If it wasn’t for Porto, then I wouldn’t be surfing. And if it wasn’t for surfing, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
There really is no place in the world quite like Los Angeles let me tell you that. The hustle of downtown in full swing is not for the faint of heart, while the drama unveiling itself on the Pacific coast displays a performance worthy of more Oscars than Leo DiCaprio. In an hour’s time, depending on traffic, you could be skiing fresh powder runs, climbing huge rocks in the desert, or luckily for us, surfing some of the best waves Southern California has to offer.
Los Angeles surfers have it good. While factors such as water pollution and overcrowding definitely come into play, wave selection, weather, and environment truly take the cake. Many surf breaks scatter the coast of LA, spots such as Manhattan, Hermosa, and Santa Monica are all great options to get wet. One beach, however, holds a place near and dear to my heart. Located in the South Bay, El Porto beach is one of the best surf spots in the area; it is also where I happened to catch my first wave. That alone makes it my favorite beach to visit when I’m looking for a quick session to start or end the day. Don’t stop reading though; this beach break has lots to offer you as well.
How To Get There: El Porto is conveniently located for easy access to all Los Angeles surfers. My favorite route is simple. Take the 105 towards LAX and keep on straight until you reach the ocean. From there, bang a left onto the Pacific Coast Highway and continue on until you see your first gas station, then make a right. The entrance will be just down the way. Find yourself a parking spot and don’t forget to pay the meter! Welcome to LA.
How To Surf It: El Porto beach consists of a multitude of breaks, with the most popular being straight in front of a large concessions stand. This stand serves as a good marker for days when a strong current will push and pull surfers in a variety of directions. Be careful of this if you are new to the game, as a rip at Porto will have you paddling for 30 minutes in one spot just to get past the impact zone. Spend a couple minutes on the beach analyzing how the waves are working that day; sand bars on the ocean floor tend to shift and alter the characteristics of the surf. El Porto works best on a combo swell (SW, WSW, W, WNW) with wave heights between 2-6 feet. Anymore than that and things start to get a little dicey.
What To Wear: While LA is known for its warm and gorgeous weather, the same can’t be said for the Pacific Ocean. While it’s considered warm throughout the winter by most standards, surfers here will, for the most part, require a 3/2-suit year round.
Best Memory: Although I rode my first wave here, I have many fond memories at El Porto as I have been going there since before my days as a surfer even began. Porto is a great place to hang out. Relatively secluded from large stores and busy boardwalks, it provides a large sandy beach, perfect for kicking it with friends. I can’t pinpoint a favorite memory from this place; there have been too many, just know that it probably involved some good surf, good friends, and a few cold ones. Go see for yourself!