About Mendocino County

Not a stellar surfing destination, but even the Mendocino coast can have its day. Much of this stretch of coast is either inaccessible or unrideable, so don't get your hopes set on finding a coldwater paradise. From Westport all the way south to Gualala, there are no world-class pointbreaks, reefs, or beachbreaks, but the spots Mendocino does have can get quite good on rare occasions, generally during autumn or on the smaller days of winter. Most popular North Mendocino spots are Virgin Creek and Chadbourne Gulch, and although there's a lot of coast beyond those spots, for some reason surfers seem to flock together. North of Westport, the coast intensifies and morphs into the Lost Coast, a harshly forbidding stretch of cliff and rock remaining inaccessible and unridden.
Wide open to swell and wind from all directions, this rugged coastline can play with a surfer's degree of optimism, no matter what season it is. Prevailing swells come out of the NW and are often lumpy due to the proximity of the generating storms. The prevailing winds are also from the NW, so the surf is often blown-out. As with the rest of Northern California, Mendocino gets very windy. South swells generally go unridden except in the Point Arena vicinity, and W swells have basically the same effect on the coastline as NWs do – without high-quality bottom contours, much swell is wasted, and the beachbreaks can't handle size. Large stretches of the Mendocino coast are unfortunately publicly inaccessible, but it doesn't really matter since the private stuff hides no gems. Sheer cliffs and insanely rocky beaches are the norm in South Mendocino.
Mendocino County is a very fickle wave ground, but the surf is seldom flat, so there's almost always somewhere rideable, even during the smallest of summer swells. Much of winter is unsurfable, while spring can feature howling onshore winds for weeks on end. Summer is often junky and foggy; autumn is the best bet for favorable conditions. Don't come to Mendocino expecting good waves, and you won't be disappointed. Still, you might get lucky.

Surf Spots