Friday afternoon, Shani, Adam and I headed up to the mountains after school, from Adam’s house. We headed up Gibraltar road, which lead us farther up. The view kept getting better the farther we went along the road. We pulled over into the dirt and went to a well known place, the Gibraltar rock. We walked up and there was a little natural rock seat right on the edge of the cliff, one that I remembered from a previous time. Shani and Adam had left and I stayed back and took a few photos and enjoyed the view. I headed back to my truck, but when I arrived they weren’t there. My intention was to drive farther up and then find a place to climb up, but I heard Adam and Shani calling my name from afar, so I ran up the other side of the mountain, from where I could hear their faint voices. I climbed up the trail that eventually just turned into rocks, but it lead me to a huge rock that Adam and Shani were on the other side of. I followed them up the side of the rock and pretty soon we were looking way down on the rock we were on in the beginning. We decided to go farther up, because we spotted a trail that lead up to a lookout spot. We went to the top of the trail and the view was quite nice, with the sunset against the ocean and the fog coming down from the mountains. After a while of catching our breath and enjoying the view we decided to head back down and call it a day.
Saturday I woke up at 3:30 in the morning, and headed down to Oceanside with my dad for a surf contest at DMJ’s, which is on camp Pendleton. We arrived at around seven in the morning, and my heat was at seven twenty. The waves were very small, and it was raining which was very unexpected. I ended up losing early but I wasn’t very frustrated because the conditions were not good at all.
On Friday after school, Sasha, Jack, Henry and I headed up to West Camino Cielo. We had my truck and Henry’s and we were ready to go on the dirt road. We traveled a while along the bumpy dirt road until we were nearly 6 miles up, basically in the middle of nowhere. There was a very large puddle that Henry decided to try and go through, but he got stuck. His truck was a lot bigger than mine so I could not get him out. Sasha’s dad had to come to the rescue and pull him out late at night.
On Saturday morning I headed up to Santa Cruz for a surf contest on Sunday. The drive from Santa Barbara to Santa Cruz takes about about 5 hours, depending on traffic. My dad and I headed up on Saturday morning, so I could get there in time to surf and get used to the colder water. I was surprised when the water wasn’t as cold as I expected, but it was still a few degrees colder than the water here in Santa Barbara. I surfed at Steamer Lane on Saturday, and the conditions were fun, though it was a bit inconsistent due to the south swell that hadn’t picked up yet. Steamers is one of the most known surf spots in Santa Cruz, and every time I have been there, there has always been waves, even if they weren’t the best. This weekend though, the contest was at a different spot, the hook, where I have never surfed before. I didn’t really know what to expect. I checked when my heat was on the NSSA website. 6:30 AM. I was a bit surprised at this, I wasn’t even sure if it was light outside at 6:30 in the morning. We got some great sushi for dinner, but we had to walk through 6 blocks to get there first.
I heard my alarm go off at 5:30 a.m. and really did not want to wake up. I quickly got dressed and grabbed my wetsuit, which was still slightly wet from the day before. We arrived at the Hook, a place I have never surfed before, at about 6:00 in the morning. The waves looked small and clean, and reminded me of Mesa lane, a break here in Santa Barbara. I surfed my first heat and made it which was a bonus. The crowd of free surfers around were respectful and didn’t interfere with us which was nice. I got out in the next round, the semifinal, which was a bummer. Overall it was a fun weekend up north.
Heavy winds greeted us as we pulled up to the beach. Adam, Jeff, Dane and I got out of the truck and took a long look at the conditions. It was swirling around and constantly was switching directions. The four of us sat in the truck and waited until we saw a few clean waves roll in. There was no one out and the cold wind kept it like that for the rest of the session. After the first session,we headed up the beach to a different spot because it looked better up there. We were pleasantly surprised when no one was out there either, and the waves were quite a bit better. After a short session there, we had numb feet and were ready to hop in the truck and change out of our soaking wetsuits. We stopped by Jeff’s house which was just up a dirt road, rinsed off and changed. We then headed up the mountains, to explore some caves and the peak. As we headed up farther and farther the dirt road became less and more brush over coming the road. It was also very narrow, with sharp turns every so often too. Four wheel drive was very necessary, and it was a good thing we had it. The view as we got farther up just kept becoming better.
As we reached the top of the mountain, we ran up the hill, even though the strong gusts of wind pushed us back. The first glance was an amazing view of all the grassy hills, and a peak of the ocean as well. There were also these little caves on the mountain that varied in size. Some were large enough to walk in, and others were barely big enough to sit inside of. It is really cool to see that there are places so undeveloped and there can be no people or cars around, even when you can see miles and miles of land. The terrain was one of a kind, and I can’t wait to head back up to that spot and other places similar to it.
This weekend was good as far as waves go. Friday the conditions became prime right before dark, and I scored some fun beach break with my brother Colin and his friend Josh. The wind was howling, but it was offshore so it was a good thing. It was great also because there was only one other guy out surfing, and he was down the beach. Fun surf sessions can happen in the least expected places and times, because just a little bit of a change of the tide, swell direction, wind, or a combination of those things can change everything. Earlier that day the wind was blowing very hard onshore, and the ocean did not look promising. But, as the sun got lower, the waves and conditions got better.
