About Jalama Beach County Park

With the hulking Vandenberg Air Force Base to the immediate north and untouched Point Conception coastline to the south, the basic truth is, if you motor all the way out to Jalama and the surf sucks, you're barred. Frequent, heavy NW winds plague the north coast, so it's wise to hit it early or not at all. Early-morning offshores can be freezing. Considerably bigger and much more exposed than the county's relatively tame south coast, Jalama packs a mean punch, summer or winter, so you can expect truckloads of juice out here if the swell's pumping.

A primo SW swell area and the northernmost portal for surfing in Santa Barbara County, Jalama Beach County Park has three recognized surf spots: the Beachbreak, Cracks and Tarantulas (or T's for short).The Beachbreak extends from the campground area down to Cracks, which is distinguished by a large indentation in the bluffs. It's all shifty, semi-hollow sandbars, best on a high tide with clean, peaky swells. Cracks holds size, but getting out becomes a problem (or outright impossibility). The currents can be bad, too. Cracks is a good place to go if the swell's too small for Tarantulas. Primarily a left, the rights at Tarantulas can also get quite good, peeling fast for a ways into the boulder-strewn inside. The lefts are perfect for lip-smacking and roundhousing, with a comfy channel for easy paddles and time-outs. The shape is much more consistent than that of the Beachbreak area, so the jog down to T's is usually well worth the effort. The takeoff zone is pretty small, so 10 surfers can make Tarantulas seem overly crowded.

Source: Jalama Beach County Park Surf Guide

Ability Level

Intermediate - advanced

Beg Int Adv

Intermediate to advanced

Local Vibe


Welcoming Intimidating

Generally not a problem, but things can get pretty uptight at Tarantulas.

Crowd Factor


Mellow Heavy

Horrifyingly crowded on a well-called south swell in the middle of a flat summer, but it can be ok on normal days.

Spot Rating


Poor Perfect

Pretty typical beachbreak (or reef) most days, can get exceptional on a good combo at the beachbreak or a solid SW or NW/W swell at Tarantulas.

Shoulder Burn


Light Exhausting

Usually pretty easy unless there is a big swell.

Water Quality


Clean Dirty

Pretty clean.

Additional Information


Other people, howling NW winds, sharks.


First and foremost, it'll cost you $10 per day to park legally in the Jalama campground area. Surfers used to park up top along the road lined with "No Parking" signs, but the risk of getting a ticket (or worse, towed) has increased over the years. Best bet is to suck it up and pay for day use in the campground. Jalama is 28 miles from 101. To get there coming from the south, exit 101 onto Highway 1, a bit north of the Gaviota Pass tunnel.

Bring Your

Shortboard, fish, funboard, longboard, gun, skimming, bodyboard, kiteboard


Sand and rock

Best Season

January-December, but fall can be epic.

Swell Consistency and Wind Overview

Photos & Videos