Tuesday, June 21, 2022

SoCal Beaches: Huntington Beach (Surf City, USA)

Huntington Beach is a seaside city within Orange County in Southern California located along the Southern California Coast 35 miles south of Los Angeles and 90 miles north of San Diego.  It is bordered by the Pacific Ocean on the west, and has been long known for its long 8.5 miles of beautiful beach, mild climate, and excellent surfing, earning it the nickname of Surf City.  Surf, sand and sun perfectly encapsulate what the City of Huntington Beach is all about.  The ocean waves are enhanced by a natural effect caused by the edge-diffraction of open ocean swells around Santa Catalina Island. Swells generated predominantly from the North Pacific in winter and from a combination of Southern Hemisphere storms and hurricanes in the summer focus on Huntington Beach, creating consistent surf all year long, hence the nickname "Surf City".

Whether you're analyzing it from a marketing, spiritual, political, or historical perspective, the truth is that the United States has four cities calling themselves "Surf City": Huntington Beach, Santa Cruz, Surf City (North Carolina), and Surf City (New Jersey).

Huntington Beach, also affectionately known as "HB," offers 10 miles of sandy beaches which hold more than 50 surf contests each year, including the legendary US Open of Surfing.
HB offers some of the most consistent breaks in Southern California, including the iconic Southside and Northside Piers, where thousands of national and international champions have been crowned over the decades.

Huntington Beach is also home to the International Surfing Museum, the Surfers' Hall of Fame, and the Surfing Walk of Fame. Duke Kahanamoku, the father of modern surfing, was inducted in 1994.

Huntington Beach officially adopted the Surf City USA nickname in January 2008, after a long and tense trademark dispute between the Southern California city and Santa Cruz.
It all started in 1927 when a Northern California newspaper coined the moniker "Surf City" for Santa Cruz.  Years later, in 1991, Huntington Beach adopted the nickname "Surf City USA" to promote the city.  In 1963, Los Angeles duo Jan and Dean recorded "Surf City," a song co-written and sung by The Beach Boys' Brian Wilson.  Although the beach anthem specifies no precise location for that particular Surf City, apparently, they had Huntington Beach in mind, not Santa Cruz.  However, the Santa Cruz authorities and politicians replied, noting that surfing had been introduced in Mainland America at Santa Cruz' Steamer LaneThe city even got support from Hillary Clinton, who visited Santa Cruz while campaigning for her husband in 2002. "I've been told to say that not only is this the real 'Surf City,' but that only real surfers surf in Santa Cruz," said Clinton while visiting the Lighthouse Point in May 1992.
Huntington Beach was quick to answer, but the controversy spread, and Surf City, New Jersey, also entered the heated debate.

Confused? The truth is that the East Coast town had its name well established since 1899.
When you thought all arguments were already on the table, a new variable enters the quarrel - Surf City, North Carolina, a small town located on Topsail Island (its name has been on the map since the late 1940s).  

But as always, where there is blood, there's media. So newspapers and TV stations started fueling the discussion, and the conflict escalated to an international level.
Which town was the real Surf City?

In November 2004, and after getting positive feedback from internet-based surveys and public inquiries, the Huntington Beach Conference and Visitors Bureau filed applications to register the "Surf City USA" trademark.  Less than two years later, the United States Patent and Trademark Office confirmed three of the first Surf City USA trademark registrations.

Not happy with the outcome, and after being prohibited from selling products with the "Surf City USA" inscription, two Santa Cruz surf shop owners sued Huntington Beach for the public use of the term "Surf City."  A surf-off ensued.

Both parties eventually reached a confidential settlement with benefits for all sides, but the wounds were never completely healed.  The northerners still stick to the idea that they live in the spiritual home of American surfing; the southerners are proud of their historical surfing roots.

Interestingly, today, Huntington Beach has two nicknames. It is known as Surf City USA and, and since 2016, it's been officially labeled "The Soul of SoCal."

