town of Bolinas may look small to the outsider's eye, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in good vibes and peaceful rides. Be respectful of the locals in any of these Northern California surf spots and you're sure to bring home a jar full of good memories.
Wine Country of Sonoma County to the mendocino county line
Although Sonoma County may be more well known for its vast rows of vineyards and wine makers, there's also waves to be found along its chilly coast. The quality of waves may not compare to the wine quality of the area, but if caught at the right time, you can be rewarded with a good time! With only a few choice breaks along the coast, Salmon Creek can be deemed the better of the few for SUP surfing in particular. As an area that turns on less than one would hope, make sure to respect the locals here fore they have to deal with this rear round waiting game.
Another little known surfing spot is Mendocino County, just north of Sonoma. Home to the end of Highway 1 along with the Lost coast, lies a beautiful rocky coastline. Just south of the town of Mendocino lies Point Arena; boasting an excellent righthanded point break when the conditions line up correctly. Expect an easier paddle out onboard your SUP with a perfect keyhole through the waves, but be careful, as this wave only gets better with the bigger swell. If you're feeling extra lucky, head up to the Lost Coast for some possibly untouched breaks; who knows, you could be the next conquistador of SUP surf perfection...
The redwood forests of humboldt county to the california/oregon border
If you can find your way through the Douglas Fir, Redwoods, horizontal rain, and dense fog; you may have a chance to score big in Humboldt, and we're not just talking agriculturally. Depending on the time of year and the weather conditions, there's a perfect break for every level of SUP surfer here. But if you're into big waves in particular, this may be the ideal spot for you. Expect places like Shelter Cove, Humboldt Harbor, and Patrick's Point to hold up in big surf and offer some of the best big waves in Northern California if caught right. Throughout the Winter, Spring and Fall you can almost guarantee big waves, but come summertime and there are plenty of less death-defying waves that are much more manageable in size. Pick your poison; Humboldt County will feed you some great SUP surfing spots that are possibly untouched.
Just north of Humboldt County and the closest coastal city to the Oregon Border lies Del Norte County. If desolate areas are an issue for you, then this may not be the place. With a population of less than 30,000 you can surely expect the number of trees in this county to exceed the number of people. But what this county lacks in a large population it makes up for it with large waves. As expected, the further you go north the larger the swell and the higher the winds, but that's not to say there is no fun to be had. Find yourself at South Beach in Crescent City when everywhere else around is too big and you may find yourself on the perfect SUP wave. Or drop in at the Klamath River mouth and expect a heavy right handed barrel that will put your skills to the test.
Not only is Northern California a perfect SUP surfing destination, it offers the Golden Gate Bridge, the home of Desolation Outdoors, and the Redwood National and State Parks. So pack your bags and head to Northern California for what could be your greatest adventure yet.