Fall in Southern California is heavenly, especially if you’re looking for a surf and coffee trip. Perfect temperatures, water is still pretty warm, and consistent waves grace the shores. If you look at Surfline’s ‘Best Bet’ for October, most people on the West coast are encouraged to just stay put.
But the cool crisp days will make those post dawn patrol coffees that much more of a treat.
A few fall days in North Orange County offers a surf and coffee retreat that rivals any foreign destination. The beaches and waves were excellent, and there were some new coffee shops to explore along the way.
We flew into Santa Ana airport super early and had our feet in the sand an Newport Beach by about 9am. The morning was crisp and comfortable and there were a few surfers among the crowd enjoying the waist-to-chest high swells without wetsuits.
I was picking up my new fish from Harbour Surfboards up in Seal Beach so didn’t actually have a board with me yet. Regardless, it was a pretty sweet way to get the cobwebs of the flight behind us. After an hour or so we cruised up to Almond Surfboards to check out the beautiful boards and other goods they keep in stock and then grabbed coffee and some donuts across the street at Sidecar.
Two hours off the plane and you have sandy feet and immersion in some amazing surf and coffee culture… Ah, California!
By now Harbour was open and I was having trouble remaining calm, so we cruised on up to Seal Beach.
Now, if you aren’t familiar with Seal Beach, don’t be too hard on yourself. When we moved there about 10 years ago, my sister-in-law who had commuted between LA and San Diego for 20 years had never heard of it.
Wedged in between Huntington Beach and Long Beach, Seal Beach is a sleepy little town that just doesn’t offer too much in terms of a party scene so most young people avoid it. Additionally it is small and expensive, so doesn’t have the masses of housing that Huntington Beach offers.
Bottom line, it is easy to miss. But when we lucked upon it 10 years ago with a one-year-old in tow we thought we had found paradise – a small SoCal town right from a Norman Rockwell painting that most people seem oblivious to.
I surfed a lot, and also bought my first twin fin fish, a 6’2” Bettis, from a guy around the corner from me. My surfing life completely changed and I had a fish and many hours in the water to thank.
Harbour Surfboards – A Custom Twin Fin Fish Awaits
Every Southern California town has its star local surfboard shaper and go-to surfshop, and in Seal Beach, Harbour is it. Of course, there are other great shops around, but no one is going to argue with you that Harbour and Seal Beach surfing are synonymous.
Rich Harbour is a throwback to the gilded era of longboard shaping in the 60s, and Harbour surfboards is still predominantly know for nose riders. However, I had always wanted to get a custom Harbour surfboard and knew that they would do a great job on a fish. Plus I loved the idea of having such a unique board that you were unlikely to see around yet would really catch the eye of locals in the area.
I ordered a 6’0 twin with a classic color scheme taken from their Evolver line of longboards and wasn’t disappointed when I went to pick it up. It’s pretty exciting to unwrap a new custom board – everyone in the shop is as stoked as you are.
While there were no waves right in Seal Beach, I was lucky enough to be able to get into a really friendly session down in Bolsa Chica. It was an amazing crisp and clear day with lots of friendly chatter in the lineup and easy waist high waves rolling in – really the perfect session to have a fish under you.
For the rest of the trip I got to know my new board all over Huntington, Sunset Beach, and Seal Beach. There were early morning sessions and sunset ones as well. Just an amazing time to be in Southern California.
Surf and Coffee in North OC
Over the next few days I would develop an enviable morning dawn patrol routine. A quick cruise down to Sunset or Huntington from the place we were staying, morning sessions on my amazing new board, then hitting Surf Cafea in Sunset Beach on the way home for some really great coffee.
I had actually found Surf Cafea on Instagram and was looking forward to checking out their shop (they weren’t there when I lived in the area), however I didn’t actually know where it was. Ironically, the location was right in the middle of my routine and I stumbled in quite on accident.
Of course, it was hard to miss the ‘World’s Best Coffee’ sign hanging on the side of the building.
In Seal Beach, my favorite coffee is at Crema Cafe on Main Street and we had a good experience one morning at 602 Coffee House in Huntington (right on the PCH) if you’re looking for your java fix over there.
But, in all I would have to say that Surf Cafea is a great addition to the area and is worth putting on your surf and coffee itinerary if you’re in the area.