Surf City | The Timeline of an Iconic Nickname

1885: Surfing is introduced to Mainland America at the Santa Cruz river mouth;

1899: Long Beach City renamed Surf City, New Jersey;

1907: George Freeth is the first to surf Huntington Beach;

1927: A local newspaper coined the moniker "Surf City" for Santa Cruz;

1949: Surf City is an incorporated town in North Carolina;

1963: Jan and Dean record "Surf City," a song inspired by Huntington Beach;

1991: Huntington Beach adopts the nickname "Surf City USA";

2004: Huntington Beach files trademark applications for "Surf City USA";

2006: Huntington Beach and Santa Cruz reach an agreement over the use of "Surf City USA";

2016: Huntington Beach embraces a second nickname - "The Soul of SoCal";

Huntington Beach has a borderline semi-arid/Mediterranean climate, gradually changing for the second to the west and south due to its low precipitation. The climate is generally sunny, dry and cool, although evenings can be excessively damp. In the morning and evening, there are often strong breezes that can reach 15 mph.  Ocean water temperatures average 55 °F to 65 °F. In the summer, temperatures rarely exceed 85 °F.  In the winter, temperatures rarely fall below 40 °F, even on clear nights. There are about 14 inches of rain, almost all in mid-winter. Frost occurs only rarely, on the coldest winter nights. The area is annually affected by a marine layer caused by the cool air of the Pacific Ocean meeting the warm air over the land. This results in overcast and foggy conditions in May and June.

The California lifestyle is synonymous with Huntington Beach.  Dean Torrence, from the 1960’s pop group Jan and Dean, who co-authored the famous number one hit “Surf City,” said that Huntington Beach embodies the song’s spirit of freedom and California fun.  The city is also mentioned in the Beach Boys song “Surfin’ Safari” and in “Surfer Joe” by the Surfaris. Ocean swells, endless sunshine and a fleet of bobbing longboards have played an instrumental role in earning the city its well-deserved “Surf City” nickname.  Nothing epitomizes the California surf culture more than HB.  Boasting some of California’s widest, cleanest, and safest beaches, the unofficial dress code has become a mix of wetsuits, bikinis and sandals accessorized by volleyballs, surf boards and beach towels. 

Huntington Beach is one of the surfing capitals of the world, and that fact permeates every aspect of the city – from the Surfer Walk of Fame to the International Surf Museum, the sport is everywhere and provides a theme for much of the activities present there.  On any given weekend there is a surf competition of some sort happening.  We've even been there for some type of lifeguard competition which was pretty cool. 

George Freeth was the first person to surf in Huntington Beach with a demonstration on June 20, 1914. Freeth had been demonstrating surfing in southern California as a promotion for the city by Henry E. Huntington. Duke Kahanamoku started surfing in Huntington Beach in 1925 and helped popularize the sport. The first surfboard shop, which was located underneath the Huntington Beach Pier, opened in 1956 by Gordie Duane.

Apart from sponsored surf events, Huntington Beach has some of the best surf breaks in the State of California and that of the United States. Huntington Beach has four different facing beaches: Northwest, West, Southwest, and South. Northwest consists of Bolsa Chica State Beach with a length of 3.3 miles, the West consist of "The Cliffs" or "Dog Beach", Southwest is considered everything north of the pier which is operated by the City of Huntington Beach. South consists in everything south of the pier which primarily focuses on Huntington State Beach (2.2 Miles), which almost faces true South.

Bolsa Chica State Beach is operated by the California Department of Parks and Recreation and the Bolsa Chica State Beach Lifeguards. The beach is very narrow and the sand is very coarse. Bolsa Chica tends to have better surf with NW/W swells during the winter season. During the summer months the beach picks up south/southwest swells at a very steep angle. Due to the bottom of the beach, surf at Bolsa Chica tends to be slowed down and refined to soft shoulders. Longboards are the best option for surfing in the Bolsa Chica area.

"The Cliffs" or "Dog Beach" is also another popular surf spot. This segment of Huntington Beach is so named because dogs are allowed around the cliff area. Beach is very restricted and often is submerged with high tides. Surf at this location tends to be even bigger than Bolsa Chica during the winter and often better. During the summer most of the South/Southwest swells slide right by and often break poorly. The best option is to take out a longboard, but shortboards will do at times. Dolphins have also been sighted in this area.

Just north and south of the Huntington Beach Pier are some well defined sandbars that shift throughout the year with the different swells. Southside of the Pier is often a popular destination during the summer for good surf, but the Northside can be just as well during the winter. Around the Pier it all depends on the swell and the sandbars. Shortboard is your best option for surfing around the Pier.

