We get asked a lot of questions here at Corky Carroll’s Surf School. How do you turtle roll? What kind of surfboard should I ride? Are my feet positioned correctly? Where is the bathroom? Why is it raining? Can I have a donut? The list goes on. But by far the most asked question is: Who is Corky Carroll?

Well, we’re glad you asked…

Corky Carroll and Our Surf School

Our surf school is the result of one man’s awesome idea and another’s amazing career. It all happened in 1996 when local resident Rick Walker approached professional surf icon Corky Carroll with a business proposition: opening the first surf school in Huntington Beach.

Read How Rick Walker Came Up With His Surf School Idea and Why It’s Not Named After Him

The school was named after Corky, whose prolific surfing career has made him one of the most recognizable and accomplished surfers of all-time. Today, we still use the fundamentals and techniques Corky came up with in our lessons. But that said, the question still stands: Who is Corky Carroll?

Corky Carroll – The First Professional Surfer

Fun Fact: Corky Carroll is considered the first professional surfer of all-time.

So it just makes sense that the first surf school in Huntington Beach be named after him. But long before he joined Rick Walker in forming our surf school, Corky was making waves dating all the way back to when he was a little grom.

Here’s a brief highlight reel of the Man, the Myth, the (Surf) Legend that is Corky Carroll:

  • His real name is Charles Curtis Carroll. (Corky is his nickname)
  • He won over 100 surf competitions
  • He was the first person paid to surf (and put “surfer” as his profession on tax returns)
  • He was the first surfer to receive endorsements
  • He was the first surfer to have a production model shortboard
  • He was voted “Best Surfer in the World” in a 1968 Surfer magazine readers poll
  • He retired from professional surfing at the ripe old age of 24
  • He was inducted into the Surfing Walk of Fame. Twice. And Surfers’ Hall of Fame
  • He is the only pro surfer with a gold record (Tan Punks on Boards)
  • He wrote 3 books
  • He starred in 13 heroic Miller Lite commercials. Like this one:

While that highlight reel is impressive, the stories behind those accolades and achievements are even better. So let’s start from the beginning and find out how Corky Carroll became Corky Carroll.

Corky Carroll Learns to Surf

Corky grew up in Surfside, California. Located between Huntington Beach and Seal Beach, the Surfside Colony was an awesome place where some of the best surfers of the Golden Age of Surfing lived and surfed.

Corky learned to surf when he was 8-years-old. (The same age when groms can start at our summer surf camp. Coincidence? We think not.) His first surfboard was an 8’7″ longboard made from balsa wood. It was shaped by famous Seal Beach surfboard shaper Dick Barrymore and weighed more than kid Corky did.

From then on Corky Carroll was stoked for surfing.

Corky Carroll Learns to Shoot the Pier

One memorable story Corky tells is how he learned to ‘shoot the pier’ in Huntington Beach. As a young gremmie (that’s what they used to call groms back in the 50s), he built a makeshift surfboard rack for his bike using a red wagon.

Consider it the original surf wagon.

Surfboard Radio Flyer Wagon

Using his awesome invention, Corky would tug his huge balsa surfboard down the PCH from Surfside all the way to HB’s pier. Along the way he passed through Tin Can Beach (later renamed Bolsa Chica State Beach, and the home of our surf school. Coincidence? We think not). Paddling out into rolling 6-footers, he noticed a bunch of older surfers riding daringly through the pylons of the massive pier.

At first Corky was scared to try. You know, because death. But then local HB surf legend Chuck Linnen paddled over and gave young Corky some sage advice on how to thread through the pier in style.

Just goes to show a surf lesson from a good instructor can go a long way. Especially when that instructor has an awesome stache, as seen in this shot from a couple years later of Corky and his surf coach:

Corky Carroll and Chuck Linnen in Huntington Beach

Before long Corky was shooting the pier with the best of them. And thus began a long-lasting relationship between him and one of California’s most iconic surf spots. Which would one day culminate with the creation of our surf school.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

Corky Carroll Learns to Win

Corky Carroll started competing in surfing contests when he was 11-years-old. He placed 3rd in the first contest he ever entered — a junior division heat at the inaugural West Coast Surfing Championships in Huntington Beach. Held in 1959, this was the first major surf contest in California, and the forbearer of today’s epic weeklong U.S Open of Surfing that takes place every summer on the pier’s south side.

