About Leadbetter Beach

One of the more dependable waves situated in Santa Barbara proper, what Leadbetter Beach lacks in power if makes up for in playfulness. Featuring long, gentle rights off a picturesque point, it is a preferred spot for longboarders, as well as those who are learning to trim and ride open wave faces. With views of the Santa Barbara Harbor and Stearns Wharf, it’s a classic spot in the heart of one of California’s most wave-rich zones. Autumn and winter are the most dependable time of year here, as Leadbetter Beach needs a decent W swell to start breaking. As the size increases, the quality of the wave improves considerably. Sectiony at low tide, a little extra water helps smooth things out a bit. And while there’s almost always a handful of surfers out, the daily vibes in the water are generally mellow.

Source: Leadbetter Beach Surf Guide

Ability Level

Beginner - intermediate

Beg Int Adv

Soft, slow, gentle rights that are idea for longboards and those just learning to find the glide.

Local Vibe


Welcoming Intimidating

Usually crowded, but compared to spots up north, localism isn’t a huge issue.

Crowd Factor


Mellow Heavy

As it’s one of the more consistent breaks in Santa Barbara, Leadbetter Beach can get busy, especially on a bluebird, summer weekend.

Spot Rating


Poor Perfect

Fun for bigger boards and beginners most days of the Autumn and winter, but as the swell picks up, the wave gets considerably more interesting.

Shoulder Burn


Light Exhausting

Considering you’ll probably be on a longboard and there’s a legit channel to utilize, the paddle shouldn’t be a huge issue for anybody that’s in decent surf shape.

Water Quality


Clean Dirty

The combination of the nearby Santa Barbara Harbor and a lack of strong wave action and currents can contribute to a high bacteria count in the water. Periods of heavy rain will exacerbate this factor. But the water quality is closely monitored, so keep an eye out for warning signs if things are dicey.

Additional Information


Getting run over by a beginner or stepping in tar on the beach.


Park along Cliff Drive or La Marina Boulevard, or in the free car park at pleasant Shoreline Park. Take the trail down the bluff fronting the wave.

Bring Your



Sandy beach that gives way to a rock reef/point. Kelp helps keep the water glassy.

Best Season

Because Santa Barbara is so shadowed from summertime swells from the south due to the offshore Channel Islands, Autumn and winter are really the only viable time of year here.

Swell Consistency and Wind Overview

Photos & Videos