Southern Californians – Surfing and Beach Culture

If Southern Californians worship at the altars of youth, health, and beauty, then their churches are the beaches. Here, unbelievably beautiful men and women parade their surgically enhanced bodies beneath the ever-present sun. Favorite sports include skating and volleyball, but the ability to look good on a surfboard is the ultimate cool. Surfing was originally practiced by the Hawaiian nobility as a religious ceremony. It was introduced to California by Hawaiian George Freeth in 1907and popularized in the 1920s in Waikiki by Olympic swimmer Duke Kahanamoku. In 1961 the Beach Boys released “Surfin’,” and the sport took off around the world. Today surf culture is part of the mainstream consciousness. The loose-fitting clothes favored by surfers are reproduced on the catwalk, and surfing slang is used by many who have never been near the beach.

Where To Learn To Surf

Beginners are advised to start by body surfing without a board. Boogie boarding, with a half-length board, is also far easier to master than surfing. Beaches with waves that break parallel to the beach (a surf break) are the most suitable. The best beaches on which to learn to boogie board include Santa Monica, Carpinteria, and Del Mar. Beginners should avoid famous surfing beaches, such as Surfrider, San Clemente, and Huntington, as conditions can overwhelm the inexperienced.

Lifeguards are stationed on most county and state beaches in California during the summer. Their distinctive gray huts have been made famous throughout the world by the television series Baywatch. Always follow their instructions on the beach, and ask if you are in doubt about the tidal conditions.

Surfing Highlights

One exhilarating surfing experience is to “beat the tube.” The surfer rides beneath the crest, regulating his speed and position to stay just ahead of the falling wave. If he goes too fast he comes out of the wave; too slowly and he gets knocked off. The wave loses momentum as it nears the shore. At this point the surfer will shoot out of the tube, remaining upright.

Other Beach Activities

Southern California’s spectacular beaches are used by a wide variety of sports enthusiasts. Although the beaches are most popular in summer, activities are enjoyed year-round by hardy souls. Sailing is popular, with thousands of yachts of all sizes harbored in a string of marinas along the coast. Windsurfing and kite flying also take advantage of the prevailing onshore winds. Sea kayakers often explore the rocky coasts of the Channel Islands and the mainland. Volleyball, once limited to friendly matches, is now a major professional sport with competitions held along the Southern California coast each summer.