(That’s right, for awhile there Huntington Beach made competitors wear helmets in contests. Everyone hated them.)

This kicked off a 13 year career as a competitive surfer. During that time Corky racked up five wins at the United States Surfboard Championships in HB (renamed from the West Coast Surfing Championships) and was named the United States Surfing Association’s “best all around surfer” five consecutive times.

His first major win came in 1962 at the San Clemente Surf Capades. (Which might go down in history as the best named surf contest of all-time.) There was also three International Professional Championships, an International Big Wave Championship, a World Small Wave Championship, and, as Corky puts it, “a bunch of other less glorious sounding titles.”

Below Corky (center) hoists the 1967 US Surfing Championships trophy. (Props to anyone who can name the rest of the surfers in this photo.)

United States Surfing Championships Huntington Beach 1967 Award Ceremony

When all was said and done, he would go on to win over 100 contests.

Corky Carroll Becomes the First Professional Surfer

With each mounting success, Corky’s reputation grew. Soon he caught the eye of Hobie Alter, the pioneer surfboard shaper from Dana Point who a few years earlier had opened the first Southern California surf shop. Hobie decided to sponsor Corky, paying him $80 a week to use and promote Hobie Surfboards. With that sweet payday Corky Carroll — at the age of 16 — became the first person paid to surf and the first surfer to strike an endorsement deal.

Two years later Corky kicked things up a notch when he won a $1,500/year sponsorship with Jantzen Sportswear. In other words, he was rolling in the dough. At least as far as surfers go.

At age 18, Corky decided to make it official and put “professional surfer” on his 1965 tax return. Sure beats accountant. (No offense accountants.)

But his professional exploits weren’t limited just to riding surfboards. He was also at the forefront of developing them. In 1967, Corky Carroll’s Hobie Mini Model was introduced as the first production shortboard in America. That same year, thanks to board royalties, product endorsements and a nice bonus check from Hobie for several TV appearances, Corky earned over $30,000.

Adjusted for inflation that’s the equivalent of over $230,000 today. Not too shabby for a beach bum.

Corky Carroll Becomes a Star

Not too many people have enjoyed the popularity that Corky Carroll was able to ride thanks to one day at the age 8 deciding to pick up a surfboard. For starters there were the countless ads he’s appeared in, like for Ocean Spray, Coca Cola, Chrysler and Jantzen Sports. Some of them didn’t even have anything to do with surfing.

Corky Carroll Jantzen Ad 1968

Since then he’s also appeared in countless films, most of them related to surfing. These include the two most iconic surf films of all-time: Five Summer Stories and The Endless Summer. And the surf cult classing North Shore.

In 1964, as part of the promotional tour for The Endless Summer, Corky appeared on The Tonight Show to teach Johnny Carson and the rest of America how to “sidewalk surf” (aka skateboard).

He’s even voiced a character on SpongeBob. It doesn’t get much bigger than that.

Corky Carroll Retires from Surfing, Becomes a Musician

By 1972 the competitive surfing world was changing and Corky decided it was time to hang up his board (as a pro) and replace it with a guitar.

In fact, Corky had been playing music even longer then he’d been surfing. When he was 7 his mom made him take piano lessons (as moms often do). But tickling the ivory took a backseat to riding waves. That is until he was a teen attending Huntington Beach High School when he picked up music again, teaching himself guitar. He continued to riff here and there whenever he had the time in between surfing contests.

On one occasion the Beach Boys even asked if he’d go on tour with them, believing it would add credibility if they had a “real surfer” in the band. Corky passed. Music was still no match for professional surfing.

Later on, as his pro surfing career was winding down, Corky started to pursue music more seriously, learning multiple instruments and performing in local bars and small concert venues around Orange County. In 1971, just prior to his retirement, Corky released his first album entitled Laid Back.

Over the next thirty plus years music would play a huge part in Corky’s life. During that time he performed both as a solo act and with his many band incarnations including Corky Carroll and the Piranha, Corky Carroll and the Coolwater Casuals, and our personal favorite, Corky Carroll and the Funk Dog Surf Band.

In 1979 his musical output reached a high point with A Surfer for President.

