Surfing is one of the many things that Los Angeles is known for. You'll find plenty of surf-schools and surf-outfitters if you need to prepare yourself before taking to the water, but once you're ready, you'll have so many beaches to choose from. Zuma Beach, near ritzy Malibu, is a stretch of crowded white sand, but if you hit it on a weekday, especially in the morning, you'll have a lot more room to maneuver. Even if you can only get to Zuma Beach on a packed weekend, it's worth it . . . some people say it's the best surfing beach in Los Angeles.
Big Dume is another surfing beach near Malibu and it's gorgeous, banked by flowering cliffs and reefs you can bowl right over on a board. Do note that this is a rather local-friendly beach and outsiders are often unwelcome. Malibu's Broad Beach is also a private beach and if the swells and lefts and rights of the beach break are excellent, you may not always be able to ride them.
Another beach that any surfer (or surfer-watcher) should check out is Manhattan Beach. The Beach Boys used to hang out here and the Surf Festival plays out in August. If you're not in the mood to dabble in the water, there's some excellent biking and walking paths and beach volleyball not only originated here, it's still all over. Santa Monica Beach tends to be packed, but you can catch some surf in the shadow of Santa Monica Pier.
Country Line is a more tourist friendly beach. The waves against the beach break are excellent, as is the crystal-clear point break. El Pescador is an uncrowded surf beach with nice west and south swells, but El Porto is South Bay's most popular surf breach. Why? Because there's always surf. This part of the bay is always exposed to swells and the lefts and rights break consistently over sand bars.
Hermosa Beach is a more laid-back surf beach and is a great place to bike besides. La Piedra manages to be clean and surfable even when the ocean is wind-chopped. Latigo Beach may not have the most intense waves . . . it has long ones instead. This is another private beach, so visitors are asked to remain below mean high tide line. Little Dume is a terrific surf beach, but you have to know someone who lives there to visit, unless you limit yourself to walking.
Nicholas Canyon also goes by "Zeros" and is famous for its "perfect" left point break. Ocean Park Beach is, conversely, only a so-so surf beach, if it's best at high tide, but watch out for dolphins. Surfrider Beach lives up to its name and is rightly one of the world's most famous surf beaches. The south swells attract flocks of surfers, and the waves are simply fantastic for the longboard. Topanga Beach is likewise famous, with waves that end over the reefs and cobblestones, but you can also ride waves right into the bay.
Torrance Beach is a lonely, secluded kind of beach with great north / northwest swells. Venice Beach is better known as a place to people-watch, but south swells tend to be pretty nice. Will Rogers State Beach also has pretty decent waves if it isn't a premiere place for surfing, but Will Rogers Sunset Point Beach is as fine a beach to be found for beginning surfers. The waves are long and slow.
Regardless of where you go, the surfing you'll find here won't disappoint. Just be ready for some fun in the sun!