2. The Wrong Place – Surfing is like real estate: Location, location, location. The ideal beginner wave offers a long, gently rolling break that crumbles, not crashes. It’s what surfers call (with some disdain) a mushy wave. Better still if there’s a sand bottom – that may save you some paddling.
Huntington Beach can be hit-or-miss in this regard. When you’re learning how to surf, any sand bottom surf break carries a wild-card factor; It may be perfect for learning, or it may be a hideous beast that eats everything in its’ path.
If you don’t know, it’s best to ask a pro. The area fronting Banzai is unique in Huntington because it’s a long shallow area that gets a steady supply of sand from the nearby Santa Ana river. We’ve done surf lessons for kids in our area when the waves outside are over ten feet.
If you can’t surf with us, the other popular beginner spots are Blackies, just north of the Newport pier, and Seal Beach, which is about eight miles north (Though Seal Beach is the ‘national champion’ when it comes to stingray injuries). Bolsa Chica can be good (especially for intermediate level surfers) though somewhat tide sensitive.
I don’t recommend the pier or ‘cliffs’ area unless you have a coach, due to crowds of more experienced (translated ‘impatient with beginners’) surfers. Most of Huntington is better on a low to medium tide. If the waves are much over head-high, you’re in for a rough time. – Jaz Kaner