That album included the hit single Tan Punks on Boards, which sold 500,000. As far as we can tell this makes Corky the only past or present pro surfer to have a gold-selling record. (Scroll down to track 6 in the player above to hear this gem.)

“Riding through a guitar solo or singing is much like riding a wave on surfboard. You’re climbing and dropping and tucking into little sections and it’s a lot of ad-lib and expression.” ~ Corky Carroll

At the turn of the millennium Corky was the house musician at Duke’s restaurant in Huntington Beach. Imagine that. Stop by Duke’s for a fish taco and get sung to by one of the best surfers of all-time. Reason 10,024 to love HB. And Corky Carroll.

Corky Carroll Stars as a Beach Bum

While moonlighting as a musician, Corky ran through a gamut of other jobs. From bartender to waiter, lounge singer, manager of a car dealership, actor, tennis pro, ski instructor, advertising director for Surfer magazine, balloon salesman — Corky made the rounds.

In the early 80s Corky started living the dream by “playing” a happy go-lucky, perpetually jobless surfer in Miller Lite beer commercials. It was part of a very successful Miller ad campaign featuring retired athletes from different sports. They were known collectively as the “Miller Lite All-Stars.”

Miller Lite Poster Featuring Corky Carroll and Beach Girls

As Corky tells it, the Miller Lite All-Stars’ main job was to tour the country spreading good times and doing such things as visiting ski resorts, skiing all day wearing “Miller Lite All-Stars” parkas, and going to nearby bars to hand out Miller Lite swag and buy rounds for everybody. It’s a hard life but somebody’s gotta do it.

And Corky Carroll did.

Corky Carroll Helps Start Our Surf School

It all started one fateful day in 1996 at the Windansea Surf Shop in Huntington Beach.

Well actually it started a little before that when Corky appeared on a LA sports talk television show called Life in Sports. The show featured interviews with pro athletes from the past and present. It was produced by a local HB guy named Rick Walker, who for the past 12 years had been commuting back and forth from Orange County to Los Angeles and was ready for bigger and wavier things. Namely, starting a surf school. And after meeting Corky and having the surf legend on his show, Rick saw an opportunity.

Around then Corky was splitting his time between giving tennis lessons and managing Windansea. In fact, Rick’s daughter had been taking one of Corky’s tennis classes. (That’s Kelsey, who today helps run the show at our surf school. Coincidence? We think not.) One night Rick Walker walked into Windansea.

Rick: Hey Corky.

Corky Carroll: Hey Rick.

Rick: I see you’re teaching tennis these days.

Corky Carroll: Yeah, that’s right.

Rick: Why?

Corky Carroll: I really enjoy it. I’m good at it. And people pay me to do it. What’s not to love?

Rick: [looks at Corky funny] I don’t get it.

Corky Carroll: Maybe you didn’t hear the part about people paying me.

Rick: You’re a surfer. You should be teaching surfing.

Corky Carroll: [laughs] Well, if you can show me how to make a living doing that I would be happy to listen.

Rick: [smiles]

By this time there had been no shortage of offers coming Corky Carroll’s way. So he took Rick’s idea of starting a surf school with a grain of salt. But, having nothing to lose, Corky said, “Yeah sure, you get it together and I’m in.”

Five months pass. Corky has forgotten about the whole thing. And then one day Rick shows up at the surf shop and says, “O.K., I got it all organized. We have a location, boards, permits and insurance. The Corky Carroll Surf School opens June 15th.”

And it did open. On June 15th, 1996 at an uncrowded stretch of beach in Bolsa Chica State Park.

[The conversations above are paraphrased from Corky Carroll’s own enjoyable recount of how he first met Rick.]

Corky Carroll spent most of that first summer training instructors and developing the surfing techniques that would become the backbone of our lessons. Techniques which we still use to this day.

So when you’re taking a surf lesson from one of our instructors, you’re also learning to surf from one of the most iconic surfers of all-time. Which we think is pretty cool.

Corky Carroll Gets Immortalized

The same summer Corky partnered up with Rick Walker to start our surf school, he was also inducted into the Surfing Walk of Fame. You’ve probably seen it. Heck, you’ve probably walked your dogs over it.

