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The minimum recommended age is 14 years



Orange County - California, United States


Trestles is one of the South Californian jewels and one of the most versatile spots in the world. It’s located in a well conserved natural environment and a large part of the community take part in some sort of outdoor activity. The variety of peaks and the wave dynamics make Trestles like a skatepark in the ocean, offering perfect ramps for learning, progressing, training and above all, enjoying. It’s the perfect place for most, and therefore one of the busiest spots in the world. Trestles is just over an hour away from the south of Los Angeles if you follow Highway 5, passing San Clemente or approximately one hour north of San Diego again following Highway 5. From Highway 5, take the Cristianitos exit. Parking is easy if you go early and you just have to follow the trail down to the beach. The other option is to take the Basilone exit from the highway (a little further south of Cristianitos) and park in the State Beach Area car park.

In the sixties many people from Los Angeles already knew about the place but there was a time when Trestles was occupied by a military base and those who dared to cross the line had their surfboards confiscated. From 1971, thanks to the pressure from the local surfers, the Californian government annulled the restrictions, opening Trestles to the whole community and now, although some would have preferred that Trestles stayed in the hands of the marines because of the fear of environmental degradation, the natural environment is actually very well conserved and this is very valuable for the whole of the Orange County community. It is in fact, where you'll find San Onofre State Beach, which forms part of the state network for the protection and management of some natural areas of interest in California.


There are various things that justify the quality of the breaks. The first is the geographic evolution and the accumulation of the residue from the rivers which has contributed to the perfect configuration of the seabed and there is a peak at each river mouth. From north to south, these are Cottons, Uppers, Lowers, Middles and Church and of those, the most famous and most coveted is Lower Trestles. It’s a peak which was originally a righthander but at the beginning of the eighties, the meteorological phenomenon known as ‘El Niño’ changed the dynamic and the bottom, generating an incredible A-Frame. It’s now a peak which when there are good conditions, becomes absolutely perfect to surf and generates a left that is logically for most goofys the best wave in the whole of Trestles. Keep in mind that like in the rest of California, the level at the main peaks is high and the atmosphere is sometimes competitive but always pleasant as there is a lot of culture and respect. The sensation you’ll get from surfing there is special and the waves are so good that you’ll surely feel that your level has soon increased. Some names that you could find there are the Gudauskas brothers, Tanner, Dane and Patrick along with Chris Ward, Nat Young, Christian and Nathan Fletcher, Nathan Yeomans, Ian Crane, Dino Andino with his son Kolohe or the famous Anastasia Ashley, and the longboarders Herbie Fletcher, Christian Wach, Joe Aaron and Lindsay Steinriede, just to name a few of the long list of known regulars that frequent Trestles.

The deep water, big wave spot, Cortes Bank Reef is 100 miles off this coast. It’s incredible how this mountain in the middle of the sea, which has been a huge danger for sailors for hundreds of years, generates one of the biggest waves in the world. It’s adored by Mike Parsons, Greg Long and Brad Gerlach, and is where one of the most waited for events of the WCT is celebrated, currently the only one in North America and which has been an official ASP event since 2000. It’s normally celebrated in September and generates huge expectations as the best international and local surfers meet, accompanied by thousands of fans, converting Trestles into the world’s surf capital for a few days.


Trestles isn’t necessarily a place which requires a high level because it’s suitable for all, however, it’s essential to know which, when and how its peaks work. If the conditions are good at Trestles, the most important thing to know is the swell direction, as the arc formation of the Channel Islands, San Nicolas Island and San Clemente Island, creates a barrier or a window depending on the swell. The Trestle playground is composed of the Cottons, Uppers, Lowers, Middles and Church peaks which work with any tide. The best swells are definitely S-SW as they are the most consistent and come in the summer following the storms formed south of Tahiti. With WSW, the swell needs to be big for it to generate waves and with WNW it’s difficult to get good waves apart from at Uppers and Church. You’ll find the best conditions early in the morning when it's glassy or with a light NE breeze.


From north to south, the first peak, Cottons, is highlighted by a left which works well at low tide and with SW swells, the bigger the better. Uppers is mainly a right with various take off zones and it works better in the winter with W and WNW. The seabeds influence the wave dynamics a lot, more there than at any other Trestles peak as it’s the closest to the San Mateo Creek estuary. Lowers is the perfect A-Frame that made Trestles internationally famous. It has a tight take off zone with a cobblestone bottom. The left is fast and punchier than the right which is longer and perfect for big curves. It works from 2 to 10 feet but it’s incredible when it’s glassy with 4 to 6 feet. With these conditions at Lowers, if everything else goes well, you’re surfing will be at its best. Lowers is possibly the most rideable peak in the world as its dynamics and big, long, walls make it a pleasure to surf without big risks as it’s not a hollow wave peak and there aren't any coral beds. Middles is slightly lower down and it is similar but a little gentler than Lowers, making it ideal for beginners and longboarders.

Church is the last peak and it produces good waves, including barrels, with strong WNW swells at mid to high tide. It also works with SW but when there’s too much S it gets too sectioned and doesn’t work well. Just be careful of the rocks when you go in and out of the water and watch out for sea urchins, jelly fish and insects around the rivers, and snakes during the rainy season. Also, remember that it’s not a warm water spot, at any time of the year, so you’ll need a 3 mm wetsuit at least.  
Optimal Conditions
  • Wave
    Izquierdas y derechas
  • Wind
  • Tide
  • Swell
    S - SW
  • Bottom
    Sand - rocks
  • Size
    3 to 6 ft
  • Time of year
    All year round
Suggested Spots
  • 124 km from Trestles Los Angeles - Southern California, United States
  • 206 km from Trestles Santa Barbara - California, United States
  • 566 km from Trestles Santa Cruz - California, United States
  • 2107 km from Trestles Colima - Pacific Coast Mexico, Mexico