The world changes dramatically after Del Monte Beach. Without knowing the geological history of the place, it seems like the Monterey Peninsula all came from somewhere else, maybe sliding along on a fault line, because everything about this place is different: the trees, the rocks, the sand, the kelp, the water clarity. Nowhere else in California does the coast change as much as it does between Santa Cruz and Monterey.
The Monterey Peninsula is one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline in the world. It's as if God the Landscape Architect smoked a big fattie and decided to do it all just right. He came up with a world-class montage of rocks, ocean, trees and sky. There are million-dollar houses overlooking world-class golf courses overlooking the prettiest coastline you will see anywhere, all lit up by that slanting north Central California light and cloud. He didn't forget to throw in some surf, and if you look carefully along this rocky coast, you will find surf that ranges from beginner to world-class.
Truth time. There are a lot more golfers than surfers living out on the Monterey Peninsula. There are maybe 300 guys who regularly surf the breaks between Lover's Point and Carmel Beach, and we couldn't find one of them who would talk to us. That means, of course, that this map is by no means a complete unveiling of the area's surf potential. There could be other secret spots along the Monterey Peninsula, and we hope there are. Happy hunting.
Thinking about sharks is not something you want to do, but it's something you kind of have to do along North Central California. The area of ocean tipped by Ano Nuevo Island, the Farallon Islands and Point Reyes is known as "The Red Triangle" thanks to the regular number of shark attacks on surfers, swimmers and divers. Avoid beaches with large seal populations ... those are 500-pound TV dinners for great whites.The Seasons
Summer for the most part means fog, flat spells and onshore winds. The huddled masses yearning to get waves easily overwhelm the meager dribbles that come through during the dog days of summer. There are better places to be in the summer than North Central California -- way better places. For the most part, summer is a season to be endured.
Those who suffer through a north-central summer are rewarded in the fall. By September or October, the fog and onshore winds disappear, leaving behind clear blue skies and soft offshore breezes. The coast comes to life with early northern Pacific pulses combined with late-arriving southern hemisphere juice. The result is a smorgasbord of good surf and great conditions.
Local storms, Aleutian storms and low-pressure systems moving across the central Pacific all throw swell at this coast during the winter, and it is in a constant state of flux. The surf can go from flat to 15 feet in the course of a day, then blow out the next day from an approaching storm, then glass off on the third day with offshore winds and perfect conditions. The tides are extreme in the winter as well, ranging from as low as minus 2.5 to a high of 7.5. Surfers love the non-stop show.
There can be good surf in the spring, with early south swells bumping into late winter swells, and those northwest winds blowing offshore in places, if you know where to look. Guys have surfed Maverick's into May and even June. But spring by and large means onshore winds and a slacking off into summer.