The southern part of Los Angeles isn’t quite a surfing hot spot. (North LA is another story.) There are lots of west facing beach breaks and fun sandbars but nothing amazing. Some of the best spots are Venice Beach and El Porto. It will take you an hour in traffic, it will be crowded, and parking will be a headache. But that is just part of life in LA in general.
North Los Angeles has a long chapter in the history of surfing. This is Miki Dora’s beach, Gidget’s beach, and the Surfrider Foundation’s beach. North Los Angeles is not the smog covered, traffic jam that is south LA. Although you still may run into a famous actress or musician in the line up. There are rolling hills, varied geography, and an abundance of good surf spots like Malibu, Zuma Beach, and Topanga. A strong south swell will really turn these spots on. There are miles of beachbreak and classic point breaks that can work all year long. And the canyons and hills can help produce nice offshore wind conditions. Malibu has the luxury of protection from the rugged mountains not to mention the very wealthy property owners who value their privacy, keeping this area untouched from the urban sprawl of the rest of Los Angeles. Real estate prices are high but the small beach town vibe is maintained, and so is the public access to the beaches.
Fall is the best time for surf, although there can be surf year round. In the fall the water temperatures can be warmer than in the summer months. North and south swells start crossing, paired with the offshore winds that are common for this time of year and you get clean, hollow beauties for weeks. If LA spots are firing, that means a better spot is going off in San Diego or Santa Barbara. Luckily Los Angeles is centrally located to some of southern California’s best spots, so surfers have easy access world class surf at their fingertips.