About Jalama Beach County Park

With the hulking Vandenberg Air Force Base to the immediate north and untouched Point Conception coastline to the south, the basic truth is, if you motor all the way out to Jalama and the surf sucks, you're barred. Frequent, heavy NW winds plague the north coast, so it's wise to hit it early or not at all. Early-morning offshores can be freezing. Considerably bigger and much more exposed than the county's relatively tame south coast, Jalama packs a mean punch, summer or winter, so you can expect truckloads of juice out here if the swell's pumping.

A primo SW swell area and the northernmost portal for surfing in Santa Barbara County, Jalama Beach County Park has three recognized surf spots: the Beachbreak, Cracks and Tarantulas (or T's for short).The Beachbreak extends from the campground area down to Cracks, which is distinguished by a large indentation in the bluffs. It's all shifty, semi-hollow sandbars, best on a high tide with clean, peaky swells. Cracks holds size, but getting out becomes a problem (or outright impossibility). The currents can be bad, too. Cracks is a good place to go if the swell's too small for Tarantulas. Primarily a left, the rights at Tarantulas can also get quite good, peeling fast for a ways into the boulder-strewn inside. The lefts are perfect for lip-smacking and roundhousing, with a comfy channel for easy paddles and time-outs. The shape is much more consistent than that of the Beachbreak area, so the jog down to T's is usually well worth the effort. The takeoff zone is pretty small, so 10 surfers can make Tarantulas seem overly crowded.

Source: Jalama Beach County Park Surf Guide

Ability Level

Intermediate - advanced

Beg Int Adv

Intermediate to advanced

Local Vibe

Welcoming

Welcoming Intimidating

Generally not a problem, but things can get pretty uptight at Tarantulas.

Crowd Factor

Moderate

Mellow Heavy

Horrifyingly crowded on a well-called south swell in the middle of a flat summer, but it can be ok on normal days.

Spot Rating

Fun

Poor Perfect

Pretty typical beachbreak (or reef) most days, can get exceptional on a good combo at the beachbreak or a solid SW or NW/W swell at Tarantulas.

Shoulder Burn

Medium

Light Exhausting

Usually pretty easy unless there is a big swell.

Water Quality

Clean

Clean Dirty

Pretty clean.

Additional Information

Hazards

Other people, howling NW winds, sharks.

Access

First and foremost, it'll cost you $5 per day to park legally in the Jalama campground area. You can park up top along the road lined with "No Parking" signs, but you risk getting a ticket. That's where most surfers park, who simply hoof it down the arroyo to the beach. Jalama is 28 miles from 101. To get there coming from the south, exit 101 onto Highway 1, a bit north of the Gaviota Pass tunnel.

Bring Your

Shortboard, fish, funboard, longboard, gun, skimming, bodyboard, kiteboard

Seabed

Sand and rock

Best Season

January-December, but fall can be epic.

Swell Consistency and Wind Overview

Photos & Videos