Saturday was not great, I surfed Rincon and it was rather small, and there was a bit of a crowd. There was still a few fun ones despite being unmotivated by the majority of bad waves. Sunday was a different story. My friends Adam, Jeff, and I headed up to Hollister Ranch. We didn’t think that it was going to be very good, but we were pleasantly surprised when we got our first glimse of the ocean and saw a solid set of about 5 waves roll in. We were super excited and rushed to the spot to where we threw on our sandy wet wetsuits on and paddled out. It ended up being a fun time with all of us switching off waves and just enjoying the day. We weren’t sure what to expect after our first session, but we headed back down the beach and caught a glimpse of a few good looking waves down the beach. We paddled back out with slowly freezing feet because it was too good of an opportunity to pass up. It was just us three out in the water too, so that made it even better. By the end of the day, I was completely sunburned, surfed out, and ready to go to bed by about 6. The day wrapped up the weekend very well, and was the best day out of those three days.
Last week has been interesting. I’m still not used to the cold weather nor the small, windy, waves. Every time I jump in to the water, it feels freezing, and can only think of the warm water that I took for granted just the other week. It’s funny because before I went on the trip, the water felt absolutely fine, and now that I’m back, it still feels a bit chilly, even after surfing many times since. Luckily, summer is right around the corner, and the water warms up then, but the waves also end up getting a lot smaller in Santa Barbara. A drive to Ventura or up the coast is a necessary thing most days to get any sort of waves, but the drive is worth it.
It’s weird because it felt like I was in Panama for a lot longer than 10 days, but now that I am back it feels like it was shorter, and it also feels like it was longer than just two weeks ago. I definitely miss it, and I was really stoked to meet a lot of new people through surfing. The place we were staying was relatively small, so there wasn’t too many people there, which is nice because you get a chance to really talk to the people and see who they are. By chance, there was also a lot of surfers there that I looked up to and always saw pictures of in surfing magazines and such, which was a crazy surprise after getting off the long plane flight. Scott, our surf guide, told us the epic conditions we had coming our way, and now I really wish that I could have some more of those conditions compared to what it is like here in Santa Barbara.
Coming back to Santa Barbara was a great feeling, but I sure do wish that the weather was as warm as Panama, along with the amazing conditions of the surf. Besides being behind on school work and missing a few days, I would say it was worth the long travels and the longer stay. Very small conditions in Santa Barbara
Fun days in Panama.
One 6 hour 40 minute red eye flight into Panama city from LAX, followed by a 6 hour layover, then a 45 minute flight into Bocas del Toro from Panama City, and finally a boat ride to Red frog bungalows, where we were greeted by our surf guide Scott. It was a long day of traveling to say the least, but was worth it once we arrived. The warm weather was a very nice thing to feel after being in California, even though it may have made it a bit harder to sleep. We were greeted the next day by tropical weather, warm ocean water, and flawless offshore overhead conditions. We were at a wave called Paunch, a reef break. It was a great start to the ten day trip we had ahead of us. And apparently the waves were just supposed to get better, which was a great thing to hear. Later that day we met the owner of the resort, Scott who turned out to be our surf guide and host that we got to hangout and surf with a lot. He knew just about everything about the conditions of the surf, wind, and tide, and would crack jokes with us at the same time.
Everyday there were waves, and Tuesday was the best beach break that I have seen in my life. Everywhere I looked there was spitting barrels, and nearly no one was out either, which blew my mind. It was heavy, breaking on these perfect sandbars. I was stoked to say the least, and paddled out. Everything was great, until I broke my board on my 5th wave. I brought another board down to the beach, but it was my last board for the trip. It was to good not to paddle back out. We surfed for about 6 hours, everyone was going nuts over how good it was. After a long day of perfect waves, beatings, and sunburns we headed back into town. We stopped back in town for some burritos and tacos, then took the boat ride back to Red Frog. It was a great day of surfing, and made all the traveling worth it.
This week I decided to interview a few people to see what they like about our city, Santa Barbara. Jack green is a friend who enjoys Santa Barbara and what it has to offer. I asked him a few questions, and this is what he had to say.
“What are your favorite things about Santa Barbara?” ” There is a lot of activities to do, and you’re in between the mountains and the beach so it’s up to you to choose where you want to go.”
“Where are some of your favorite locations to go to?” “Exploring up gibraltar and our local backcountry, Rincon, and different ranches in Santa Ynez.”
How does Santa Barbara compare to other cities? “Santa Barbara is a very unique place. There’s so many activities to do in such a small area, with the mountains, beach and everything in between. I grew up here so all my friends are here also.”
Would you rather live in a small house in Santa Barbara or a large house in a bad location? “Tiny house in Santa Barbara. A shack in Santa Barbara even.”
