Is San Francisco A Surf Town?

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It seems odd to even pose the question, given that there’s over four miles of surfable coastline within city limits, but have you ever considered San Francisco to be a surf town? If just being able to surf within city limits makes that place a “surf town” then it would be fair to state that Yakutat and glacier in Alaska are surf towns.

If you’re a surfer you probably realize that you can surf in San Francisco, they did host an ASP event here and San Francisco’s waves have their own Twitter handle. The city has multiple surfboard shops, surfboard shapers, and dedicated surf cams for Ocean Beach, but San Francisco certainly isn’t a destination listed out on anyone’s surf trip itinerary. Yet, San Francisco, known more for its hippies, hipsters, and hills, and less for its beaches, is a surf town. And lately it feels like it’s becoming even more of a surf town.

I’ve had my surfboards with me ever since I moved to San Francisco in 2002. It doesn’t feel like that long ago, but surfing has definitely gotten more popular in San Francisco within the last ten years. You just need to check out nearby surf cams or go out to Ocean Beach on a sunny Saturday afternoon. Crowds are a pretty clear indication that a surf spot is popular and the people who live nearby it have a healthy appetite for surfing waves. So despite the cold water, foggy conditions and often times frustrating paddle outs, San Francisco is steadily being inhabited by surfers.

It might just be me, but lately I’ve been seeing more people in the city with surfboards on their cars, bicycles, and motorcycles, walking them into and out of apartments, and hanging wetsuits on fire escapes to dry them out before the next cold session that will require it. And I have to admit I kinda like seeing the city embrace it’s surf side.

Unfortunately, it means more crowds, but Ocean Beach is a big canvas to paint and come winter it does a good enough job of delivering its own form of crowd control. So what do you think, is San Francisco a surf town?

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