I'm a PA native, surf southern NJ on the weekends, and have always wanted to plan a winter surf trip. I'm thinking something along the lines of a San Onfre or Doheney longboard trip. I'd like to bring my wife and kids to enjoy the beach and boogie boarding, maybe a trip to Legoland or other family themed events.
Any Orange or San Diego county natives out there that could make a recommendation? I'd like to schedule it the week after Christmas over New Years Eve. A day or two on the beach, a day at Legoland, a day doing who know's what. I want to make sure that I get in one day of surf while we're in the area.
The kids are 5 and 3, my wife is a non-surfer so I need to create a family vacation that allows for a beach day and a few waves for dad.
Many recommend staying at the beach. If you have the $$$ for that, then go for it.
Or, look for hotels near Mission Bay or Old Town (my personal preference). Old Town is family friendly and has many attractions right outside your doorstep. LEGOLAND is a 10 minute drive. Sea World is a 2-3 minute drive. The Zoo and Balboa Park is a 5 minute drive. All city beaches are a 5 minute drive, and approximately 10 minutes to Tourmaline Street in Pacific Beach, an excellent and friendly longboard break. The beach there is great for the spouse and the kiddos, too.
Water temps during Xmas are generally around 58-60 degrees. A 3mm fullsuit and 3mm booties are fine.
San O is about 45 mins to an hour, add at least 30 mins when traffic is thick (almost always). Doheny is about 2 hours. You're better off at Tourmaline or La Jolla Shores (maybe 20 mins or so). If you're experienced and don't mind cliff walking, Sunset Cliffs offer some great longboard breaks when the swell is up....but there's no beach for the family. Watch other surfers for entry/exit points to and from the lineup.
Why bother with SanO when Trestles is right there? Sick wave even on a mediocre day. It should be obvious, but try to leave flexibility in which day you surf. Onshores and flatness happen here too. Try to surf on a Tuesday or Wednesday to avoid crowds. 9AM-3PM is the low time when a lot of people are at work, but onshores tend to kick in around noon.
Man, trying to hit the right crowd/tide/wind/swell/time/day combination for a one-day surf trip just makes my head hurt.
Just be flexible. Watch the Buoys and spot your landing. Don't spend half your day driving, half your day walking down trails only to surf small, crowded stuff. Just wait until right before you leave and check the swell. It's almost NEVER flat in the winter. Onshores aren't as bad then either. Winter is filled with calm, dead wind days and heat waves in the wind, sometimes it even goes off shore...
Just don't tell your wife NOW, that when you go, wednesday is the time you want to surf, at 1pm at Blacks... You have to wait and see. It could be big, even huge... you never know. You don't want to commit to a day that is too big or too small for your liking. If the kids will be with you, DONT GO TO BLACKS. trust me there.
Winter is the perfect time to try out a sick reef break. Not a crazy slab reef in La Jolla, but you know what I am talking about.... Family can sit on a cliff or on the beach and watch daddy get mellow, 250 yard rides.... Crowds aren't at a factor at dozens of good spots out there unless its cranking.
But go somewhere good. Somewhere memorable. Don't go to PB or some place that is no different than any other crap beach break you have been to. Go somewhere that you have always wanted to surf. Even if its crowded. You want to look back and feel a sense of accomplishment after the trip. Like you spent your time wisely.
You can get away without booties there in the winter too. I usually wore a 4 mil with no boots, depending on where I was surfing.
ANd yeah, the wind can get cranky everyday from about 11am to sunset. You never know. Winter usually has the most ideal of conditions for surf for sure.