Summer Guide to Southern California Beach Towns

Posted by Rhea Cortado on

Every time we host visitors from out of town, there’s a shortlist of our favorite spots to surf, eat, and explore between surf sessions. Sharing one long day of sunshine and catching waves through the eyes of someone's first time instantly reminds us why we love this stretch of SoCal beach towns. 

Here we share our must-see list from Laguna Beach to North San Diego gathered from the extended branches of the Seea family—ranging from born-and-raised Southern Californians to those who’ve adopted this coastline as their new home. 

Laguna Beach

Surf: Thalia Street.

Eat: La Sirena Grill for healthy, fresh Mexican food. Gelato Paradise for ice cream heaven.

Explore: Tide pools in Laguna. Thalia Surf Shop.

Seea ambassador Lauren Hill at Doheny Beach. Photo by Luki O'Keefe.

Dana Point

Surf: Boneyards at Doheny Beach is great for families, beginners and a protected spot when the surf is huge everywhere else. Generations of kids have caught their first waves at the gently rolling waters of Doheny Beach, plus there’s grassy lawns, picnic tables, and ample beach to post up for the day. The beach is dog-friendly in the day-use and picnic areas. 

Eat: Jon’s Fish Market only serves the freshest catches and is run by Seea photographer, Luki O’Keefe’s family.

Explore: Whale watching in Dana Point. Grab wax and other surf essentials at Hobie Surf Shop.

Jon's Fish Market in Dana Point. Photo via jonsfishmarketdanapoint.com

You're guaranteed to spot some cool vintage surf mobiles at San O. Photo by Luki O'Keefe.

Makala Smith at San-O. Photo by Luki O'Keefe.

San Clemente

Surf: San Onofre is Seea’s home break and our Waikiki in Southern California. The historic longboarding spot breaks gently for beginners and the vibe is all Aloha full of families, surf clubs and friends. We love it because it's party wave central—leave your ego behind. Other options: Churches is a short walk up the beach, T-Street if you’re around the downtown area, Trestles is legendary, and Trails if San-O has a long line. 

 

Eat: The Cellar’s gorgeous and delicious cheese plates are a staple at Seea gatherings. South of Nick’s is great for a nicer date night out. La Siesta is our go-to for $2 tacos on Taco Tuesday. We won’t tell if you sample all the fro-yos (over and over again) at the healthy lunch spot, Active Culture.

Explore: Icons of Surf Shop

T-Street in San Clemente. Photo by Luki O'Keefe.

Oceanside - Carlsbad

Surf: North and South side of the Pier; and Harbor’s North Jetty and South Jetty in Oceanside. Look out for the black-balled flag areas in the middle of the day in the summer. 

Eat: Campfire in Carlsbad for fire-fueled food that’s equally delicious and photogenically plated. Plus, a solid cocktail menu.

Explore: Grab a coffee and curated vintage shopping at Captain’s Helm in Oceanside or shop sustainable and handmade goods at Reap & Sow and Rais Case a few doors down. 

 

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Scenes from the shop 📸 @some.aya

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Ladies expression session heading to Swami's. Photo by Luki O'Keefe.

Encinitas

Surf: Beacon’s in Leucadia. Swami’s and San Elijo in Encinitas. Catch Joel Tudor and other longboard legends surfing Cardiff Reef.

Eat: UMI ramen, sushi, beer and sake. You won't regret it. Kim's Pho if you need healing. VG's Donuts are a morning (and afternoon) staple. Ki's for an ocean view. El Especial Norte for authentic Mexican food. Seaside Market for groceries (we recommend getting the burgundy pepper tri-tip from the butcher shop to sear on the grill). Pacific Coast Grill for sunset happy hour. Bump Coffee for coffee + empanadas. 

Explore: Bing Surf Shop in Encinitas. Check out the Self-Realization Fellowship garden above Swami's. Hike San Elijo Lagoon. If you’re lucky enough to sneak in a weekday (or book your reservation next year), San Elijo has prime beachfront camping spots. 

"Go surf Swami's on a weekday (not weekend) during a low or low-ish tide. You won't regret it. If the tide is a negative low, poke around the tide pools on the exposed reef." - Luki O'Keefe, Photographer

Mele Saili explores the tide pools in San Diego. Photo by Jennie Ross.

Photo by Luki O'Keefe.

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1 comment


  • Great article! I stay at all these places all the time and haven’t been to most of the coffee shops and restaurants recommended! Thank you for taking time to create amazing content!

    Sam Aker on

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