It’s always interesting to see how others like to spend time in their city, and where are the good places to go especially if you’ve never been to a location before. As you can see from what Jack said, there is a lot of different environments you can place yourself in Santa Barbara. Whether it is the back country of Santa Ynez on a ranch, surfing at rincon, or exploring the many options in the mountains on the backside of Santa Barbara. That is why I think there is such a wide variety of people in Santa Barbara. You can do so many activities and you do not have to drive far for them either, they are right in your own town. This is also probably one of the big reasons the surf community in Santa Barbara is large. There are easy places to learn how, and then there are also some of the world’s best waves also when the conditions are right. And the weather never gets unbearable, so it is a nice happy medium.
This is my friend Jack, who I did the interview with. Hiking, on Rattlesnake Canyon trail.
As many Santa Barbara residents know, this winter we have had El Nino come into full effect. Everything from rainy and cold weather, to large consistent runs of swell. Surfers are claiming it’s the best winter for swell in many years. This has been caused by the El nino. It causes more waves, “extreme” weather as far as California is concerned, which is good for the drought. It really is nice compared to last year when there wasn’t consistent waves, and driving to Ventura which is normally at least a 30 minute drive from Santa Barbara, just to get something that was possible to surf, was a regular thing. Not to mention all the breaks around Santa Barbara are much better the majority of the time, known mostly for the cobblestone pointbreaks.
The constant waves, have also opened up surf spots that are typically small, and not places you would think to go. Many times this winter, Sandbar (more known as sandspit) has been blown up on social media for hundreds of thousands to see. It has made it quite a bit more crowded with people that do not live here, but have seen the photos and videos on their phones and computers, and they all of a sudden want to come here. It is a hassle to say the least, but as long as the swell keeps coming, it will all be good. Most of the out of towners only come when there is a very known swell that everyone knows about. There is still some days you can get with not many people out at a spot that is normally very crowded. That is a lot of what surfing is about, being with your friends and having a good time. I’m not saying if it is crowded then surfing won’t be fun, because I surf with a large crowd a lot due to living in California. If your in a big crowd, you can either have a great session and the crowd doesn’t even bother, or it can go very bad. Surfing good waves with just your friends though is something special, and it should be recognized for that.
In just a few weeks now I will be leaving to go on a surf trip to Panama. My dad, brother and I do an annual surf trip somewhere in the tropics. Last year we went to Fiji, the year before that we went to Samoa, and so on and so on. It’s been a few years since I’ve been to central America, and I’ve never been to Panama so i’m excited to see what will come out of this adventure. In past years in central America I have gone to El Salvador two times, and Nicaragua once. All of these excursions have been great and it’s always crazy to see what these countries look like, from the moment you land in the airport, to the place where you stay.
The ocean is also very warm in Panama about 80 degrees, compared to the 58 degree ocean here in Santa Barbara and along the coast of California. Not to mention the surf is typically amazing. We’re staying at a place called Red Frog Bungalows, and I know a lot of surfers that have stayed there. I will be there for 10 days, so I’m missing a few days of school before the break technically starts. Everyone has had a positive outlook on this place, so I’m really looking forward to it. It’s always an interesting feeling leaving the country and stepping out into a completely different environment after just a few hours on a plane. It’s always cool when you can make friends with the local people as well. In my past trips to central America, a lot of the locals surf, so I’ve been able to connect with them over surfing. When there is perfect waves and warm weather all the time, surfing must come easy. One of the hardest parts though is seeing the resources a lot of these places in Central America have. While I visited El Salvador, poverty was very visible and there was trash everywhere which was a sad site. Nicaragua was a similar situation. In the inner cities near the airport, trash flows through the side of the road, it’s everywhere. We will see what Panama has in store, I have only heard good things.
The swell the last few days in Santa Barbara has been great. The El Nino has been in full effect still, and has been keeping the swell up. Most surfers would agree that this is the best winter for waves in years. It has also been very crowded in Santa Barbara, with everyone from California trying to get the best waves possible. Of course there is always tension when there is 75 people in the water, all trying to get the same wave. Many people will leave the water more frustrated then when they first came, due to crowd issues, and there being way more people than waves. Some people do not think it is worth it, others do. I am lucky enough to call Santa Barbara and its waves, home.
Many different spots in Santa Barbara, attract different crowds. The most known spot in Santa Barbara, is sandbar (known more commonly as Sandspit). People know this wave worldwide, due to its notorious backwash from the rocks and the it can be near perfection at times. Sandbar would not exist if it weren’t for the break wall which was man made. Thank you to whoever was involved in building that wall. Of course there a lot of other popular surf breaks in the Santa Barbara area that many know of. Rincon is a right point break that is mostly cobblestones. There can be hundreds of surfers spread out along the point at Rincon at times when there is good swell. You will see a lot of long boarders in the cove when the swell is small, and then when it’s bigger, everyone is in the cove. Things definitely can get out of hand when there are 5 people on the same wave, very close to each other dodging people in the lineup. This can be a common sight at Rincon.
Of course there are always less crowded alternatives, but the majority of the time the quality of the waves at those breaks can not compare to the more crowded ones. Everywhere can have its right days though when the swell, wind, and tide cooperates.
A photo of me surfing at sandbar.