The Surfing Walk of Fame is laid out on the sidewalk in front of Jack’s Surfboards, at the corner of Main and PCH in Huntington Beach. It is a lineup of all the greatest surf legends, immortalized with plaques in the pavement. There you’ll find Duke Kahanamoku (“the father of surfing”), George Freeth (the first person ever known to surf in HB), Bruce Brown (the director of The Endless Summer), PT Townend (the first pro surf tour world champion), and  Joyce Hoffman (the first woman to charge Pipeline), amongst many other amazing surfers and shapers.

You’ll also find Corky Carroll. Twice.

On Aug 8, 1996 he was honored as the Local Hero in one of the Walk of Fame’s best classes (alongside Greg Noll, Rell Sunn, Bud Browne, and Nat Young). He was then honored again in 2004 with a second plaque as a Walk of Fame Surf Champion. Because when you’re that good one plaque just isn’t enough.

Right across the street in front of Huntington Surf and Sport, Corky was also inducted into the Surfers’ Hall of Fame. That was in 2002 as part of the Hall of Fame’s inaugural first group of inductees. It included some other people you might of heard of like Kelly Slater, Laird Hamilton, Robert August, Joel Tudor and Lisa Andersen. Now that’s a lineup!

Corky Carroll’s Legacy as a Jobless Surfer

To say the least Corky Carroll has earned the right to have his name (and handprint) immortalized.

His impressive career as the first professional surfer speaks for itself. So too does his impressive career as a musician. Don’t forget his equally as impressive career handing out free beer as a Miller Lite All-Star. Or helping inspire our surf school. His antics are stuff of local legend, like that time he stacked 40 surfboards atop a VW and successfully drove down HB’s Main Street. Equally as legendary is his ability to talk story, proving it every week with his rad column in the Orange County Register. Any way you look at it, he is a fun loving guy who has embodied surfing and its lifestyle to the fullest.

Corky Carroll Holding Surfboard

Or as Corky puts it, “Yes, I still surf all the time, and no, I still don’t have a real job. Let’s hope it never comes to that.”

Because that is who Corky Carroll is.

Bolsa Chica State Beach is the best place to learn to surf in Huntington Beach. It is the best place to learn to surf in Orange County. And it is the best place to learn to surf in California. Hands down. Heck, it might even be the best place to learn to surf in the entire world. (Though Costa Rica might give it a run for its money.) This might all sound crazy, but a lot goes into making somewhere a contender for the best beginner surf spot. And Bolsa Chica has it all.

Below we’ll go into detail why Bolsa Chica hits all the right notes. But let’s be honest. Who has time to read all that. So in case you want to spend less time reading and more time surfing, here’s the highlights of why Bolsa Chica is the best place to learn surf in California.

  • It is a soft, sandy bottomed beach break (the best break for beginners)
  • It’s safe for all ages and ability levels
  • Waves are typically smaller, and more gentle
  • It is ideal for longboards (which every beginner should learn on)
  • Because of the nice gradual sandbar, this creates easier paddle outs and easier waves to catch
  • It is rarely crowded so you won’t have to fight for waves
  • It’s huge so there’s room to spread out and not get in the way of other surfers
  • It’s centrally located and easily accessible
  • It’s the home of Corky Carroll’s Surf School where you can take lessons to learn to surf
  • It’s located in Surf City, USA

That’s the short of it.

Consistent waves combined with a gentle beach break, mild water temperatures year-round, easy access, a cool laid back scene, and small crowds make Bolsa Chica a paradise for learning to surf.

Still not convinced?

Let’s dive a little deeper and show why if you’re a beginner interested in surfing you can do no better than paddling out at Bolsa. To help make the case we’ll also breakdown what you should look for in any beginner surf surf spot, starting with…

Beginner Surf Spot Essential #1: Location

You know that saying — location, location, location? Well when it comes to surfing, whether you are a seasoned pro or just starting out, it’s the most important thing. It’s so important they made an entire movie about trying to find the perfect surfing location. Maybe you’ve heard of it. It’s called The Endless Summer, and it’s awesome.

In fact, everything else we will talk about is just an offshoot of location. Because not all surf spots are created equal. You need to consider so many different variables when picking the right location. The main ones being:

  • What type of surf break is it?
  • How big do the waves get?
  • Do the waves break hard or is it more of a beginner break?
  • When are the conditions best?
  • How easy is it to access?
  • How crowded are the waves?
  • What facilities are nearby?
  • Is there a blackball?
  • Is it safe for beginners?
  • On a scale of 1 to Kelly Slater how cool will I look in a selfie?