South Huntington Beach, also known as Huntington State Beach, is where all the south swells impact the coastline. Huntington State Beach is operated by the State of California, Department of Parks & Recreation, and Huntington State Beach Lifeguards. This beach is very wide with plenty of sand. Sandbars dramatically shift during the spring, summer and fall seasons, thus creating excellent surf conditions with a combination South/West/Northwest swell. Due to the Santa Ana River jetties located at the southernmost end of the beach, large sandbars extend across and upcoast, forcing swells to break extremely fast and hollow. Best seasons for surfing at this beach is the summer and fall. The best option for surfing in this area is a shortboard.

The main thoroughfare of Huntington Beach, Beach Boulevard, was originally a cattle route for the main industry of the Rancho. Since its time as a parcel of the enormous Spanish land grant, Huntington Beach has undergone many incarnations. One time it was known as Shell Beach, the town of Smeltzer, and then Gospel Swamp for the revival meetings that were held in the marshland where the community college Golden West College can currently be found. Later it became known as Fairview and then Pacific City, as it developed into a tourist destination. In order to secure access to the Pacific Electric Red Car lines that used to criss-cross Los Angeles and ended in Long Beach, Pacific City ceded enormous power to railroad magnate Henry E. Huntington, and thus became a city whose name has been written into corporate sponsorship, and like much of the history of Southern California, boosterism.

The original Huntington Beach Pier was built in 1904 and was originally a 1,000-foot-long timber structure. Huntington Beach was incorporated on February 17, 1909, during the tenure of its first mayor, Ed Manning. Its original developer was Huntington Beach Company (formerly the West Coast Land and Water Company), a real-estate development firm owned by Henry Huntington. The Huntington Beach Company is still a major land-owner in the city, and still owns most of the local mineral rights. The company is now wholly owned by the Chevron Corporation.

At one time, an encyclopedia company gave away free parcels of land (with the purchase of a whole set for $126) in the Huntington Beach area. The lucky buyers got more than they had bargained for when oil was discovered in the area, and enormous development of the oil reserves followed. Though many of the old reserves are depleted, and the price of land for housing has pushed many of the rigs off the landscape, oil pumps can still be found to dot the city.

Huntington Beach was primarily agricultural in its early years with crops such as lima beans, asparagus, peppers, celery and sugar beets. Holly Sugar was a major employer with a large processing plant in the city that was later converted into an oil refinery.

The city's first high school, Huntington Beach High School, located on Main Street, was built in 1906. The school's team, the Oilers, is named after the city's original natural resource.
Meadowlark Airport, a small general-aviation airport, existed in Huntington Beach from the 1940s until 1989 and Huntington Beach Speedway, a racetrack designed for midget car racing, existed from 1946 until 1958.
The beach itself is also a lovely time and home to several classic beach activities . . . volleyball nets, fire pits, and beach-ready bike rentals, roller skating, etc.  There are a variety of restaurants available from quick bites on the beach to a "barrel trail" where you can discover 12 craft breweries, distilleries and tasting rooms https://www.surfcityusa.com/things-to-do/surf-city-usa-barrel-trail  Coach likes to stop at Bo's Bagels on Hamilton on our way to the beach.  Check out their signature sandwich, "The  Hamilton." https://bosbagelsandcoffee.com  I love their OJ.  If you're crunched for time, order on-line.  The Huntington Beach House is also fun and always has great music and drinks http://www.thehbhouse.com.  It's a good spot to relax in the big Adirondack chairs and people watch.  The Sahara Sandbar is a little further from the pier and looks cute too!  http://saharasandbar.com.  When we visited Kona a couple of years back we were turned on to Hawaiian shave ice and have found Hula Girls Shave Ice to be particularly refreshing after a long day in the hot sun.  https://my-site-100228-102576.square.site.  And then there's Duke's of course (named after Duke Paoa Kahanamoku, the Ambassador of Aloha).  The Sunday brunch is always busy You can also find a Duke's in Kauai, La Jolla (San Diego), Malibu, Maui and Waikiki https://www.dukeshuntington.com
There are also a couple of pet friendly restaurants if you have your furry buddy with you.  Sugar Shake Cafe on Main Street is a local hangout open for breakfast and lunch.  Surf City Ale House is on Main Street too and offers breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as outside seating.  
If the beach is too crowded and the sun's rays are a bit too bright for you, there are several hotels in the area with great cabanas to rent as well as children's programs.  The Hyatt Regency has three pools including a lagoon style pool and a children's water playground.  https://www.hyatt.com/en-US/hotel/california/hyatt-regency-huntington-beach-resort-and-spa/hunrh.  The Waterfront Beach Resort Hotel (a Hilton Hotel) offers your own personal butler, lounge furniture to accommodate up to 6, mini fridge and food to order.  https://www.waterfrontresort.com/ResourceFiles/pdf/dbc-wa-2020-brochure.pdf.  The Ninth Island at the Pasea Hotel & Spa offers day passes for visitors and locals looking to swim and recharge.  ps://www.paseahotel.com/beachfront-hotel-huntington-beach/pool-cabanas.  Sea Legs at the beach is technically located at Bolsa Chica State Beach but they have fire pits for rent as well as cabanas http://www.sealegsatthebeach.com/reservations
Named the "Best City to Live in Orange County" by the Orange County Register readers, Huntington Beach offers residents a charming community with ideal weather, a diversified economy overflowing with good jobs, a wide variety of housing, an excellent educational system, boat marinas, numerous parks, and exemplary health care.  Named for railroad magnate Henry Huntington who orchestrated its development, the city is now an epicenter of activity and entertainment with wide, sandy beaches.

