About El Capitan State Beach

El Capitan breaks so seldom that you begin to wonder if it's even a surf spot, but El Cap does get damn good. The setup is another dreamy Santa Barbara righthand point. El Cap only lifts a finger but a handful of times (if that) each autumn and winter season. It needs large W swells with just the right tide and wind to offer those fabled, roping, righthand barrels. Sitting deep and risking the unmakeable section will probably thrust you into the boulders, resulting in a barnacle massage.

Source: El Capitan State Beach Surf Guide

Ability Level


Beg Int Adv


Local Vibe


Welcoming Intimidating

Medium, but a lot of folks will go without looking anyway.

Crowd Factor


Mellow Heavy

It's a scarce, precious resource: think a major frenzied crowd.

Spot Rating


Poor Perfect

Regional classic.

Shoulder Burn


Light Exhausting

Not bad when it is small, plenty of work to be had when it is pumping.

Water Quality


Clean Dirty

Pretty clean unless it just rained.

Additional Information


Drop-ins, sharp boulders on the point, sand-sucking pits.


Exit 101 at the park's signed off-ramp. Go left under the bridge and head toward the kiosk. You can find your way from there.

Bring Your

Shortboard, bodyboard


Rock and sand

Best Season


Swell Consistency and Wind Overview

Photos & Videos