Review & Photos by Bill Polick
If I'd never been there before the day my son Mike and I did our photo
shoot, I'd say this place sucked. But it doesn't! We just caught
it this time on the wrong tide with a weak swell.
Huntington Cliffs, in Huntington Beach, CA, is a couple miles north of
the famous pier and downtown area. Since I first started riding there
in the mid 60s, it's been a favorite.
Catch a strong south, southwest or west swell at the right tide and this
place will challenge your abilities. Mike and I hit it a couple years
ago at head high and it was awesome. There are several peaks that
spread out the crowds. Limited parking and fairly expensive parking
meters keep the crowds down too.
There's not the "localism" here that you find at the pier. In
fact, it's mellow for those who surf with respect. Locals here,
especially the veterans, are more than willing to share their knowledge.
Waves are hollow, but at high tide the rocks at the foot of the cliff (or
the sand that builds up against them) create major backwash. During
the photo shoot the outgoing surge made it difficult to catch
anything. And when you finally caught one after paddling like mad, it
felt as if your fin would catch the bottom any second. When the sand's
gone, the high tide creates a dangerous washing machine effect against the
rocks that can ruin your day if you get caught in it (take it from someone
who knows firsthand!).
Bolsa Chica State Beach is just up the road, there's a nature preserve
nearby and on clear days you can see Catalina Island beyond the offshore oil
rigs. Surfing nightlife abounds downtown...after all, this place bills
itself as "Surf City USA."
Is Huntington Cliffs worth the trip from wherever you are? You