Know those and you’ll know if you’ve found the right place to surf.

Except that last one. That was a test. And rhetorical. Because everyone looks cool surfing.

The answer to the rest of those questions are ingrained in the DNA of local and experienced surfers. They just know where and when to go without thinking twice about it. Beginner surfers have to be a little more inquisitive. Which is why you did a Google search and ended up here. So you’re off to a great start already. High five!

Why Bosla Chica is the Best Location for Beginners

Bolsa Chica State Beach is located in Huntington Beach on the north side of town. The beach extends three miles from Warner Avenue to Seapoint Avenue, running along the Pacific Coast Highway. It is probably best known for being connected to a super important ecological reserve, but it also just so happens to be an excellent surf spot.

Learn More About Bolsa Chica State Beach and Why Our Surf School Calls it Home

More importantly, Bolsa Chica is an excellent surf spot for beginners. Why? Because it is safe. As in the waves break soft and slow year-round, and there’s little risk of getting thrown against rocks or pier pylons or other surfers. The water temperatures are warm in the summer and mild in the winter, allowing for year-round surfing. There is no blackball. There are awesome facilities all over the place, like free showers and bathrooms. It’s super mellow and disconnected from the crazy crowds of other beaches. There are lifeguard towers every hundred yards and it even has its own dedicated lifeguard headquarters. And there is a ridiculous amount of parking right on the beach.

Also, Bolsa Chica is really, really easy to get to. It is about 15 minutes from the 405 freeway and right on the PCH. We’d go so far as to say it is one of the most accessible surf spots in California. Just take a look at the directions to our surf school to see how easy it is to reach.

As far as location goes it’s hard to beat Bolsa Chica. (Don’t believe us? Just ask the man himself — Corky Carroll — who ranked Bolsa Chica as one of the best beaches to surf for beginners.) And this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Beginner Surf Spot Essential #2: Beach Breaks

Wanna know what surfer’s do more than surf? Look at surf.

A few years back Matt Warshaw wrote one of the most epic books ever written about surfing. It’s called The History of Surfing. And you know what he chose as the cover to his magnum opus? Not a photo of Kelly Slater ripping it. Not a photo of Duke Kahanamoku wave sliding. Not even a photo of a surfboard or even someone surfing. Nope. It’s a photo of two guys laying on the beach looking at a wave.

Because that’s what surfers do.

They look at waves. And by looking at the waves they learn the conditions. They see how the waves are forming so they can determine the best way to ride them.

How waves are shaped is largely determined by what type of surf break that spot is. Specifically, whether it is a beach, point or reef break. We’ll discuss exactly what those are in another post, but as a beginner you should surf at beach breaks.

A beach break is a surf spot with a sandy bottom. This means there are practically no rocks and if you hit the bottom it won’t hurt you (or your board) as much. They also provide more available space for surfing, as they let surfers spread out across the lineup. Point breaks on the other hand, for example, typically have a smaller “take off spot” so surfers tend to crowd together more closely vying for the same wave, creating a more competitive environment.

So when learning to surf you want to find a beach break. Which is exactly the type of break Bolsa Chica is.

Why Bolsa Chica is a Great Beach Break

Bolsa Chica is a perfect beach break for beginners. Its waves are typically slow and small, that break softly to create an easier face to ride. As a beginner you want small waves. Large, hard crashing waves are more powerful requiring you to react fast, paddle quick, and pop up. None of which comes naturally to beginners.

These gentle crumbling waves are caused by the soft sand bottom at Bolsa Chica and its gradual incline towards shore. The bottom shelf at Bolsa Chica State Beach stays shallower father out than other beaches. This creates calm waters and gentle waves. When a swell arriving from far out at sea hits a steep shelf, it crashes hard. As it does around the Huntington Beach pier. When it moves across a shallow shelf like the one at Bolsa Chica, it slowly topples over.

Gentle waves and a soft sand bottom also make wiping out not a big deal. Which you will do a lot when learning. Don’t worry. Everyone does it. That’s why they write songs about it. But if you’re going to wipe out why not land on soft sand.

Know Your Surf Zone

Another great thing about a gentle beach break like Bolsa Chica is that it allows you learn how to surf on both the outside and inside. These are the two wave zones of a surf spot.

