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Fall officially starts September 22, which means here in California it's the best time of year to pick up your board and get back in the water. Surf conditions are ideal, and the Santa Ana wind conditions blowing offshore create great lines and potentially exciting barrels to test your skills. Fall is the time tourists start to pack up and head home, and it's time for the serious surfers to get out and play.
Are you staring forlornly at that board in the corner of your garage? Are you feeling a little anxious at the idea of heading out on the waves again? Summer surf conditions can be pretty lackluster, unless you're willing to drive out to the decent spots, a lot of us haven't picked up a stick in quite some time. Well, it's time to dust off that stick and head back out into the water. Here are 5 great reasons to return to the surf this Fall:
Surfing is a great sport on many levels – not least because it will keep you lean and healthy. Surfing is a great low impact aerobic workout that will burn fat and keep your heart in good shape. Surfing also helps develop your coordination and balance, like yoga with an adrenaline rush. It's a full-body workout that will give you strong, toned shoulder and back muscles – with the potential for a nice tanning session on the warmer days.
In summer, California is teaming with tourists, and the beaches are always packed. While you don't need a quiet beach for a great ride, you do need to find somewhere to park your car, and the thought of wiping out with 10,000 people watching can make even the most professional surfer blush. If you've been avoiding the beaches like a biblical plague all summer, September is the perfect time to get back out there. Conditions are still relatively warm, the lines are beginning to display some hold, and if you find the right spot, there are less surfers competing for the waves.
The Santa Ana winds are a collection of hot, dry, strong gusts that begin in the Rocky Mountains in September – a ridge of circling high pressure builds over the Great basin, forcing air down from the plateau and pushing it west out through the deserts where it warms up and meets the incoming swells on the coast at 25-50 knots. The Santa Ana winds peak at night and in the early morning and, while they're the bane of fire fighters across California, they are a surfer's best friends. When these high-pressure systems strike the swells head on, they give spectacular tubes and big waves – this turns the often calm Californian beaches into surfing Mecca. Don't miss out on the chance to catch some of these incredible waves.
Unlike many of the worlds other premium surf spots, Californian beaches are relatively free of sharks. The Californian Academy of Sciences have conducted a study into shark behavior and have discovered that there have been only 99 unprovoked attacks on humans by sharks (all from the same species, the white shark, Carcharodon carcharias) in the whole history of the state. While shark attacks are rare, they do occur, and Dr. John E McCosker from the Academy of Sciences recommends people never enter the water alone. "The buddy system has saved the majority of shark attack victims."
Californian beaches are famous for pristine white sands, beautiful people, and incredible surf. The most famous beach, Malibu, holds particular sway in the hearts of surfers, for it is one of the beaches where mainstream surf culture first took hold in the 1960s. Nowadays, Malibu is a popular tourist spot, and it's not uncommon to turn up to see 200 surfers all rushing for the same wave … that is, if you can get a parking spot.
The beauty of Malibu for surfers is that it clears up the surrounding beaches for you to enjoy: Zuma, Leo Carillo, and Topanga, as well as Lighthouse Field State Beach in Santa Cruz, Manhattan in LA, and Capistrano beach – a wonderful community where everyone seems to know everyone else.
And in our very own San Diego we've got Del Mar and Oceanside, two reliable surf spots in the area, which can turn out big hollow tubes if the south swells are coming through. Blacks Beach is home to some of our best waves, and La Jolla is another popular location with good surf schools and lifeguard stations. Ocean Beach, Pacific Beach, Sunset Cliffs… the list goes on. For the more experienced surfers looking for a reliable go-to spot, there's always Trestles, although as a local hot spot you'll need to be vigilant when trying to drop in.
That's five great reasons to head back out to the beach this Fall. What are you waiting for?