Surf Beach is several miles long of wide sandy beach with thundering surf conditions all year around. Situated right below Amtrak’s Surf Beach terminal, this is a very secluded beach. The first thing that one will notice when exiting their car is overpowering sound of surf pounding the shore; this is one beach that is well named! As with Ocean Beach which is just a mile north, there are no lifeguards.
Swimmers and surfers need to be very experienced in heavy surf before venturing past wading at this beach.Facing open ocean, there is nothing slowing down waves that have traveled thousands of miles to break here. Vandenberg Air Force Base borders it, so there aren’t any amenities to speak of at this beach beyond a bathroom facility.
Surf, Tides, Climate, Water Temp: The beach's name says it all: if you like to watch breaker after breaker hitting the shore, this is the beach to come to! The surf is generally not ride-able due to high winds that are very common here, but there are days when surfing is possible. Wetsuits are required for all but the most hardy, the water is a very chilly 50-58 degrees! This coastline is usually either shrouded in fog or in the process of getting whipped by high winds year around. There are some very Nice days here though, but not all that common. Bring a sweatshirt or a windbreaker in case its colder than expected!
Beach Activities:Because there aren't any rocks out in the water, this can be a surfer's paradise, but extreme caution needs to be exercised at all times here! Fishing, beachcombing, sunbathing and birdwatching are other fun activities that can be pursued here. There aren't any picnic tables here; head a little north to Ocean Beach for picnic fun. Beachcombers will enjoy the seemingly endless beach with plenty of interesting shells and objects to pick up and examine. This is a very long stretch of beach, over 3 miles long just going south! One of the most unusual features of this beach is that Amtrak has an unattended station that you must cross over to get on the sand.
Scenery and Wildlife:Along with the many different species of birds found along this coastline, whalewatching is also possible during their yearly migrations north and south. Dolphins are also possible to see as they cruise up and down the coastline playing in the surf and hunting for fish to eat. The Western Snowy Plover has nesting grounds just north of Surf Beach at Ocean Beach, so during nesting season from March 1st to September 30th, anyone wishing to visit Ocean Beach has to hike from Surf Beach as the road and parking area are closed to visitors. Bring your binoculars and cameras!
Pets and Rules:Due to the sensitive nature of all the birds found at this beach, particularly the Western Snowy Plover, dogs are not allowed. In addition, there is no bicycling, horseback or ATV riding, fires, fireworks, camping or kiteflying. And don't even THINK of feeding any of the wildlife! The beach has electronic surveillance and Federal law allows for some pretty hefty fines if you are caught violating any rules.Parking is free.
Local Flavor, Crowds, well known local events:At the end of April there is the annual Spring Arts Festival featuring free entertainment on the outdoor stage, a variety of food booths, Beer Garden, carnival rides, classic/antique car show, a motorcycle exhibit, sanctioned chili cook-off and barbecue shootout. The Lompoc Flower Festival draws thousands every year with their incredible displays of colors in all the local growing fields, which is held every year in mid-June.
Best times to visit:The best time to visit Ocean Beach is in the fall since there is less coastal fog during this season and it is after the Western Snowy Plover's nesting season (Oct 1st). The weather can change fairly quickly so it is wise to come prepared for cold.