Many of the events at Huntington Beach take place on the beach during the summer.  The city is often referred to as "Surf City" not for the height of the waves, but rather for the consistent quality of surf.  The U.S. Open of Surfing is featured on the south side of the pier. Huntington Beach is a stop on the AVP beach volleyball tour. A biathlon (swim/run) hosted by the Bolsa Chica & Huntington State Beach Lifeguards takes place in July, early at dawn. The race begins at the Santa Ana River Jetties and ends at Warner Avenue, Bolsa Chica State Beach. Huntington Beach Junior Lifeguard day camps are held which teaches pre-adolescents and adolescents ocean swimming, running, and first-aid medical knowledge.

Huntington Beach is also a popular destination for kite surfing, and this sport can be viewed on the beach northwest of the pier.

In addition to the beach-focused events, the Fourth of July parade has been held since 1904. The Huntington Beach Film Festival takes place every February.

The Pacific Airshow (originally known as the Breitling Huntington Beach Airshow, then the Great Pacific Airshow), featuring the Breitling Jet Team and the United States Air Force Thunderbirds, is held each October.

During the winter, the annual Cruise of Lights Boat Tour is held in the Huntington Harbour neighborhood. This is a parade of colorful lighted boats as well as boat tours to view the decorated homes. In February of each year since 1996, the Surf City USA marathon is held with over 20,000 runners.  The annual Kite Festival is held just north of the pier in late February.
Huntington Beach hosts car shows such as the Beachcruiser Meet and a Concours d'Elegance. The Beachcruiser Meet is held in March, attracting over 250 classic cars displayed along Main Street and the Pier parking lot.   A Concours d'Elegance is held at Central Park in June and benefits the public library. An informal "Donut Derelicts" car show occurs every Saturday morning at the intersection of Adams and Magnolia Street. A Cars and Coffee car meet is held each Sunday morning at Pacific City.
Surf City Nights is held every Tuesday night during the year. The Tuesday Surf City Nights is a community-spirited event that features a farmer's market, unique entertainment, food, kiddie rides and a carnival atmosphere. Surf City Nights and the Downtown Huntington Beach Art Walk are presented by the Huntington Beach Downtown Business Improvement District (HBDBID) and the City of Huntington Beach. The Tuesday night Surf City Nights event takes place in the first three blocks of Main Street from Pacific Coast Highway to Orange Avenue.
One of the best things about Huntington Beach is the parking situation.  Tons and tons of parking.  Last April and again this year we bought the California Explorer Vehicle Day Use Annual Pass for $195 which allows access at most state beaches in our area.  The pass pays for itself in a few trips since single vehicle/single day use is $15.00.  

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