The Inside

Inside waves are best for first time surfers. These are smaller waves closer to shore. They consist mostly of white wash, and are easier to get into and ride.

The Outside

Outside waves are where swells initially break. They are better suited to surfing as they are typically longer, bigger and have cleaner faces than inside waves.

Outside waves are often difficult for beginners, but at Bolsa Chica they break slow and complement the inside nicely. In this regard, Bolsa Chica creates an ideal environment for progressing. A beginner can start on the inside and then quickly and seamlessly move to the outside.

Board Size Matters

The type of break at a surf spot dictates what type of board you should ride there. A beach break like Bolsa Chica, with slow, peeling waves is ideal for longboarding. Which is great, because beginners should learn to surf on longboards. (More specifically we recommend a 9ft wide soft top.)

If you were to go down the road a few miles to the Huntington Beach pier you would see a bunch of talented surfers all riding shortboards. That is because the pier’s waves are better suited for shorter boards. When you enter Bolsa Chica you will notice a majority of longboards. As you might have guessed, that’s because Bolsa Chica is a longboarding surf spot.

And a perk of hanging out at a longboarding suf spot is they typically have a more laid back and welcoming scene than shortboard surf spots. Which brings us to…

Beginner Surf Spot Essential #3: The Surf Scene

When it comes to the surf scene of a surf spot there are two aspects:

  1. What’s happening in the water
  2. What’s happening on land

If you are going to be learn to surf you might as well have the best experience possible. And there is no better place to experience surfing than Huntington Beach.

HB has a long and storied history with surfing dating all the way back to the early 1900s. Ever since it has been an epicenter for surf culture. Downtown HB is dubbed “the Times Square of Surfing.” It is home to both the Surfing Walk of Fame and Surfers’ Hall of Fame, and International Surf Museum. Some of the biggest surf companies are headquartered there as well including Quicksilver and Surfline — the end all, be all source for surf condition reporting.

That’s what is happening on land near Bolsa Chica. It’s an epic surf scene that makes it impossible not to get stoked on surfing.

In the water, Huntington Beach is one of the most consistent wave zones in California. (They don’t call it “Surf City, USA” for nothing.) There is rarely a time when the surf isn’t pumping. It might not always produce perfectly glassy overhead peaks, but it won’t be flat. In other words, it is a rideable wave bonanza every day of the week in Huntington Beach. Bolsa Chica is no exception.

This is great news for beginners because the most important thing for someone starting out is to try to catch as many waves as possible. Experienced surfers can be more selective, but novices want to get as many opportunities as possible to progress. And you won’t get that if you’re just floating around looking at seagulls flying by.

But with all those waves come the crowds.

When you have an awesome surf scene on land and an abundance of waves in the water you’re going to attract the masses. Sometimes to the chagrin of locals, whose longtime favorite surf spots are getting overrun. In these areas locals are not always keen to see a first time surfer paddle out.

Beginners require more room to surf. Understandably, they have less control on the board. So when picking a place to learn to surf it’s important to take into consideration how crowded the water will be. It’s better, and safer, when there is more room available to learn.

And that’s where Bolsa Chica State Beach really shines as the best beginner surf spot.

Why Bolsa Chica Has a Rad Surf Scene

Check out some of the pages that pop up when searching for “best places to learn to surf” and “best beginner surf spots” in California. You will likely see Cowell’s in Santa Cruz, Sunset Cliffs in San Diego, Surfrider in Malibu, Old Man’s in San Onofre, and a few other of the greatest hits. But one place you will never hear about is Bolsa Chica State Beach in Huntington Beach. And that’s a good thing.

Bolsa Chica State Beach is a hidden gem.

It is close enough to downtown HB to take advantage of its amazing surf scene and culture, while avoiding the crowds in the water.

We’re not bashing those other beginner surf spots. They are amazing. Even if you’re not a beginner they are really fun. If you ever have the opportunity to hit up Malibu or Old Man’s please do yourself a favor and go. Even if you don’t get in the water, they are rad surf scene’s worth experiencing.

However, they are not the best for learning to surf. Or at least Bolsa Chica is better.

It’s one thing to be a famous surf spot with an iconic history, but it’s another to be a practical place for learning to surf that is safe, easily accessible and provides as much fun as possible. And then there’s the crowds.

