Jalama offers a great summer and early fall surf spot, with several different breaks on offer. However, winds can make for tricky afternoon conditions, so it’s best to arrive early.
What Makes It Great
Jalama is unique among the majority of Southern California beaches, in that the best surfing here can be found during the summer through early fall months. Jalama is tucked away between sweeping grasslands, dry arroyos, and massive plots of oak trees. Add to this its proximity to Vandenberg Air Force Base to the north and the nearly untouched Point Conception coast to the south, and you’ve got the perfect location for a weekend getaway.
The beach at Jalama consists of three breaks: Beachbreak, Cracks, and Tarantulas. Beachbreak reaches from the campground area south toward Cracks. This area offers sandbar breaks that are semi-hollow and are best during high tide. A large indentation in the bluffs above the beach indicate the start of Cracks which offers a similar style of waves as Beachbreak, both of which can go pretty flat if the swell is small. Tarantulas, often simply referred to as T’s by locals, however, is your best bet for smaller days. This breaks primarily left with some occasional rights thrown in for good measure. Tarantulas breaks peeling and fast as it heads toward the coast. It’s almost always worth the extra effort to walk down to T’s, especially since there is a nice channel along that part of the beach that makes paddling out to the line-up much easier.
Who is Going to Love It
Jalama is best for intermediate to advanced riders who can get up to Jalama early before the on-shore winds pick up. During a nice southwest swell these waves can get big and powerful so you’re best bet is to bring your beach break board, or your semi-gun for bigger days.
Winds at Jalama can pick up in the afternoon, making the swell nearly unrideable for surfers, but a veritable playground for windsurfers. If you find yourself shut-out by afternoon winds be sure to check out the Jalama Burger which has gained popularity among the locals. After eating your fill of famous burgers you can spend your afternoon near the campground checking out local wildlife that inhabit the wetland that forms at the drainage of Jalama Creek.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Head north from Santa Barbara along US 101 and take exit 32 onto CA-1. Follow CA-1 for 13.5 miles and turn left onto Jalama Road. Follow Jalama Road to the end, approximately another 14 miles. To enter the park you’ll have to pay a $10 day use fee. There is also overnight camping there that ranges from $20-$40/night depending on the season. Camping can be reserved through the Santa Barbara County parks website.