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Here’s Why Huntington Beach, California, Has The Official Title Of ‘Surf City’ USA

Here’s Why Huntington Beach, California, Has The Official Title Of ‘Surf City’ USA

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After battling it out with the beachside city of Santa Cruz to their north, Huntington Beach in California’s Orange County officially claimed the title of USA’s “Surf City” in 2008. The surf influence around Huntington Beach is glaringly obvious, but what exactly is it that gives the city its label as the USA’s home of surf?


It is home to one of California’s most consistent breaks


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The surf is always up in Huntington Beach.

Thanks to its location along the coast and the sheer length of the beach, Huntington Beach is exposed to almost any swell direction, from the southeast all the way through to the northwest. With swell possible from almost any direction, it is near impossible to catch an un-surfable day in HB.


If you are looking to surf the iconic pier, experts say to avoid the straight north or south swells as they can be dangerous and drag you into the pier. Instead, look out for when a northwest or southwest swell rolls through.

The world’s biggest surf comp takes place there


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To qualify for the World Surf League championship tour, surfers must take to the waters around the Huntington Pier and compete in the Vans US Open of Surfing. The nine-day-long competition is considered the largest surfing competition in the world, surfed by the biggest names in the sport. Held during California’s summer, the competition transforms the whole pier into a buzzing hive of activity, with skateboarding comps, BMX comps and live music all taking place alongside the action on the water.

Competitions in Huntington Beach aren’t just reserved for the pros. There are surfing competitions being run almost every week of the year – some for the pros, some for the groms and even one for surfing dogs. Yes, you read that right. Surfing dogs. That is how far the city’s dedication to riding waves goes.

Huntington Beach made surfing popular in the USA


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Well, Huntington Beach itself didn’t, but a guy named Duke Kahanamoku did. Affectionately known as the “father of modern surfing”, Duke is credited for bringing the little-known water sport from Hawaii and popularising it by showcasing it to the world. In 1925, Duke was living in Newport Beach and came to Huntington Beach regularly to surf the pier, where he introduced many locals to the sport.

There is no denying the pride that Huntington Beach has for the man who helped make the city what it is today. There is a bronze statue of him on the corner of the Pacific Coast Highway and Main Street, and even a chain of restaurants (Duke’s) named after the surfing hero too.

They commemorate surfing in every way


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Los Angeles has the Hollywood walk of fame, and Huntington Beach has the surfing walk of fame.

Located just on the corner of Pacific Coast Highway and Main Street (across the road from the bronze Duke Kahanamoku statue), the walk of fame pays tribute to the legends of the sport. There are six people inducted to the walk of fame each year, selected by a committee of around 80 notable surfing personalities – a surf pioneer, surf champion, woman of the year, someone with significant influence on surf culture, a local hero and someone for the honour roll. Our very own Mick Fanning and Stephanie Gilmore made it onto the walk in 2018.

For the history buffs, a comprehensive history of the sport can be found at the quaint International Surfing Museum. Tucked away just off Main St, the museum was founded by a bunch of local surfers. It is filled with all kinds of surfing memorabilia and focuses on showcasing the history of surf and skate in the city. Some of the pieces in there are truly amazing!

Three Guinness World Records have been set there


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Holding a record for a monster wave ride is pretty impressive, but Huntington Beach’s records for the World’s Largest Surfboard and Most People Riding A Surfboard are arguably just as attention grabbing.


The records were set in 2015, when they had 66 people stand on a giant, 12.8m fiberglass board to surf a 12-second wave in to shore. It was a massive stunt, organised to celebrate 100 years of surfing on Huntington Beach. For some perspective on just how big the whole operation was, you can watch a mini documentary of the making of the board and the record at the International Surfing Museum. You can’t miss the museum – just look out for the very board they rode into the record books, mounted in pride just outside.


They aren’t the only world records that have been set on Huntington Beach though. In 2017, the city claimed the title of the World’s Largest Paddle-out when 511 surfers took to their boards and formed a ring right beside the iconic Huntington Pier.

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(Lead image: Troy Williams)

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