The Coast News Group
Local photographer Randy Dible toasts life. Photo by Chris Ahrens

Waterspot: It’s Dible — ‘Like Bible, only with a D’

Someone once asked me to describe Randy Dible. Realizing that was impossible, I declined. Physically, it’s pretty easy, however: Sturdily built, close to the ground. Sandy hair with a combination Nick Nolte and Captain Kid stares behind blue eyes.

He’s athletic, compassionate and adventurous. The pirate surfaces but not all the way before it is intercepted by attentive father and grandfather. See what I mean? Dible is too complex for words. Here, I’ll try another approach.

I first met Randy in the early ‘90s through mutual friends Bill Dice and Sam Ryan. I was running a small surf publication at the time, and he was shooting some interesting photos that I occasionally used. His photos were different: Federales smiling, holding children, his children, in their arms, a full moon rising over a lonely point, a rust and duct tape station wagon packed up with all world supplies and headed who knows where.

Randy was in the office one day to talk about doing an assignment for us. After I agreed I didn’t see him or hear from him again for another six months. When he did finally surface, he had some stories to tell about secret point breaks deep in Mainland Mexico, and trying to outrun bandits in his motorhome. This, I would soon learn, was just another nice family vacation for Family Dible. The guy lived, and lives, beyond the map.

Gradually, some incredible (I mean, literally they were not credible to me at the time) stories began filtering in. Having been around surfers most of my life, I rarely believe what any of them say about double overhead top to bottom surf with nobody out.

When the photos came in, however, it became apparent that Dible had not fibbed about his exploits, but if anything, had underplayed the magnitude of his discoveries. There in glorious black and white was living proof of world-class waves, some of them macking beach breaks, others reeling left-hand points that peeled into a tranquil bay without a surfer in sight.

It turns out that Dible comes from a long line of explorers, something to which his grandparent’s family albums testify. Photos from around the world with big fish on splintered wooden docks, glamorous black-tie parties, sandy daytime beach romps.

The family grew up on the beaches of San Diego and can be seen negotiating the once lonely cliffs of La Jolla Cove. One of my favorites is of Randy’s then teenaged grandma in the early 1930, standing proudly next to her first surfboard on the sands of Randy’s current home, Mission Beach.

Dible is a storyteller, a photographer, a fisherman, and a good-hearted, modern-day pirate. All that to say he is many things—too many things to sum them up in 500-some words.

Check out his website at

Email him, get to know him, buy some of his prints over breakfast, lunch or dinner. Get to know him.

When you do, you’ll be as intrigued and baffled as I am by my lifelong friend.