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Surfing the Mendocino Coast

Surfing the Mendocino Coast
Fort Bragg / Noyo Harbor

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Whether you are an experienced surfer or a beginner, you will find waves to suit you on the Mendocino coast. Many of the area’s more experienced surfers will be found at Point Arena Pier (35 miles south of Mendocino Village) and Virgin Beach, which is just north of Fort Bragg. Look for “overhead” and “double overhead” (literally higher than your head, or twice as high as your head) waves at these locations. Places more suited to intermediate-level surfers include Blues Beach (south of Westport); Pudding Creek (two blocks north of Elm Street in Fort Bragg) and Wages Beach (north of Westport). In Mendocino, Smuggler’s Cove (south of Big River Bridge) has waves that are bigger than they appear at first, and should not be attempted by beginning surfers. Caspar State Beach (on Point Cabrillo Drive off Hwy 1) is better suited for beginners.

You’ll need a wetsuit, the water is in the low 50s year-round so you’ll probably also want a hood and booties. If you’re a beginner, learn surf etiquette by talking with local surfers. Surfboards, wetsuits and equipment are available to rent or buy at local surf shops and they can give you information you need, along with lessons, demos, trips and tours. And know your limitations, “Get swept away by the beauty, not by the waves!”

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