The Coast News Group
Timing is only one element in having the beach to yourself. Photo by Chris Ahrens

Finding a lonely beach in a jam-packed world

It’s been a relatively short time in California surf history between finding open space and being satisfied to obtain a parking space.

Thanks in part to technology mapping every swell and beach on our coast, being able to walk untracked sand or paddle into an empty lineup is as scarce as an honest politician these days.

Now, I realize that everyone has the right to find their place in the sun, but North County beaches are taking on a Coney Island appearance where any agile gremmie can hop from board to board without getting wet or skip from beach towel to beach towel without touching sand.

Crowds can be bothersome to me until I hear the music of laughter from a kid catching their first wave as mom and dad cheer proudly from shore.

I am hopeful that these new converts to the ocean life will turn passion into power and work to preserve our beautiful coastline.

I tolerate crowds, and even enjoy them at times, but I love solitude and never tire of it, especially when it occurs on or near the ocean.

But lonely beaches are rare and to locate them requires timing. It might mean rising before dawn and greeting the morning, when playful dolphins and sometimes less playful sharks are the only ones out sharing the fun. 

Being the first one to cut a fresh track on a sea of glass is among the most rewarding experiences in life. Timing a lonely surf session requires this, or a bit of surf psychology, maybe even reverse psychology to outwit the masses.

It’s not easy, especially when omnipresent cameras make “The Truman Show” appear like a Netflix documentary.

I once scoured every inch of the San Diego County coast to find an empty lineup. It required paying close attention to swell size and direction, wind velocity and direction and ever those shifting tides.

Like other attentive swell chasers, I found that some places reacted to a tidal push, increasing in size when the tide fills in. Others, however, don’t come to life until the tide drains out.

Two of North County’s best breaks are within a mile of each other, yet one gets bigger when the tide increases, while the other goes flat, disintegrates and becomes nearly unrideable. Some spots can handle a side wind, and others cannot.

There are even a few places less than a gallon away from North County that turn offshore during a north wind. This is hard-won information that has taken countless dry runs to garner.

Do your homework, and don’t expect to learn it all through some surf’n bop dip da dip website.

It’s late July as I write this and I am salt encrusted, sunburned and content while my board dries off on the patio.

You see, just yesterday I surfed alone on a sandbar within blocks of a break that looked like a fiberglass jungle of angry thrashers.

Someday this break will be on everyone’s radar, but not yet. Not yesterday when it was mine alone.

While it was far from perfect Swami’s it was also far from the pack that attacks that place whenever a bump appears on the horizon. Happy hunting, friends.


Please check out my latest passion project, the Godngangsters YouTube channel: