HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. – No offense to Santa Cruz in northern California, or Asbury Park, New Jersey, to the east, but the folks here take their Surf City really seriously.
When the local fire truck’s city seal proudly states that it serves Surf City and the city’s official website is surfcityusa.com, you know they mean business. They even trademarked the Surf City USA moniker.
Forget that Surfer.com named Huntington Beach No. 10 on its annual collection of the best surf towns (topped by North Shore of Oahu and Santa Cruz). City boosters have an easy retort – other places may have bigger waves, but Surf City has “more consistent” waves, says Diana Dehm, executive director of the International Surfing Museum here.
She was one of the catalysts in a campaign to convince California lawmakers to deem that Sept. 20, from 2018 on, shall be deemed California Surfing Day.
Thursday is all about celebrating “the heart and soul of the surfing lifestyle, riding the waves up and down the California coastline,” she says. Surfers, city officials and others will gather near the pier to “stop, drop and surf,” she says.
The day is all about “heading to the beach and catching a wave,” she says. “And to think about how lucky we are to have such an amazing ocean.”
Brett Simpson, a pro surfer, says it’s not just the waves that makes Huntington Beach “Surf City” but the fact that so many contests are held there.
Summer Balentine, a 15-year-old local surfer, picks the pier as the best surf spot in town, the south side, where “it always breaks the best,” she says.
Huntington Beach is one of the larger California beach cities, with a population of around 200,000 people. It’s located in Orange County, about an hour’s drive from Los Angeles, just a few miles up the road from ritzy Newport Beach.
Anaheim’s Disneyland is to the south, while to the north are Seal Beach and Long Beach.
The city is dominated by the majestic pier, one of the longest in California at more than 1,800 feet. There’s a mom-and-pop and party scene downtown on Main Street, home to multiple surf shops (47 in the city), bars and restaurants and the Surf Museum, with its popular selfie spot by the world’s largest (44 feet long) surfboard.
Rockers Jan and Dean put Huntington Beach on the map in 1963 with their hit “Surf City,” where everyone is either surfing or there’s “a party growin’.” Main Street features a surfing walk of fame, with footprints and handprints of notable surfers.
And if you’re not a surfer, that’s OK – you can always watch from the side of the pier. It’s quite a show.
Join us on a photo tour of Surf City USA in the slideshow above.
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