The USA’s best surfing road trips for spring break

Now is the perfect time for a spring break surf trip. With the days getting longer and the water getting warmer, there is no better time of year to pack the surfboards and hit the road.

Here are five of the USA’s best surfing road trips, perfect for the new season.

San Diego to Cabo San Lucas

The Mexican Baja coast. Photo by Twenty 20
The Mexican Baja coast. Photo: Courtesy of jf1216/Twenty20
Distance: 1,059 miles
The Trip: A thousand miles of some of the most varied, beautiful, remote, and wave laded coastline in the land. Traveling down the Transpeninsular Highway, or Highway 1 for short, the trip can be sectioned into three very distinct experiences.

Northern Baja California is a cheaper, less-built-up version of its American cousin, just with better waves and less crowds. Next comes the pointbreaks, fertile valleys and mountain ranges of Central Baja. Lastly if you survive the drive through the remote desert, you’ll blast sandy and thirsty into Cabo San Lucas, with its 24-hour party vibe, great reef and beachbreaks and cold cerveza.

Santa Barbara to Santa Cruz

The coast of Big Sur. Photo Visit California
The coast of Big Sur. Photo: Courtesy of Visit California
Distance: 260 miles
The Trip: Leaving Santa Barbara, one of California’s prettiest cities, with its groomed pointbreaks and surrounding vineyards, won’t be easy, but the next 260 miles has some of America’s most iconic highway vantage points.

You’ll take famous surf spots like Morro Bay and before hitting Big Sur, a 90-mile stretch of redwood- and fog-trimmed waterfront, and waves between Carmel-by-the-Sea and Hearst Castle that you could spend a day, or a lifetime, exploring. End up at Santa Cruz, aka Surf City, with its stunning coastline, vibrant city life and regional classic surf spots such as Pleasure Point and Steamer Lane.

Ventura to San Diego

Long lines at C-Street in Ventura. Photo: Bill Sharp
Long lines at C-Street in Ventura. Photo: Courtesy of Bill Sharp

Distance: 188 miles

The trip: Short and sweet, but this 200-mile stretch of Californian coastline takes in some of the state’s best waves and most iconic surf spots. Ventura’s C-Street fits both those bills and pulls in most swells to its boulder-strewn pointbreak.

Heading south, keep the Santa Monica Mountains on your left flank and the Pacific Ocean on your right until you hit Malibu, the spiritual home of surfing in the States and home to excellent rolling waves and celebrity spills.

You’ll then drive, slowly, through the LA sprawl, although a detour to legendary Newport Beach and its infamous Wedge is a must. At Dana Point, hop on the I-5 and meander down to the famous surf spots of Trestles and the cruisey surf towns of Carlsbad and Encinitas before celebrating your good fortune in San Diego.

Juno to New Smyrna

Take a long drive from Juno's short pier. Photo by Twenty 20
Take a long drive from Juno’s short pier. Photo: Courtesy of Twenty20

Distance: 175 miles
The Trip: Juno Pier is about a 90 minute-drive north of Miami and offers some of the most consistent waves on the Floridian coast. It’s a great place to start an alternative spring break, with winter swells still lingering and the water as warm as ever.

Then follow Highway A1A north along Florida’s barrier islands to Sebastian Inlet. The Inlet is a wedging sand-bottom jetty break next to the north side of Sebastian Inlet State Park and one of Florida’s best, albeit most crowded, waves.

Farther north is Cocoa Beach — best known for its most famous local, Kelly Slater — and then Cape Canaveral, before all surf roads lead to New Smyrna Inlet, the coastline’s most consistent wave. The town itself is all underground surf charm, a million miles from the coastal excess Florida is known for, but still a heck of a lot of fun.

Bodega Bay to Crescent City

A surfer at the legendary, and rather dangerous, Klamath Rivermouth. Photo by Extremesports.com
A surfer at the legendary, and rather dangerous, Klamath Rivermouth. Photo: Courtesy of Extremesports.com
Distance: 330 miles
The trip: Taking in the northern half of California’s coast is no small feat, and the trip is truly for the adventurous. You will face cold water, isolated coastlines, big waves and somewhat intense locals.

Leaving Bodega Bay, you’ll hit Mendocino’s wave-carved headland, sandwiched between thick forests and a foaming sea, with good waves and better seafood. A diversion inland takes you through the Humboldt Redwood State Park and its Avenue of Giants, leading to Eureka and the areas best waves of Moonstone and Patricks Point.

You’ll finish only 20 miles south of Oregon at seafaring Crescent City, home to the northernmost of California’s lighthouse stations. At some stages of this trip the water will get too cold, and the waves too rough, but the pure beauty of this remote, natural and untouched region will always make it well worth the trip.

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