Less Crowds Equals More Surfing

Probably the most notable thing about these famous beginner surf spots is that they can get really crowded. Because if everyone writes about it, they will come. Luckily Bolsa Chica does not have that problem. There’s only one article espousing how wonderful a place Bolsa Chica is and you’re currently reading it. High five!

Being a California state-owned beach you have to pay to park at Bolsa Chica. It costs $15. But that’s actually a really good thing. In this regard it’s no different than Doheny or San Onofre, both of which are state beaches. But unlike those locations, whose reputations attract surfers by the volkswagen-full from all over the world, Bolsa Chica is far less popular. And because of the entrance fee the crowds are a lot smaller than other locales. Seriously, we’re talking like a tenth of the crowd you’ll see other places. Drive up the road during the summer to other surf spots in Huntington Beach and you’ll see what we mean.

When there’s that many people in the water it is hard to have fun. And that’s the first and last thing you should care about when picking a surf spot to learn.

Welcome to the Funnest Place to Learn to Surf in California

When all is said and done the most important question to ask is:

  • Will I have fun surfing there?

That’s what it all boils down to. Whether you are looking to take up surfing seriously, just visiting and want to give it a try for the first time, or been surfing your entire life, it is all about having fun.

If you’re a beginner, Bolsa Chica will provide. For every reason listed above and many more. And that is why it is the best place to learn to surf in California.

But you don’t have to take our word for it. Swing on by anytime and we’ll show you. Just don’t tell anyone else about it. We’re trying to keep it a secret.

Costa Rica Cell Phone Service

Traveling to Costa Rica just recently became even easier as you can now use your US cell phone and cell phone plan while here!

How It Used to Be

Previously, you could either bring an unlocked phone to Costa Rica and then buy a SIM card and a temporary service plan for that phone, or buy a cheap phone in Costa Rica, complete with SIM card and temporary service plan. Those options still work of course, and you can buy everything you need at the airport in Costa Rica, or from one of hundreds of stores, kiosks, or street vendors all over the country.

The four cell phone carriers in Costa Rica are Kolbi (state-owned), Movistar, Claro and TuYo (all private companies). You can buy a low-end phone from any of these carriers for around $25, then buy a prepaid SIM card for texting, calling and internet use. Often a 5000-colon (US$9) prepaid SIM is sufficient for your average vacation, as long as you don’t make many international calls.

Cell Phone Service Sim Card Gsm Vs CDMA

How It Is Now
If you want to bring your own locked cell phone from the US and use it in Costa Rica, here’s what you need:

1. A cell phone that operates under (or can be switched to) DSM mode.
A Samsung Galaxy S4 cell phone, for example, can operate as either a CDMA phone (the mode used on Sprint in the US, with a Sprint account) or GSM (the mode you should switch to in Costa Rica). Once you land at the airport, you can switch to GSM mode (settings/connections/more networks/ mobile networks/network mode/chose “GSM”).*

OR

2. A US cell phone with an international plan that you are good with.
AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile cell phones all have different options for international travelers, none of them free. The best bet seems to be paying $10/day to have full use of your domestic plan with the same benefits. This is easy, and takes only a 5 minute cell phone call to your carrier. Be sure to check with your individual carrier to be sure as plans and features can change quickly.

If you have Sprint, it works a bit differently. For example, if you sign up for their Open World program (at no charge) you get free calls and texts within Costa Rica and from Costa Rica to the US. The plan also comes with 1 GB of data (you can pay for more). With the Open World plan, if you’re in Costa Rica with your US phone, and want to dial a Costa Rican number, you dial 506 (the country code), then the 8-digit Costa Rican number. Although you are dialing from a US number to a Costa Rica number, you don’t need to bother with the international access code from the US (011) if you are physically in Costa Rica.
If you’re dialing from your US cell phone in Costa Rica to a number in the US, you don’t need the international access code (001) from Costa Rica; just dial 1, the US area code, and the US cell phone number.

If someone is calling you in Costa Rica from the US, they just dial your US area code and your number; no international access code needed.

*Side note: In the US, two of the four major carriers (Verizon and Sprint) use CDMA while the other two (AT&T and T-Mobile) use GSM. Many phones are compatible with either GSM or CDMA, but not both.

Cell Phone Service GSM Vs CDMA